After some quick healing, we listen at the 2 doors in cavern walls and hear some movement behind the door in the east wall (north east corner).
The party moves into the northern chamber and we find the Bugbears nest on the east wall. Hanging on the wall above the nest is a variety of crude weapons. The floor of the chamber gives the impression that it has been drenched in blood.
The weapons found are:
- 2 spears
- 6 javelins
- 1 long sword
- 1 bastard sword
A quick use of the warlock's detect magic ability determines that none of these are magical.
Na-Dulak moves to the end of the chamber and peers around the corner, using his dark vision to scout out the tunnel heading to the west. He can see that the tunnel is very roughly constructed and looks as if it is hardly, if ever, used. He enters the passage and moves away to the west to check it out. He returns to report that tunnel turns to the south west and doesn't seem to change in its nature. The party block the tunnel by wedging the spears and javelins into the ground, points facing away from us, to create a crude trap. Thinking their backs are covered they move back to the main chamber and listen at both doors.
Hearing nothing at either door and finding both locked, the party decide to open the eastern door. Ashendarius manages to unlock the door at the 2nd attempt and moves away. With Ibn Solaar poised to strike any enemy that might be lurking behind it, Na-Dulak opens the door. The room that is revealed has 3 doors on each of the north and south walls.
Inevitably there are enemies lurking, 4 goblins to be precise. Na-Dulak charges into action hacking the first goblin he meets into small pieces with a single blow.
Ashendarius then moves into the room and fires his crossbow at the next goblin – piercing it, Harold like, though the eye and slaying it instantly. Ibn Solaar dances nimbly into the room, his aura of shadows flowing around him and his burning blade shining in his hand. The unfortunate goblin he had attacked drops in smoking ruin. Balthas' eldritch blast is wasted on the final goblin.
The western door on the north wall opens and yet another goblin appears through the door and takes a swing at Balthas, missing by a hairs breadth. The central door on the southern wall opens revealing 2 more goblins. One of which attacks Na-Dulak, missing wildly. Na-Dulak's next attack misses badly, and Ashendarius can do more than drop his crossbow and draw his sword. Ibn Solaar bellows like a bull and charges across the room collecting a goblin in a rushing attack – battering it unconscious. Balthas then annihilates his opponent with a well aimed blast. Three goblins remain and one attacks Balthas, one Na-Dulak and one Ibn Solaar – they all miss. Yet another goblin dies at Na-Dulak's hands before Ashendarius misses the next. Ibn Solaar kills the penultimate goblin, leaving just one brave goblin who continues to fight on until Ibn Solaar puts it out of its misery.
Searching the bodies reveals:
- 128 sp
The room is flanked by 2 rows of marble columns carved with dragon motifs. There are also tables on which stand various pestles and mortars. The open door in the north wall reveals a room containing 16 straw pallets. The open door to the south reveals a room containing table, to which is strapped a dire rat suffering from wood like tumours. It appears to be dying. On a corner of the table is a crystal vial containing a clear liquid, which Balthas declares to be non magical.
Na-Dulak takes the vial with him.
Moving to the western door on the south wall the party open it to reveal a room containing a crude mashing, straining and cask facility. The tun contains mashed potato like tubers. There are ten 2 gallon casks, all full, stood against a wall. Opening one reveals an alcoholic liquid which smells stale and musty.
The central door on the north wall opens to reveal a small repair shop or tailoring workshop.
The eastern door on the south wall reveals an empty room with a tunnel leading out of its south eastern corner. Ashendarius crosses the room and peers down the tunnel. It is unworked and he cannot tell whether it has been used recently.
The eastern door on the north wall opens to reveal a room which appears to be weapons store. There is another door in the north eastern corner. Gathering up the weapons reveals:
- 5 small short swords
- 30 small javelins
Balthas confirms all to be non magical.
Listening at the door in the north east corner Na-Dulak hears nothing so Ashendarius unlocks the door.
Opening the door reveals a small 10×10 room with another door in the eastern wall. Ashendarius suspects that this is a trap but fails to find one so he and Na-Dulak enter the room and listen at the other door. Ashendarius unlocks the door and opens it. This reveals a large cross shaped chamber.
Nodules of luminescent fungus hang from the ceiling and grow from the floor. The walls and floor are covered with carvings showing dragons raining fire down on terrified members of all the races. There are doors in the east, north and south walls. Listening at these three doors we hear nothing at the north door, a shuffling, crunching sound behind the eastern door and movement of some kind behind the south door.
The party decide to proceed in a direction where they can hear no sound – hoping to penetrate deeper into the complex before they are discovered. However when they open the northern door Na-Dulak and Ashendarius are faced by a large bugbear armed with a Morningstar; who proceeds to take a huge, but luckily inaccurate swipe, at Na-Dulak. After Balthas and Na-Dulak both miss, Ashendarius tries a risky tumbling manoeuvre to get into position to attack. Unfortunately the elf's gymnastic skills let him down and he leaves himself open to an attack of opportunity which hits, dealing 9 points of damage. Fortunately his subsequent attack is a critical one, dealing 7 points of damage.
The next attack by the bugbear severely damages Balthus – doing 6 points of damage. Ibn Solaar then fells it with a skilfully thrown trident. The room we have entered is long and thin with a 20×10 alcove in the eastern wall. There is a door in the alcove and one in the north wall. This room is again covered with dragon carvings. The party cannot discern what the carvings represent, if anything.
Searching the bugbear reveals:
- 5 gp
- 23 sp
- A large pouch of soil like substance.
Listening at the two doors Ashendarius hears nothing behind the north door and movement behind the east door. He then, foolishly and without consulting Balthas, opens the northern door. Revealing yet another bugbear armed with a scythe. Fortunately it is caught flat footed and Ibn Solaar and Na-Dulak move in to attack. A crossbow bolt from Ashendarius finishes it off.
Searching body yields:
The party find themselves in an octagonal chamber covered in the ubiquitous fungus. Much of this fungus is scorched and there is no sign of what caused the damage. There is a door in the south west wall. There is a sequence of 1' diameter holes in the walls, from which a fiery light emanates. There are 2 in the north wall, 3 in the East wall, 2 in the west wall and 1 in the North West wall. Approaching one of the holes Balthas realises that a lot of heat is also coming through them. Ashendarius listens at the south west door and, hearing nothing, unlocks and opens it.
This reveals a corridor running southwards.
At the end of the corridor is a chamber containing a huge carved dragon in the curve of the western wall. The empty eye sockets of the statue still give off an eerie red glow and its giant wings are hidden in shadow. A 5' diameter red tile is inset in the floor in front of the statue; runes are carved along its inner edge.
Ashendarius searches the area behind the statue and finds nothing. Na-Dulak examines the red tile and translates the, draconic, inscription as "Let the sorcerous power illuminate my mind". Balthas detects magic on the tile and the statue and detects that both are magical, have strong auras and are a type of transmutation magic. Ashendarius idiotically decides to step into the circle of the red tile and reads the words on tile in Draconic. It proves to be a mistake as a spectral flame rolls from the stone dragon's mouth and engulfs him. Luckily, he seems to be unharmed; in fact he gains a charisma bonus.
Less luckily, at the same time an incorporeal animate shadow emerges from behind the dragon's wings and approaches Ashendarius. Fortunately it fails to touch him and Ashendarius is able to turn undead on the creature. Balthas gives Na-Dulak his magic Morningstar to enable him to attack the creature as it flees. Sadly he misses and it is able to disappear, unharmed, into the wall behind the dragon.
Intrigued and excited by the draconic idol Na-Dulak steps into the red tiled circle and utters the words on the tiles. To his disappointment, this time nothing happens.
The party take time to search the statue of the dragon but find nothing. Ashendarius listens at the door in the North wall but hears nothing. Ashendarius then opens the door to a 20' x 20' room filled with leaning and partially fallen stone book shelves. Torn bindings, pages and scrolls litter the floor. We move back into the main room to await the return of the incorporeal being. Balthas hits it with an eldritch blast. Na-Dulak charges to the attack and strikes home with the magic Morningstar. The shadow, for such it is, strikes at Ibn Solaar but misses. The shadow then vanishes into the wall. The party moves into defensive decisions and await the next attack of their cunning adversary. It emerges from a different wall trying to catch the party unawares. This time though an eldritch blast from Balthas dispatches it.
As Ibn Solaar has used a oil of magic weapon on his bastard sword the party decides to press on to the north as quickly as possible in order that it not be wasted. Ashendarius rushes into the "library" and opens the door in its north wall. This leads to a corridor with a set of steps leading down in the north east corner.
When Na-Dulak runs to the end of the corridor he can see that the stairs lead down about 15'. At the foot of the stairs is a corridor which runs under the octagonal room, ending in a set of stairs going back up to the level we have just left. At the end of the steps the corridor turns south as far as we can see. Balthus and Na-Dulak spot a small sheaf of papers on the floor under the soil on the floor near the western wall of the corridor.
We point them out to Ibn Solaar who picks them up and reads them. They appear to be pages from a diary pertaining to an attempt to take a cutting from "the tree" – presumably the one that yields "magic apples". They read as follows.
"My plans proceed, but the pace is frustrating. I need more fruit which requires a new tree and yet the seeds produce the twig blights and I have yet to fathom how to make Nature's course run differently here. None of my experiments have yielded any clues, but I must press on."
"I have lately diverted focus away from the tree's seeds and toward it's internal structure, but great care is required here lest I damage it or it takes me.."
"Today brought the biggest leap in my research for months. Extracts from the tree bark have been incredibly difficult to obtain, but samples from different areas of the trunk reveal different properties and what I seek would appear to be at ground level."
"I have finally got to the root of this seemingly intractable problem – literally ! What I seek of the tree lies beneath the surface, but I must plan meticulously to protect the essence of the thing whilst extracting some of its very life source. I am now convinced that a green root can be removed reltively harmlessly and that, properly nurtured, it will grow fully. I will begin tomorrow. A second tree cannot be far from my grasp !"
At the end of the immensely long corridor is a door in the east wall. Opening the door reveals a 30×40' room with a large gap in the south wall leading to what appears to be another cavern of the Grove. Also in the room are 3 goblins. An eldritch blast from Balthas hits one of the goblins and Na-Dulak destroys one of them. The remaining goblins are destroyed in quick time but 3 twigblights appear from the cavern.
One of the twigblights hits Na-Dulak, doing little physical damage and fortunately its poison fails to take effect. Ibn Solaar rapidly destroys one of them. As Ashendarius moves into the cavern to combat the twigblights it becomes apparent that the briars tangled across the floor severely limit the ability to move freely.
An eldritch blast from Balthus removes a 2nd twigblight but four more appear in the distance. Warning the party to stand back while he prepares one of his mightiest blademagics Ibn Solaar moves far into the cavern to give himself space for his "blistering flourish". This dazzles 2 of the twigblights (not at all the mighty "solar explosion" that the arrogant swordsage had bragged of in warning his compatriots to stand clear). Na-Dulak mops up one of the dazzled blights, but he is hit by one of the others.
To add to the party's pain suddenly 4 more goblins appear from through the western door of the room, threatening Ashendarius and Balthas. They withdraw into the cavern and Na-Dulak charges the goblins. Balthas is hit by a twigblight, as is Na-Dulak by a goblin. Na-Dulak then kills a goblin and Ibn Solaar a twigblight. Na-Dulak eliminates another goblin and Ibn Solaar a goblin; suddenly the battle, which seconds ago looked dire, begins to turn in the party's favour. Rapidly the enemy is reduced to a twigblight and a goblin but the party fail miserably to make any inroads until a lucky "backfire" on the twigblight destroys it. Balthas hits the goblin with an eldritch blast but fails to bring it down but Ibn Solaar finally mops him up.
Realising that they are now too severely wounded and weakened to push their rash assault any further the party retire to the tunnel at the north of the 1st cavern they entered in order to rest and heal their wounds. They rebuild their traps either side of where they rest for 2 nights, completely healing themselves, and repreparing their daily abilities.