The Rise of Ishana Storm – The Darkness Below Pt 1

previously

I picked my way through the devastation inflicted on our underground foe. The air tinged with a sorcererous taint. Unnatural flames flickered on the remains of those consumed by blasting fire. The odd flicker of corrupted electricity leapt from dead grimlock to dead grimlock. Limbs and heads scattered all over. Most were the enemy but as we looked for any other signs of life our wanderings took us back into the first courtyard. It looked like our birdman took the fight to them here. His distinctly fletched arrows (I wonder if he uses his own feathers?) sticking out of a heap of dead grimlocks. He had been a busy birdie. Here, the grimlocks had done most of their ravaging. Imrith’s wagon was overturned and ransacked. There were no survivors, nothing moved and nothing lived.

We finished our grim assessment of the castle. Lord Hightower continued to act in a very unlordly manner. Sobbing and weeping. “My castle, my people. Oh tragedy. My son, how did you bring such ruin to us?” Oh please. The self pity. Bored of the old lords ravings I relived the glories of the fight in my mind. Damn I was smoking. OK, the Dragonborn was handy, Boreff as well but I think we all know who really smashed the enemy. Best not get on the wrong end of one of my flames dear journal. My relishing was brought to an abrupt end. “Ishana!” Scowling I looked round for the offending voice. I couldn’t see it. “Ishana!” Oh wait, I forgot to look down. Hands on mail laden hips, the halfling looked up, a scowl on her scrunched up face. Ki’rin the man with the fast fists lurked behind her. “What?”

“We’re leaving, to save the others.”

“Oh. Do they need saving?”

“Of course they do! You saw them being taken by those creatures.”

“Yes I did. I doubt they’ll be alive now though.”

“That’s not the point, we must try!”

I shrugged my shoulders. I felt I should really be making tracks and trying to get to the city by any means. I needed to keep looking for my sister, not start off on a pointless rescue mission for a tacky merchant and his lackeys. On the other hand, I felt that perhaps there was more to this than just a raid by under-dwellers. Was there a link with this stone now in my possession? I might find out more in the hidden depths below.

“OK Sheva, count me in.”

“Oh, well that’s great! I knew you cared deep down.”

You couldn’t be more wrong on that one Missy Halfling. You could call this a hunch and a means to an end more like. Old Longtower didn’t ever say where his son got this Dreadstone. It doesn’t make sense as to why these blind underdark creatures would breakout to the surface and raid a castle. Maybe the stone attracts them? Something drew them up here methinks and now they have scurried like rats back down some bolthole nearby. Not to worry, I’m sure we can flush out their hidey hole with fire and sword!

I left the halfling to confer with Ki’rin the monk (at least that what he says he is). Not quite sure what one is but he seems a bit odd. Always talking about energies and alignment. Grabbing my pack, I made sure the dreadstone was secure in its little metal chest. Making my way through the deserted castle I found the rest of them all congregated at the entrance to the tower opposite from the one we had fought our way out of. The door was open now, heavy blood stains splattered all over the floor. Just inside was a dead grimlock. A brightly feathered arrow stuck in its gut. There was a stone staircase winding its way up just to the left of the tower door. We didn’t care about that though, our eyes were drawn to the big hole in the floor.

The tower door had opened in on a large circular room. Towards the wall of the tower which would have backed onto the outer castle wall itself was the hole. As a group, we walked slowly towards it, half expecting some unknown horror to come leaping up from the pit we now stood round.

“Shine a light and lets have a look down” I heard someone say. Ha! That’s no issue to me. I could see fairly well in the dark. I gave my assessment whilst they fumbled about for a light. “It goes down quite a way by the looks of it, I can see the stone floor has collapsed and has piled up in places. I’d say its about a 50 foot slope down. Shouldn’t be too hard if we’re careful”.

Longtower stood with us. Really he should have been donning his battle armour, sharpening his lordly sword and getting stuck in. Instead he stood there and sniveled and refused to even go near the hole. I turned my back and got busy doing useful things like finding a rope from my pack whilst some of the party promised great deeds of rescue. “Don’t worry Lord Longtower, we’ll bring them all back safe. ” Yeah right we will, in bits most likely. Easier to carry I guess.

I fixed the rope onto a sticking up floor slab and began my descent. As I seemed to have the best eyesight in the dark I took it upon myself to lead the visually challenged into the depths. Now from time to time, things don’t always go to plan. Climbing has never been something I’ve been great at, because basically when you have other people to fetch things for you, why would you bother? I was probably two thirds of the way down the slope and perhaps my way of using the rope as an aid could’ve been better. No idea how it happened but I before I knew it I was in an undignified race to the bottom. I crashed to the floor, my arm hitting rock on the way down. I landed on my back, the wind knocked out of me. Damn that hurt. I quickly looked up to make sure no one was laughing at me. No giggles but someone did ask if I was OK. “Yes, I’m fine. I’ll wait here.”

Picking myself up I had a look at my new surroundings. Behind me, the others continued their descent, a lantern and some cheap conjurers light trick gave them some visibility. For them, it would have been pitch black down here. For me not so much. I could see fairly well for a short distance. Looking ahead I was standing in an tunnel leading in a straight line away from the hole. It wasn’t small either. Longtower had never mentioned an escape tunnel going from the castle, yet this tunnel seemed to go right up to it.

Now everyone was down, we set off. The trail from our foe was easy to spot. Dragmarks on the floor, spots of dried blood and as we advanced further into the tunnel, another dead grimlock. It had a nasty wound across its back and a deformity to its already misshapen head. Looks like one of the caravan guards had done one in. Ha! One to you, ten for me! Moving past the deceased creature we carried on perhaps another few hundred feet when looming up ahead was a fork in the tunnel. So now it got tricky. Boreff and Ki’rin immediately started searching to see which way they’d gone. Left passageway. Or right passageway. I lent a pair of eyes as well.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It came from behind me where the others were grouped. Spinning round I could see that for some reason; only known to a reptilian brain, the Dragonborn had decided to whack his sword on the floor and dance about stamping and shouting. Well, if he was trying to call the one god he kept raving about, he got his answer. The whole tunnel rumbled, clots of dried earth fell from the ceiling and cracks appeared in the floor. “Quick! They went this way!” Shouted Boreff. We took off sharpish, pounding up the tunnel that went off to the right. I looked round to see the halfling scurrying along clanking as she tried to run, easily falling behind as the dragonborn strode on after us. Back where we had earlier been standing the rumbling reached a crescendo, stones and earth raining down this tunnel as well. A huge roar reverberated down the passageway we were fleeing. I could only hear it, but something very big was now behind us.

That’s it till next week folks. I hope you enjoyed this, please share, subscribe and like! Tell me what you think in the comments section. Feedback is always appreciated!

Stu our DM can be found here at his facebook page!

Credits to the following: Ki’rin – The Human Monk

Sheva- The Halfling Paladin

Boreff-The Human Rogue

Kayan-The Dragonborn Paladin

Kena-The Aaracokra Rogue

And to Stu for keeping it deadly and on our toes!

Thanks to D&D5E for an awesome game.

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