As the battle-weary travelers descended further into the darkness of the cave, they could quickly sense it getting warmer. Nimh, still breathing hard and limping from their near-death conflict with the chief of the ragtag kobolds, abruptly stopped with a raised hand. Cairn, Blackwood and Yannin halted immediately and looked to their scout for guidance. As their eyes adjusted, they could tell that there was a faint blue light coming from down the corridor. Nimh edged forward and finally peered around the corner only to find a room brightly lit by a pool of eerily blue magma. In the center of the room was a tall pedestal crudely hewn from stone. Atop the pedestal shined a brilliant gemstone. The stone itself was lit by the blue light as well and cast dancing shapes on the walls as the pool of magma roiled and churned. In hushed silence, the four weary adventurers approached for a closer look. They looked to each other, faces pale in strange glow of the magma. Cairn shrugged. Blackwood looked concerned. Nimh kept glancing at the entrance to the chamber Somehow, Yannin’s ocular lenses appeared twice their normal size as he gazed at the gem, mouth gaping. He began slowly walking toward the gem, irresistibly drawn to its mystery. Before he took his first step, his new friends had already turned and ran for the door…
After the adventurers killed off the Ankheg, Cairn seemed to be stuck. He continued to smash it with his maul and scream wordlessly. His road companions looked on and shrugged. Blackwood said “Well, as long as he doesn’t take his frustration out on the art…” Suddenly, Cairn turned on the nearest painting and raised his maul to smash it. Yannin Varr placed a concerned hand on his shoulder and Cairn turned on him, brandishing his hammer. Cairn seemed to realize where he was and muttered an apology and collapsed in the corner, chest heaving. Yannin, Nimh and Blackwood looked a little concerned, but they were interrupted by the return of St. Chamblain. He thanked them for dispatching the creatures but had no ideas on their source.
After a well-needed rest the party woke in the morning and resolved to return to Julian to get some more answers. Julian was no help so they considered departing Gravesham and voyaging south towards the Elven City of Llewelyn. However, as they were about to leave, a messenger boy caught their attention and told them that Beatrice, St. Chamblain’s wife was looking for them.
They met Beatrice at her house and she advised them that there was a campsite outside of town where caravans often stayed. She had purchased their painting there and thought perhaps Victor was still in town. They thanked her for the advice and embarked to this campsite.
Upon arrival, the adventurers discovered an overturned caravan and evidence of battle. Bodies were strewn about the area and they identified the corpse of one gnome in particular – Sam the Profiteer! Any cargo that the caravan had carried was gone and the trail led into a nearby cave.
Steeling themselves for conflict, the adventurers headed into the cave.
They came upon a fork and chose the right path. They had not gone very far when Nimh alerted them to sounds she had heard coming from the entrance. They backtracked to the main cave entry point and found a team of kobold handlers with a huge owl bear in tow.
In the ensuing combat, Cairn boldly teleported behind enemy lines, leaving his friends to deal with the huge beast. Nimh’s blades laid down the hurt while Blackwood unleashed holy hell, and Yannin kept everyone alive. Ultimately, it was Yannin’s giant eyeball puppet that turned the tide of battle and the heroes were victorious.
Needing a respite, the adventurers left the cave to recover momentarily in the nearby tree-line. Moments later, a search party of kobolds emerged from the cave. The adventurers set upon them and did furious battle against their lizardish foes. Cairn and Nimh were immobilized by the Kobold’s harrying tactics early on in the fight, so Yannin and Blackwood carried the day. Nimh cursed her lack of a ranged weapon — a noob fail. Alas, one of the kobolds ran away when he saw that they stood no match to the battle prowess of the heroes.
The heroes finally got their short rest and proceeded deeper into the cave. In a sleeping chamber, they found one of the paintings that must have been wrested from the assaulted caravan. They descended still further into the cave until they came upon the Kobold war chief himself and his retinue of bodyguards.
The showdown with the chief turned out to be an epic combat. Cairn tried to hold the front line, but the kobolds were equipped with mancatchers and wands that fired poisonous goo such that nobody was spared their painful strikes. Blackwood danced about in the rear of the group dropping arcane destruction on any kobolds stupid enough to enter his line of sight. Though Yannin empowered Cairn with every possible buff and protection, and landed painful blows on the enemy kobolds, Cairn was brought to the brink of death… again and again. In a final dramatic moment, Cairn was dead on his feet (dying and dazed), blood streaming from countless wounds. He knew that another wound, no matter how great or small, would result in final death. Though the chief had fallen, he still faced off against two wand-wielding kobolds cornered in their chamber. Knowing he was dead (3 hp away from negative bloodied), Cairn threw caution to the wind and summoned his psionic focus to accelerate his body towards the nearest kobold, his momentum fueling a desperate and powerful attack. However, he swung wide (rolled a natural 4). But due to his mental focus, and the empowerment that Yannin had given his maul, his attack hit, crushing the life from the wounded kobold. The other, seeing his last ally destroyed by someone who should be dead, threw down his weapon and surrendered.
They captured the kobold and interrogated him. In ragged common he kept shouting “Pleasssse!
we only did what she told us to! The rich lady told us to bring her the paintingssssss!” Immediately, the adventurers gasped in comprehension. They finally understood that Beatrice was behind everything. Resolving to exact revenge, they looted the bodies and finished exploring the cave.
In the depths of the cave they found a room with a huge blue gem and some strange blue magma. Yannin volunteered to stay behind to take it while the rest of the group fled to safety. He was scorched by the magma, but otherwise unharmed. Though they examined the gem, they couldn’t comprehend its purpose.