The Withered Fortress

Session 6

Once again, Valen (Scott) has stepped up and written the notes for us!

I write in haste, using the few moments left us before our attack at the enemy’s underground gates. Much has happened since I last took up my log, please bear with me as I gather my thoughts.

We last camped in a cavern we had found beneath the necropolis. Still seeking a less guarded way into the goblin fortress, we chose to continue on in the hopes that these passages might connect with the foundations of the fortress.

In any case, we fear we have lost one of our companions. When we woke from our rest besides the subterranean lake, Morrykin was not with us. Using my meager skills as a tracker, I was able to determine that the camp had been approached in the night by some small bipedal creature, smaller than a human in any case. Morrykin’s tracks were visible, following the creature away, but I lost the trail in the nearby bone pile. We searched the cavern, but could find no further sign of our stealthy friend. He had taken his bedroll and gear, though he had left a small leather satchel we had found, with magical properties allowing heavy items to be carried within without much struggle. We found no further signs of him…

The smaller set of tracks had the appearance of having been made my soft leather boots. Whatever paid us a visit that night, they were obviously adept at remaining unseen and unheard.

After exhausting any hope of finding Morrykin, we resolved to press onward, in the hopes that that was the direction he had chosen. Inspecting the edge of the water revealed several small skeletons, which I took at first in the dim light to belong to bats. Closer inspection told a different tale. I hadn’t encountered this creature before, and the bones definitely didn’t belong to the quiet bats of my forest home! How I long for nights under the stars, watching them hunt amongst the trees. May Ehlonna grant that I return there!

The water appeared very still, yet we were all loath to enter it. Falyn placed a piece of tinder upon the surface, and it didn’t float away or reveal any hidden currents. Edvar tossed an apple into the water. At that point, I heard fluttering sounds from out over the water, near the cavern’s roof, but in the darkness I couldn’t perceive what had made the sound.

I glanced again at the bones by the shore, and in the light from my torch, found a more or less complete specimen. It became even more obvious that these were not bats. The skeleton had too many bones, extra legs and wings. Wendyl cast a spell of some sort that created a light near the roof of the cave, and we briefly caught a glimpse of leathery wings, but the creature quickly ducked behind a stone outcropping hanging from the cavern’s ceiling.

We waited, but the creature made no move towards us. Wendyl, often the bravest or most foolish amongst us, tied a rope to himself, and handed one end to Edvar. He then entered the water, basically using himself as bait in an ill advised fishing expedition!

Immediately, a pair of the flying creatures attacked us. One latched on to Edvar, and another onto me, but we dispatched them before they could stab us with what appeared to be rather nasty looking beaks. Less fearful now that the creatures had revealed themselves, and at least seemed somewhat easy to deal with, Wendyl continued his fishing expedition. As he reached the edge of our lantern’s light, being taller, I followed him, holding onto the rope, so that we could keep him in sight.

Another flying creature attacked, but we dispatched it quickly. Not being able to see the extent of the shallow lake we had now all waded into, we chose to follow the left hand wall, staying near the edge for fear of deeper water in the middle, and what it might hide.

Despite our newfound confidence in dealing with the flying creatures, I had quite the sense of unease and we continued. Something didn’t feel right to me. I saw movement towards the lake’s center, and quickly flung a sling stone at whatever it was, then hid behind Edvar. And a good thing too. A creature that seemed to be made of water itself slammed into our half-giant friend, nearly ending him then and there! We struggled to defeat this foe, as it attempted to surround and drown Edvar. The fight was messy, difficult, and very wet, but the creature finally dissolved back into the water.

Having no other options but to escape to drier areas, we continued around the edge of the cavern. A small island or hummock was seen sticking out of the lake, and something was upon it. Investigating, we found a hobgoblin, much the worse for wear. Though it still breathed, it was missing a few pieces I would normally consider to be quite vital. We chose to end it’s quite obvious suffering. Beneath it we discovered a working crossbow and a few bolts. Being the only one amongst us who could make use of such a weapon, I took it, though how deft I may prove to be with it has yet to be seen.

Just a little further from the island, we finally found a tunnel leading away from the cursed lake. I checked the area for tracks, and did find what looked to be signs of more hobgoblins. With Falyn leading us, scouting for traps, we walked the better part of a mile along the tunnel. The sound of dripping water, which was inescapable near the lake, lessened as we walked, and the cave became noticeably drier. Eventually, we reached a section where the stone had been worked, and there were wooden doors set into the walls.

Opening one, we found a long unused camping spot. In the other, there was a still sleeping hobgoblin! Falyn dispatched it quickly and quietly. On it, he found an old key, and a further check of the room revealed a chest, which the key fit. We took its contents and continued past the doors.

We now entered an area that immediately felt better to me than the caverns we had passed. The ground became more earthy, and the smell of loam and of growing things increased. Mushrooms of wondrous size and color began to be seen, some emitting a blue glow of their own. I selected a smallish specimen and picked it, extinguishing my torch, thinking that this light source, native to the area, might be less conspicuous than a smoky burning torch.

With Falyn leading, we continued onward. The floor of the cave, soft at first, seemed to become even softer, with a large area across our path made of some greenish substance. Unsure how to proceed, Edvar went back and collected the body of the sleeping hobgoblin, which he then tossed into the greenish area. The body slowly sank into the floor until it disappeared. Not wanting to suffer a similar fate, Falyn used some climbing gear to create a simple rope handhold along one wall, and we all crossed successfully, though Falyn was saddened at being unable to retrieve his pitons.

As we continue, we hear the sounds of a struggle, and voices speaking some guttural tongue I did not recognize. Peeking from behind some mushrooms, we discovered two hobgoblins attacking what I can only describe as a humanoid mushroom! Trusting to the old ‘enemy of my enemy’ adage, we slew the hobgoblins. I was fascinated by this creature. It seemed unable to communicate via sounds, but when one was close enough to it, it would release a cloud of spores, as mushrooms sometimes do, but while within this cloud, you could hear the creatures thoughts! And what’s more, you could project your own thoughts at them! This was most interesting, though Falyn disliked this greatly, and tried to avoid the spores if at all possible.

The creature identified itself is Siph. Thinking us great heroes for saving it, it wanted us to come with it to its village to meet the local leader, whom it seemed we might be able to help with some problem or other. This seemed the best lead we had had for some time, so we followed.

Edvar looted the hobgoblins, and off we went, descending further into the now well lit cavern. Eventually, the spore density revealed the presence of a mushroom village, with several of Siph’s kin working and living inside the stalks of what be giants of mushroom-kind.

Siph lead us before their leader, called the sovereign. This creature called itself Selph, and it seems we were correct in our guess that the goblins and hobgoblins were their enemies. The goblinoids had subjugated the mushroom men, forcing them to farm their spongy crops for the goblin’s benefit. Selph had apparently had enough, and it believed that our strength coupled with his own warriors would suffice to throw off the yoke of their slavers.

The goblins had apparently established a camp in the mushroom men’s fields. Offering us what was described as a ‘powerful magical item’ for our help, Selph wanted us to spearhead an attack on this encampment. We spent many hours planning our attack, and the task is formidable! The goblins numbers are great, and they have a troll! After formulating the best plan of attack we could come up with, we hid in some carts that the mushroom people used to move their harvest, and we’ve taken up positions outside the wall to this encampment. The attack comes soon, and I must leave off for now. When next I add to my journal, let it be with news of our victory! For behind the camp, well guarded by the troll and another large creature, lies a door, which we hope may be an entrance into the Withered Fortress itself!

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