Oryeh rallies the troops and opens a discussion on where to next, one, to follow the Elven tracks or, two, to search the opposite way. It is decided to briefly ‘return’ down the opposite way for about an hour, mainly to see if subsidence has allowed an opening into the Elven fortress and possibly a quicker way out…
The tunnel progresses for some time, Ben notes it is slightly angling downwards like some similar tunnels in the mines in order to control flooding. Obviously the tunnel has been carved by natural forces, a vast subterranean river has smoothed the walls to an average of 15 feet, though that is long long ago. Talis opines that we’re heading down, and that he’ll feel much better on the surface; when he discovers the worn outline of a bricked over doorway fifteen feet above the old river bed.
Excitedly a belay line is rigged up, with Talis dangling level with the door, chipping away flakes, a series of superbly crafted brickwork is discovered and it is agreed to try and dislodge one. It is hard work, the bricks are like nothing stone we have encountered: brutally hard and almost impossible to chip. Working in from the caverns edge, a brick is finally dislodged, with Ben volunteering to set an Alchemist Charge to detonate further bricks. Wary of ‘exploding doors’ the party notes his recommendation but no-one seconds it.
Lighting inside with his Sunblade, Talis views a large worked chamber, with regular cavities marching up and down two opposing walls, the hard stonework is noted on the far wall. Clearing more brickwork, brick by brick, Talis creates a hole big enough for an armoured knight to wriggle through.
Immediately a mist semi-coalesces, bloodying him with foul anti-life energy from beyond the grave. Throwing himself out the small portal, Talis falls to the riverbed whilst the party as a whole is literally surrounded by swirling vapours of striking spirits. A fierce and short battle ensues, Sturm weakens a great many in a holy burst, likewise does Ben, summoning a storm around him, obliterating many foes and then flying backwards out of the melee on a crackling soundwave (crit!), Jet Kladeson steps blithely in to face his enemies, Carving through the spirits with a great sweep and empowering Sturm with vital resistance. Oryeh orders Talis to his feet, and commands Sturm to step out of range for Bens next strike, meanwhile clearing another ghost with a blow of his sword hilt, Talis then follows up with a divine Challenge on his flank and smites another, radiant sparks fly from the foe, but it is not enough to pierce the veils of corruption. Seconds go by as the mists move, surround and recoalecse, their silent claws flailing with the strength of the grave. Unamused, Ben clears some more with his Storm magic, Sturm with his great mace. This time Talis reconnects verily, with Oryeh and Jet assisting in the mop up.
Unhinged, the party warily checks the chamber, noting it is a Catacomb, each regular cavity protecting a grave. A Holy Symbol is etched into the floor. Of Eilistree (Eel-iss-tray-yee), a lesser goddess of the Drow! Sturm, Talis and Oryeh discuss what they know, Daughter of the Elven pantheons head Corellon Larethian and Araushnee ( who becomes Lolth, the drow spider goddess), she is the only Good aligned drow god and believes in the re-unification of the elven and drow races, her portfolio one of Beauty, Moon, Dance, Sword work and Hunting. Ranged up and down the cavern are similar covered portals, all above the old rivers height. It is assumed her tombs were created by a great many worshipers back when the river had run; it may also point to an unusual connection to the Everclears and the Drow.Possibly a progressive Elven and Drow community.
Further journeying sees us blocked by a massive ancient earthfall, and the party returns to the catacombs, explores one carved out but not filled in, uneasy of the desecration, we eventually decide to search a body, to see if there are artifacts of information or use. Pretty soon we know to attempt to chip away at the stones is futile, and a rope is secured at the hole to allow us to scramble up if ever we return.
On ward up the tunnel, we follow the Elven bootprints for some time, the dry still air slowly and incrementally becoming damper, until the cavern now contains regular flora of fungai and glowing molds, skittering Dungeon Lice and Tunnel Crabs, Phosphorescent Moths and Glowwyrms. After some more time and travel, the cavern floor and sides drop away, revealing a vast reservoir chamber ahead, the gloom swallowing up the bright light from Talis’ Sunblade.
Thorn, having paused to examine some wonders of nature, is some distance back when the party, pausing near the lip is surrounded by vast seas of swarming mushrooms, toadstools and fungai. Caught unaware by the tunnels natural denizens, a blight of necrotic rot and poisonous spores is leashed upon the group. Coalescing into a vague humanoid monstrosity, 3 of the swarms emit vast clouds of debilitating spore. The other 3 swarms flood in, decomposing our very flesh like worms in compost. The stench of decomposition is rank. Coughing through the cloudstuff, Jet calls out they are Myconids, mycelial fungal plants, following only their natural desire to consume. The large swarms are particularly resistant, but likewise vulnerable to area attacks, both types are poisonous and necrotic. 6 seconds has gone by, the group spread out, surrounded, and still to form a practical battlefront… Hearing the sounds, Thorn rounds the corner, “Mielikki, you test my faith with your wayward children, first the Vines, and now these Mushrooms. Time to prune your garden my Lady!” Drawing his Holy Harvester he steps in to assist his comrades.