The party continues deeper into the bowels of the Sunless Citadel, seeking out the one they’ve heard referred to as “the Outcast,” whoever he or she might be. Following a tunnel off of the chamber they’d descended into, they find a rift (likely caused by the cataclysm that befell Cyre) has torn the tunnel apart, shifting the southernmost section several yards west. They begin exploring the rift to the west, and come upon a flaming serpent which attacks them angrily with tooth and tail. The beast almost manages to kill Garl before it is finally put down, but some timely invention from Erky gets the dragonborn back on his feet to continue on.
Further on, they find a room filled with draconic iconography, which is surmised to be the remnants of the dragon cult that once assembled here. The tunnels go no further, so they return to the main chamber and head north into a large chamber filled with filthy rags and the stench of animals. As they begin exploring, a bugbear accompanied by a pair of giant rats emerges from a tunnel to the north and attacks. Once the enemy is defeated, the party begins to follow the tunnel from which the bugbear arrived, but Fenora senses that the tunnel leads into the depths of Kyber, a place they do not want to go into.
After a short rest to bandage their wounds, they try the remaining door off the main chamber, and emerge into a room lined with columns carved with dragons, and several rooms attached. Within the rooms they discover many goblins in residence, and though they allow two to flee the space unharmed, the ones that remain are not as lucky once they begin to attack the party. As the last goblin falls, the adventurers look around the room, and consider their next move.
Quinton and Garl begin by searching the adjoining rooms as Civic and Fenora consider the contents of the barrels in the southwestern chamber, which they determine is actually a type of wine made from fermented fungus. After a fair amount of searching, they manage to uncovered several piled of silver coins hidden among the bedrolls and other detritus in the various rooms.
Garl Auraspeaker: Ah good, we found a bit of silver here.
Quinton Greymane (to Civic): So what did you find in the cauldron there?
Civic: Just looks like some kind of wine. I can’t determine anything unique about it. Although, fungus used in wine is extremely rare outside of the Underdark, but the Underdark is the only place I know of with fungus that is rich in the sugars essential to the fermentation process. A key factor for any true zymurgist
Quinton Greymane: Well, Fenora did say that other passage lead to the Underdark, so maybe it is. Never heard of zymurgist before. Sounds mighty fancy.
Fenora Finnley: Well, I don’t know for sure, but it smelled that way.
Quinton Greymane: That’s good enough for me. Don’t want to go messing with the Underdark. Went down there once to search for a stolen idol from a church. Let me tell you, Underdark hospitality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shouts from the next room): Civic! Come look at this thing!
The party quickly moves to join Gishkaa in the next room, reeling back in disgust as the sight that greets them. The room features a single table, on which a giant rat is tightly strapped down. The creature is obviously horribly diseased, huge tumors covering its body. The tumors look woody and vaguely fruit-like, completely unlike anything they’d ever encountered before.
Fenora Finnley (covers her face with her hands): Ewwwww!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I know!
Garl Auraspeaker: Meh, what is it?
Civic: I’m going to need a few minutes to cast detect magic to get a better idea.
Quinton Greymane: Well, go for it.
As Civic begins preparing the components for hit ritual, Garl, who is still in the larger room, glances at the materials on the nearby tables, noting that several containers contain mashed leaves, fungus, barks and powdered roots. Oddly, the materials all seem to be from various plants and shrubs that grow in the region, thought they have a pronounce pallor, as if they’d never seen the sun.
Garl Auraspeaker: Hey Civic, don’t know if this matters or not, but looks like there’s some plants or something on here. Look, I don’t know, like maybe they’re from the Underdark or something?
Civic is deep into his ritual casting, Erky joins Garl at the table and looks over the contents that Garl indicated.
Erky Timbers (looks up at Garl): Ooh, nice collection, that. Could be useful, lad.
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): If you say so. Looks like a bunch of stuff that food eats.
Erky Timbers (chuckles): And ye call yerself a cleric. Lad, sometimes ye can’t depend on the gods to save your tail, you gotta use what nature give ye to do the job. Look…
Erky holds up some of the crushed leaves.
Erky Timbers: Sage root. Excellent for stopping bleeding. And this, mallow bitters. Good for fighting disease, sometimes can minimize the damage from poisons. Looks to me, ye got a decent healer’s starter kit, for sure.
Garl Auraspeaker: Hmmmm, I see. Well, ya know, I ain’t heard about it with all these like, base ingredients. I’m used to like the medical names and stuff after you mix everything together.
Erky rolls his eyes, muttering about “what do they teach these children these days.”
Erky Timbers (collects ingredients and hands to Garl): Here, take it all. It’ll come in handy.
Quinton Greymane: Sounds like it might be something useful, indeed.
As the others gather up the medicinal materials, Civic finishes his spell and takes a look at the creature and scans the room. With the senses granted by his spell, he notes that the rat is glowing with a sickly green aura. In the corner of the room, he notices a similar aura emanating from a small glass vial sitting on a stand.
Civic: Hmm, there is a greenish aura around this tortured beast and the vial there shares that aura. It is a transmutation magic. I assume the potion in the vial is the source and the reason there are strange growths throughout it’s body. Almost like some type of tumor. I don’t think this was the intended result. At least I hope not. I think I’m going to hang onto the potion for now. Maybe I can learn more from it later.
Quinton Greymane: Well, guess we’ve found everything around here. Seems like there is only one way left to go…
The rat on the table shifts its head. Seeing that the poor creature is still alive, Civic draws a dagger and quickly dispatches the creature, which lets out a weak squeak as it is put out of its misery. Civic takes a closer look at the growths on the creature’s body as he sheathes the blade.
Civic: The skin of these growths is very similar to what we’ve seen in the strange tree-like creatures we’ve encountered previously. It has similar color, with just a tinge more green to it. If you look here the striae along the surface is growing in the same fractal pattern.
Gishkaa, familiar with the warforged’s scientific bent, knows Civic will want to collect a sample of the growths. She quickly dashes to the table in the main room, returning with a jar large enough to contain one of the the fruit-like growths on the dead rat. She hands the jar to Civic just as he’s begun searching for just such a container.
Civic: Ah, thank you, Gishkaa!
Civic begins trying to cut one of the tumors from the body, but finds the combination of the thick bark-like growth and his metal fingers makes the task exceedingly difficult. His first cut slices right through the growth, ruining the sample.
Civic (sighs in frustration): Does anyone have a steadier hand that can get a better sample?
Erky Timbers: I can give it a go, if ye like.
Civic (moving aside for Erky): Can’t do worse than I did.
Erky Timbers: How much did ye want? Just a sliver, or the whole growth?
Civic: I’d like an entire growth that can fit in the container there.
Erky Timbers nods and begins to work.
In a matter of moments, Erky deftly excises the largest of the tumors and deposits it into the container Civic provides.
Erky Timbers: I don’t mind saying, lad, that is disgusting.
Garl Auraspeaker: Indeed.
Civic (secures the sample and tucks it away with his alchemy supplies): I think we’ve done all we can here.
While Civic and Erky have been dissecting the rat’s tumor, Quinton and Garl have been completing their search of the remaining chambers, finding a couple of weapon racks in the northeastern room laden with several crude and badly tended goblin weapons. Finding nothing else of use, the party reforms and prepares to continue on, converging on the door leading from this room. Gishkaa inspects the door, and finding it to be locked, sets to work with her thieves tools. In a few moments, the lock clicks open and the door opens up onto a tiny square chamber with another door on its opposite side..
Civic: That is a very small, useless looking room. I wonder why the architect would include it in their design.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Maybe a choke point or a room meant to trap intruders.
Erky Timbers (nods in agreement): Extra layer of protection, perhaps.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Looks safe though.
Gishkaa moves forward to the other door, taking a moment to inspect it for traps before she realizes that the door is slightly ajar. Looking back over her shoulder, she looks up questioningly at Quinton as she indicates the open door.
Quinton Greymane (whispers): Keep going, I say.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (grins widely): I concur!
Gishkaa kicks the door open with a flourish, dashing into the next room as it opens fully.
Nodules of luminescent fungus hang from the ceiling and walls and grow in clumps on the flagstone floor. The light illuminates portions of grand bas-relief carvings on the stone walls that aren’t covered with the fungus. The carvings depict dragons in various stages of raining fire down upon terrified people. Soil and compost cover half the chamber’s floor, which allows a variety of feeble plants to grow. A bench containing simple gardening implements stands along the west wall.
Civic: Simply amazing that these bio-luminescent fungi can support the growth of plants, albeit the plants are diminutive and obviously starved for a greater source of light. I would love to see if more fungi could be arranged and grown in such a way that they could support a healthy yield
Erky Timbers facepalms.
Garl Auraspeaker: …or we just kill all the jackasses who live down here. To-may-to, to-mah-to
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (moving into the room and heads south): Yes, yes. It’s fascinating. Now can we move on?
Quinton Greymane: So north, south or east?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (calls back to the group): We’re already at this door, may as well go this way.
The sound of the rapid approach of heavy footfalls echoes throughout the chamber. From the darkness to the south emerges a bugbear brandishing a wicked looking sickle-like blade. She roars in challenge as she moves in to attack!
Erky sends a bolt of divine force at the bugbear, which the goblinoid easily shrugs off to no effect, as Fenora fires an arrow that goes widely over the bugbear’s head. As the party races forward to meet the bugear headon, Gishkaa dashes past them, leaping out and sinking her blades into the bugbear’s shoulders, slicing a critical wound into its flank. The bugbear roars in pain and fury as it attempts to swing its weapon down at Gishkaa, but the little goblin rolls out of the way with a sneering grin and a taunt of, “too bad, so sad.” Fenora nocks another arrow to her bow and quickly fires another arrow at the bugbear. At the same moment the bugbear swings down at Gishkaa, an arrow suddenly appears in its throat. The bugbear’s eyes grow wide as it grabs at the shaft of the arrow, then it falls backwards to die on the stony ground.
Erky Timbers: Nice shot, as always, m’dear.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: To the north?
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, sounds good.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (to Fenora): Yes, very impressive. Wait, lets see what he has on him.
Gishkaa quickly searches the fallen bugbear’s body for anything useful. In a satchel on its belt, she finds a single potion of healing. She holds up the nasty bladed weapon the bugbear was swinging, something like a cross between a sickle and a longsword. Its curved blade was likely used for cutting the grasses that cover much of the floor in this chamber, but it makes for a nasty weapon with an impressive reach. No one seems particularly eager to give up their current weapons of chouce, so they leave the blade behind as they continue to the north. The door on the northern wall is neither trapped nor is it firmly closed, and the party passes on into the next chamber.
Beyond the door, they find another chamber similar to the one they currently stand in, with luminous fungi on the ceiling and walls, and pale grasses covering the floor. There are doors on both the north and the eastern walls, both of which are firmly closed.
Erky Timbers (peeks around the door frame into the room): After you, lads.
Entering the chamber, the party cautiously works their way to the center of the room without incident. A table is placed in a corner near the northern door, its surface littered with an assortment of garden implements in various states of disrepair. Gishkaa unlocks the nearby door, beyond which is a huge chamber filled with all manner of plants and fungus, much of which is radiating a soft radiance filling the room with dim light.
Civic: Odd. Many of the species of fauna growing here are native to the Underdark. I know of no way such examples of the Underdark’s native plant life could make it’s way to someplace like this. Clearly this was done intentionally. And done by someone very knowledgeable on the Underdark, and the plant-life there.
Garl Auraspeaker (pointing to the table): Well, looks like there’s like gardening tools and stuff around.
Erky Timbers: Odd is an understatement.
Quinton Greymane: Seems like we got a green thumb on some of those goblins. I mean, aside from their thumbs actually being green.
They enter the fungus-filled room to investigate the only other door present. Opening the door, they reveal a wide hallway which opens up into a larger room about thirty feet in.
Dragon-carved granite blocks line this chamber’s walls and ceiling, though many are crumbled and broken, leaving stony debris on the floor. A huge marble statue of a rearing red dragon stands in the curve of the western wall. The eye sockets of the dragon are empty, but a red glow lingers there, providing reddish light throughout the chamber. The radiance casts an inky shadow behind the statue’s wide wings. A five-foot-diameter, circular tile of dark stone is set in the floor in front of the dragon statue. Runes are carved around the circular tile’s inner edge.
Civic: The red glow tells me something magical is happening here. I’m going to recast my detect magic spell.
Garl Auraspeaker (looking atthe runes): Well, not sure what it’s all on about, but the writing says, “let the sorcerous power illuminate my spirit.”
Quinton Greymane: Civic, maybe you could magic something up? Sounds like it needs some arcane casting to make it do whatever it’s meant to do.
Civic ignores Quinton’s request for the moment, instead focusing on preparing his spell to discern the nature of the magics he can tell are in place in this chamber. A few minutes later, he looks up from his work.
Civic: More transmutation magic with a red aura. It’s emanating from the statue.
Civic (looks at the statue with concern): I don’t see anything else, but there seems to be something odd about the shadow behind the statue. I can’t tell why it strikes me as odd though.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Looks like a shadow, ya weirdo.
Garl Auraspeaker: Sounds odd.
As Garl utters that last word, an unholy moan echoes through the room. A vaguely humanoid figure emerges from the shadow behind the statue. The figure seems to be made of shadow itself, its arms outstretched toward the party as it emerges fully from the shadows.
Gishkaa gives a shout, “Ga! The shadow is alive!” as she races forward, manifesting her blades as she leaps off the base of the statue at the shadowy creature before her. Amazingly, her blades find purchse, scoring a critical hit on the creature, which howls in pain from the blow. Quinton swings his blade at the creature as erky tries a blast of holy fire, but both attacks miss the creature as it easily moves out of the way. Garl moves into position and with a mighty swing of his mace, ends the creatures existence, as the shadowy form discipates.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Do shadows have pockets? Maybe it has loot.
Garl Auraspeaker: Don’t think so.
Quinton Greymane: I think we should finish looking at the dragon statue. I’m interested what might happen if we cast a spell at it or in the circle.
Garl Auraspeaker: Har har.
Civic: Well, the circle itself doesn’t appear to be magical, so I’m curious why it is here. I guess someone thought it looked nice and lent an air of mysticism to the statue. The statue is obviously meant to do something though.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, maybe, maybe not. Aint my particular area of expertise.
Civic: Maybe a spell that sheds light? I don’t have anything that does that at my disposal.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Well, if you say the circle is safe…
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat steps into the circle. She begins to shake, her eyes wide open as the shaking intensifies.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I can feel the dragon’s power flowing through me. Passing its might into my very soul! <stops> Just kidding. Nothing happened. This statue sucks.
Garl Auraspeaker: Blast it! Don’t joke around like that, you trickster bastard!
Quinton Greymane: Still pretty sure it needs some magic, maybe divine would work, too?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: What about the sorcerer’s light thing? Either of the clerics able to cast some kind of light spell?
Garl Auraspeaker: Hmmm, could do.
Civic: Hmm, you know the previous dragon statues functioned from speaking the words that were written. You said nothing happened when you spoke the words, Garl?
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, that’s right.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: You weren’t standing in the fancy circle though. Maybe read it again while you’re in there. That circle seems significant and Civic is right, that’s how the other ones worked. Or you can get out of the way and tell me what it says. I’m not afraid of a dumb dragon statue.
Garl Auraspeaker shrugs as he steps into the circle, the speaks aloud the words written in Draconic runes at the statue’s base. As he finishes, a blast of flame erupts from the dragon’s mouth, bathing him in flame. Garl tenses up instinctively, anticipating the searing pain expected, but strangely, the flame does not hurt at all. The flames continue to wash over garl’s skin for another 30 seconds, before they eventually cease. Garl looks amazed as he stares around at the stunned expressions of his companions.
Garl Auraspeaker: Ah ow, ooch eech, oww. Wait… what?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: That was scary! I thought you were done for!
Garl Auraspeaker (pats himself down): Me too!
Quinton Greymane: Don’t go giving us a scare like that! I thought you were a goner, too.
Garl Auraspeaker: Ha ha, sorry, old buddy.
Civic: You seem unharmed.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, guess I am. Feel a bit funny, though. Like, I don’t know, it gave me some temporary blessing or something.
Erky Timbers: If the flames did not burn you, then I am curious what its purpose actually was. Perhaps this was some sort of initiation chamber? This was the home of a draconic cult, after all.
Garl Auraspeaker (nods in agreement): Might be, Erky.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I want to try it! What do I need to say?
Civic coaches Gishkaa through the words. Gishkaa recites the words and nothing happens, except that the poutiest face to ever grace a goblinoid suddenly appears.
Garl Auraspeaker (apologetically): Maybe it’s got like a timer or something.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (snorts if irritation): Whatever. We done here?