So, the first session for these guys of 2010, and a couple of nasty battles involving tricky terrain and numerous, lower level foes.
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18:05 – The group discuss which of the two tunnels leading from this area to take; the one to the North which is flooded, or the one to the Northwest which is slicked with thick smears of bat guano
18:06 – Varracuda, being able to breathe water, swims with ease through the tight, water filled tunnel to the north.
18:08 – Varracuda finds that the tunnel sinks some 20' before levelling out a little, and then rising back to the same level as the tunnels the rest of the group are in, and upon breaking the surface of the cold, rust smelling waters at the far end, finds himself almost swamped by the stench of the cavern he enters.
It is a smallish chamber, thickly smeared in some kind of guano, as well as oily, membranous feathers. A buzzing sound can be heard coming from the only exit, as well as distant sounds of scratching.
18:10 – Varracuda returns to the group and describes the tunnel. Hearing of its narrowness, and the pressing cold of the waters, they are reluctant to enter (Grigori is especially fearful). They briefly consider the other tunnel – until Varracuda (backed up by Aramyn) suggests that all that bat poo may have generated a lot of toxic gas.
18:15 – Varracuda returns to the tunnel, trailing a rope behind him to aid the passage of the rest of the group.
18:17 – he surfaces back in the cavern at the far end and immediately runs into trouble as several bloated, bat-like things with needle-sharp stylets, multiple chitinous legs and compound eyes suddenly wing into the chamber, swirling round it once before diving at the swordmage and trying to stab him with their beaks.
Varracuda responds and launches several dazzling attack which blast the weird opponents. However, the buzzing from the corridor continues to grow in volume, and suddenly the cave is filled with a whirling maelstrom of wings and stabbing stylets, as a swarm of the wretched things – Stirges – burst in!
18:18 – Varracuda desperately tugs on the rope in a bid to alert the rest of the party that he is in trouble, all the while fending off the whirlwind of stabbing, clutching little horrors. At the far end, the group initially don't seem to grasp what is going on...then they realise and slowly begin to enter the icy, crushing cold of the water filled tunnel (Well, Seren and Grigori don't at this point, the logic priest trying – and failing – to construct some kind of winch which would allow him to return swiftly to the surface should he become stuck in the tunnel).
18:20 – 18:30 – Slowly but surely the group make their way along the tunnel, grasping at the rope, their lungs bursting as they grope forwards through the terrifying drowning embrace of the narrow, drowned, frigid tunnel (Jaeger calls upon the shadows and makes himself slightly less than solid, moving with almost as much ease as Varracuda had).
As each character emerges from the waters; dripping, gasping and shivering, they find themselves immediately in the maelstrom of battle. Three skeletal, stinking rats, veritably effervescent with disease, have also joined the fray, darting forth to bite with splintering, rotting fangs, before scurrying away from any possible reprisals.
At one point the passage of those individuals still under water is blocked by the densest area of the stirge swarm. However, Jaegar uses a shadowy power to drag them away, allowing the barbarian to thunder in, his fearsome howls and deadly axe (spitting and steaming as its fiery runes drive off the water) cleaving a path of ruin amongst the monsters. Gorthias invokes the power of his blade to slow one of the scurrying Murk Rats, whilst Emmiven bolsters the group and gives them strength in the absence of the priests healing formulae.
Eventually, the group drive the swarm off, and slay the other monsters – though not before the filthy drool from the rats has inflicted (unbeknownst to him at this point) filth fever on the barbarian.
18:35 - After a short rest (during which the priest and sorceress are brought through the tunnel by Varracuda), the group move on, a little perturbed by the continued droning buzz from further in the tunnels ahead...
18:37 – The tunnel widens, and the air grows slightly warmer. The stink of Stirge dung becomes much stronger, and as the group creep round a corner in the widening corridor, they discover a vast cavern beyond; thickly spattered with oily masses of Stirge guano and other organic detritus.
However, they have little time to take it all in, for more of the bloodsuckers dart towards them, accompanied by a much larger specimen, plated in overlapping bands of chitin and emanating the droning buzz they have been hearing all this time.
18:37 – 18:39 – Another battle ensues. The Hive Lord is a tougher opponent than the other Stirges, its draining stylet weakening the swordmage even as it repairs its own wounds. Seren and Grigori make up for their no show in the last battle, raking the air with their magics, burning, blasting and unravelling any monster unlucky enough to be struck by them.
However, the battle ends as Shnecke, boiling with a brutal fury, unleashes a howling blow that hackles deep into the Hive Lords body, bursting it like an overripe tomato, splattering death pheromones throughout the chamber, scattering the remaining standard Stirges, and allowing the group to catch their breath.
18:40 – 18:50 – The group have a short rest, and Grigori uncovers the partially rotted, partially mummified corpse of a Dundorin amidst the stinking piles of Stirge guano. Although most of its items have been corroded to nothing by the caustic waste, three items; its magical plate armour, its ensorcelled warhammer (a beautiful thing struck with Dundorin runes of battle and strength), and its (oddly incongruous) aelwyn crafted boots (which the assassin takes as they are identified as being somehow linked to ones ability to manifest acrobatic skills).
During this rest, the pervasive cold of the tunnels begins to press in on the group...
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