Our ninth session mostly consisted of deals with a rat-goblin and a fight in the cellar of the ruins, against giant and monstrous centipedes.
The party continued to search the piles of rubble. Suddenly, a terrfying presence rose from the debris that Old Man Willow was checking out: a giant rat, fangs dripping with venom, bone-chilling. The sight of it sent Horace, Jacob and Magnus fleeing from the sight; whilst the others just saw Ratkin, the red-coated, top hat wearing rat-goblin that they encountered during the incident at the Inn of the Dancing Donkey (see Mischievous Monsters posts). Alf and Callum threatened him, and the goblin surrendered. Old Man Willow corralled the others, whose terror was now fading, and they all gathered by the stone door with the arcane runes.
Ratkin was interrogated, but other than saying that he and his kin were sent here by the Child of the Earth to look for stuff, he seemed pretty clueless. He had no idea how to get through the door, which had five holds in the middle, spaced for someone to put their fingers and thumb inside. Magnus read the runes: “Extend the hand of friendship and pay the price in blood” it said. The runes were warding, protection, sealing the door shut. Alf decided to test it with the chopped-off fingers of the dead rat-goblins, but that didn’t work. So instead, Magnus volunteered to stick his hand inside. Needles pricked his fingertips as he thrust his fingers into the holes, and a voice in his mind said “Are you willing to pay the price?” He said yes, and the needles punctured his flesh, quite painfully, then withdrew. And the doors swung open to reveal stairs leading down into darkness.
Leaving Old Man Willow, Horace and Jacob upstairs to keep an eye on the trussed-up Ratkin, with orders to come down if they heard any cries for help, Alf, Magnus and Callum lit a lantern and headed downstairs. They entered a cellar, pillars supporting the sagging ceiling. Debris littered the floor, and water dripped somewhere in the darkness. Their light didn’t reach the walls, leaving them in a circle of light as they started to explore, tapping the ground before them with staff and spear-shaft. Somewhere in the darkness Alf heard the scuttling of something, insect-like, many-legged, but larger than your typical vermin. He whispered to the others, alerting them to the potential trouble, moments before they spotted a giant centipede, easily three feet long, darting across the worn flagstone towards them: more came from behind, and battle was joined in the dim light under the ruins.
Callum managed to slice a few legs off as the centipede attacked, but the others found the critters too quick to land a blow. Then, from the darkness to the north, where moss and water could just be seen, a truly monstrous centipede, nearly ten feet long and several wide, mandibles dripping with poison. Callum yelled for those upstairs to come and help, but his voice didn’t carry far enough. Alf got his ankle bit by a giant centipede, the wound stinging but thankfully nothing worse; Magnus let loose with a magic missile, the bolt of magic piercing the darkness and thudding into the monstrous centipede with a meaty thwack. It dove for the mage, ricocheting off his mage armour.
Alf skewered one of the smaller centipedes, and moved to help Magnus, putting himself between the mage and the monster; Callum yelled for help again, but again his words failed to reach those upstairs (who were busy chatting away about local gossip). He took his frustration out on a centipede, chopping it in two, kicking the carcass away into the darkness. Magnus got nipped in the leg, Alf stabbed at the monster, causing dark fluids to leak out. It hissed in anger and coiled its body around the young watchman, and started to squeeze. Callum rushed over to help, leaving Magnus alone with the smaller centipede, which leapt up and bit him in the neck, sending him crashing unconscious to the ground!
The monstrous centipede hissed again as Alf broke free from its coils, and Callum and himself struck the monster, as again Callum yelled for help: this time the three allies heard, and came rushing down the stairs. They saw the battle, caught sight of a centipede biting Alf on his behind, the stinging sensation travelling through his legs, weakening him. The monstrous one bit deep into Callum’s arm, taking him down too! Old Man Willow charged over to help Alf, while Horace and Jacob let loose with arrows, taking out the monstrous centipede as the arrows transfixed its head. The last centipede reared up to attack, but Alf ran it through with his spear.
With the centipedes dead and twitching, those still standing dragged Callum and Magnus out, back upstairs to tend to their wounds. Both were thankfully alive, so they made camp and rested for the night. In the morning, the two adventurers had recovered sufficiently enough to carry on. As they broke their fast, Alf talked to Ratkin and came to an agreement: in exchange for a share of their loot, he could join them as a guide. He knew about the forest over the wall, and seemed sincere in his desire to help guide them to the locations noted on the map they’d found. The others agreed, and Ratkin joined the company.
Magnus summoned his mage light, focusing his magic to increase its illumination, and everyone, Ratkin included, went back into the cellar below, where they found more stairs going down, and a well with rungs on the inside wall. They lined up at the stairs, and prepared to descend lower…
End of Session
Note: Magnus earned enough XP this session to push him to level 2, to join the others. We decided to level him up straight away, rather than wait until they were somewhere safe.