Further adventures in Dungeon World…
Aldara put the finishing touches on her ritual to suppress the mind-controlling altar and the group decided to crawl down the tunnel Gorm found rather than figuring out a way to explore the rest of the water. Thaddeus came out of the reverie that had occupied so much of his attention during the first part of their adventure and swore a sacred oath that he would neither sleep nor eat until he had found the missing guardsmen. Mab did a little scouting in wolverine form and had some fun scaring a horde of rats that had made their nest in part of the tunnel. He wasn’t able to do much about the smell, however, and the long crawl was extremely unpleasant for his larger companions.
While they were happy to stretch their legs, the foulness of the long tunnel was quickly outdone by the vile stench of the troglodytes who occupied the cavern the heroes stumbled into. Gorm managed to spot them before they could complete setting their ambush, but the vicious creatures dealt some fierce blows nonetheless. Thaddeus, protected by the Maker’s grace, shook off several blows from stone axes, but still suffered a few wounds from claws and teeth. Bolstered by Ramonde’s songs, Gorm and Thaddeus managed to kill three of the creatures and drove off the fourth. They decided they’d had enough of vile smells and chose not to give chase.
While the others recovered from the melee, Gesse did a bit of scouting and discovered that the cavern had four other exits. Three were obvious: a passage to the trog lair to the north and two medium tunnels to the east – one sloping up, the other down. The group was much more interested, however, in the hidden door Gesse found in the south wall. Gesse’s skullduggery proved useful again when he located a deadfall trap a short distance down the passage beyond the hidden door. Gorm misunderstood the term deadfall and charged enthusiastically into the trap. Fortunately he managed to absorb most of the damage with his head, so the long term impact wasn’t too bad.
Beyond the trapped hallway, the passage descended steeply to an underground lake. Mab flew up to do some scouting and, before he could return, three abominations burst from the dark water to attack the rest of the party. Massive humanoids with terrible claws and the heads of sharks, they threatened to overwhelm the heroes before they could establish their defences. Ramonde’s music again bolstered his companions, but it drove the shark-men into a frenzy for his blood. The distraction proved their undoing, however, as Gorm, Gesse and Thaddeus struck the beasts down as they pursued the bard all the way back to the deadfall. Several nasty wounds had been suffered but when Ramonde attempted to alleviate them with a healing song, the shrill horn notes caused the already weakened stonework around the deadfall to collapse further. The party found themselves divided: Gorm, Thaddeus and Ramonde on one side of the cave-in and Mab, Aldara and Gesse on the other.
Despite Gorm’s help, Thaddeus and Ramonde managed to move enough stones create a small passage and they were soon back at the lake. Gesse had found an invisible canoe and decided to paddle around a bit while he waited for his friends. Mab completed his scouting and reported back that a dozen or more of the shark-men were lurking upstream. Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, Gesse was hastily returning to the rest of the group when Gorm arrived at the shore. Gorm’s relieved call of greeting aroused the shark-men from their slumber and the heroes were forced to retreat back to the trog cavern. Fortunately, the shark-men were not able to stray far from the water, so the companions were able to avoid what would surely have been a disastrous conflict.
After waiting several hours for the shark-men to disperse, the group made their way back down the passage, triggering a massive cave-in behind them that blocked that route once and for all. Mab flew across the lake once again and dragged back another boat which the party used to cross the ominous body of water. The far side had a carefully worked stone dock and a set of stone stairs so perfectly formed the party concluded they must be of dwarven make. The room at the top of the stairs held multiple secrets, but Gesse made short work of them. He uncovered a poison gas trap (recovering a sample for future analysis), unlocked a secret door and solved a puzzle-key to lower a stone drawbridge. Before leaving the room he also gathered several chunks of stone from the magically lit ceiling to use as heatless torches.
Across the drawbridge, the heroes entered an abandoned but perfectly preserved dwarven town. Before they could begin exploring, the party was ambushed by a dark elf sniper. Poisoned crossbow bolts slammed home in both Gorm and Thaddeus before Gesse finally spotted their assailant and returned fire with poison bolts of his own. The sniper covered his retreat with a globe of inky darkness.
A more cautious advance proved no more effective as the wily dark elves used one nasty trick after another to torture and divide the party. The final blow came in the form of an ancient spell of betrayal reminiscent of the altar they encountered earlier. Ramonde was suddenly unable to recall ever having seen his companions before and he fled the stone settlement as fast as he could. Thaddeus, on the other hand, interpreted the spell as an invitation and he wandered off aimlessly as the rest of the group fought a desperate retreat.
Gesse caught up to Ramonde at the edge of the lake and managed to convince him to stay by appealing to the bard’s ego. Partially re-united, the heroes are left wondering what has become of the missing paladin…