The Whisperer in Darkness

Quest Log 5: Secrets Subterranean

Stay away from that TRAP DOOOOOOR

Poobeyr, Lumen and Grimlock awake the next morning to find that Wistark has, seemingly from nowhere, acquired a dragonling companion. This small, purple creature regards the wizard’s companions with interest, chittering some remark that earns a sagely nod from the man in the moustache. Grimlock and Poobeyr are not curious men and accept the new situation immediately.

Lumen enquires a bit further. Wistark explains that the dragon, Spyro, is his djinni, and has been lying dormant inside his body for more than three Seasons. This brief explanation raises far more questions than answers, but the wizard offers no further information, leaving the elf completely unsatisfied. Considering the book-burning of the night before, this could well be intentional.

After a leisurely breakfast the Risen decide to check up on Lumen’s dwarven lookout, who was paid to watch the burned down family home of Joseph Curwen (the mysterious traveller mentioned in Farmer Toulson’s diary). As they move to leave the inn they are stopped by a towering goliath. Fixing the group with a penetrating stare, she introduces herself as Gravilla Bloodrock, Knight of Arcelor. She explains that her father, Big Sol, has informed her of all the strange, recent occurrences in the village. Eyeing the group threateningly, she bluntly makes clear her suspicions that they are responsible for these events. Wistark remains resolutely silent, Grimlock stares at the goliath with open hostility and Poobeyr scratches his beard, his eyes betraying that he is not even paying attention.

Lumen demands to know if Gravilla is also accusing them of murdering Daniel and Keyleth Glick, indicating with his tone how ridiculous he finds the idea. After all, their deaths (one by bestial mauling, the other by full-body crushing) are not something that could have been forged. The knight has considered this possibility, but puts a hand to her war hammer threateningly. She is yet to learn that it is not possible to intimidate the Risen. Grimlock almost smiles, anticipating a new skull to obtain.

Sensing the dragonborn’s shifting mood and hoping to make Gravilla see reason, Wistark points out that the wounds the group have taken over the last several days are plain to see. If he was responsible for creating all the abominations encountered in Raylack of late, why were the Risen their main targets? Necromantic constructs do not rise up against their masters!

His argument has undeniable sense, and Gravilla reconsiders her plans. Still partially unconvinced, she insists on joining the group’s investigation in order to watch over their activities and determine their intent. It is clear from her stance that the only way to prevent her from accompanying them would be to kill her.

Despite Lumen’s patiently repeated explanations, Grimlock fails to see why this is not an option. The five warriors leave the inn, but before leaving the village Wistark posts a letter to the Magician’s Guild, explaining recent events in Raylack with a particular focus on the Fini encountered in Branock’s Gorge. Gravilla reads the letter aloud before permitting its departure.

Pressing on, the group meet with Lumen’s watchman, the dwarf Bombur Deer, and learn that he did indeed see lights within the old Curwen farmstead during the night, even though no-one entered or exited. Wistark knocks on the door. No-one answers. They let themselves in to find a lantern and a trap door, the latter of which is opened to reveal a ladder that descends into the earth. As Grimlock places his feet on its highest rungs and begins his descent, Bombur decides to tag along out of simple curiousity. A chance to explore underground is worth any danger for a bored dwarf living amongst humans.

Wistark casts a Light. At the bottom of the ladder there are two corridors. As Grimlock steps forward the floor collapses beneath him, leaving him amongst debris in a pit 10ft below. Lumen and Wistark leap over the pit into the right-hand corridor. Poobeyr is not interested in running jumps, and opts to drop into the pit and climb out on the other side with a rope instead. Bombur lies down at the edge of the pit and reaches down with his arm to try and help out, but the dwarf is still right near the entrance, so anyone stupid enough to accept his help out of the pit would immediately have to get back in to reach its far side.

Grimlock is now back on his feet. Gravilla takes this opportunity to jump onto his shoulders and then off again, using him as a springboard to cross the pit. Grimlock ponders a number of ways to slaughter her for this outrage, then tries to exit the deep trap in the coolest possible manner. Running up a wall, he launches backwards and turns in the air in an attempt to land in the right-hand corridor. Instead he cracks his jaw on its floor and falls back into the pit. Nearby, Bombur finally realises that no-one needs his help. The dwarf hops into the pit, walks past Grimlock and exits using the rope left by Poobeyr.

Lumen, meanwhile, has made his way silently to a closed door at the end of the corridor. Listening intently, he hears no signs of life in the room beyond. Poobeyr clanks noisily up behind him in his armour, and the elf looks at the man with visible disgust. Further back, Wistark attempts to unlock the door with the mage hand, but lockpicking is beyond him even at close range. Gravilla appears and arrogantly demands that everyone move aside so that she can dropkick the stone entrance, but before she gets a chance to make a fool of herself Lumen and Poobeyr get it open themselves.

Encounter: Jawsome!

The room locks them inside and tries to drown them, dropping a shark in the rising water for good measure. Lumen manages to tie the shark to a wall. Eventually, Gravilla and Poobeyr break down the door, releasing the rising water. Wistark pulls a tooth out of his shoulder. Lumen jumps to the ground with evident pride on his face. He walks over to the shark and poses wetly, demanding that all present fix this memory forever in their minds. The others take a moment to sufficiently register the soggy elf, standing with the hood of his drenched cloak plastered over his face.

The bold hero is eventually satisfied that his fellows have paid appropriate attention, and starts to wonder how he will get his shark down. The ‘fellows’ leave him to it and gladly exit the drown-room. In the long cavern beyond, there is more water. A fast underground river runs from right to left. A door can be seen on its far side and there are platforms that could be used to hop from one side to the other. To prove this, Poobeyr adeptly leaps to one.

Bombur tries a similar leap, but trips over his beard and falls into the river instead. The fast current begins to push him downstream, but fortunately Grimlock is on hand to pull him back to shore. Back in the drown-room, Lumen becomes so attached to his salty trophy that he decides to hoist its dripping carcass onto his back and bring it along. The lean elf is barely able to move beneath its great bulk.

Wistark attempts to hop to a platform, but is not successful. The wizard topples into the froth and pulls himself back onto the riverbank moments later. He then decides to simply observe for a while. This turns out to be more interesting than expected.

Encounter: Frog Men

The adventurers finish crossing the river and take a short break. Lumen goes back to the drown-room and gets his shark, then attempts to bring it across the river strapped to his back. Poobeyr and Gravilla bet on the distance he will get before slipping and losing it to the water. Grimlock makes his own bet that Lumen himself will fall into the water with the shark and drown downstream.

Over the next half hour the ranger makes unbearably slow progress across the river, taking long breaks to demand that Wistark conjure the floating disk he usually persists in offering. The wizard stubbornly refuses, hoping that the elf will cut the dorsal fin from his trophy and leave the rest where it is. On a number of occasions Lumen almost falls in. At such moments Grimlock perks up to discourage any attempt at giving aid. Because dragonborn bets are for keeps.

In the end, through skill and phenomenal luck, Lumen finishes his crossing, shark intact, and nobody wins their bet. Two corridors lead out of the room. Wistark notices that both are filled with large pressure plates. Ignoring the wizard’s suggestion to wait another ten minutes while he performs the floating disk ritual, Gravilla, Grimlock, Poobeyr and Bombur at first try to hop over the traps, fail repeatedly, then proceed to hit the pressure plates with their weapons in typical brute fashion until the left-hand corridor is safe to travel and they are moderately injured by activated traps.

Gravilla leads the way through the corridor and finds a large chamber, filled with wells that sporadically belch spouts of fire into the air. At the back of the room, a large shape is obscured by smoke. Wistark sends Spyro to take a look, and the djinni quickly returns to report that a gigantic red dragon waits there. The fiend in question sees Gravilla and charges at her.

Encounter: The Stone Arrow

The frenzied lizard is dispatched, its carcass yielding a number of dragon-based lootables that Wistark, Lumen and Grimlock help themselves to. Sensing great magic, Wistark follows the tingling in his moustache to the back of the chamber, where he finds huge arcanic symbols marked on the floor that surround a trap door. He knows that the symbols are magical seals, and moves to dispel them. The shocking burns on the fighters of the front line are healed by Gravilla, who it seems is gifted in the arts of healing. Having seen great courage this day, the goliath has warmed to the Risen considerably. Though she is still unsure of what is going on, the group have earned her respect and she vows to assist the adventurers wholeheartedly until they prove to be unworthy of it.

Having fought for two hours straight, the Risen Adventurers (and goliath accomplice) decide to set a watch on the trap door in the dragon chamber and wait for night to fall. This allows them to eat, sleep and rest with confident knowledge that Joseph Curwen will not use this intermission to escape. Additionally, Wistark creates a 3ft-wide floating disk with a lengthy magic ritual. At midnight, they open the trap door and descend.

Encounter: Holograms

After fighting three battles against machine-created virtual beasts, the group give themselves a few minutes to rest. Lumen gets out the necromantic tomes he took from Father Malley’s house and tries to set them ablaze. Wistark puts this fire out before it has a chance to take hold, and demands to know what the elf is doing. The wizard argues that such books may hold knowledge that he could use to destroy the animated works of necromancy they so often fight, and that it is foolish not to know thy enemy. Seeing that the others have already proceeded into the next room, he asks Lumen to hold off burning them until the group are out of danger and all options can be discussed. Lumen seems to accept this, so Wistark goes after the others. Lumen burns the books.

The next room turns out to be the lair of Joseph Curwen. Six identical Curwens stand at its far end, all in the midst of a ritual. A corpse lies at their feet. Grimlock kicks down the door and enters with Poobeyr and Gravilla in tow. Wistark runs up and joins them, then demands that the necromancer cease his spell immediately and greet his guests. The six men do no such thing, and pay no heed to the adventurers whatsoever. Wistark nods at his dragonborn companion, and Grimlock runs fearlessly towards the necromancers.

Encounter: A Black Ritual

Joseph spends much of the fight completing a ritual on Albert Dunwithy‘s remains that absorbs his power and character. It also seems to withdraw memories, for the necromancer awakens from the ritual to blame Grimlock for the slaughter of his family. No relative of Curwen’s was slain by a dragonborn, but the entire family of Albert Dunwithy was famously butchered by dragonborn mercenaries, save for one leaky infant. Eventually Joseph is defeated.

As Wistark helps Lumen to his feet he discovers the elf’s werewolf bite. Lumen reacts defensively and hides the wound, which arouses the wizard’s suspicion. However, there are more pressing manners to attend to. Joseph Curwen is interrogated, providing a number of startling revelations.

  • Firstly, it was Bango Skank and Joseph Curwen who ‘opened’ the Fini in Branock’s Gorge.
  • Secondly, when Wistark, Poobeyr, Grimlock and Lumen first passed through Raylack, they were probably searching for Bango Skank.
  • Thirdly, Curwen tricked the four adventurers into going with him to Branock’s Gorge, where they were ambushed by monsters and killed by the Fini. Curwen then took their corpses to Raylack Church graveyard and paid Zud to bury them there, as he can only absorb the essences of bodies that have stewed in holy ground for a while. He planned to return two days later to dig the adventurers up and perform the ritual.
  • However, fourthly, Bango Skank intervened by invading Father Malley’s dreams to teach him a ritual that brings the dead back to life, resulting in the revival of every corpse in the cemetery. Presumably only the Risen Adventurers had died recently enough to be brought back with their minds and bodies intact.

Wistark demands of Joseph the names of any tomes that hold spells for dispelling necromancy. Lumen, however, begins making a fire to destroy all of the necromancer’s books. In the resulting pyre most of Curwen’s collection is burned to cinders, but Wistark saves the tomes that Joseph suggests – the Necronomicon and the Grimorium Verum, creating further tension between the wizard and the elf.

Curwen then gets out a knife and tries to kill himself, but Grimlock saves him the trouble and cuts off his head instead. As he moves to add the new head to his collection Gravilla demands the right to crush it with her hammer. A short, violent argument begins between the two. Grimlock wins the dispute, and the floating disk is used to carry Albert Dunwithy’s incinerated body back to Raylack. Lagging significantly behind the rest of the group, Lumen drags his shark.

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