Take 2

A Cave in the Blackwoods

The Blackwoods take their toll while the party pushes forward

World Dates: 2010-07-21 to 2010-07-21

   Sin pushed his blade up and behind him, trying to catch the wolf on his back, and managed to hit him square in the neck. The splash of blood that hit him was hot and violent and he knew it would soon turn sticky, but there wasn’t anything to do about it just yet. With the wolf down, and heavy upon his back, he tried rolling and swung his blade around to strike at the wolf tugging on his left leg and caught it square as well. As he did so though he noticed the majority of the wolves making a sudden break for the trees.

   Ser Issac had gone quiet and Shane noticed he wasn’t struggling anymore. The wolves broke for the tree line just as he had finished building his fireball and it became apparent that Ser Issac was no longer conscious. Two dogs dragged him face down by his ankles and his sword slipped from his fingers. The wolves were slowed by his weight and that of his armor and so Shane thought he’d take care of the problem and lobbed his fireball at the nearest one.
   The fireball struck the wolf squarely and bathed it in fire so intense and sudden that it yelped and went rolling forward, releasing Ser Issac. The other wolf stumbled under the sudden added weight of their pray, thought better of things and let it go before dashing to the woods. The other wolf lay afire in the flowers and caught them quickly.
   With the matter settled, Shane settled back down to the ground while Sin stood quickly, arcing over his back to stand once again. The glade was quiet for the moment. Sin moved toward Ser Issac to check him and see if he still lived. Shane watched around for the moment and was about to fetch Nessa, when the three wolves that they thought Sin had killed suddenly leapt back to their feet again, their yellow eyes blazing. Shane shot back into the air.
   As Sin went for Ser Issac’s ankle, the flaming wolf before him stumbled up to it’s feet and bared his teeth. Sin drew forth both blades as he faced off against the flaming wolf that seemed to burn less fast than it healed. It was a frightening prospect to be facing off against a flaming wolf that appeared dead just moments ago. Behind him, Shane yelled something about the other wolves, but before he could turn he saw them racing past and the flaming wolf turned to join them.
   Shane launched another fireball into the midst of the racing wolves and bowled one over, but it recovered its feet momentarily and sprinted off. For moments they watched the red flame of the wolf speed through the underbrush and then they were alone once again.
   Sin fetched up Ser Issac and returned him to the path Shane had burnt while Shane summoned up some more fire, fireproofed Nessa and then burnt the area around her to cinders such that he wouldn’t come in contact with the flowers. Once done, he dragged her limp body over to where Sin and Ser Issac were, where Sin was already undoing his armor to try to see what had happened to him and see if if couldn’t help some. Shane dropped a healing spell onto the knight to stabilize him, just in case, and then while Sin worked on Ser Issac, Shane continued his original mission and burnt through both his side, Nessa’s side and the central path on the direction they were heading.
   After a few minutes, Nessa slowly gained consciousness again, blinking back the darkness and seeing the lighted glade they were in. Shane was sitting peacefully, meditating while Sin worked on the near naked body of Ser Issac but he couldn’t tell much of what was wrong.
   “It’s about time you decided to rejoin us,” Sin jibed sardonically. “Fainting out there probably wasn’t the best battle tactic you’ve come up with to date.”
   “It was…” Nessa trailed off when she realized nothing she could say would help at this moment…at least not in those regards. “What’s wrong with him?”
   “The wolves ripped at him pretty badly. They never pierced his armor from what I can see, but they shook him near to death, pulling at his legs and arms.”
   “I can help there,” Nessa said as she leaned forward toward him and intoned the words to a healing spell. Ser Issac shook his head and blinked his eyes open at last. “Feeling better?”
   “Better! Damn near feels like they were making a wishbone of my legs and my nads were popped off to make it happen. I ain’t had a pulled groin like this in years, not since that time I slipped off the horse and he pulled me by the one leg. You ever pull your groin like that?”
   “Well, I…um….”
   “Yeah, she’s real good at pulling groins,” Sin interjected.
   Nessa blushed a bit at this and Shane let his lips curl up into a smile. Ser Issac looked upon them as they enjoyed their own private joke and then he continued.
   “It’s a might deal more sore than a pull, but I can walk as long as we don’t move fast.”
   “Lay back and let me take care of it,” Nessa said and as he did so, she lay her hands near him and intoned the words to her healing spell once again.
   “With tender healing like that I think I’m ready to enter the fray once again.” He looked around for a moment and realized where he was and that he was fairly defenseless at present, “at least once I get some armor around these skivvies.”
   Sin tossed him a couple pieces of his armor. “Good, then you’re on watch while the wizards recover some energy. I have a feeling we’re not even close to out of this yet.”
   The time passed as both Nessa and Shane meditated to recover their energies. They were quickly ready to push on ahead and so decided since Nessa no longer held the Trace on Duke Taveon, they would have to push forward as close to straight as they could based upon what she remembered feeling. Ser Issac knew a thing or two about orienteering and felt he could keep them on track and so he took the lead, followed by Shane then Nessa and finally Sin.
   The trees were thicker here now that they were off any natural trail or path and Ser Issac had to push and chop in places to get them to move forward. Slowly they made their way into the darkness of the wood again. At least with their trailblazing, there were sounds to hear occupied while they pressed on…still the wood was unnerving.
   They pushed deeper int the wood when suddenly Sin felt something behind him. It was more than a feeling though, it was a slight sound, the pressure of something approaching and so he dove what little he could to the right to get out of the way. There was a thumping sound where he had stood and there in his place landed a spider the like and size they had never seen before.
   The spider reminded them of some venomous types they had seen before. Its eight legs were hairy and sharp, its eyes black and piercing and its body bulbous and disgusting. But what frightened them the most was the dripping venom that dripped from the twelve inch fangs the giant spider had. It reared back on four legs and tried to catch Sin who hacked at it and caused it to retreat a bit.
   Shane saw what was happening and pushed his way around, trying to close the gap to the giant spider, but the wood was thick and he had to push through branches and around trees to come close. Even as he did so, the giant spider leapt backward, up through the chute that seemed so obvious from this angle, but that they had all missed when they had pushed through. Sin and Shane could hear expletives coming from Ser Issac about then and begged everyone to back up slowly and they did so.
   Sin would keep a more cautious watch behind them as they moved forward again, nobody wishing to come face to face with one of those spiders again. They pressed on, their movements still slow and measured as they cut through the wood where they needed to, slid under low hanging branches when they could and generally made progress.
   “What’s that”, Nessa nearly shouted as she pointed to a rocky hill not too far from their make-shift path. Shane had seen it nearly at the same time but didn’t want to make as much noise in pointing out its presence, but even with Nessa pointing right at what she thought might be an opening in the rock, the shadows and curves made it all but invisible to Ser Issac and Sin. They had to move over to the shadowy area to really understand there was an opening.
   “It’s about as wide as a man and I think we can scrape down it,” Ser Issac commented after pushing himself in a bit. “It’s dark as a witches heart though and drops. I can feel it with my foot sure enough. We’d be a might smarter if we had some light for spelunking as these aren’t the kind of holes I’m so used to finding myself in anymore.”
   “Nessa, why don’t you give us some light on his shield? I can pull my blade and it will illuminate a bit as well and then we can push in.”
   Nessa acquiesced to Sin’s order and cast upon Ser Issac’s shield and it lit up the area like daylight. She remembered back to when she had done a similar casting, in simpler days, upon the weapon of an old friend of hers and how his ‘magic sword’ had one the day against the nuisance demons they had fought that day. She wanted to rest a few minutes before going in and let the fond memories of simpler days and times fall over her and then reality intruded as they were ready to descend.
   The entrance was spacious for Nessa but everyone else felt their armor scraping along the sides of the walls as they pushed in and down. The cavern wasn’t too deep, but was great enough to put them squarely underground into some type of natural cave system. There were odd smells and Sin quipped to Ser Issac, “What if we find your Duke down here captured by a dragon? Will you fight it while we flee?”
   “Sir, there are some deaths even honor can’t abide and that would be one of them.”
   There was a general round of chuckling as everyone was realizing Ser Issac was human after all. his honor bound him to many things, but stupid deaths were apparently beyond the scope of his nature and they felt much better traveling with him for that. They knew they could count on him to stand beside them, but that he wouldn’t rush forward foolhardy.
   At the bottom of their descent, the passage opened slightly that they wouldn’t scrape against the walls anymore, but it would be impossible for anything more than one to go down the passages. The passage split left and right and the right passage was chosen though neither passage seemed to offer any more hope than the other. It curved around the the left and soon opened up into chamber that was a few yards across and had an egress to the left and one across from them.
   Ser Issac made for the left-hand egress which let Sin and Nessa in behind him and Nessa called for a stop. “See the footprints on the floor? They go around here, and around there, but not a one of them scuffs the center of the room. I bet it’s a trap of some sort.”
   “Now who would go trapping a perfectly good floor in an underground cavern,” asked Shane. “Dis this some type of lair do you think?” His words dripped, but it helped to remind everyone that there might be more than just natural problems down here.
   Ser Issac pushed down the left-hand egress with Sin behind and then Nessa and Shane following up. The new passage extended down for only a short distance before they found themselves on the right-side of a “T” intersection. Ser Issac turned his shield down the new passage to see what could be seen and immediately a mote of power exploded upon his chest and sent him back into the rock of the passage with a loud clank.
   There was no way to react since Ser Issac took up the entirety of the passage intersection. Sin and Shane both itched to see what was going on, but were trapped in the small passage and so Sin activated his armors missile deflection while Shane cast the same upon himself. After what seemed like an eternity, but in what was only a single second, Ser Issac pushed himself to his right and out of the way for Sin.
   Sin slipped into the position Ser Issac was in and a mote of fire came flying at him in that same moment but veered away at the last moment, striking the wall above his head and showering the area in sparks. He saw three elves in a cavern before him, two of which held small balls of fire in their hands and one of which appeared as if he had just thrown. They were just far enough away that he couldn’t close to them and attack well, but as long as they kept up the fireball attack, he felt pretty comfortable and safe. He needed to close and so pushed forward where he would have room to maneuver and was suddenly attacked from hidden elves to his right who shot streams of fire at him. He barely dodged out of the way.
   While Shane checked behind them, knowing they were in a particularly bad position in this “T” intersection, Ser Issac slipped into the chamber behind Sin and Nessa pushed forward into the intersection. The elves were communicating amongst themselves in elven and both Nessa and Shane heard them say they suspected the golden man of having a deflection up. Nessa relayed their knowledge to Sin and Ser Issac in Anglish so they would know the enemy tactics were about to change.
   Sin took another two steps forward and slashed at the center elf with both swords, only to have them both parried away. Ser Issac slashed at another elf on the far left and hit him square, slicing from shoulder to hip. Another elf that had been hidden on the far left and was unseen when Sin first looked in took a step toward Ser Issac and unleashed a bolt of fire from his fist. Ser Issac’s shield came up quickly and he pushed forward, knocking the elf down while deflecting the bolt of fire, and the elf was out.
   Nessa prepared a sleep spell, while Shane grew more impatient to get into the chamber since he could hear the sounds of battle and Sin and Ser Issac seemed to be having too much fun. Sin finally caught one across his torso and the spray of blood was still in the air when the body hit the floor. Ser Issac laughed and told him he was behind this time as he moved toward the remaining three, two of which had been firing bolts of fire from their hands.
   Nessa’s spell went off and another elf fell down. Shane could wait no longer and shover her hard, knocking her out of the way and he stepped up into the intersection, but could see no more elves standing. One of the elves tapped Ser Issac and he was blown back and started swaying as if he were about ready to fall. Sin stepped up so that he was the center of attention for the two remaining elves and took a couple of swipes at the closest one, hitting his twice, but the elf didn’t go down.
   Shane burst into the room near Sin and slid his sword into the same elf, pulled it free with a gush of blood and the elf dropped. The other elf stepped back and raised his hands into the air even as Nessa took a few hesitant steps into the cavern.
   Sin looked upon the last elf and said, “Are you surrendering?”
   The elf looked upon them without saying a word until Shane translated the words. “I could never surrender to the like of fools like you,” the elf spat back.
   Nessa started to incant but the elf had been waiting for someone to do something and he beat her to the punch with a quick word of power on his lips. Nessa’s spell took hold of him, but she wouldn’t see if it lasted as Sin dropped a blade and ran his finger through the elf’s eye and breaking the bones of his skull and sending the fragments through his brain. He would miss the smile that played across the elf’s as he died.
   Both Shane and Nessa pondered upon the words and action the elf made and both realized it had simply ignited fire, but that made no sense as there was no apparent fire. There was a moment of wonder and then Nessa smelled something foul and her lungs felt as if they burst into flame and she staggered forward out of the smoke that had just welled up around her feet. “Poison,” she croaked out.
   They assembled in the chamber as the smoky poison billowed into the room, trapping them. Sin was beyond irritated at this point and went around finishing off the elves that had merely fallen. Ser Issac finally managed to recover enough to tell them how much he hurt and then they all looked at the cloud of poison that would keep them trapped in the chamber, even as it expanded into the chamber…



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