APoF 04: Soothestones and Bad Choices
Following their near-catastrophic first encounter with the rockwurm, the party takes a moment to recuperate at the Prancing Pellok. Viper, who was left behind to take care of further reinforcing the abandoned inn, is waiting outside for the group and asks, seemingly rather incensed, about what just happened. She is given a brief rundown of everything that has happened and ushers the group into the inn before leaving to scout. Mordollwen does the same, her ability to fly proving an invaluable asset to figuring out just what kind of situation the party has stumbled into. Knowing that one of the easiest ways to secure the closure of a Shardscape rift is by destroying the creature that it is tied to, Mordollwen seeks out the rockwurm. It is not difficult to follow its path of destruction as the rockwurm seems to have taken off down the promenade, leaving broken buildings and rubble in its wake. Mordollwen follows the trail but only so far as the tall walls that surround what appears to be a palace. She bears witness as the rockwurm assaults the gate, swiping at it with enormous rocky fists that make the stonework shudder and groan. Mordollwen flies back to the party and delivers the news just as they hear a resounding crash that echoes through the cavern that contains the dwarvenhold. The cause is relatively easy to determine, and the party correctly guesses that the crash is the sound of the wall caving under the sustained assault of the rockwurm. It is at this point that Viper notices outside, on the street, one of the lizard-like entities made of rock that had been brought into being by the rift. Recognizing the creature as an ubosh-egon, which erinindal mythology alleges can turn a man to stone with its flinty gaze, from which there is no salvation but water from a spring in the ubosh-egon's home mountain poured over the head of the petrified person, Viper counsels that the party cut their discussion short and leave the Prancing Pellok immediately. They leave via a set of windows facing away from the main promenade and decide that the best plan of action is to move around the city, as far away from the rift as possible, until they reach the wall that surrounds the palace. They note that for the most part the majority of the city is abandoned, and apart from having to scale a small ridge of stone that gets in their way, they are unhampered on their journey. They are, however, accosted by small humanoid forms made of rock, the second type of creature that had been birthed by the rift, which Viper calls Ghaolem, a mythical tribe of ferocious deep-dwellers with paralytic saliva. The party disposes of the ghaolem that they encounter and flees before the noise that they made attracts any more of the blasted creatures. Soon enough they come to the wall. They observe it for a moment, noting a handful of battlements that might prove useful, as well as towers that contain arbalests that could prove useful in fighting the rockwurm. They follow along the wall until they come to the entrance that the rockwurm tore into it. They climb over the rubble and into the bailey of the castle, following the path until they come to the ruins of a building that the rockwurm had apparently barreled right through. Briefly investigating the debris, the party determines that the building was once a dining hall, and after picking up a handful of gold and silver cutlery, they continue on toward the palace, Mordollwen flying ahead to scout out potential threats. Faster than the rest of the group, Mordollwen makes her way into the palace, through the ruined front room and into the throne room, where she finds the beautiful throne lying on its side, the gems that encrust it scattered across the stone floor. In the back of the throne room, where the dais that held the throne should have been, is a gaping hole. Mordollwen follows it down some three hundred feet to where the hole takes a sudden horizontal turn. Beyond, she finds a gigantic cavern and a faint white light glowing toward the center of it. She attempts to move closer, but when she does, the rockwurm unleashes a torrent of green gas shimmering with what appears to be innumerable tiny shards of metal that spreads into a cloud and hangs in the air, blocking her path. She attempts to move around it, but the rockwurm slowly enlarges the cloud, building a wall to block any attempts to get closer. As Mordollwen puzzles over what to do next, the rest of the party catches up. They discuss what their options are and, Mordollwen, feeling somewhat brave, flies over the cloud barrier, the wurm seemingly oblivious to her presence. She spots the source of the light, a pale translucent white stone with glimmering white veins that radiate out from a glowing mass in the center. She also sees that the wurm is curled around the base of the pedestal that holds the stone. Realizing that the stone could be used to bait the creature, in a daring maneuver, she swoops in and seizes the stone, stuffing it into her pack before flying away, just barely dodging the breath of billowing gas that the rockwurm unleashes in retribution. She flies over the wall of gas, dodging the rockwurm's attempts to stop her and blowing past the party who scatter as the rockwurm chases after Mordollwen with singular focus. Navigating the dangers left behind by the rockwurm's dogged pursuit of Mordollwen, the party returns to the ground level of the dwarvenhold and they follow Mordollwen and the rockwurm out into the bailey. There, with ample space, Mordollwen flies higher and higher up, hoping to draw the rockwurm out. However, the party realizes that the rockwurm has taken a sharp turn, headed due east. They are unsure as to what it is doing, but know that they can't be idle. They make their way to the walls and scale them, repairing the arbalests which appear to be in less-than-operable condition to prepare for a fight. At this time, Mordollwen flies off to scout the rest of the city, noticing that the ruckus they've caused has attracted the attention of the other monsters that had spawned from the shardscape rift. She flies back with news that the horde is approaching, and the party watches as the ubosh-egon and ghaolem clamber over the rubble pile, from the entrance that the rockwurm destroyed, into the bailey. Split between the two sides of the wall separated by the gap that the rockwurm had created, the party struggles to discuss their next steps. It is only by sheer luck that they notice, at the last moment, the rockwurm falling like an enormous stalactite from the ceiling above them.