When we last left our heroes, they were perched at the edge of the stands above an arena, and at the edge of a magical sleet storm summoned by their Chronomancer, Dan. Hidden amid the squall, shambling towards them, was an hideous abomination- the somehow walking corpse of a Gray Render, a hulking, six-eyed creature created by magic. After unleashing a furious salvo of crossbow bolts through the hail, tagging the monster twice, Pike realized that his missiles were largely ineffective against the bloodless flesh of the monstrosity.
The beast continued to lumber towards them, but in its clumsy stagger it trips and falls prone on the ice covering the arena floor.
Realizing this is their chance, Dan dispels the storm, and Dennis and Pike close in. Dennis discovers that his blade has no difficulty slicing up the scabrous flesh of the monster. It tries to get up, giving the two of them the opening they need. With a few short slashes, and a powerful blow from Pike’s hatchet, Peacemaker, the beast is dispatched.
Meanwhile, Dan is looking around. The underground arena they are in is ancient, and stale from disuse. He detects the remnants of many magic spells, enchantments long worn away by the march of time. This place was once extremely magical, but now all that is left is the stone of the seats and the sand of the arena pit.
He notices also that this location is dimensionally close to the Ethereal Plane, or at least closer than normal, as the Ethereal Plane is the one of the other worlds most adjacent to our own. Still, it is interesting to note.
At the other end of the arena is a door, with stairs down to the depths of the dungeon. Our heroes carry on.
Beneath the arena, the party finds catacombs, a dank basement of rooms. With Pike scouting ahead, they move through the dungeon, discovering first a room with an altar of sorts. Investigating the altar, Pike hears a buzzing sound. Steeling himself, expecting a portal to open and spit out another Xill, Pike is surprised to find a large beetle, the size of his hand, with clacking mandibles and wispy tentacles instead of legs.
As he wondered at it, the beetle flew up and bit him! He angrily swatted at it.
Hearing the commotion, Dan looked over and noticed the creature. Unusual to find one here, he noted, because these beetles are native to the Ethereal Plane, not our own. Before he could intervene, however, Pike had grabbed the insect out of the air and bisected it with Peacemaker. With a whoosh and a sucking sound, the beetle disappeared and in its place was a gaping rift, floating in midair. Realizing it was a portal to the Ethereal Plane, Dan shouted a warning. Pike backed away, and Dennis took up a defensive position in front of the yawning fissure. After assessing the danger and preparing themselves for anything emerging from the portal, Dan explained that when those particular beetles died on the Prime Material Plane, they opened a portal to their home plane which lasted for about a minute. Armed with this understanding, they decided not to approach or enter the portal. After all, they had no way to return to their plane after crossing over. They waited, and the portal closed.
Continuing deeper into the dank dungeon, Pike came around a corner and saw something repulsive, towering up the full thrity feet or so to the ceiling. It was a giant maggot, with spindly spider legs and a head on a stalk at the top. He fired reflexively, blinding it. Sensing him, the abberation vomited spittle in his direction. Landing at his feet, three tiny insectile creatures emerged from the viscous spit, each appearing as a little copy of the upper reaches of their progenitor. Before they could make a move, however, Dan leapt forwards, firing a magical ice shard from his outstretched hand. The shard flew to the ceiling, impacting and shattering, raining freezing shards on the insects below. Pierced by supernatural cold, the newly hatched vermin withered and died. Striding forwards through the carnage, Dennis thrust his guisarme into the belly of the great, grotesque worm and divested it of life.
Professing sleepiness, Dan stumbled behind while Pike and Dennis maintained vigilance. Sneaking through empty rooms, Pike finally entered one filled with spiderwebs. He was about to motion the others in when he noticed, wrapped in spidersilk cocoons, the forms of several people hanging in the webbing! Backing out slowly, with a chill up his spine, he directed the others to take a different route.
Coming around a corner and past a long-dry stone fountain while scouting, Pike spotted what appeared to be a gigantic, 4-armed albino gorilla attempting to sneak up on the party. He acted quickly, firing a blinding bolt into the beast’s face. Dennis and Dan saw the flash of bright light from down the corridor and rushed forwards, finding Pike face to face with a huge angry animal. In the confusion, Pike fired off a low shot designed to trip the ape, but it bounced harmlessly off of his column of a leg. Noting the imposing, implacable strength of the animal, Pike retreated behind the fountain. Dennis was then able to engage the raging behemoth from a distance with his guisarme, slashing at it and keeping its attention.
Bewildered, blinded, and angry, the huge ape assaulted Dennis with his arms and tusklike teeth. Although he was largely inaccurate in his blindness, he was able to grasp on with two claws and tear deeply at Dennis’ comparatively small body. Dennis, however, stood strong, and resisted the meaty paws rending his form. Pike retreated around the fountain, surrounding the creature, and fired a volley which further injured the gorilla. This gave Dennis the opportunity to make a few more slashes from a position of advantage, but the monster was still standing. Dennis lacked either the strength or the fury to bring down the enormous thing.
Waking up from his slumber, Dan saw the giant monkey and readied an arrow. He fired, and was able to draw blood.
The enraged primate, now able to see his intended prey, launched himself into a frenzied assault on Dennis, ripping at him like a child playing with a ragdoll. Dennis resisted, but was heavily damaged.
Pike achieved vengeance for this terrible attack with a couple well-placed bolts in the back of the beast, and it collapsed to the ground.
Exhausted, our heroes stood in the dark, suddenly silent dungeon over the bloody body of their vanquished foe.
CATCH US NEXT TIME.