Flaming Gnome Attack

Going Down? White Plume Mountain, part 8.

Flaming Gnome Attack are:

Robelar, Dragonborn Paladin (Jeff)
Tort, Gnome Warlock (Joe)
Vondella, (female) Dwarf Barbarian (Dave)

Accompanied by:
Aethelred Aquilonius, Human Ranger (Elliot)
Garbondor, Half-Orc Monk (Tim)

Whereabouts Unknown:
Fis’Ting, Goblin Thief
Mortaqui, Deva Cleric
Radlum, Half-Orc Assassin
Zoltar, Human Wizard

Adamus Aquilonius, Human Bard [dead]
Halan Barnagran, Human Swordmage [dead]
Lokus, Minotaur Avenger [dead]
Cocktoesin, Shifter Druid [dead]
Automatic Johnny, his wolf [dead]
Blade, his wolf [petrified, left for dead]
Rochester, his hawk [fled, presumed dead]

So there was Tort, embracing his former mentor, in a laboratory/indoctrination centre containing library stacks, alien brickwork, strange coils and tubes running from the ceiling to the workstation, and dominated on the far wall by the lava-wreathed gateway to parts unknown. The rest of the party advanced warily into the chamber, the pugilistic monk Garbondor and the ranger Aethelred electing to inspect the book- and scroll-packed shelves of the library, while Robelar and Vondella kept an eye on the reunion.

It was readily apparent that the noted explorer Douven Stahl was not fully himself. In his pursuit of knowledge, he too had become afflicted with Keraptis’s curse and was slowly descending toward a miserable fate of enslavement to the wizard. But at the mention of the wizard’s name, Douven’s affliction took hold, and he blasted Tort and Robelar with a point-blank fireball, cursing them in a language not of this earth. Vondella and Robelar managed to subdue him, but not before the dwarf barbarianess had launched her own errant fireball, setting several library stacks ablaze.

Garbondor and Aethelred were gathering useful darkvision-granting scrolls from other shelves while Tort continued to extract information from Douven. He told them that Keraptis had brought the artifacts Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor from the ancient, legendary realm of the Underdark to this world, where he’d used their power to craft this dungeon and portal—and possibly to help bring about the collapse of the Nerath Empire itself! Furthermore, Keraptis considered the demon lord Orcus to be his arch-enemy, and the war between the two had at times spilled over into this world. Flaming Gnome Attack had already spoiled the plans of Lord Kalarel, who was a Scion of Orcus, during their successful bid to make safe the Keep on the Shadowfell. If Orcus had his eye on this world once more, and if Keraptis were active as well, could history be repeating itself?

Meanwhile, Aethelred had found his way into a storage area and a cave containing an unknown moss, but before he could inspect it more closely—or indeed, before the group could investigate the rest of the laboratory and it’s bizarre aparati, the library fire triggered Douven’s curse once more. He teleported away from Robelar, who had bound him, and using his teeth, pulled a beautiful blue rope that dangled from a hole in the ceiling. Those closest to the centre’s entrance heard the sound of bells ringing in a room behind them—and they knew this meant the the fiery efreets had been summoned.

Moments later all four demon princes burst through the doors, slinging their searing scimitars at Robelar and severely wounding him. Their path to their own world cut off, our heroes had no choice but to hurl themselves through the mysterious portal. Thus they escaped the efreets, and Vondella managed to toss a bound and blindfolded Douven over her shoulder on her way through. Tort was disappointed that Douven had expressed a desire to live at all, as he had come up with an excellent plan for mercy-killing his beloved father figure with Blackrazor.

When they passed through the portal, they fell at incredible speeds down, down, down—deeper than any of them thought possible. After what must have been hundreds perhaps thousands of miles, their descent slowed, they were dumped on the floor of a metal hallway. The impossible depth weighed heavily on their psyches, even the dwarf and the gnome, and they knew that they had now passed into the legendary Underdark, home of drow, durgar, and abominations from realms of primordial chaos and alien universes.

They passed out of the metal passageway and into a network of natural—though wholly unfamiliar in mineral and floral composition—caves. These caves opened onto a gigantic cavern, the dimensions of which were impossible to estimate, but glowing stones and strange bioluminescent flying creatures made it clear that the scale of this cavern was beyond anything they’d ever imagined. Their attention was drawn to a black lake before them. From the middle of the lake rose a disturbing structure: a black ziggurat constructed using materials and techniques utterly alien to them—although Aethelred and Vondal confessed that they’d seen this awful structure in their curse-haunted dreams. And on the banks of this lake, a group of bulge-eyed, fanged, amphibian creatures were apparently offering prayers to this structure as part of some hideous ritual.

Aethelred snuck forward to scout, but Garbondor was less than stealthy in his approach, and with horrible croaks and screams, the creatures attacked. Perhaps the oppressive atmosphere of the Underdark was having a greater effect on FGA than they realized, for they narrowly avoided death at the webbed hands of these harpoon- and spear-wielding monstrosities. In the end, our heroes triumphed, killing all but the priest creature, who retreated into the black lake.

And there stood our heroes, bleeding from puncture wounds caused by the creatures’ cruelly barbed spears and harpoons, staring across the lake at the unholy edifice looming before them in the harrowing vaults of the Underdark. Truly these were heroes, for who among us could have summoned the courage to stride forward toward such a place? But, of course, that is exactly what Flaming Gnome Attack did.



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