Upon entering the cavern, they noticed several slightly steaming pools of water, and a strong, caustic stench. The area proved to be a raised section of the cavern, with cliffs on two sides and a steep slope dropping toward the center of the cavern. In the cavern area below, they saw a thick stream of greenish slime running into a crack in the wall.
Slie immediately identified the smell and slime as likely indicators of a purple worm nesting ground. The worm (each worm is hermaphroditic) lays eggs in a pile of loose rubble, then wraps itself around the pile, secreting greenish slime that keeps the eggs moist and helps them mature. When the eggs hatch, the wormlings need to be submerged in water until they are about as long as a human, emerging only to feed.
Advancing cautiously, Wanderer approached the huge pile of loose rock in the lower area of the cavern, unaware that the worm could feel his every footstep through the stone…
Mama worm was not impressed by the interlopers, and surged off her egg pile to crush the intruders. The larger wormlings also lunged from the pools, closing in to devour the delicious meaty tidbits.
The titanic convulsions of the approaching mother worm threw Sinder and Slie off their feet, but the other party members managed to keep their balance. Slie began throwing bolts of arcane energy at a nearby wormling, knocking to backward and allowing him to get back to his feet. Sinder and Korrum closed on another wormling, and Wanderer, after firing a single arrow, seemed to tune out for the rest of the battle (as Kasper had to leave for work).
Hilbo believes that a good offence is the best defense, so he rushed the worm-mother. Triggering his magical belt of Bull’s Power (temporary 20 Str for 1 round), he hammered at the worm with his maul, sacrificing accuracy for power and using his energy recklessly (action surge). Three of his blows struck the worm with tremendous force, and the power of his magical maul, Earthshatter, enhanced the blows.
Despite the horrific damage the hammer caused, the worm snapped at Hilbo, but he stepped aside and riposted with the weapon, smashing the worm’s jaw. It’s stinger lashed down, stabbing into Hilbo’s leg, but his dwarvish resistance to poison kept the worm’s venom from having much effect.
A gout of caustic icor also poured from the massive wound, covering Hilbo with acidic ooze that burned his skin and hair. Undaunted, he continued his attack, pulverizing the worms innards. Two more titanic blows crushed the last life from the enormous creature.
After that, it was a simple matter of destroying the remaining wormlings (Hunger of Hadar helped
quite at bit), crushing the eggs with a shattering blow from the magical maul, and cutting out the worm’s gullet, which contained 900 gp worth of polished gemstones. They also found a dwarven round-shield, shining undamaged despite being submerged in the slime of the worm lair.
Having ensured the safety of the mines, the party returned to Greatview Hall, rested, provisioned, and headed back to Goldenhills Hall by way of Gnollshead.
All was in order as they passed through Gnollshead, with trade increasing, settlers building houses, and fishing and prospecting starting around the fort. A 1-day hike across the Twisted Pass brought them to High Grass, the main ranching settlement of Goldenhills Hall.
There, the party was told by the gate-guards that a messenger from the king awaited them in the main barracks, and that he would send a runner ahead to let the messenger know that they had arrived. The party headed to the fort, and upon entering the barracks yard, were confronted by a double-rank of cocked crossbows pointed at their faces.
A smirking dwarf with a braided red beard, clearly the commander, told the party to drop their
That night the party was kept under guard in the barracks storage rooms in High Grass, then marched to the underground Greatway . The commander of their escort proved to be Baron Algron Splinterbeard, a member of the clan supposedly betrayed by Hakoah’s Ironbeard clan.
Slie’s pet “kitty” is able to move around completely unseen, and can listen to and relate conversations back to Slie. “Kitty” was able to discover that the Splinterbeard Clan are working for the King, that the King has decided to strike back against the “traitors and scum” in the kingdom that oppose him, specifically the Eigar clan and the Redhammer clan, as well as Paths Command, many officers in the Goldenhills Guard, and some of the lesser clans. Capturing the PC’s is apparently the first step in this campaign.
“Kitty” also overhears that the party is being taken to the kings private dungeon, somewhere in the caverns below Goldenhills Hall itself. Korrum is able to cast a Sending spell to their friend Khidre Eigar, the heir of the powerful Eigar clan, telling him of their capture. Khidre responds that he is also in hiding from the king’s forces, and will contact the powerful Redhammer clan to see if he can arrange help.
So as we left off, the party were stripped of their gear, manacled hand and feet, chained together, and closely guarded and being marched off to the private dungeon of a king who increasingly seems to be either completely irrational or utterly mad. Good times!