Campaign Log: 1.11 – Gemma’s Wondrous Cave

Campaign Log

Gemma's CaveLast Wednesday at Pawn & Pint left one girl to fend for herself as the party had a mission, but then they found something wondrous to explore: Gemma’s Cave.

Having confirmed that Comir has sent soldiers into Cothel to act as spies or perhaps even an advanced force, the party redouble’s its effort to bring word to the King that his wife might be undermining the country. To that effort, the party, with their seven horses, skirt northwest along the edge of the forest that sits on the east of the Grey Mountains.

After a couple of days of traveling beside a river, they spot a couple of carriages and a number of people heading to the southeast. Not wanting to bother people who appeared to have means, they stand to the side of the road to allow the others to pass.

The group of people appears to be made up of three men on horse back dressed in chain armor, a handful of footmen dressed in leather, two large coaches, a wagon, and a group of retainers, or perhaps even indentured servants. Every one of status is wearing the colors of some family, but the colors are not ones that any of the party recognizes.

The younger of the three men on horse approaches the party and eyes them carefully. “Were’d you get the horses?” The young man demands.

Gemma, hoping to remain diplomatic and friendly, responds, “We performed a service for a village and helped them resolve their troubles. In return, they provided us several horses. The others are our own.”

“Well, that is good to know. You can provide a service to Lord Deltar, my father, and give us the horses,” quips the young Lordling.

“Ug, and who are you?” Howl wants to know.

Wilby drops the reigns of his horse, gathers his gear, and starts walking away. He wants nothing to do with thirteen or fourteen armed men.

“I am Samir, Lord Deltar is my father.  Now turn over the horses.”

Howl says, “I think we could come to an agreement on this.”

And Samir agrees, “Yes, you can agree to give us your horses. My soldiers need them.”

Rowan joins Wilby in leaving his horse.  Unferth, seeing the soldiers gathering closer, tells Samir how great a pleasure it was in meeting them, and then turns over his horse as well.

Howl, frustrated, makes a mental note to kill Lord Deltar and his son at a later date, but eventually, all of them leave their horses and allow the Deltar family to continue on their journey unhindered. To offer comfort, Wilby reminds everyone that the horses won’t make them travel faster (just reduce the wear on your feet and legs) and also they require a lot of attention and care.

After a few hours of travel, the party hears some noise coming from behind them and they turn to see a young girl in her early teens coming in their direction. The girl appears to have been one of Lord Deltar’s servants and has an arrow sticking out of her. They watch for signs of trouble, but they do not see any pursuers. The girl explains that Lord Deltar left her mother back at the Keep, which he turned over to his cousin, and he forced her to come with him. She wanted to stay with her mother and fled the caravan when she saw the party. Deltar’s men shot her for running away.

Wilby removes the arrow and quietly heals the girl’s wounds. Not wanting to get involved when they have to warn the King, Rowan gives the girl a dagger, Gemma offers her a handful of coppers, and the party sends her on her way back to the keep and her mother. They then quickly cross over to the other side of the river they had been traveling along and disappear into the woods.

The party continues to avoid people and towns for several days as they make their way toward the front lines. Eventually, they come across a wide river and decide to travel north in search of a better crossing point or perhaps a barge. Their efforts lead them to a small village that has seen all of its inhabitants slain and left to rot. Most of the goods have been left behind, including animals still locked in pens.

Signs of witchcraft are evident in the destruction, including the sinking of the barge. However, they do find a small boat that will hold three people and the barge rope is still in place. The tracks and signs of death point to someone harming this village within the last two or three days. The people who did it appear to have traveled to the east.

Unferth, the large man that he is, agrees to start ferrying people across to the west side of the river. While he does that, Howl explores the town for valuables and magic. He finds a few coins, but nothing magical.

Once they are on the west side of this larger river, they follow the trail of where the attackers came from. After half a day of travel, they come across the ruins of an old town or city. Broken stone columns stand amount the trees, offering testament to a time long gone. Howl does a quick search for valuables and after finding nothing, the party moves further east into the mountains.

A couple days after beginning their climb into the mountains, they see a group of people in the distance moving down out of the mountains and heading east away from the front. The men appear rather worse for the wear and are dressed as soldiers of Cothel. The party assumes they may be deserters and with the valley being wide enough, they let them pass without confronting them.

The next day, just after dawn, they encounter another group of soldiers moving away from the front. This time they stop them and ask for information. The soldiers reply that the King is dead, the prince taken, and most of the allied forces have been captured and are being held in camps by the Senzar, who are using the soldiers as a workforce to dig for something in the mountains. They think the Senzar are searching for some artifacts or other relics. None of the soldiers want to wait around as they are freezing and have little in the way of supplies. The party lets them continue east.

Gemma's CaveUncertain of their direction now that the King may be dead, they look around for shelter and find a cave. Nothing currently is living in it, but there are signs that animals have lived in this chamber before.

Gemma decides to explore the back of the cave and discovers a gap near the ground under a lip of stone. Eager to find something usefully, she crawls through and discovers a massive chamber on the other side of the opening. Howl, Unferth, and Rowan eventually follow, leaving Wilby, Ishen, and Simon behind to guard the cave and their retreat.

Gemma's Cave MapThe large chamber is so massive that the party’s lights do not show all of it. However, as they explore, they find that parts of the ceiling have calved off, leaving large mounds of stone on the ground. Near the back of the chamber, a small stream of water flows out through a narrow passage. Words carved into the stone nearby mark the passage. No one is familiar with the language, but Howl makes use of his powers and attempts to decipher what it says, leading him to conclude that the meaning is “Someone’s name was here,” though he is uncertain of how to pronounce the name.

Gemma pulls out a dagger and carves the parties names into the stone to offer proof of their own passage. After she does that, the four of them proceed down the slippery slope going deeper into the mountain. The come through several other chambers, some with pools of water, others with cave formations and small crystals. Eventually, they follow the stream into a room that has another stream of water flowing out of an oval opening in the wall to merge with their stream. The combined water flows out of the room and down a steeply sloped path.

Wanting to find something interesting, they crawl into the oval opening that is about four to five foot in diameter and follow the new source of water to its source. This leads them to a vertical chamber that has a waterfall dropping icy water sixty feet onto their heads. The four of them are cold and drenched, but seeing the rough stone to the sides of the falls, they scale the walls and reach the top. Another ledge only a couple of feet high leads them away from the falls. They are able to crawl through this passage and emerge into another passage that is seven feet high and five feet wide. Paving stones pressed into a clay packed floor and chisel marks on the walls indicate this is not a naturally formed tunnel.

Not wanting to risk the rest of the party not knowing where they are in case they run into any Senzar or others who may have also found this passage, Gemma backtracks to the cave exit, gets Wilby, and then returns to the others.

The carved passage goes both left and right. The head to the right and follow the passage through several twists and turns until they see light ahead of them and hear the sounds of falling water. Cautiously they proceed and eventually they come around a corner to see a chamber filled with blue, green, red, and orange lights that are emanating from lamps scattered about the room. The lights are a bright and steady, not from a flame. The beams converge on a waterfall that drops from the ceiling in the middle of the room and then falls through the floor. The floor is worn away from years of water eating away at the surface. The floor is slick from the spray that hangs in the air.

Howl moves into the chamber, watching the sloping floor that threatens to pull someone potentially to their death. He heads for a light, wanting to investigate it. Suddenly, another form appears in the room near the wall on the right. Evidence of a long decayed set of bones sits in a pile.

Unferth, having learned he can damage spirits, rushes forward and swings his axe, but the unsettling nature of the cave may have caused his first swing to miss. However, his second swing meets a slight amount of resistance as it passed through the transparent form.

Wilby marks the spirit and shoots his bow twice. His arrows pass through the creature and bounce off the rough stone behind it.

Rowan moves across the room and shoots his bow, but the ghost moved and the shot misses its mark.

Howl tries to draw life away from the ghost as the spirit plunges and icy hand into Unferth’s chest.

Gemma strikes the creature with her crackling blast of power as Unferth swings his axe twice more and continues to average one hit for every two swings.

Wilby, calls forth a power no one has seen him use before and the ghost is light up with a powerful energy while Rowan runs across the room with his sword, slipping and almost falling into the falls, to deliver a blow with his magical weapon.

Whether tired of the combat, or destroyed by damage, the ghost dissipates and the threat fades from sight.

Free once again to explore the room, Howl opens a lamp and finds a powerfully bright stone that glows with a radiance all of its own. Impressed by the power to display the bones in his hand through his glowing flesh, Howl wraps the stone in several pieces of cloth and tucks it away into his pack. With some convincing, he leaves the other stones behind and the party heads back the other direction.

They travel for a long distance and then finally come across a pair of large doors that led into a vast chamber that is over sixty-feet wide and two hundred feet long. The ceiling has vaulted arches with balconies thirty-feet off the ground running along both the long walls. Massive stone columns run the length of the room holding up the balconies.

The floor is covered in debris and the large double doors at the far end are blocked by parts of the ceiling that has collapsed. Evidence of flames and conflict show in the chamber.

Two smaller doors exists on the ground level centered in the middle of the long walls. Just visible are two doors on the balcony level sitting right above the doors on the lower level.

The stone doors on both ends of the large room have brightly colored runes raised out of the surface of the doors. The edges of the runes are sharp enough to cut flesh if someone were to run their fingers over them. Howl again uses his powers to try and decipher the messages which turn out to be, Great Market Hall East Passage and Great Market Hall West Passage.

Howl uses his powers to get to the balcony and he discovered the remains of bodies. The skeletons appear to have died in battle. When he examines the skulls, he finds the features not quite human. Several of the party conclude these might be elves.

After some exploration through the smaller sets of doors, they find passages that leave away from the market hall with chambers off to the sides. These chambers appear to have at one time been small store fronts that may have been more permanent than the market. They also find stairs that lead back to the balconies over the market halls.

Tired from the explorations, they decide to set up camp in one of the corners of the market hall. They plan a watch as well as use Howl’s ability to form a protective barrier to keep people out.