As the party looted and licked their wounds, Ardell drove the kobold’s poison from the elf Giliana, who then warned them that she’d witnessed a kobold horde – hundreds of kobolds – amassing to hunt down the PCs. Realizing they were in dire straits, Zolar conferred with his ancient grimoire which revealed a secret but deadly technique to impart one of his old rituals into Zolar’s subconscious. Determined to succeed, Zolar touched the grimoire and for a moment turned into living lightning as memories swam thru his brain; tempering the energies, Zolar returned to corporeal form and his eyes flashed open. “Get me a rope…”
Kirito scouted out the old enormous carrion crawler’s pen in the arena as a safe (if terribly smelling) location for a Rope Trick ritual. Zolar cast Rope Trick, accessing an extra-dimensional space of mists and images of his past incarnations; Raphael made several off-color commends on the deeds of Zolar’s past incarnations. Despite the rescued slave Theadric’s frightful stories of kobolds in the mines, the party took a desperately needed sleep, confident the kobolds would not find them here.
Refreshed and girded for battle, the PCs found the entrance to the carrion crawler’s pen covered with hanging dwarven corpses strung up like kobold Christmas tree lights (i.e. trapped with translucent thunderstone containing poison gas). Apparently, the kobolds had found their hiding place. They could smell a sickly sweet burning smell, and could hear the enormous carrion crawler munching on dead kobolds above. Tristan, assured by Zolar’s casting of his fortunes, disarmed the traps, then proceeded to cut down one of the dwarven corpses. Doing so, however, triggered a counterweight trap which spilled a swarm of dire hornets upon Tristan. As Zolar and Lily blasted the swarm away with spells, Lily mused that the kobolds were not much in a fight, but they damn well knew their traps.
The arena floor was now a gaping pit dropping 80’ into an underground river, and the party set to work setting up an anchor for a long rope which they began descending. Lowering Tristan’s worg Vitejie took a bit more ropework and the combined strength of Kirito, Raphael, and Tristan. As the trio lowered the unhappy worg, the enormous carrion crawler attacked from above, attempting to grab them with its tentacles. Lily narrowed her eyes, then let go of the rope and began flying as lightning arced from her fingertips and severed the tentacles grabbing her companions. Several of the PCs dropped into the river once a safe distance down the rope, but Ardell in his plate armor began to sink; Miri dove after him and dragged him to shore. Once most of the party was safe, Kirito and Raphael looked at each other, shrugged, and swan-dived 80’ into the river below. Tristan calmly turned into a bat and flitted down, materializing on the shore of a massive lake as his soaking-wet companions climbed out.
They found the aftermath of a fight between the kobolds of clan Mangled Fist and clan Kneebiters – apparently Mangled Fist had been decimated and the Kneebiters were victorious. Zolar sighed, and reluctantly checked off “Chief Molokac” from his “Kobold Chiefs to Kill” list. Catching their breaths, the party decided to move rapidly thru the underground river and mines to outpace the kobold horde as long as they could. Though they stumbled upon a black pudding, they chose to run into the mines rather than fight it.
Beady red eyes glinted off their torch light, picks echoed in the darkness, and a creepy knocking pattern seemed to come from the stone itself. Upon coming across a door, Zolar flung it open with mage hand and a scything blade swung out toward Kirito…only to break apart and the rusting blade landed at Kirito’s feet. A single kobold was tormenting a bunch of baby stirges trapped in a shallow pit, and Raphael boggled the kobold’s mind so it stumbled into the pit and became stirge-food. Then Raphael entered the room, only to feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise as he realized it was haunted. The door slammed shut, and a dwarven ghost (Kirito’s former companion Brimli) appeared on the side where the rest of the party was, demanding Kirito prove he’d overcome his pride. Raphael, not one to mince words, kicked down the door and charged thru the dwarf, only to be rendered unconscious. The rest of the party assuaged the ghost and promised to help prove Brimli’s ancestral claim to the dwarfhold and find his body. Appeased, the ghost released Raphael from his thrall and agreed to help the PCs against the kobolds as best it could.
As the party continued exploring the mines, they soon were attacked by rust monsters and kobold commandos (and kobolds riding rust monsters!). As the rest of the party did battle with a seemingly endless stream of rust monsters and kobolds, Miri charged ahead, discovering the far end of the hall was lit on fire; she also found a concealed door, which she kicked down, only to fall into a pit trap which wedged her under iron slats. As the fire advanced down the hall, it drove a swarm of dire cockroaches before it, many which fell into the pit and began biting Miri. As Miri climbed out she was assaulted by kobold commandos and slingers which tried forced her back into the trap. Catching herself, Miri did a dynamic leap to the other side of the pit and rolled thru the fire to get to her feet. Shaking smoking dire cockroaches off of her, Miri said bluntly, “I need a healer!”
Tristan fought alongside Ardell, Zolar, and the NPCs against waves of rust monster-mounted kobolds. Leaping onto his worg Vitejie, Tristan was surprised by a steel-jaw neck snapper trap, and despite being badly wounded, teleported free of the trap. Tristan then made short work of the remaining kobolds. Ardell concentrated on taking down kobold minions attacking from the rear, healing Miri, and dragging one of the NPCs who’d been mortally wounded by kobolds to safety. One of the kobolds Ardell felled had a keg of explosive powder strapped to its back and a long trail of powder going around the corner; Ardell could only look on incredulously as the powder trail was lit…only to be mysteriously blown out by invisible breath. Had their ghostly dwarven ally done his part? When the black pudding from the river began slowly moving into the room, Zolar decided he would collapse the room with a spectral ram, and advised his companions to make themselves scarce.
As Lily blasted away at rust monsters, Kirito had taken the fight to kobold commandos on a ledge, deftly avoiding caltrops and a pit trap, only to be surprised by a steel-jaw neck snapper trap. By sheer strength alone he was able to extricate himself, gritting thru the pain as he growled at the kobolds laughing at him, “When I get out of this, you’re next!” One of the kobolds took off running and never looked back.
Once the rest of the party was clear, Zolar cast spectral ram at the ceiling supports, and the entire room came down on a rust monster and the black pudding. However, Zolar had overdone it, and the entire passage they were in began to collapse! Racing against time, the PCs dodged falling rocks, blasted at cockroach swarms, and extinguished flames as they attempted to escape the mine collapse. First Miri was crushed by rocks, then Tristan, but both were saved by their resourceful allies. In the last second, the party made it out of the collapsing tunnel, squeezing cheek-to-cheek in a cramped side passage.
After a short rest and a bit of exploring, the party found the stairs leading to the approach to the dragon’s lair. They could feel the dragon’s presence nearby. Were they ready for facing the legendary Infyrana?