—The battle began with Moran aiming a kick at the Aboleth, mustering his energy and plunging under the murky water toward the giant white-skinned fish.
—As he sank through the water, Moran noticed a cloud of clear mucous surrounding his foe. Without thinking, he plunged through this cloud, and felt the mucous begin to alter him. However, he was able to shake off these effects, regaining his composure.
—It seemed that Thorax was under this effect as well, and it became clear quickly that he was not so lucky in evading the Aboleth’s effect. His head still above water, Thorax began to sputter and cough as though he was unable to breathe.
—Moran caught this out of the corner of his eye, but pushed it to the back of his mind as he urged his body forward toward the fish.
—However, as he moved swiftly through the water, Moran felt something try to enclose upon his mind. He shook it off, and he heard a chuckle in Delaroghani’s voice. “I am impressed. I would have thought an Orc’s mind easier to penetrate…”
—The terrifying thought that the fish could engulf one’s senses filled Moran’s thoughts as he tore through the water toward the creature.
—Meanwhile, above the water, Red Eagle tried to decide what to do. He did not like the idea of going into the water, and so instead jumped atop the nearest cage that hung from the ceiling. He lifted one of his swords and easily cut through the chain holding it up.
—The cage fell to the ground, cracking the stone beneath it. Red Eagle remained atop it, his balance not swayed.
—Below the grated floor, Moran struck into his target, his foot slamming hard against the bony fish.
—Thorax plunged his head below the water as well, and found that he was able to breathe. The mucous seemed to have robbed him of the ability to breathe air. Nevertheless, Thorax swam forward in an attempt to stab the Aboleth with his spear. He struck true, cutting into the creature’s flesh.
—However, the Aboleth seemed to have a few tricks up its sleeve. As Moran treaded water, he turned in time to see a change come over Thorax. His eyes glowed red, and he turned to face Moran in the water, his spear at the ready.
—Red Eagle called Gurshh over to the cage. Together the two of them lifted the cage over their heads, throwing it down onto the grate, breaking open a large hole, and plunging the cage toward the fish beneath.
—The cage struck the Aboleth, dealing more damage, causing it great pain.
—Moran decided to ignore Thorax’s strange new demeanour, and attempted to grab hold of one of the creature’s tentacles. He managed to wrap his arms around it, pinning the tentacle to his side. However, Throax thrust his longspear into Moran’s side, drawing blood, and making him lose his focus slightly due to the shock.
—It appeared that Thorax had been controlled by the creature, and made to believe Moran was his enemy.
—Blackmane lifted his sword high above his head and got ready to attack the great fish, now that its back was exposed through the hole in the floor. However, his strike missed as the fish lashed about beneath the waves.
—Sensing that its back had become vulnerable, the Aboleth turned its red eyes upon Red Eagle. At once, Red Eagle felt tentacled hands enclose around his mind.
—Red Eagle’s eyes burned red, and he turned his swords upon Gurshh, unable to control himself.
—Gurshh backed away, sword in hand, telling Red Eagle that he did not want to do this.
—However, Red Eagle would not (or could not) listen to reason, and instead lunged at his friend, his swords drawn. He slashed at Gurshh fiercely, striking again and again.
—Gurshh was left bloodied with a look of fear in his eyes.
—Moran held as fast as he could to the tentacle of the Aboleth, but it was no use. The creature hrew him off its tentacle with ease.
—Moran turned toward Thorax, seeing him as an additional threat. He decided to ensure that Thorax could do no more damage to him, and struck at Thorax’s longspear.
—The spear broke in half leaving Thorax staring at both ends, a puzzled look in his eyes.
—Thorax was undaunted, and instead attempted to grab Moran in order to pull him down into the depths of the water.
—Moran was able to evade this grapple, tossing Thorax’s arms aside.
—Blackmane lunged at Red Eagle, hoping to wrestle his friend into submission to prevent any more attacks. However, Red Eagle had no intention of being pinned down, and threw off his attacker with a resounding slash of one of his swords.
—Gurshh could not withstand another blow, and fell to his knees in pain.
—The Aboleth turned his eyes back toward Moran, and lashed out at him with its four tentacles.
—The first three struck him, hard, cutting deep into Moran’s skin. Blood filled the water as the tendrils came from all sides.
—However, Moran was prepared for the final strike. With a solid punch he was able to ricochet the tentacle away from him, and it slammed through the grate above. The tentacle became entangled in the grate, and the creature writhed in anguish.
—Red Eagle stood over Gurshh, who could barely stand due to being so bloodied.
—Gurshh’s eyes were stern, resolved. “I did not want things to end like this between us. You are a good soldier, Red Eagle. Fight back!”
—But Red Eagle could not shake off the power of the Aboleth’s ancient mind. He slashed at Gurshh twice, blood spurting from his wounds. He then dropped each of his swords, and put his shaking hands around Blackmane’s neck.
—As he squeezed the last of Blackmane’s life out of him, Gurshh repeated his last words “…I …Did not want it to end this way…”
—He fell lifeless to the grate beneath, Red Eagle standing over his fallen body, blood dripping from his hands.
—Moran, still beneath the water noticed an opportunity with the Aboleth’s tentacle trapped in the grate. He mustered his strength for a strike, and punched hard at the writhing tendril.
—With the tentacle pulled taut against the grate, it split from the force of Moran’s strike, spilling a murky ooze of blood into the pool.
—The tentacle writhed, severed from its host and fell limp.
—Seeing that he would be no further use against Moran, Thorax lunged out of the water, and grasped the edges of the trapdoor in the grated floor.
—Thorax pulled himself up, and began heading for the other side of the room.
—At that moment, Thurtog burst from a door up a flight of stairs on the south end of the chamber. He ran down the stairs and toward the grate, taking in the battle before him before making any action.
—The Aboleth lashed out with its three remaining tentacles at Moran, and two of these tentacles hit, reducing Moran to a severely weakened condition.
—Red Eagle moved as swiftly as he could to the west side of the chamber into a small alcove set into the wall. Guided by the Aboleth’s thoughts, he reached for a lever that he knew would open the iron bars, freeing the fish from its prison.
—Moran attempted another strike at the creature, but his attacks went astray due to his crippling injuries. He attempted to muster his fortitude and felt some of the pain of his wounds ease.
—Thorax followed Red Eagle to the lever, and put his hands upon it as well. It appeared that both were ready to pull it and free Delaroghani once and for all.
—However, Thurtog stood at the ready. He pulled the prepared bear trap from his back that Red Eagle had handed him earlier, and tossed it onto the Aboleth’s back.
—The trap snapped, and the fish screeched in their minds with horrible pain.
—In response, the Aboleth lashed out with each of its limbs. It struck Thurtog, knocking him down, and slashed at Moran once again.
—Moran was reduced to a weakened state once again, despite focusing his energy to heal his wounds.
—Red Eagle and Thorax pulled the lever down, and the bars slid open. The Aboleth laughed maniacally in the backs of their minds, freedom finally within its grasp.
—However, Moran had had enough. He focused all of his might upon one single strike, and kicked directly through the eyes of the beast.
—The Aboleth died in an instant, blood making the water even murkier. As the creature died, its body was swept toward the exit – which was just small enough to keep it from flowing through without being able to exert the effort to do so.
—Delaroghani’s body was lodged in the opening, and could scheme of freedom no longer.
—Red Eagle and Thorax regained their minds immediately, and Red Eagle turned and saw what he had done. He went over to Gurshh’s body, and fell to his knees before it. He could scarcely believe what he had done.
—Meanwhile, Thorax sputtered for breath, clearly still under the effects of the Aboleth’s air-preventing mucous. He dove straight back into the water in order to breathe easily again.
—Moran was searching with his head below the water, and finally caught sight of the silver key. He swam down to retrieve it from the Aboleth’s tentacle, and saw that it had been surgically implanted to a key ring hanging from it. He pulled it free, and stowed it in a fold of his robes.
—Thurtog strode over to Red Eagle as Moran got himself out of the water.
—Thurtog offered words of reassurance, and Moran stared at the body, thinking of what to do with it in regards to the death practices of the Lionkill Clan.
—In the end, Red Eagle took the body, and floated it out of the waterfall, allowing it to return to nature.
—The group decided to remain in the chamber to rest, as Moran had been heavily injured, and Thorax required more time for the effects of the mucous to wear off.
—After a few hours, they took a final look round the chamber that had claimed Gurshh’s life, and exited the room.
—They returned to the main atrium, and the four of them went to the four terminals of the room, and inserted the silver keys they had retrieved.
—After the final key had been turned, they heard a loud turning of gears, and watched as the central pillar of the atrium began to descend. The chains supporting the pillar fed it slack from within the walls as it revealed a flat platform on its top, with a handle at its centre. The platform was large enough for all of them to stand upon it comfortably.
—They looked to each other, and hopped onto the platform. Red Eagle and Moran each took hold of one side of the handle in the centre of the pillar, and turned it. The chains fed more slack, and the pillar was slowly lowered down further into the chasm in the centre of the atrium.
—The pillar descended deep down into the darkness beneath them. It seemed to go on forever, until finally the pillar connected with something below.
—Parts of the pillar seemed to rotate, and then sink down into the floor beneath. Finally, the stone set into place, and torches burst into life high on the flat stone walls, revealing a square chamber littered with bones.
—The bottom of the atrium was dim in the torchlight. They party members were wary of danger in the lack of light, and were hesitant to move from where they stood. The bones covering the floor of the chamber made them particularly uneasy.
—They each drew their weapons instinctively, and Moran decided to begin beating the Goblin Drum. The light of the torches brightened significantly, and they could now see the room more clearly.
—The chamber had no exits, but the party spotted a small alcove on the wall with a blunt, squarish piece of metal sticking out of it.
—However, before they could get anywhere close to it, they noticed some of the bones move.
—It appeared that something beneath the bones was snaking its way along.
—Suddenly, from beneath the pile of bones a shape emerged, black, gigantic and amorphous.
—The pile of goo quivered and piled up on top of itself, drawing itself to its full height.
—The group prepared themselves for battle, and faced this mass of blackness that loomed threatening in the torchlight.
—However, they soon found that this was not the only threat. Three skeletal snakes, each the size of a human with humanoid skulls burst from the bones, and slithered their way onto the stone of the centre of the room. They reared up and bared their sharp, dripping fangs.
—Moran acted first, but looked upon his foe cautiously. He did not much like the idea of striking something that could not be bruised, and that wore no armour.
—However, he noticed something within the ooze, suspended. He squinted for a closer look, and saw a pair of brown leather gloves, seemingly holding onto a metal rod.
—Moran mustered his courage, and he plunged his arms into the ooze. The instant he did, he felt his arms burn with acid, and he pulled them free in pain. However as he did, he noticed that his adamantine knuckles were left behind, floating in the jelly.
—Thurtog was next to act, and faced off against one of the skeletal snake creatures. He swung his word against the nearest one, dealing considerable damage to it.
—However, the creature seemed ready for him. It lunged in an attack, landing a solid bite through Thurtog’s armour. He found that he couldn’t move, paralysed by the creature’s venom.
—Another of the snakelike things lunged at Thorax, but missed as he dodged out of the way.
—Red Eagle was not so lucky, as the final snake-like horror bit hard into his wrist, paralysing him as well.
—Thorax swung his broken spear at one of the creatures, dealing a considerable blow.
—The black ooze rose up and extended a pseudopod composed of jelly. It swung down hard, missing Moran by inches.
—Moran took this as a cue, and plunged his hands once again into the creature. This time, he was able to retrieve both his knuckles and the gloves that hovered inside.
—He found that his knuckles had melted slightly, losing the engravings that had been carved into them. However, the gloves he retrieved seemed completely unharmed, the acid of the ooze beading off of them.
—He put the gloves on, and the knuckles as well, ready for his next move.
—Thurtog remained paralysed, and the snake reared back to attack him once again. However, the bony snake missed, plunging its fangs into the bones nearby.
—The other skeletal snakes attacked at Red Eagle and Thorax, dealing damage to each of them.
—Thorax swung his spear again, and killed the nearest snake creature, reducing it to dust.
—Red Eagle managed to fight off the paralytic effects of the venom, and decided to take immediate revenge on the snake-like horrors that had attacked him. He grabbed the nearest one, and grappled it, forcing it to his will. He then turned toward the nearest snake-thing, and swung the one he held down onto it, hard like a weapon. He killed it easily, the other skeletal snake writhing in his grip.
—Meanwhile, the black ooze ventured another strike, this time at Thorax. It lunged at him, striking him hard with a blackish pseudopod. Acid burned at him, wounding him deeply. The thing began to engulf him, pulling him into itself, and soon Thorax was completely consumed by the creature..
—Moran witnessed this attack, and swung his fists into the creature, pummelling it hard. The gloves seemed to protect his hands, and the creature swayed under the strikes, however it did not let go of its prize.
—Thurtog regained his composure, and swung his sword once again at the snake-thing held by Red Eagle. He missed, dealing no damage to it whatsoever.
—The snake that Red Eagle held writhed in his grip, but could not free itself.
—Thorax attempted to free himself from the ooze, but the acid burned him, and he could not move against the thick goo.
—Red Eagle saw this, and dropped the snake he held, drawing his swords. He lunged at the black ooze, slashing repeatedly with his swords.
—While the fire seemed to burn into the creature, wounding it, the actual sword strikes did nothing to damage it – on the contrary, in fact. He sliced and sliced in an attempt to free Thorax, and as he did, he split the creature into two halves.
—Luckily, Thorax was freed in this method as the one ooze became two, lying on the cold stone, covered in scalding acid.
—Each of the ooze creatures attempted an attack, but the party members were ready, evading their every move.
—Moran let his fists fly, striking into the one on the left.
—Thurtog attacked and finally killed the last skeletal snake, its body falling lifeless among the bones.
—Thorax, near death from the acid burns swung his spear to no avail.
—Red Eagle looked at his swords as they burned with acid. He picked up the corpse of one of the skeleton snakes, and lashed it against the black pudding until it collapsed into nothingness.
—The final black ooze lunged at Moran, burning him with its strike, nearly rendering him unconscious.
—However, Moran was ready. He raised his fists, and with a final, resounding blow beat the creature down into the bones.
—The ooze lost control of its shape, and became ordinary blackened sludge, lifeless.
—The party slumped down onto the stone floor, exhausted and victorious. They took one final look around the chamber before deciding to rest up for the night – the day had been long, and extremely arduous.
—And the next day was sure to be a dangerous one.
The Sword of Bothh
The Final Key
—The battle began with Moran aiming a kick at the Aboleth, mustering his energy and plunging under the murky water toward the giant white-skinned fish.