I was unaware of the previous mission and anything about rune cubes so I went to the Axe & Thistle to get any information possible before venturing out into the wild. Unfortunately, most of the adventurers were around town collecting supplies and making their final preparations. We assembled inside. Drogo found Master Velikos and collected these rune cubes I heard so much about. Shortly afterwards we met Kya who was joining us on the quest. “Kya who? That are they getting me into?” I thought to myself.
The first day was an uneventful march through the plains. Well that is with the exception of Bart needing to have his blanket get stitched into a poncho, which made for a fun little sewing lesson. Shortly before setting camp for the night the group was forging for berries when they, “[found] some bananas and something you've never seen before. It is normal – this fruit can be held but not concealed in one hand, and it seems to grow in the lower reaches of the tree tops. It is clavate, and yellow with a light, thin, and short fur texture. The skin has fractals that are brown. The flesh is blue and gritty.” Caleb purified the fruit and took a bite. He said it was salty & sweet, rather unusual. He decides he is going to name himself and takes notes on their location.
During the second watch of the night the sound of screeching animals came in the distance. They scurried out and appeared to be large rats with exposed brains. Vol continued to shake people awake. The noises woke up Glib and he screamed. I scanned the perimeter and they began to close in on us. Their brains begin to glow as if they were communicating with each other. Caleb grabbed one of the strange fruits and tossed it at the rat, but it didn’t do anything. A voice filled my brain. It felt as if these rats were telepathically communicating with us. “Why are you here?” they asked. Scoria explained we were hunting gnolls and again our brains were filled with a frightening response, “I will tell the elder” and with that they scattered off. Once they left I cast some goodberries and went to sleep.
Later that night I was woken up to the sound of howling from some sort of canine creatures in the distance. The barking began to come from many different directions. It became more and more apparent that they were starting to circle us. Confused we sat there. I decided to cast pass without trace as we aimlessly debate. Finally we decided to leave and headed about a half an hour to the west, but we continued to hear the sounds as if they were still following us. I was getting very nervous.
Fortunately, we are able to stay safe of any danger the rest of the night. We marched on into the afternoon until once again we heard barking sounds coming from the distance. We continue to march away from the noises. Just about time we were setting up camp the howls of the stalking creatures became increasingly louder. They were come closer. Glib hopped onto Glub and scanned the area on a brief reconnaissance mission, but he was unable to find anything.
We decided to set up a defensive perimeter. Vol busted out 7 hunter’s traps from his bag of holding. That along with a number of protection wards provided us a tactical advantage. We settled in for the night. From what I was told in the morning there was some action last night. Shortly after midnight, tracks were spotted in the snow. They found some sort of boot marks an hour or so later. Glib apparently did another aerial scan, but found only more tracks going into the distance. On the last watch, Warden & Bart heard a large caravan of horses passing by in the distance that passed by with no incident. In the morning we packed up and headed to the crater.
We arrived safely to the crater, but shortly after I heard the sound of flapping above the clouds. As the fog lifted the sounds dissipated. We continued walking when Varis turned to me complaining of headaches. Bartimaeus motioned to him in agreement. The further we walked the harsher the effects on many of the party. Varis, Caleb and Bartimaeus were all visibly worsening by the minute. Lesions and boils began to form on their skin. Vol casted a spell to help them with some positive restorative effects.
As we approached the crated we say below us a horde of creatures ready to kill us instantly. We managed to skirt around them and entered the nearby tunnel allowing us access to the cave. I casted pass without trace in an effort to shield our advance from any enemies within the cave system. As we approached we heard the sound of drums. Warden advanced and returned shortly after to inform us of the situation
Warden come back and explained that the sound was coming from a gnoll war party. They were surrounding the war titan and stabbing him violently. Behind this ritual were two gnolls who appeared to be healing the titan in some sort of sick ceremonial bloodletting sacrifice. A patrol passed and we managed to remain undetected, but as we attempted to get even closer we were spotted and combat began…
Out of no where two gnolls charged at us from the north. My comrades came back with a quick response. I was yet to have a clear line of sight so instead I aimed at the skeletal titan to the dismay of my party. They screamed at me! “What? What? Okay I’ll stop! My fault! I thought you meant save the other titan!” As I was apologizing, out of nowhere a gnoll came out and charged at me biting and clawing hitting me with a few swipes. Then another came out and joined him. I was in the outhouse. In the midst of melee many of my comrades came in with range attacks to subdue the gnolls I was engaged with. As the gnoll in front of me fell another came from behind trying to take a hunk of my neck, but he missed and only hit me with his claws. I broke contact from the two gnolls and sprinted to the rest of the party as they tried to establish a possible choke point.
Once in position I needed to pull out my healer’s kit and quickly bandage my wounds. Just as I finished a blast of energy pulsated through the air scorching my brain, but I was able to withstand some of the damage with my stone’s endurance. I scanned the room and noticed most of the rest of the party also in visible pain. I healed myself again and continued on after the main group. The sounds of a gnoll war party grew louder as they entered the main chamber. While tending to Varis’ wounds I noticed from across the cavern a horde of gnoll archers ready to fire on the skeletal titan and my allies that were in range. Their fire was concentrated on the titan allowing for our friends to catch up to us. From the rear, Bart casted a fireball so large it killed all of the archers on the southeastern corner of the cavern. Before making my way to the back of the northern passageway I connected with two arrows into the soul eater attacking Kya. Eventually she caught up to us. As we exited the skeletal titan blocked the doorway and served as a virtual meat shield against the gnoll horde. We escaped, but only to enter the prison dungeon.
As we entered there was a closed door that was covered in this strange pulsating vein like organic matter. Investigation showed the substance was not magical. “Ahhhh ahhhh my head.” Insect tonal voices began to fill my mind with violent threats of my impending death. It felt as if my brain was bleeding. I followed Warden in search of an undiscovered room in the dungeon. Our supposed exit. Dead slivers covered the floor as we navigated down a series of long narrow passageways to the new chamber. We found some sort of platform within the room that we had never seen before. Drogo pulled out the rune cubes, but somehow in discussion we realized that someone forgot the papers from some book that were the instructions on how to use the cubes. Noises were coming from down the hall. Something was approaching in the darkness. Without no directions and little time to spare we were forced to take drastic measures and guess.
Drogo quickly jammed some cubes into the open spots on the wall and a pulse of energy surged through the air injuring everyone in the party. Interestingly 2 of the blocks began to glow and seemed to be locked in place. A second attempt resulted in us being shocked with energy again. We scattered away from the platform and quickly heal each other. Potions, healer’s kits, spells and combinations of all three were were applied throughout the party in an effort to revitalize our bodies. Drogo now alone in the room continued to make numerous attempts at opening the portal, but continued to get blasted by what quickly became apparent was psychic damage. After a few more attempts the ground began to slightly rumble and strange sounds came from down the hallway. Drogo screamed for us to join him. I ran quickly into the room to see a bluish smoky mist coming out of what appeared to be some kind of portal. Three blocks were glowing and locked into place with the letters “I-S-P.” Drogo solved it! The sounds of impending threats continued to get louder. We rushed through and were whisked away into what felt to me like some out of body dreamscape like experience. Despite being a goliath I still found it cold and painful to my body.
Suddenly, my eyes were overwhelmed with light. My body thumped to the floor. As I stood up my vision focused. We appeared to be on the eastern shore of a beach where another portal platform was erected at some point in the past. As we were gaining our bearing the sand began to swirl and two golems raised from the earth. One made of salt and another of some sort of bone pursued us as if they were guardians of this new found portal. Fortunately, they were slow and it allowed for our escape. We quickly marched our way back to Axe & Thistle to report our discovery of this new transportation system to the rest of White Moon Cove.