Our guide says we’re about 3 days out from the Duergar stronghold. Soon we’ll have to stop focusing on surviving obstacles and start thinking seriously about the dwarves. For tonight’s precautions, Darian cast spells to increase our strength before he went to sleep. It seems a waste that we didn’t need them, but I’m happy regardless.
Now that we’re only a couple days from the stronghold, and due to the fact that Braden keeps himself invisible as much as possible, I have cast Sacred Guardian on him. If he gets into trouble when he’s wandered off, I’ll know.
More trouble came before we reached the stronghold. It was in a cavern wherein we had to cross a land bridge. We could not tell the extend of the depths to either side. Each end of the bridge was flanked by columns stretching floor to ceiling. They looked to be a natural connection of stalactite to stalagmite. Ryfon might know a little better; he’s the spelunker.
Braden checked the bridge for traps before we continued on. It looked to be the perfect place for an ambush. He found nothing amiss, however I was not wrong.
Little more than halfway across, tentacles shot out of two of the columns. We would find out later that the creatures that attacked us were called Ropers. At the time, though, we were in a fight for our lives precipitously close to a drop from an unknown height.
It had taken a good amount of work, and a great amount of money, to make sure we all had infravision available before we came to the Underdark. Somehow, it seems many of the dangers have defenses against this heat-vision. There had been no indication that these creatures had been hidden amongst the columns.
Early into the fight, Darian felt he had little choice but to illuminate the cavern by means of a Light spell. It goes to show how unlucky I am that Darian’s spell completely ruined my attempts to cast Aid on Marwin. Marwin who had a Roper’s tentacle stuck to him and was rapidly being hauled toward the creature’s maw. Nor was I the only one who was startled by the light (though, in his defense, Darian had yelled our Light safe word before casting).
Ulathor was greatly distressed by the sudden bright light; he lost grip on his weapon. At the same time, Ryfon had a shot from his bow go wild and hit Ulathor’s sword while the Drow was trying to regain his grip. The sword tumbled into the pit below our feet. Nor was that the worst of Ryfon’s worries.
The Roper opposite the one who had Marwin entangled had caught hold of Ryfon and dragged the elf completely off the land bridge! Ryfon dangled out over the abyss and was slowly hauled toward the creature’s mouth. Later he would tell us that the beast had also sapped his strength in half.
Marwin was hauled into the Roper’s mouth, which then chomped down on his shoulder. Despite the pain, Marwin was able to completely disembowel the creature with the sword in his other hand. At the other end of the bridge, Darian had cast Levitate on Ryfon. Ryfon used this advantage to float upward and sink an arrow into some sort of vital spot in the Roper’s body. The second creature fell dead shortly after the first.
While the spell was still active on Ryfon, Darian volunteered to cast Levitate on Ulathor so he could go down the pit after his sword. I first cast a Light spell on a copper piece and dropped it down to get an idea of the depth. With that assessment, we expected the two elves to be gone a while. What we didn’t expect was they would come back with their arms full of magic items!
It seems that anything the Ropers didn’t find edible was dropped into the pit. Ryfon described a lot of weapons, armor, and gear. What he had brought back up was gear that specifically got his attention. After I cast Detect Magic on the pile, I could see why. We don’t, currently, have any way to identify the items, but it seems we have found a sizable reward for defeating the Ropers.
The next day, the first part of our plan came to fruition. We were halted by some gruff voices out of the dark. We could hear crossbows being cranked into position. We had found a Duergar patrol. I affected a bravado completely outside my norm and stepped forward to talk for our group. My explanation of trade, coupled with an arrogant assessment of our competence led the patrol to accept our appearance in their territory. They agreed to take us to their stronghold under their protection.
For one more point in our favor, I cast Know Customs so that I could sufficiently ingratiate ourselves as we proceeded further into Duergar territory.