The Rod of Ruin

Chapter 6

Back door

After a short rest the party further investigated the dank chamber. De-Val cast light onto Grumble’s hand and he waded slowly into the murky water, searching. Using his now luminous appendage he found that the bottom of the pool was covered in bones. It was not especially surprising and Grumble brought several to the surface. They were a mix of many creatures; goblin, hobgoblin and two small human skulls that, upon inspection, were clearly the bones of the water sprites.

“I’ll take these” Grumble informed the startled party.

De-Val shot a furtive look to the others. “Maybe children’s bones aren’t the best souvenirs from an adventure? Gold? Yes. Sword? Yes. Children’s bones? No…”

Grumble, unperturbed, placed the two small skulls inside his backpack.

“Right. Good talk.” De-Val said in a resigned tone.

Leaving the chamber the sounds of rats echoed around the cavern. Amon placed his ear to the cave floor for a moment then motioned down one of the side corridors.

As they turned the corner the air was filled with a nose-wrinkling snake-like musk.

“Kruthik” Amon whispered.

As the party crept forward they saw the same types of Kruthik as they had fought before. However, this time though there were many more, and of varying sizes. They skittered about, sliver creatures with a horrific blend of both insect and reptile features. Limbs ending in scythe like claws. One as large as a human clung to the wall.

De-Val whispered to his companions, “They see through their feet. Tremors in the ground.”

He fixed his eyes on Grumble and emphasised the word tremors.

Grumble shrugged. “We go slowly?”

Amon, quietly, lead the company forward. But their optimism was short-lived and only a few steps further into the chamber, the smaller Kruthik’s started making high pitched clicking noses and scurrying about. As they watched, many rushed into holes in the walls, out of sight, but not out of their thinking.

The largest Kruthik, obviously the den mother, scurried along the wall directly toward Amon. Before anyone could react, it’s back arched and poisonous spikes erupted from it. He was immediately hit, the spike embedding into his shoulder, green poison oozing out of the wound.

The cavern erupted into a sea of movement, one of the smaller horrors biting at Grumble’s leg inefficiently, its mandibles unable to pierce his stony skin.

As Grumble and Amon spring into action, battling the Kruthik’s that rushed headlong towards the party, they were suddenly bathed in light from behind. Lightning fired wildly out from behind them; exploding rocks and arcing across the roof. A spectacular show with little effect. And, much as lightning follows thunder; the light show was followed by a barrage of expletives from De-Val.

Valshress, her view of the battle obscured, whipped out her sling and attempted to wound the baby Kruthik that attacked Grumble, but the tight quarters make her shot too hard, and the stone skipped wide. As she did so, Grumble’s green flame blade cast the party in dancing light, and he severed some of the young Kruthik’s limbs in a swift blow.

Amon grit his teeth and took hold of the spike in his arm. He’d done more painful things, he reasoned, as he tore the poison spike from himself and drove it into head of a Kruthik that was leaping at his face. His momentum drove the spike down through the beast’s head, pinning its corpse to the ground. He was briefly pleased with himself, but as he began to feel the poison creeping into his veins he was aware of the den mother Kruthik rushing forward. Swiftly, it hung from the roof directly in front of him. In one grotesque movement it both checked over her now dead young and snapped at Amon.

De-Val pushed his way forward, past Amon and into the battle proper. His eyes were shut, a slight smile playing across his crystalline lips. As he summoned his inner calm, light began to play across his face and his eyes snapped open. His gaze was entirely focused on the mother Kruthik. Information about the creature flooded his mind; strengths, weaknesses, everything he knew and more. Armed with this new information, De-Val attempted to freeze the den mother… only to fill the corridor in a light dusting of ice. Again, as spring follows winter, De-Val swore loudly.

The darkness behind the den mother Kruthik seemed to pool and darken in an unnatural way. After a moment, the shadows converged into the form of a cave bear. From behind the raging battle, Valsharess had summoned her companion.

For a moment, the bear sniffed at the air and allowed it self to adjust to the dank surroundings. But only for a moment. The cave bear let out a roar and enjoined battle; slashing at the den mother with its brutal claws.

The battle rages. Grumble continued to hack at his foe, each blow ringing through the chamber. Amon plunged his poison spike back into the den mother, returning her deadly gift, and feeling vaguely pleased about the irony. His blow elicits piercing screams from the Kruthik mother, and she struck out at Amon in defence. As she does so, Grumble teleported behind the fiend only to have the floor give way, a pit trap sprung. He tumbled roughly into the shadows, his embarrassment more acute than his injuries.

Behind all this, Valshress’ and De-Val’s battle continued. Her instincts heightened, Valsharess span and deflected another small Kruthik as it leapt at her, only to have a second one emerge from the wall next to her and leap on her back. De-Val, seeing Valshress fighting two beasts, attempted to cast lighting to free his comrade. He succeeded only in showering the pair in sparks. And again, as failure follows casting, De-Val swore loudly.
Valshress lashed out at the enemy in front of her killing it. Nearby, her cave bear continued to tear at the Kruthik mother. Alongside this battle, Grumble attempted to extract himself from the pit. Amon, for his part, fought on.

And so it went.

De-Val, distracted, did not hear the Kruthik before it flashes from the gaping hole in the wall, but whatever stealth it mustered is made up for by his own high pitch scream. Valshress, still occupied with the beast on her back, watched in horror as De-Val is pulled into the dark walls of the chamber. After a moment filled with the sound of struggling, lighting streaks from the cavity in the wall, casting ghastly shadows on the wall. De-Val tumbled out again, covered in blood. The blood of his enemy.

The den mother Kruthik reared and fired another round of poison spikes. Both Grumble and Amon are stuck, and Amon still weak from the poison, temporally tumbles to the floor. Grumble takes this distraction as an opening and leaps forward impaling the Kruthik mother, killing her. Her death cry reverberates through her children, but the battle is won.

The party quickly mopped up the rest of the younglings before healing up and moving
further into the dungeon. They all agreed to do what they can to avoid fighting malevolent insect creatures in the future.

Further along the next corridor, it became apparent that the ground seemed to be slowly sloping up. These corridors were largely silent, except for the distant scurrying of rats. The air was stale. No one had come through here for some time. Not even the Kruthik’s. They round a corner and enter a large room with a set of stairs in the far wall.

But between them and the stairs is a massive mound of red jelly.

A melee swiftly starts. Grumble and Valshress attack the gelatinous form. De-Val draws on his knowledge of the arcane and quickly relays the strengths and weaknesses of the beast to the group, but it is of little help, as Grumble’s first attack results in his great sword taking acid damage. Displaying greater caution than she had in the past, Valshress summons her wooden form while her cave bear circles around the gooey adversary.

The crimson jelly rears up before smashing down, leaving a burning coat of acid on Grumble.

Amon is suddenly aware of a scurrying sound from behind the battle. The scurrying of rat feet. Were they hiding? Are they simply opportunists? Are they in league with the blob? Amon did not take too long to ponder the realities of rat combat, as he was quickly overwhelmed by a pack of unusually large rats. With quick reflexes and even quicker thinking, he seized one of the giant rodents and flung it into the corrosive blob.

The band watched in revulsion as the rat sinks into the quivering form, it’s struggling soon stops as it begins to dissolve, and within moments not even its skeleton remains.
Valshress and Grumble continue their assault, but soon find that that striking the acidic foe has the deadly and infuriation result of it splitting its mass into smaller duplicates of itself.
Grumble, for his part, realises the peril of filling the room full of murderous corrosive clones, and wards himself against acid. His increased protection from its acidic attacks allows his to cleave more chunks off the main jelly body, and using his teleporting ability he flicks around the room slashing as he goes. A whirling dervish of immutable death. Or at least as whirling as a stone warrior can be.

As this happens, a smile creeps across De-Val’s face. He had always enjoyed a target rich environment, despite his consistent misfires. He thrust out his arms as lightning crackles down his limbs, leaping into two of the smaller blobs and reducing them to ash.
Despite her companion’s efforts, Valshress found herself surrounded by a swiftly growing army of gelatinous death. She called upon her dryad armour to shelter from the ongoing acid storm, whilst both her bear and her staff struck out; both killing and making more opponent’s. From behind her, another rat another rat sails over the fight and lodges into the largest mass of jelly. It is soon gone.

Amon fumbled against the largest of the rats. The penultimate dog-sized rat took issue with his flinging of its companions, and scurried up Amon’s arm, yellow teeth gnashing at his face. Inspired, Amon bit its head off and spit it at his rat-mate, killing it.

The room again lit up, and two more blobs were electrified by De-Val’s mystic lighting. Perhaps he was finally getting the hang of this? As the final remaining gelatinous bulk crawls over Grumble and pinned him to the ground, Valshress and her bear together slammed into it causing it to rupture and die.

Another battle won, another battle won disgustingly. The party spends several long minuets cleaning glop off themselves (or out of their mouths in Amon’s case). De-Val searches about and finds a small pit full of ex-adventures gold before also finding the largest mass of the jelly’s remains and pissing upon it. No one else says a thing.

Before them are a set of strong wooden doors, locked from the other side. Whatever they seek is most likely through here.

Amon turns to the party, his sharp features breaking into a rictus grin. “I have an idea”

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