In Which the Gauntlet Ends with a Big Bang and an Arrow
Starday, 20 Reaping, CY 601
With one scorpion down and the continued sounds of spellcasting elsewhere, most of the party has dropped sixty feet and out of the surviving scorpion’s aura. Tyrrell, unfortunately, remains in its shadow with Jane across the cavern, his mind and personality having been drained by the horrific insect. Light will become an issue for half the party soon, and the creatures they have already fought have drained more resources than anyone would like.
The scorpion slams Tyrrell twice but none of its stingers land. Jane, desperate to find a means of assisting the rogue, falls prey to the scorpion’s aura as well and settles for bringing a storm of ice and hail down upon it for minor damage and perhaps some difficulty getting around and seeing. She drops down to where the others are as the scorpion’s aura decimates what remains of Tyrrell’s mind. The rogue drops, taking another big hit, but manages to restore his some of his mind with the wand of restoration he’s been holding. Scar-Eater, determined to finish off the scorpion before the party faces whatever is next, inadvertently heals it with an enervation cast from below.
Riddle heals Tyrrell while Archie tries to trip the scorpion off the ceiling with an arrow but to no avail. It eventually moves away, into a position on the ceiling at the entrance of the hallway that seems to be the source of the sounds of spellcasting. There is some healing, and restoring, and some other defensive spellcasting as the party works out how to proceed. Meanwhile, the undead vermin heals itself as well.
Jane draws a sunrod from her backpack as the party gathers close to Long Claw. Riddle summons three huge air elementals, one of which takes Jane’s sunrod and zips down the hallway with it towards the spellcasting sounds. It soon becomes clear that there will be no way to proceed down the hallway after their quarry while the undead scorpion survives. However, seeing it has become an issue. Jane sacrifices one of her prepared spells and flies upwards with a second sunrod just high enough to outline the scorpion with faerie fire, which will illuminate it enough for Archie to kill it — but not before Scar-Eater triggers a dispelling trap near the ceiling that robs him of all of his buffs before targeting him with a finger of death spell.
With the passage entrance clear, Long Claw, invisible, flies up just high enough to peek down the hall. He sees one of Riddle’s air elementals hovering menacingly about sixty feet down, and he relates to the rest of the party telepathically that he believes it has been turned against them. It moves forward swiftly, but Riddle dismisses it before it can cause any trouble. He also casts fly on Scar-Eater so the duskblade doesn’t fall to his death.
Jane uses glimpse of truth to detect the trap sensor on the ceiling so they can avoid it to enter the passage. Riddle instructs one of the remaining air elementals to lead the way, followed by Long Claw (ridden by Archie), and the other air elemental carrying Riddle, Tyrrell, Jane, and Scar-Eater in its whirling mass. They travel one hundred feet down the corridor and turn right into a huge room with one narrow passage leading out ahead and above. While Long Claw squeezes through the passage into the next cavern, the leading elemental turns to swing at Archie. The air elemental is too slow, however, and Archie and Long Claw get destroy it before it can land a blow.
The next cavern appears to be an empty dead end, but they are not fooled—especially when something unseen attempts to force Long Claw’s consciousness out of his mind and impose its own. He resists the attempt, and counters by channeling positive energy into the wall across the cavern. From behind it, they all hear something massive, shrieking in pain. Archie lands an arrow on whatever it is as well, but the others fly afield, and then a giant, sixty-foot-long worm, glistening horribly, burst through the wall, and a million razor-sharp hairs slice out from it, filling the room. Long Claw and Archie take a small bit of damage, but of greater concern is Archie’s realization that he will not be able to shoot arrows while the hairs remain. The ulgurstasa waves its arms, and both Long Claw and Archie feel as if something is drawing all of the moisture from their bodies. They each resist half of the effect, and Archie further manages to resist some other effect that attempt to lock up all of his muscles.
Everyone moves closer to Long Claw, and Jane dispels the illusory wall, revealing seven trunks on the cavern floor and the rest of the ulgurstasa’s repulsive body. Riddle heals it, and when Scar-Eater closes with Long Claw, Long Claw triggers his aura of justice, urging everyone to designate the ulgurstasa as their smite target before they lose their chance. Scar-Eater does so, just before he swoops in and attacks, stripping many of the creature’s magical defenses with slashing dispel.
Long Claw steps and bloodies the creature with a brutal series of attacks. Archie, still deterred by the razor hairs filling the air, declares the enemy as both his smite target and his quarry. The ulgurstasa, perhaps sending its end being near, lashes out with another horrid wilting and harms itself.
Tyrrell manages to get in a single sneak attack just before Jane summons two colossal clashing rocks to bludgeon the beast and bury it in rubble. When it bursts out of the rocks a few seconds later, Riddle is ready with another heal, and Archie with a single arrow that ends its reign of terror forever.
The party is able to recover a good deal of treasure from the chests in this cavern, but most importantly, Riddle is given a clue by the ghost of Balakarde as to where they must go next…