Below the Hall of the Hobgoblin Chief [Sunless Citadel] - Page 13 - Myth-Weavers

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Below the Hall of the Hobgoblin Chief [Sunless Citadel]

 
The kobolds are quite an excitable bunch.
With the arrival of the hobgoblin prisoner and news of the clan's defeat on the fortress level, there is a positive wave of them, filing through the backdoor and into the hazy hall. A good half-dozen kobolds take up place in the hall, marveling at dragon carvings.
Other kobolds ransack the larder, digging into the food and carting it away.
The pile of trash and discard in the hobgoblin's repurposed cathedral is picked over, by energetic, young kobolds with tails wagging eagerly.
The comparison to dogs; full of energy, yippish and an sense of excitement that seizes their whole body really calls it to mind.
A number of them follow Eradorim around, asking him incessant questions.
At first, the dragonborn seems to enjoy the question but he eventually tires, snapping and brooding, surrounding by the never-ending wonder and curiosity.
The heroes get a chance to see the where the kobolds live, behind a strong, wooden door at the end of Yusadryl's dragon hall.
Several small but smoky fires light the wide and high chamber. Spits, tanning racks, and other implements of a primitive culture are visible through the haze. Several kobolds busily work and play within the chamber.
At Bassil's insistence and instruction, the lot of the 'loot'; armor, weapons and other gains from fighting the hobgoblins are carried through the tower shell and up the switchback stairs. The hirelings follow with Ellet's body, taking it on a simple, wooden carrier made of ragged cloth and the slats from a smashed crate.
One by one, everything is taken up the cliff and to the surface and where Azais waits.
With the storm and winds and the rain, Ohans suggesting camping and resting in the empty chamber Zuka had found while exploring the corridor leading to the kobold's territory of the citadel. With more than enough room for everyone, this arrangement proves amenable to everyone, while Azais maintains her vigil on the cliffside above.
Ohans offers prayers to the dwarven god, Moradin, thanking him for his aid and asking him to say kind words for the fallen Ellet.
Wynna murmurs her own offerings but does not dwell on the ritual, using the few, remaining working hours to practice with sword and hammer. Zuka, who favors the shortsword, takes up one of the hobgoblin elite blades, giving it a try, joins her.
Eradorim sets himself wholly apart, when he manages to extricate himself from the kobold. Stripped to the waste, he sits in front of the dragon door, lost in meditation.
Bassil meditates for the evening, filled with a sense of content and purpose for the first time in years and thanks his god for the opportunity to prove himself. Having rid the world of one small source of evil Bassil's faith is renewed and his purpose grows stronger.
Chaart uses his magical belt to complete the healing of the wounded among his new companions.
Other than that, he has no need to make adjustments as he was rather ready to jump into action, but alas was too late to make a difference in the battle against the hobgoblins.
He instead uses the time to get to know who he is working with and their abilities.
The hirelings work out a rough patrol, walking from the entrance to the citadel, through the now, much expanded kobold area and into the hobgoblin chief's lair, where the long, knotted rope has been pulled up and looped around Durnn's throne.
When they've completely rested and healed, one by one, they make their way back to the hall of the hobgoblin chieftain.
Before approaching the shaft, Bassil checks on the remaining hobgoblin...
What was his name?
...makes sure he is still he is still in the locked room that passes as his cell. Bassil has mixed feelings about the criminal. On the one hand he is an emissary of evil and worthy of death. On the other hand, he is the source of Bassil's breakthrough and, in a way, Bassil is ironically grateful to him.
When the kobolds obligingly open the chamber, torchlight spills onto the hobgoblins inside—Durnn and other warriors the kobolds had previously captured.
Bassil instantly sees that Durnn has managed to free himself, twisting his wrists to fray the rope.
Bassil moves on without saying a word after making sure the cell is secure.
The circular shaft, built into the floor, yawns up at them, radiating dim violet light and the sickly white and gray vines that coat the sides. Some kobolds have scrawled and painted graffiti all over Durn's throne.
Chaart takes a minute to appreciate the new decorating.
"I just love what you have done with the place!" he exclaims with a wide grin to an imaginary kobold.
He looks down at the path they are about to take.
Other than the rude drawings, of kobolds beating hobgoblins over the head and being buried under 'dragon poop', the only difference is that the potted sapling that had sat next to the throne is missing; the pot is overturned, the dirt spilled out on the floor.
Bassil is not particularly surprised to see the tree gone, though he doesn't know whether to blame to kobolds or the denizens below.
I guess if we don't find it below, we can confront the kobolds
In spite of the mishap, Bassil is still in fine spirits. It was never about the loot or the tree for him anyway. With a satisfied smile, he peers down into the pit, praising Heironeous in his head. As he tosses the knotted rope down, he asks, "Vin, Zuka? You two seem the most adventurous. Which of you would like to lead the way?"
"I thought you didn't like pits, Bassil," says Wynna, "Why the good mood?"
Zuka nods.
"That is a pretty deep pit."
"There's pits and then there are passages. This is a passage, not a pit. It goes somewhere and has a nice handy ladder. A pit is covered and disguised and probably has spikes at the bottom with poison. See the difference?"
Bassil lights up his bullseye lantern again, but waits before casting his light spell until it becomes useful.
Zuka nods.
"Makes sense."
Bassil turns to Vin and says, "Before we descend, I noticed that you tend to go looking for trouble on your own a lot. I think it would help if I called upon the iron warrior to reinforce your defenses. Would you mind?"
Bassil takes out his wooden holy symbol, murmurs a few words and suddenly and vigorously smacks it against Vin's armor which responds by shining a little brighter.
Vin nearly falls over from the large man's knock, catching herself on Symas' shoulder.
When the glow disappears, Vin nods in appreciation, though she feels apprehensive about the performance's effects. I can make fancy lights too... hope this makes a difference.
"Very nice," Zuka says, holding out her fist.
"We see who go down first? 'Stone, Parchment and Knife'?"
Bassil is not sure whether Zuka wants to play the choosing game because she wants to go first, because she wants someone else to go first, or just wants to be fair.
Zuka's stone blunts Vin's blade.
Both women follow with parchment.
Zuka repeats parchment, covering Vin's stone and the ranger grins.
"Down you go, Ears."
Vin lowers herself to one knee and peers down into the pit to assess its depth and the environment below.
With the light of Bassil's lantern and her own excellent vision, Vin can see fairly well.
The shaft only goes eighty feet down...
...at the bottom, everything they can see is tinged with a violent light, like in the cathedral. The ground under the rope appears to be earthen, with rotting vegetation and remains of animals. There are several, large varities of mushrooms and other fungi and a few saplings.
That creepy light is stronger down there...hmm maybe it forces the magical fruit to grow or something? Let's find out...
"Plants, earth, and carcasses. Around... eighty drop."
She nods at the ranger over her shoulder.
"Watch my back. See you all below."
"Let's hope this descent ends better than in the Undermountain."
Vin skillfully lowers herself over the pit's rim, and slithers down the knotted rope.
It is easy going, with the vines to dig her feet into and the knots.
When she's twenty feet above the ground, she's at ceiling level.
Peering downward, Vin sees the ceiling and the walls, covered in violet fungi.
Walking among the fungi and plants, a pair of skeletons, in deep crimson robes.
One holds a spade and the other is carrying a rake.
The 'gardeners' are hard at work, stooping and pruning, tending the growths.
Vin's throat tightens. Unsavory memories creep forth unbidden. Keeping her head low, she silently makes room for her companions to descend and slinks toward the cavern walls.
"Zuka, did you by any chance notice where the sapling was taken? There seems to be some dirt and where there is dirt there may be tracks."
Bassil also looks around to see if he can pick up anything.
"What sapling?" Zuka asks, looking cross.
"Do not be silly, Oregano. One cannot do tracking across stone. Kobolds knock over and burn it."
"Oregano? Is that what you've taken to calling me? for heaven's sake, why?"
Zuka blinks and makes a motion with her middle and pointing finger, rubbing them together against her thumb, over her palm.
"Oregano! Is like spice!"
"I just figured that they would bet dirt on their shoes and track it around. Burned?"
Bassil looks around for soot.
"Why would you think they burned it?"
"Kobolds have not deigned to introduce shoes into their culture."
Alisone jerks her thumb over her shoulder.
"Fire for cookpot. Is no matter."
Bassil's exercise of the moment is push ups, with his head over the edge of the pit. His voice is punctuated by puffs and grunts and his field of view is pretty much limited.
The skeletons continue their work, as if Vin were not there...
...until one glances at her, its gaze locked on her long enough for Vin to know it sees her.
Vin halts and holds her breath, hoping that her body's features would be dismissed as some peculiar combination of fluorescent light and oddly shaped shadows.
But it continues back to its work, uprooting a yellow mushroom with dark veins.
Vin exhales and furrows her brows at the thing, her head tilted.
Maybe if I don't disturb them and the garden, they'll leave me alone? But how close can I get to that corridor before I'm a threat...? The others should be here soon...
Vin follows the cavern wall while keeping track of the skeletons' movements. Her heartbeat steadying, she begins to take in the sights, and readily breathes in the scent of the underground garden. She gazes at the beautiful mushrooms, wondering what they might taste like.
I wonder what it is they're tending to...
Continuing along the Southern wall, Vin notices a doorway ahead.
She bites her lip, thinking: How far is too far...?
Glancing over her shoulder, she hesitates.
Play it safe.
She slowly approaches the door, wary of changes in the farmers' movements, and hidden panels in the walls and wires near the ground.
"Shoes or no shoes, if you get dirt on your feet you leave tracks. Ask my mother."
Ohans and Zuka chuckle.
Having waited long enough for the nimble elf to descend, Bassil pauses in his exercises and lays there with his head tilted to the side, listening.
What's taking her?
"Vin? Vin!? Vin!!!?"
He tilts his head towards the hole again and calls out repeatedly more loudly until she answers.
The door swings open to reveal a forty-five foot long corridor that ends at a rough, passage, that bisects the corridor. Behind her, a rent in the walls of the chamber opens up onto a cavern.
Vin gazes into the far reaches of the corridor.
There's no telling how far this one goes...
She looks over her shoulder to weigh her options.
That guy's blocking the chamber and the other door... if I have to engage alone... it's better to clear the exit. Ahh... knew I should've packed a ma—
A muffled echo interrupts her thoughts. Vin tilts her head and holds her breath. With knitted brows she listens carefully... and hears her name!
Done. I'll report.
Vin stands under the rope leading to the goblin chieftain's chamber and looks upwards. Unlike her ever-clanking commander, Vin prefers to communicate discretely.
Eighty feet high... a bolt won't reach them, but they should hear it pierce... well, lizard-breath and the new guy should. Come, pay attention to me.
She places herself under the rim of the vertical shaft and Wynna points.
"There she is."
Vin waits.
Wynna takes the rope and lowers herself down.
Bracing herself against the wall of the shaft and using the vines and the knots as footholes, she quickly climbs down. When she reaches the bottom, she gives the rope a brisk snap and Zuka descends.
Ohans helps Bassil begin to remove his armor, so as to better get down the rope.
Eradorim gestures to Chaart.
"After you, halfling. By the time he's done, we'll both be below."
Chaart heeds the strange dragonborn's suggestion and grabs the rope to climb down next.
When he reaches the bottom, Vin is nodding at the skeletons, and updating the women in a low voice.
Both Zuka and Wynna are watching the gardeners warily, the archer plucking at her bowstring and Wynna touching the pommel of her sword.
"They're not actively hostile, but I'm not taking any chances."
She turns, and points with her crossbow as she describes the passageway to the South—the stone corridor bisected by the chasm.
"I'd like to check the Northern chamber first, if you'll cover me. I think that's a nest..."
The floor of the rough cavern is stained and smells of blood and animal musk. Light from glowing fungus reveals the eastern niche, which holds a pallet of matted furs, a wide wooden board on which a variety of weapons are affixed, and a great cloak of patchy black fur hung on a slender pole. To the edge of the niche are two large nests made of hair, dry fungus, and refuse.
"I can do that," says Zuka, finally putting an arrow to her bow.
The vegetation, growing throughout the garden, stirs, as if a breeze has blown through it.
Wynna stiffens, "Did you feel that?"
They hadn't.
Some of the spindly plants are moving.
"Huh," says Zuka.
She takes aim with her bow at Chaart.
For a moment, it looks like she's going to shoot the halfling, full in the face but when she releases, the fletchings just graze Chaart's cheek before slamming into of the saplings behind him staggering it.
The entire garden is shifting and moving, the saplings rushing forward, branches clacking and shaking, stretched out like claws.
Wynna throws back her head and yells upwards, "The trees! Their alive!"
Her blade in hand, Wynna steps up to one of the saplings, approaching behind Vin and sweeps her sword down, cleaving it in two. In response the drow points her crossbow just behind Wynna, shooting a bolt into the staggered sapling behind him.
"Do not get surrounded," Zuka warns, taking a step behind a sapling.
She fires an arrow through it, avoiding its reaching claws, then turns to fire another into a different sapling.
Chaart lets out a cry, part surprise, part pain.
The saplings press in around, crashing into Chaart and raking and poking him, drawing blood.
They secret a sticky sap, that burns on contact.
Seeing the halfling flanked on either side, Wynna steps up, into the center of the clearing below the shaft's bottom and makes a single, sweeping cut. A pair of saplings collapse into the foliage.
Vin takes out her dagger, springing to Chaart's side and cutting into one of the twigs with the blade.
Well above them, at the opening of the shaft, Ohans pauses his work on Bassil's armor to peer down.
"That... sounds crazy, ja?"
"The druid might know we're here," Eradorim wonders, "And has laid a trap where we'd be separated and vulnerable!"
"Ohans, that sounds like battle! We better get down there."
Bassil squints into the distance, but his eyes fail him and the sounds are far more informative than the blurry pictures.
His hair is in disarray and he surrounded by pieces of his armor. While most of his armor has been removed, he is still wearing his Solleret like someone obsessed with stomping particularly resilient cockroaches, and his torso is still covered with some sort of padding though it looks more for comfort than protection.
Figuring Ohans is better able to help at the moment, Bassil casts Magic Weapon on Ohans' hammer, sending sparks dancing across its surface.
"You go down and help. I'll be right after you."
One of saplings gets him good and he feels a burning sensation as he draws way and begins what he does best: to summon critters to take care of other critters.
"Don't be alarmed," he warns his companions.
"It will only hurt the saplings."
Rays of light shine up through a patch of earth as a large, furry creature with a dark, sleet pelt and twin, white lines down its back emerges. It's short claws, scrape away dirt around it and it wiggles it's tapered nose.
"A badger?" Zuka exclaims.
The badger slashes with its claws at the back of a sapling, ripping away a chunk of bark.
Zuka steps back, pressing herself against the wall, firing an arrow into a sapling as Wynna spins. The twig blights rush toward and around them. Vin fends off the one between her and the badger with her dagger and Wynna parries with her blade.
Zuka, ducks under Wynna's blade as it cleaves through the sapling she'd struck with her arrow.
"Hey! You steal my kill!"
Laughing, Willow runs her blade through another sapling.
Vin slashes into the sapling before her, it's back against the badger's snarling and clawing.
With all the other saplings dead, the badger scurries over to the last moving plant and tries to slash it with a claw. The badger's claw buckles the sapling's root-like leg and it waves its 'arms', struggling to remain upright.
While his summoned badger disposes of the sapling, Chaart retrieves his crossbow and loads it, ready to fire at whatever comes next.
Above, Ohans turns his hammer over and over his hand, experimentally swinging it.
"This is all well and good, Bassil. But I cannot use it from up here, ja?"
Bassil looks at Ohans in confusion, "Of course not. You will need to go down. We all need to go down eventually but there is only one rope."
He obviously does not know what point Ohans is making.
The hirelings circle the mouth of the shaft, crossbows aimed downward.
Eradorim rubs his chin with a claw.
"I... I might be able to get you two down there quickly... You will have to trust me..." the dragonborn purrs, "You will have to jump."
Bassil looks at the eighty foot drop and figuring he's a dead man with or without armor if the magic fails, so he responds, "Ah, I think I'll take the rope. Ohans? Rope or magic?"
Ohans scowls.
"Stop bein' a baby, ja?" he says, "It's just like that skirmish at Dumai's Well's. We float down real soft, ja?"
Eradorim nods.
"Everyone grab a piece of the armor and jump when Eradorim gives the order."
"Ja!" Ohans exclaims, "We are doing this!"
The dwarf slips his hammer back into his belt and takes up Bassil's greaves.
Himself, the old warrior holds his breastplate and helm and the hirelings, circling the lip of the shaft, take up the rest; the pauldrons that cover Bassil's shoulders and cuisses that protect his thighs.
"On the count of three," Eradorim whispers, "You will all jump."
He holds up his claw.
"My magic will instantly pluck you from your descent, slowing it to something safe and harmless. Do not hesitate. On three. Jump."
An ugly creature, resembling a twisted shadow puppet’s silhouette, a wild thing of flared black and brown fur whose pelt juts out from its body at freakish angles, steps into the garden through the door on the south side, ducking under the mantle.
The crouching shadow’s ears are large and floppy, draping shoulder-length, adding to the creature’s unnatural shape. Its lone, blue eye is too big for its head and it's other is a dark, empty socket. Tremendous milk-white ovals loom on either side of the thing’s wheezy pig-like nose. Its panting mouth is filled with bristly needle-teeth spider-webbed in disgusting strands of yellowish saliva, all vibrating to the tune of its wheezing breath.
The crouching shadow wears a coat of scales underneath a shaggy vest of fur.
Stretched over its broad shoulders are heavy, mismatching iron plates as pauldrons.
Behind him, a pair of fat, of filthy rats the size of large dogs; they have iron-chains around their neck, almost hidden by their coarse, dark fur and their eyes are a mad yellow and other-worldly red. Flecks of foam drip down from their jaws.
It wears a crown of stag antler's on its head and carries a heavy mace in his grip.
"Haar kaarthec duun ghaar daan shuush huur!" the bugbear growls, lifting his mace.
Perched on the shadow's shoulder is a tiny dragon, with frosty white scales. Its head is crowned with slender horns, with a thin membrane stretched between them.
Now Zuka laughs.
She steps back behind Wynna, and fires her arrows around the warrior, striking the saplings on either side of her.
"Ha!"
Wynna takes out her hammer, giving it a spin on the wrist strap as she turns to consider the shadow.
"What manner of creature is this?"
"He says, 'Get ready to meet the cook pot'," Zuka quips.
Wynna hesitates.
"Should we be insulted?"
From high above, they hear Eradorim's voice.
"One!"
Vin holds back, waiting for the others to suss this out before she moves...
...Wynna on the other hand, charges. Seeing her coming, the shadow steps up and under Wynna's swing. He swings his mace up and into her gut, doubling her over. The warrior manages to reach over her back, slashing down his back and the shadow lets out a bloodcurdling scream of pain as the blade cuts through the scale armor and fur, deep into his back.
Chaart hopes the rest will get down soon as he urges his badger to attack the new foes.
"Good badger! Go around the big bugbear, out of its reach, and attack the filthy rat!" he says, as if talking to a dog.
Hoping to aid his summon, he at the same time fires his crossbow at the same rat, and loads another bolt into his ranged weapon.
"Two!" Eradorim calls, way above.
Well above them, the dragonborn clasps his claws together.
"Three!"
Ohans and the hirelings immediately step forward over the shaft, tipping forward to fall.
Bassil rocks back and fortt to the the beat of the count, stepping over the edge on three as near to the rope as possible in the feeble hope that he can grab on if the spell does not take! Not likely with his shield strapped onto his left arm, while his right arm is gripping an armful of pauldron.
Oh mighty god of war, please do not let my life end from treachery. May it be a clean death in battle.
Ohans, Bassil and the others are surrounded by warmth as they're caught in Eradorim's spell. The tension on their stomachs ease as the dragonborn's magic slows their fall and lets them float down through the passage.
"It works!" Gyliam yells.
"It works!"
Hmm. Better to clear the field.
Vin spots a clear shot at the rat by Chaart's badger, and lets a bolt fly.
It goes high, striking the wall above the rat.
The white dragon wyrmling makes a sound, like a sneeze, and flicks its tail.
Wynna tries to dodge and is grazed by a blast of cold that the wyrmling releases from between it's jaws, sending frost and ice skittering across the bands on Wynna's armor and the side of her face.
The shadow lets out a hearty laugh and pats the wyrmling's head.
His rat 'hounds' turn to face the badger, hissing and spitting. The one with Chaart's bolt sticking out of its shoulder deals the badger a nasty bite, giving it a brisk shake and drawing blood.
Zuka steps forward, putting her boot down on one of the fallen saplings.
She takes aims and fires.
"Is bugbear! Big cousin of goblins. It sneaks and murders for sport!"
"Good..."
Wynna swings her sword overhead in a high sweep. The bugbear ducks and bats aside her hammer with his own mace.
"...to know."
The bugbear laughs at her, stepping out of her reach and bringing his mace down toward the skull of badger. The head of the weapon passes through a spurt of blood and arcane energy, as the summoning magic's hold on the badger breaks, sending it back to its own world.
Chaart fires another bolt at the closest rat, hoping to eliminate the vermin.
Bassil, Ohans and the hirelings land in the garden softly, the warmth around them immediately ending.
Above them, they can see Eradorim, himself beginning his own climb down the rope.
Ohans drops the few pieces of Bassil's armor and runs forward, hammer in hand to help Wynna. He glares up at the tall, hulking creature that is the bugbear.
"I've fought a few of you nasty buggers in my time, ja?"
The hirelings drop Bassil's armor as well, taking up defensive positions, around the hole of the shaft; Gyliam gripping his sword with both hands, Symas strapping on his shield and drawing a sword of his own and Britha loading and taking aim with her crossbow.
Again!
Vin steps in front of Chaart while he reloads, and lets loose another bolt at the bugbear's pet.
The wyrmling, perched on the bugbear's shoulder, lets out a sneering laugh when Vin's bolt goes wide, striking the wall. One of the rats circles wide, coming up right behind Ohans and tackling him from behind with a nasty bite.
Zuka moves forward, sighting down the length of her arrow and firing a shot at the bugbear. Both arrows sink into the creature's chest, piercing the scales and it lets out a roar of pain.
Wynna swings her hammer down across the bugbear's mace and stabs at it with her sword, sending scales spilling among the garden.
The bugbear slinks back from the warrior's sword, wiping blood from his mouth and fumbling for a mottled drinking gourd that hangs from his belt. Taking it with one hand, he tears out the stopper and takes a deep draught, before bringing his forearm down, snapping off the arrows.
Wiping excess from his lips, the bugbear takes his mace in both hands, glaring from Zuka to Wynna and back.
He growls, raising his voice, "Drakaan or drakaan dhuur daal rhuun, a kekhaan maach duuch rhaan khrelaan."
"'Dance'?"
The skeletons throw back their robes and raise up their rake and spade, so the haft is before their grinning faces. They begin to do a strange, rocking and hopping dancing, going from one foot to the other.
Power glows within their eyes and with the beat of their dance, some of the fallen saplings and other newer, younger shoots begin to dance as well, coming to life. Wynna, alarmed, slashes at one of the skeletons but aims to high, her blade ringing against the wall.
The new saplings twitch and jerk, shaking off excess leaves and bark.
Chaart frets for a moment—they are still fighting the bugbear and a dragon (it may not be big, but it is still a dragon)!
So, the skeletons are definitely malevolent.
Figuring his talents as a spellcaster are more needed than his archery skills, he begins reciting the appropriate arcane syllables and drawing elaborate patterns in the air before him. Seconds later a cloud begins to form out of thin air to surround the skeleton and more badgers appear next to it and start attacking the undead sapling summoner.
The badgers ruthlessly surround the skeleton, tearing into it from both sides, with claws and teeth. One of them manages to get a good hit in, a smiting of evil, that flashes with white light and sears through the skeleton and it sags against the wall, nearly dropping its rake.
Ohans cracks his hammer across the back of the rat between him and Wynna. The rat snarls in pain, twisting to bite at him.
Symas whirls around, slashing at the sapling that had arisen, trying to get him from behind.
He shoves his shield forward, pushing it into the corner.
"They're everywhere!"
Britha fires a crossbow bolt into one of the saplings and shakes her head at the not very reassuring 'thok' sound.
She reloads and Gyliam charges and deals a sweeping cut to one of the saplings, cutting it down in one strike.
Bassil yanks the shield from his back and slips it over his arm, then lifts it up towards the heavens and cries "Warriors of old, guardians of the veil of death, I summon you to your duty!"
Upon finishing the phrase, translucent ghostly miniature warriors in droves drive outward from the holy symbol on his shield, passing through all living and material objects on their way towards the undead, hammering into the skeletons, each one delivering a punishing blow.
"Abominations, be gone!"
The skeletons utterly panick, clawing at the apparitions and flailing wildly.
Seeing Britha's bolt disappear into the twig blight's bark without much impact, Vin feels uneasy. She unsheathes her dagger and stays close to Chaart and Symas.
The rats circle Ohans and he's bitten again.
Cursing, the dwarf tries to swing at it with his hammer. The other rat tries to bite Wynna, but it's teeth can't make it through her armor.
Retreating back toward the shaft exit,Zuka shoots a pair of arrows, one ripping right through one of the saplings.
"Let them come to us," she warns, "Wizard can burn them."
Wynna nods, sweeping her sword up and across at the cowering skeleton. With the rat at her back, she cannot bring her sword to bear but her hammer clanks across the side of it's skull, chipping bone.
The bugbear, stepping behind Ohans, swings his mace right into the small of the dwarf's back.
Ohans lets out a scream of pain, nearly dropping his weapon and stumbling forward.
The dwarf is clearly hurting, hunched over and anguished.
The skeletons, however, throw down their tools and break and run—the gardener with the rake running for the cavern with the nests and the other, with the spade, right through the door Vin had opened and down the corridor.
Chaart shoots a glance at Zuka.
"I am a conjurer, not an evoker!" he informs her, shouting to be heard through the sounds of battle—the snarling rats, the rattling of the saplings and the badgers growls.
"Not you!" Zuka snaps back, scowlin.
"But I have something to burn them with," he says, mostly to himself, as he opens up his backpack while he moves closer to the two saplings between him and the wyrmling's group. Once he finds the flask among his belongings, he instantly lobs it at the wooden creatures, hoping they will be susceptible to the fire.
The flask breaks over the sapling and it bursts, engulfing it and another in flames. It crumbles, collapsing into ash.
"Surround and attack the saplings!" he commands the badgers.
At his word, the badgers rip another of the saplings apart with incredible ferocity.
Symas, continues to slash and cut, cutting down the sapling that had snuck up on him. When he's sure it's fallen, he runs round around the others to a better position. Britha strafes, running and shooting at one of the rats.
Bassil casts shield of faith and moves up to flank the rat with Ohans, not liking that he has to stick his neck out like this to help retrieve Ohans from his predicament. Always thinking like an infantryman, he is just not able to comprehend the tactics his new teammates use.
"Ohans, you need to start backing up and make a defensive line with us!"
Vin circles to her right, reloading her crossbow as she goes.
She shoots a crossbow bolt under Wynna's arm, just missing the rat she was aiming for. The creature whirls, bristling with rage.
Ohans, clutching his side, staggers away from the rats and blights.
He weaves and ducks the clawing branches to huff to a stop just behind Symas and next to Chaart. The halfling can see that Ohans is really hurt, struggling to breathe and with blood pouring down his back.
The rats slink back, following their master as Zuka strafes to her left. She fires a shot into one of the twig blights getting close to Vin and Wynna and another, off-hand shot at the bugbear. He isn't expecting it and the arrow buries itself in the creature's throat in a spurt of blood.
The bugbear's eyes fly wide open, with a wet gurgling sound and it clutches at the wound.
"That's it! Zuka!" Wynna cries, "Hold on, Granpa Ohans! This'll be over soon!"
The dragon wyrmling, perched on the bugbear's shoulder, throws back it's head and lets out an angered hiss, while the bugbear fumbles for its gourd again. It takes a deep swig of from the gourd, splashing liquid around its mouth and even over its throat. When he releases the gourd, it flops down to his side and the bugbear snarls, pulling the arrow free and glaring at Zuka with hatred.
Twig blights continue to come from all directions, clawing and rushing up to Bassil and toward Ohans, Zuka and Britha. One manages to scratch Ohans exposed back, drawing blood.
Chaart directs his badgers to continue the attack, moving to new targets if they drop the sapling they have ganged up on.
At the same time, he loads his crossbow and fires it at the closest rat. Its a good shot, striking true and leaving the rat hunched and hurt.
"Good job. Ohans. Form a line folks! Zuka, take out the Bugbear. If he falls the others may flee."
I'm going to have to train these guys, I can see.
Bassil weaves his axe in a defensive pattern while half-heartedly slashing out at the foremost twig thing and then takes a step back.
Symas yells a warning at Zuka, who shrinks away from one of the saplings that had snuck up on her.
Britha comes from behind her, slashing into the sapling and chopping it down with a single cut.
Sliding a dagger from its sheathe, Vin her rushes at the rat between her and the bugbear. She ducks under a swing from the monster's mace and avoids the wyrmling's snapping jaws. It lets out a blast of cold at the drow and she steps to the side, avoiding the wave of cold.
Wynna and the rat aren't so lucky, getting fully blasted by the wave of ice.
Spotting an opening, Vin plunges her dagger into the rat's back and it collapses to the ground, twitching and kicking.
The bugbear curses at her, raising its mace over head. The other rat charges in front of him, trying to bite at Vin's face and she leans back, let its long teeth clip together just in front of her face.
Wynna hops over the fallen rat and thrusts forward with her sword, slashing across the bugbear's chest. It bats aside one of Zuka's arrow and the other strikes the other rat in the side.
Slipping behind Vin, the bugbear smashes Vin across the back.
Saplings rush at Bassil, trying to get past his shield.
One of them smacks one of Chaart's badgers across the face, drawing blood. Enraged, the badger begins to snarl and foam, its jaws split and foam spilling from its lips.
Chaart continues to urge his badgers forward, but one of them is clearly not susceptible to any instructions as it froths and attacks the sapling even more ferociously than before. It rends through the sapling, utterly reducing it to shreds in its fury.
Chaart reloads his crossbow again and fires it into the side of the twitching, falling rat. It's frantic movements slow and its breathing becomes labored and frantic.
Since the two twig blights have so considerately lined up next to Bassil, he decides take a shot at them.
Swinging with his axe, he aims a little high, effectively trimming the tips of their branches but follows with a bodying from his shield, rocking back one of the saplings.
The sapling crumples under his shield and Bassil then step closer to the main action with the bugbear.
Inspired, Symas rushes forward, slashing at the sole, remaining twig blight while Britha, crossbow reloaded, dashes through the underbrush, firing a bolt into another rat.
Bassil turns his attention from the trig blight next to him and faces the Bugbear, though still keeping the shield between him and the only adversary near him. Pointing his ax at the bugbear and waving it towards the exit, Bassil guesses or suggests, "Now's the time where you flee, don't you think? Of course you don't understand plain common, do you?"
The bugbear snarls in reply.
Vin flinches in pain. Feeling suffocated by the gang of enemies, she spots a safe zone past Wynna's legs. Gritting her teeth, she tumbles past her statuesque companion, and halts behind Bassil.
Ohans, now under the lip of the shaft, gazes upwards.
He presses his palms to his chest, murmuring a prayer for healing and scowls.
The remaining rat tries to bite at Wynna but its teeth cannot get through her armor's metal bands and she kicks it away. She steps up to the bugbear, grimacing.
Zuka strafes to her right, now, running past Vin and the dead rat to fire off a shot into the bugbear's side. It lets out a yowl of pain and Wynna smashes it over the head with her hammer.
Breaking, the bugbear runs for the cavern on the chamber's north side. Slashing across its back, Wynna yells, "And take that!"







 

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