Undiscovered Country

Drums in the Dark, part 2

Life! so close now. We can hear the beat of its heart, feel the warmth from its breath. Close now it comes. Hungry we are. The thing reaches out… we feed. We stir…we sense more. Stronger will we be. Hungry we are. Feed we must.

With a roar, Gergnedo spins away from the dark fog once again. He spies his comrades in the dim torch light, desperately swinging into the darkness. He was sure the thing was nearly dead, but now…now it attacks with renewed vigor. The fog spreads around Drusilla for a moment and then recedes, leaving bloody gashes behind. Veyeper is dragged into its clutches, pulled down into its depths somewhere. Gergnedo catches his breath for a moment and charges back in.

Drusilla summons a divine rune and smites down into the fog once more. Her weapon flares with holy light as it strikes. The dark fog recedes from the weapon as she feels a satisfying crunch jolt up her arm. She quickly invokes a second rune and feels out for Veyeper’s presence. There, in the middle of the fog….whispering a prayer to the Raven Queen, she channels the divine energy of her rune into the paladin.

“Gerg, behind me!” yells Kellian as he dashes in, swinging his warhammer at every tendril of fog, driving it back so that Gergnedo is able to back away from it. The fog responds in kind, sending two large tendrils on either side of them, snaking out to surround them.

“look out Hegel!” shouts Kenneth, pulling the psion back as a tendril comes dangerously close to touching him. Kenneth launches two more arrows into the darkness, unsure of their effect. He feels that his quiver is getting light and glances down, seeing only a few shafts left. Kenneth stares at the fog. Once he thought they were driving it back, but now, now they seem to be in a bit of a stalemate. Whatever damage they are doing is simply being drained back into the dark depths.

The fog slides forth again, completing its circling of the party, only Hegel and Kenneth are outside of its ring. Veyeper breaks free from its grasp, bringing down his blessed sword upon it. His face is ashen, and for the first time, worry is within his eyes. He glances around, and even in the poor light, he can tell the battle is taking its toll on his companions. Their swings are a bit slower, their breath coming to them harder and harder. He reaches out with divine might and challenges the fog. “Face me foul beast, or suffer Avandra’s wrath.” The fog rises up, hovers for a moment, but then crashes down around Veyeper, pulling him back into its depths. Veyeper lashes out with sword and limb, but he can’t break free. His eyes close as darkness envelopes him.

Drusilla hears the fall of her comrade within the fog, “Veyeper! Gergnedo, I sense Veyeper has fallen. We must drive this thing back.” With a yell, Gergnedo leaps at the fog once more, axe swinging wildly. He feels it slide backwards, deeper within the fog’s depths. Once more Drusilla reaches out with the divine blessing of the Raven Queen, searching for Veyeper, restoring him to consciousness.

The fog continues to snake forward, out through the hole in the wall from which the party entered. The fight continues. Both sides inflicting horrific wounds on the other. Sensing the divine strength within Veyeper, the fog focuses its attention on him, trying to draw him back into its depths so that it may feed. It also lashes out at Drusilla, trying to quiet the voice of the Raven Queen. Gergnedo is able to land a telling blow to the creatures within the fog. In response, they nearly rip his life from him. Kellian continues to harry the creatures, allowing Gergnedo to fall back and recover. The fog starts to recede from around them, part of it disappearing into the mines, the rest reforming with the main mass.

Veyeper is struck a mighty blow and is on his last legs. Drusilla is bleeding from a dozen gashes, and Gergnedo is swinging on pure rage alone. Finally, the mighty barbarian sweeps in with his axe cuts into the hidden mass deeply. Kenneth senses its weakness and launches his last arrows into the fog. An eerie wail comes forth from the darkness, the sound of the drums recedes, and the fog starts to disperse. The companions watch as it seems to slide back into a large metal object on the wall, in the shape of a diamond. All is silent around them save their own labored breathing.

Kenneth reaches into his pack and draws forth a sunrod so that they may better see their surroundings. The bright light illuminates the entire chamber. At first, all of their attention is on the metal object. At first it looks like a man sized mirror, but the surface is not reflective. It appears to be quite thick and embedded in the wall. Hegel takes a closer look and feels the flows of magic surround it. “Whatever this is, it radiates magic quite strongly.”

Gergnedo walks up to the object and reaches out towards it. He feels the familiar pull on his life force. “We should destroy it, let me rip this from the wall.” He reaches out, and immediately pain surges within his hands as he feels an icy sensation as the warmth is drawn from his flesh. He strains and the object does not budge. With a prayer to Kord he tries yet again, ignoring the pain. He feels the object shift a bit, as small bits of rock break away from behind it. However, his ears start to pick up the sound of drums emanating from the sheet. He backs away from it, still feeling the sting in his hands.

As Kenneth walks around, he notices that there are no signs of entrances or exits to the room. Yet the chamber is clearly worked stone. Finally Kellian stands up, “Come, lets return to the miners, perhaps we can seal this chamber again.”

The ranger is able to easily follow their tracks back through the winding mine, but as they near what should be the entrance, they see before them a pile of rock and rubble blocking the way. Veyeper looks around for signs of the fog, but finds none. “Well, this rock isn’t going to move itself,” and looks directly at Gergnedo. With a scowl, the goliath steps up and starts to shift the boulders aside. Drusilla and Kellian aid as well. After a few hours, they start to smell fresh air, and are able to clear away enough to crawl through.

They are welcomed by darkness and the mist once more. The sunrod’s light is nearly gone, but it clearly shows them ropes leading out from under the rubble. The camp is also deserted. Several of the tents have been torn down hastily and there is the smell of smoke in the air. They also notice several bodies of miners lying in the dirt, their clothes and flesh torn in a hundred places. “A part of the fog has escaped the mine…” mutters Kellian. Kenneth searches around and notices that the carts and mules are gone, as well as Kellian’s horse. All tracks lead back down the trail. “Looks like the rest fled, those that survived.”

“I think we should rest here for the night and go after them in the morning. I want to find out why they sealed us in there,” says Veyeper. The others agree and the group beds down for the night, keeping watch for the fog.

Morning comes and they descend down the trail quickly. They keep a fast pace throughout the day which takes its toll on them. “We are getting closer,” Kenneth comments after checking the trail, “perhaps tomorrow we’ll catch them.” The group rests again in the foothills and proceeds at dawn. During midday, they hear the caravan ahead of them in the fog.

“Kenneth,” whispers Veyeper, “you flank around while we draw their attention, be prepared in case they attack.” As Kenneth slinks off, Veyeper raises his voice and calls out to Har’rad. A weary voice responds and they hear the caravan stop. Finally, they see a few men come forth in the mist. They recognize the faces of the miners, but none are Har’rad. They all look exhausted.

The man in front addresses them, “You live?! By the gods, how did you survive?” His tone carries no malice or disappointment in it. He seems relieved that the group survived and shares his tale of how Har’rad told them of what happened to Charl and ordered them to pack the camp. But then the fog came out and started killing any who it touched. Eventually they drove it off with torches and picks. Har’rad then ordered the mine collapsed. They had assumed the party has shared Charl’s fate. Then they had fled down the mountain, not resting until last night. Har’rad rode forth to get help from the Baron. The miners welcome the party to travel with them and seem relieved that more survived the tragedy at the mine.

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BrotherGlacius

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