Forgotten Realms Artifact Hunters: Reassembling The Avatar of Torm

13. The Inhabitants of the Caves

I don't think we're alone in here...

As the final bugs scurried off back into the cracks int he wall from which they had come, we turned our attention to the south entrance of the room. Although it had experience a cave in, through the rubble we heard low growling and the sounds of chewing. Some beasts seemed to be fighting playfully and unaware that their noises were echoing towards our party. Quietly and carefully, we began remove some stone, enough to peer through to the other side.

With Morigan’s torch casting dim light through the entrance, we saw cliff about ten feet from the threshold running along the wall to the west. There, it turn a corner south and continued to slope down southward into the darkness. A faint green glow was emanating from the west. With little of our curiosity satisfied, we continue to remove more stones until a path was large enough for us to enter.

As more light began to enter the room, the shuffling and growling of the creatures ceased. Impatiently, Morigan McBane lit a sunrod and tossed into the room and over the cliff. Instantly the room filled with warm light, revealing a large pit from atop a ramp that led down into it, descending 30ft. Through the mist, we could make out the forms of 4 large black reptiles who had until recently been wrestling over some large dead rats. To the north of this room, the mouth of a natural cave leads on.

Stepping forward with confidence, Marek the Silver approached the cliff. Then, suddenly, a smaller, more agile greature flew towards the paladin and glared at him, blinking Marek off the cliff and into the middle of the room, now surrounded by horse-sized drakes.

1 Portal Drake (500xp, DNM)
4 Rage Drakes (200xp, MM1)

Eventually, the beasts were neutralized and the final had been subdued, awed by the frightening power of Marek the Silver. After catching our breather, we turned north into the cave. The walls were rough and unworked- this passage was natural. The floor was no longer soft and dust-covered, instead it was solid and cracks chased each other like veins. Ahead, we saw more of the glowing liquid, as if this pool of acid had seeped beneath the floor of the preceding room, creating an underlying spring. The sting of it tickled our noses, like a carbonated ale. The smell of sulfur in the air and and slight crackling sounds of the acid eating at the particulate that still circulates in the air was unnerving.

The cavern split at this pool, one path lead east and another lead south. From the southern exit, we heard guttural voices speaking, but we couldn’t easily make it out. Between Morigan’s knowledge of history and Marek’s fluency in Draconic, we determined it to be an ancient form of the language. the only words that were interpreted were fear, intruder, skin, and holy.

And to the East, the path was dead silent.

As we made our way southward, the voices become more clear. We heard shuffling and exasperation. Most seem scared, but a few speak with stern indignation. Eventually, the weaker voices died out, leaving the stronger voices alone. Then silence.

As we enter the next cavern room, we saw a pair of black dragonborn soldiers standing guard on the ledge of a wider cave entrance that sat 10 feet off of the ground. Hand and foot holds had been carved into the stone. Standing shoulder to shoulder, they formed a wall blocking the only exit. With their weapons readied, they crouched low and give us a dirty look. One stepped forward and sternly and deeply growled an order at us. “Dak auf find nacht! Feird tum! Geeett Owrrrt!”. The Dragonborn pulled a symbol of Tiamat out of his cloak and kissed it. He then readied his bastard sword as the one beside him readied to katars and jumped off the ledge, heading towards us.

1 Dragonborn Raider (800xp, MM1)
1 Dragonborn Gladiator (500xp, MM1)

As the second dragonborn corpse fell lifelessly to the floor, we began to climb the ledge into the next room. This cavern must have been a lair for the creatures. Bedrolls laid on the floor while some bunks had been carved into the walls. Dirty leathers and furs littered the floors near the walls while the remnants of snuffed out hearths also spewed trails of smoke into the atmosphere. Another line of Dragonborn stood at the ready, prohibiting passage to these living quarters. As we drew our weapons, another black reptile appeared, this one seemingly a priest of Tiamat. He called upon the power of his god and drew a line in the ground, creating a massive wall of acid burning most of us. As we continued to press our power upon him, he kept drawing new walls, hurting both us and the two fighters who died trying to keep us away.

1 Dragonborn Fire Adept (1,200xp, DNM)
2 Dragonborn Soldier (200xp, MM1)

Eventually we slew the worshiper and moved further to the west. In the southwest corner of this cavern, a hut had been built into the cave wall. We noticed the only existence of nice things in here- we smelled incense and saw clean, soft animal furs that must have come from the surface. Fine silks laid atop some beautifully embroidered pillows within the hut. A black scaly hand feebly pulled back the curtain and an old dragonborn emerged and approached us with his head hanging low. In very broken common, he proceeded to explain to us that he recognizes their power and that we have killed all of his tribe’s finest warriors. Morigan McBane then shot him in the face. Inside the tent we found a magical amulet and a magical cloak.

To the north, the cavern descended into a longer cave. Within, the other Dragonborn were huddled: women, wyrmlings, and the sick. They were surrounded by fungus and sat wading in waist deep water. We determined this doubled as their safe house and their farm. One older, female Dragonborn stood up and angrily addressed Marek in Common, though heavily accented. “What brings you to my home? Our Home? Tiamat does not preach patience. Answer now!”

Angrily, Talindra Seryth raises the back of her paw to the female, but regains her composure and lowers it. Marek the Silver, again incensed at the mention of Tiamat, describes the beauty, brilliance and power of Bahamut.

“We only believe in the destructive power of Acid, and Tiamat teaches us how best to use it,” repeats the dragonborn woman. But as she looks at the blades int he hands of our party and the tribesmen in the cave behind her, she continues: “But we could be wrong…”

Morigan steps towards the woman and asks about the surrounding cave system. The female lizard explains:

“We were freed from our red dragon slavers when the planes shifted. We had been traveling through your Underdark and were trapped here a tenday ago when the earth moved again. Many of us did not survive the cave-in, but Tiamat saved some of us to spread his hatred of the metallics. As a result of this abruptness, we haven’t had much chance to explore this area, but did find the tunnel to the surface far north of here. No doubt that is how you arrived.”

Tal enters the conversation, asking about the armor.

“Moriguru, the priest you killed, he says Tiamat called us here, he said he felt the earth pulling him, pulling us. We search the immediate area, but have found no source to the power that pulls us. Last night, though, Moriguru had a vision. He said he was walking along the bottom of a deep chasm, much like the one beneath the mine cart track, when the power he felt seemed stronger than ever before. He stopped and looked up, following a large crack in the cavern wall. He approached the wall, and peered through. From within he saw the interior of a giant geode, and standing in the middle was a set of armor, golden like the scales of a dragon. We have searched all over the chasm right outside these caves and found nothing, though another lies past it that we have yet to check.”

“And what lies in the cave to the east of this one, at the fork to the north near the acid pool?” asks Morigan.

“There lies the spawn of Tiamat, and he will gladly digest you with his acid before swallowing you whole. And he’s not the kind of creature to take kindly to reason or intimidation. As I beg you to let us live, I beg you to stay clear, lest you be killed."

We stepped out of the room and discussed our options. They seemed to pose no threat to us, yet Tal and Marek loathed the idea of allowing more worshippers of Tiamat to live. Morigan just like to kill, and Ana Bella wasn’t paying attention. Eventually, we decided to let them live, in exchange for the information they gave and rested in the tent while taking turns at watch.

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