Bollock's Inquisitives

S01E05 - Bug Hunt, Part 2: Mucus and Blood

The group finds the main nest and battles its Hive Lord. They then push deeper into Ashurta's tomb, facing off against its guardians, wanting to make sure no eggs have escaped their purge.

Olarune 24, 998 YK. The fight with the imp and the fire creatures left Karnak and Basil drained. Unsure of how they’d get along should they go through another battle, the five group members decide to take a rest. They head back to the first room, place the kruthik bodies close to the tunnels and settle down to rest for a few hours.

About six hours later, they set off again. Unwilling to try to go through the trapped room again, they decide to try the kruthik tunnels. They are cramped and the group finds their progress through them to be slow and difficult. Leaving from the room with the puzzle and statues, they head east and then south in the tunnels, heading for a larger room glimpsed by Rampart when Basil was stuck in the trapped room.

When they get closer to the opening, they see it leads to the ruined foundation of an ancient tower. Basil takes the lead and exits the tunnel into the room. Rubble lines the walls and two large support beams come out of the walls about fifteen over the floor. A young kruthik hisses at him. Rampart steps into the room. When it does, it and the shifter get struck by large chitinous spikes dripping with poison. More kruthiks, two of which about the size of wolves, come into view, standing atop the support beams. Basil looses an arrow at the oncoming beasts, taking out a hatchling while Rampart takes point. Maathezar, Karnak and his wolf squeeze out of the tunnel and move to help Rampart. Zair stays safely behind them, just inside the tunnel. Basil moves under one of the beams to escape the raining spikes, but the kruthik adults climb down to engage him in melee. He retreats back to his allies as they finish off the young kruthiks and they move forward to engage the adults. Together, they make short work of the last two beasts.

Four tunnels lead out of the room, one of which is large enough for a medium creature to go through without squeezing. The group decides to go for the safer option and head down that one.

The tunnel leads to another tower foundation, but this one if filled with mucus membranes and round, metallic eggs: they have found the hive. As they carefully step forward they see small kruthiks tending the eggs. They look up and hiss in unison when they spot the intruders. Deeper in the cave, they can hear a larger creature’s roar. The kruthiks charge forward and the group takes a defensive formation at the tunnel’s entrance. A much larger kruthik comes into view, passing through the mucus membranes with ease and carefully avoiding the eggs. As it gets closer, it spits at the intruders, coating them in a slimy fluid that burns their skin like acid. The group concentrate their fire on the groups of small, fresh-hatched kruthiks who swarm them. As their numbers dwindle, Basil dodges away from the group, getting out of the Hive Lord’s reach and starts breaking eggs, hoping to draw it away from his allies. Surrounded by foes, the Lord roars in outrage and fury, but is unable to escape the tide of steel closing in around him. It tries to maneuver away, still spitting acid, but keeps getting surrounded. Under the rain of blows coming from the group, it falls with a whimper.

The group picks up a few eggs to bring to the Morgrave University professor and destroy the rest. They find that about one in five eggs contain a winged kruthik, and that these are mixed randomly with the other eggs, suggesting it came as much as a surprise to the beasts as to their victims. Among the refuse, they find a few items belonging to the creatures’ previous meals: a few coins, a couple of potions and a silver magical amulet. The latter is claimed by Basil. Maathezar and Karnak each take one of the potions. Karnak and Basil find that the Hive Lord was rather small compared to how big they can get. This means either this hive was young, or else it is the offshoot of a larger one. The group decides to explore the rest of the tunnels, hoping to confirm they’ve completed their job.

Progress is slow and difficult as the other tunnels are rather narrow. After a few hours of scrapes and uncomfortable crawling, they find a single tunnel they can’t get to the end of. That tunnel seems to lead deeper into the tomb than they’ve gone. They thus backtrack and end up in the trapped room.

Basil leads them carefully around the trapped tiles and moves to examine the door up the stairs on the far end. The door is trapped, but can be opened by taking out its hinges. The shifter takes out his tools and gets to work. It takes him a couple of minutes to make the door safe. Rampart and Karnak then carefully take it off its hinges and put it down.

In front of them is another large room lined with alcoves. The smell of decay in it hits them like a physical force. In the middle is a large metal grate with statues of stylized felines with six legs and two long tentacles at its corners. On the grate stands a humanoid and two bipedal creatures. Water falls on them from a crack in the ceiling and they are blurry. Zair says magic is coming from the statues and that that is what is making the creatures blurry: it is some sort of magical defensive effect. The creatures do not react to the door being open. The room is lighted by floating globes near the room’s single support pillar. Basil sneaks into the room, walking along the wall. The alcoves are filled with rotted remains, bits of bone and putrid flesh. He notices that some of them seem to be moving on their own. As he steps next to an alcove containing such remains, they shape themselves into a tiny, vaguely humanoid form and lunge at him.

Rampart charges forward to engage the creatures on the grate. It swings its sword at one of the placid drakes, who doesn’t even try to dodge… but the attack misses, as if the creature wasn’t where it seemed to be. Basil falls back towards his comrades, followed by three small bone and flesh animates nipping at his heels. Karnak, Frostbite and Maathezar move to crush the creatures in melee. They are quickly shattered and the group moves into the room. The humanoid creature under the falling water reaches into its chests, pulling out bits of rotted flesh and bones which it throws at Basil, the smell alone enough to make him gag uncontrollably. The grave drakes snap at Rampart, biting down on it and then grinding their teeth into its frame. A winged kruthik flies out of the hole in the ceiling and latches on the warforged. Amplifying her voice to a deafening roar, Zair pushes one of the drakes off of Rampart and away from the statues. The drake suddenly becomes clear and the bard suddenly understands. She shouts at her companions to move the creatures away from the statues which are causing Rampart’s attacks to continually miss. As the humanoid corpse pelts them with more bits of its rotted flesh, they take on the drakes, keeping them away from their defensive enchantment and showering them with blows. They kill the kruthik and then move on to the corpse, which is in turn brought down. When it dies, it explodes, showering them in rot and maggots.

The adventurers take a few minutes to clean themselves in the falling water and to take the four statues’ eyes, which are made of amethysts. They then head through the only other set of doors in the room.

They follow a small hallway, go down a short flight of stairs and end up in front of another set of double doors. They examine the doors and see they are neither trapped nor locked. From the other side they can hear a sound like bubbling water. Carefully, they pull the doors open.

Wisps of mist float lazily in the air of the room in front of them. Four pillars hold up a flat ceiling. In the middle of the room is a pool shaped like a bowl held in four claws. Goblin runes line its base spelling out “The blood of my enemies slakes my thirst and that of my servants and sword siblings, now and for all time”. The pool is filled with a red liquid which, as the runes state, seems to be blood. It bubbles to the surface, seemingly coming from the bottom. On the far eastern walls are two large alcoves with an upright sarcophagus in each. The floor near them are littered with old bones. There are four sets of double doors, two on the southern wall and two on the western wall.

Rampart is the first to move into the room, inching close to the pool. Maathezar follows closely behind as backup. Closer inspection confirms that the pool is indeed filled with blood, humanoid blood. As they stand next to the pool, both the warforged and the kalashtar feel the uncontrollable urge to drink from it. They plunge their hands into it, cupping some of the blood into them. They bring it up to their lips and drink avidly, finding it tastes great, and severely grossing out their comrades. The others observe them with horror, but the two seem to suffer no ill effect from their strange behavior. Basil and Zair enter the room and, walking along the wall, move to the sarcophagi at the eastern end of the room. They make sure they aren’t trapped, and then pry one open. Bones burst out of it, knocking them to them ground. They brush them up and get back up, slightly annoyed. The sarcophagus is otherwise empty so they move to the other one. They pry it open as well, only to end up in a similar situation. Meanwhile, Karnak and his wolf move in to examine the doors on the western wall. He can hear nothing behind them, but from the second one he can feel a small breeze coming through the crack. Rampart moves to the southern doors, Maathezar still in tow. It is silent behind both doors and there are no breezes coming from either of them. The warforged tries to open one of them, and things go downhill from there.

The doors on the southern wall and the northernmost doors on the western wall suddenly fly open, revealing small rooms each hosting a sarcophagus. Out of the ones in the southern room two undead creatures rise from their rest, one an armored skeleton with a large falchion, the other a pale hobgoblin corpse in rags with wild hair, wicked claws and eyes burning with hate. At the same time, the bones littering the eastern alcoves get up as skeletons with vicious looking claws. Zair identifies the pale hobgoblin corpse as a wight and warns her comrades to bring it down fast, as it drains life force with its attacks.

The blood pool starts to boil, turning the mist around blood red. Basil lets an arrow loose at one of the skeletons. It strikes it with such force it shatters the brittle bones of its torso and sends it crashing to the floor. Rampart moves into the crypt holding the skeleton with a falchion, slashing at it with its longsword, but the creature parries the strike. The wight lunges at Karnak, drawing blood with its claws and then dancing away from its prey. The ranger goes after it, Frostbite leading the charge. Zair takes out one of the decrepit skeletons with a blast of sonic energy. Maathezar moves to help against the armed skeleton. An up-to-now unseen attacker appears amid the melee near the southern wall, letting out a shrieking wail and sending its foes tumbling to the ground in agony. The battle rages on with Rampart pinning down the skeleton with a falchion as the others bring down the other skeletons and then the wight. The blood mist keeps expanding, granting the undead creatures some degree of concealment. When it reaches Maathezar, he notices he sees the undead clearly through the mist and understanding dawns on him. He yells at his comrades to drink the blood as it counteracts the mist’s effects. Ever the adventurous spirit, Zair tries first and confirms the kalashtar‘s hypothesis. Emboldened by the undead’s disappearing advantage, the adventurers soon dispatch the last of them.

The fight has been costly however, as Karnak was subjected to many attacks by the wight before it was brought down. One door remains unopened, but they are uncertain of how well they’d do in another fight. The group takes a short rest as they ponder their next move.

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