Entry – 17
Raine is ok but our situation is probably much worse off than when I last wrote. After about one more day of rest Raine woke up and was strong enough to heal himself. We took about half a day more to rest and make sure he was all right. We finished explaining things to him and started to formulate a plan. Marcus, of all people, was insistent that we press on. We all agreed though Raine seemed a bit hesitant, something I can completely understand given what has happened so far.
We made our way to the stream and crossed over the bridge. Instead of going down the tunnel however we decided to follow the stream and see were it led. We walked downstream along its bank until we came to a series of falls and sharp slopes. We all decided we did not want to try and traverse that and turned back. However we did find another tunnel just before the little falls. We went through and something immediately felt, off. I don’t know what it was but all the hair was sticking up on my neck. Before I could voice this feeling Marcus took another step forward and one of the massive stalactites lining the ceiling came crashing towards us. We all managed to get out the way in time, however we decided that my feeling might come in handy so I took the lead. Before moving on I looked closely at the ground and sure enough there was a trip wire, invisible in the dark and damned hard to see even when I was looking for it. I don’t think a goblin or those lizards could have made it that elegant. It Made me wonder if it was a leftover of a time past or if something else was in these tunnels.
We moved on and just past the trap we found a small cavern littered with several skeletons. We searched them and came up with an interesting journal. Apparently these poor souls belonged to a mining expedition lead by the Dwarves. They seemed to be only a week or so ahead of us but from the creatures we had encountered so far it didn’t surprise me that the bones looked clean and aged. We found no dwarf bones however and after Marcus said a quick word over them we moved on. We emerged from the cave into…well a jungle. At least that’s what I thought at first. We were still underground but in a mammoth cavern. In front of us spread out vegetation and fungi of a wide variety as far as I could see. We began to walk into the cavern and before long we were pushing past mushrooms the size of us. Smaller fungi littered the ground and I started looking more closely. The small caps with spotted tops I vaguely remember having a medicinal purpose and were edible. As to what they cured, the fact escaped me. But if nothing else they could be eaten if we ran out of food so I grabbed ten of the largest caps I could and we pressed on. Another hundred yards in I notices large vibrantly purple pods. I know I had seen them before in some book or another but for the life of me I couldn’t remember.
We continued on but within ten steps Banshee let out a terrified shriek. We all spun to see a long purple tentacle retracting into the nearest purple pod and Banshee’s forearm bubbling with bone visible. I spun to look and had to leap out of the way as two tentacles lashed at me from two more pods. They had us encircled. And as Marcus began firing his arrows and Raine rushed to Banshee’s side I remembered what these were. These large plants were carnivorous and produced a potent acid that ate through almost any organic matter save their own bodies. We began fighting back opening deep wounds in the pods that made them shudder and emit squealing noises. But with nowhere to run it wasn’t long before we heard Banshee cry out again, looking over my shoulder I was a hair to slow to dodge the one in front of me. It felt like someone had dragged a feather over my leg and a second later I felt the same sensation pass over the shin of my left leg. Everything seemed to slow a bit, it didn’t really hurt, It felt more like a sunburn than anything. But looking down and seeing my flesh sloughing off and white bone shining back at me sent a jolt back to my befuddled brain kick starting it back into action. I started doing what any sane person should. I screamed until my throat was sore.
The battle continued despite how I felt and the fear both kept me fighting and kept me from looking at what was happening to my limbs. It also gave me focus. This thing was going to die for what it did to me. I was feeling weaker with every swing but after a while I noticed that none of them were moving and I had been slashing a dead plant for several seconds. We all regrouped and I was suddenly struck with an idea. The plants acidic poison should have dissolved all these mushrooms while we were shredding them, but they were completely fine. I quickly got out the mushrooms I had collected and ate one of them. The pain eased almost immediately. I then rubbed another on my wounds and the acid stopped its corrosive progress. I quickly passed two to Banshee telling her what to do and soon we were both stable. Raine informed us that he could only heal one of us, he had used to many heals already today. It was a difficult thing to swallow but not a very hard decision. I needed mobility to help the party, Banshee didn’t, and thanks to the mushroom she wasn’t in danger of loosing her foot. After I had been healed we wrapped her foot as best we could and continued on.
I decided to check out the surroundings and make sure no more purple people eaters were ahead of us. I climbed a mushroom maybe twice my height and looked around. The way looked clear but I did see that the far side of the cave glowed, lambent mold or fungi perhaps. I relayed this information as I climbed down and we once again set off to investigate.
We reached the far side of the cavern without further incident to find that I was correct, lambent fungi lined the walls around us. A small stream ran past and fed into a small lake tucked away in the cavern. Small glowing fish flitted to and fro in the water. As we continued looking around Raine started acting all…weird. He got serious all of a sudden and started walking out into the water of the lake, saying that something was out there. We all began to follow him and sure enough a small island, barely able to hold our group, rested in the center of this shallow lake. It had an oak sapling in the center of the island. It gave off a warm, golden glow. The air itself seemed calmer here, and even though we were far underground, it was warm like a spring day all around the tree. As small as it was it even had three acorns hanging off of one of its branches. A gasp from Banshee made us all spin, hands falling to weapons, but instead of an attack we turned to find her unwrapping her bandage, the flesh beneath completely healed. Amazed, as we all were Raine seemed somewhat nonplused, he had already taken a seat in front of the sapling and soon whispers that sounded like wind playing through the leaves on a tree or the grass in the meadow began to drift from his lips.
We all took stock and rested while Raine did, whatever it was he was doing. None of us had ever seen him this serious. Several minutes later Raine came out of his trance or conversation, I couldn’t tell and turned to address us. He told us that this was a sapling of the tree of life. The elves had told us that their ancestral home had been in such a tree, albeit much larger, but that it had been destroyed long ago. He told us that we couldn’t allow the tree to be discovered less it be plundered by the rest of the world. It needed to remain untouched and continue to grow. None of us could find a reason to oppose Raine on this, in fact the longer I spent in the presence of this tree the more I believed Raine was write. I mean as soon as I heard it was the tree of life the alchemist in me wanted to take a branch to experiment on. No, we all swore a pact to never speak to anyone besides each other about this tree.
We began to get our gear together and move out when Raine quickly knelt before the tree uttering a few more phrases in that strange language before gingerly removing the three acorns. He said we were allowed to take them and that their healing properties extended far beyond what he knew. Banshee also had the idea of taking some of the water in the lake; after all it did heal her foot.
We stored the water and the acorns and crossed the lake again. I offered to try and put a trap together to better protect the tree but Raine didn’t think it was necessary. He said that everything here had grown so large and well because of the tree and that he doubted even things killed would stay dead long if they fed off the trees energy. He gave a pointed look at the slain Purple pods as we passed. Their wounds were fusing shut. We hurried past them.
As we crossed the Fungi chamber we heard a loud hiss that made all of us jump. We cautiously turned to investigate and found another side cavern. This one got big, Like disappeared into the black and still getting bigger big. We decided that it wasn’t really worth it and were about to turn back when we found out what had caused the hissing. Great gouts of steam erupted from a crack running across the floor. Everyone but me made it back in time, I was a bit too close and my hand got scalded. Luckily it wasn’t to bad, but it looked like we would have to wait to get out. Our ears began to adjust again after the loud hiss and we began to hear the sounds of a fight. Muffled voices, the sounds of swords, and then a loud roar punctuated the air. We began debating what to do. I was in favor of taking what we had found, along with the knowledge of the tree of life and leaving. Marcus and Raine however were keen on investigating. Banshee was slightly curious and so I was out voted. We decided to try stealth before blundering in this time. We extinguished the lights and I held on to banshees tail while Marcus held on to Raines shoulder. They were the only two able to see in this pitch. We all began creeping forward, Banshee and Raine informing us in whispered voices what they could see. Eventually we came upon a battle. We were still far back but based on what Banshee and Raine were saying there looked to be several humanoid figures attacking two very large figures. The small ones appeared to be loosing. We crept closer to see if we could make out their shouting. As we neared them I was able to tell they were speaking in elven, kinda. It was a very broken form I wasn’t familiar with, but elven was in it.
We quickly decided that whatever the elves were doing down here we needed to help them. Marcus and I began firing arrows in the direction Banshee told us the big brutes were. It was a feeble attempt however, the distance was great and it was very dark. We gave up shooting from a distance when Banshee, trying not to laugh, informed us that only half our arrows were finding marks. I drew my sword and prepared to go down, Marcus behind me sounded indignant and was mumbling something about needing more light. We started to head down but didn’t get more than thirty yards before “Friend or foe!” was shouted at us in elven. I responded “friend” and our new friend shouted back “assistance!” I relayed this quickly to the others and we rushed down as Banshee and Raine threw out their lights. Two large and pissed of trolls stared down at us with beady eyes and swatted at the elves as they darted in and out around them. I sheathed my swords and pulled forth a vial of acid in one hand and an oil vial in the other. With one smooth motion I threw each at a troll. The first troll screamed as the acid splashed over its chest and dribbled down to its legs and groin. The second merely wiped at its chest smearing the oil that had just been spilled there even further. Marcus Fired off an arrow at each before I yelled “Marcus light it up!” pointing at the troll doused in oil. A smirk spread across Marcus’s face and he started wrapping an arrowhead in ripped cloth.
Banshee had fired several of hear arcane energy orbs spinning at the troll covered in acid and as each one hit it let out a resounding clap echoing and amplified the cavern around it so that each one sounded like a thunderclap punctuated by a pained wail from he target. While the troll reeled from Banshees swift attacks Raine ran forward with both knives drawn, sprinting for its legs. I moved forward with a group of the elves and began attacking the oil soaked troll, opening gashes with my hook swords. A light blossomed in the dark a moment later and I looked back to see Marcus drawing a flaming arrow tight on his bow. He let loose a triumphant shout and fired the arrow…right over the shoulder of the wrong troll. His shout turned into a curse and he hunched to start preparing another flame arrow. Banshee wasn’t going to wait for him. With a cry of her own she let loose a scorching ray of light that hammered into the troll’s chests, setting it ablaze. The troll let lose an ear splitting shriek before toppling over. I looked over to see Raine Run forward with Marcus’s missed arrow and proceed to shove it into the eye of the other troll that the elves had just subdued.
Shout erupted from the elves and they quickly encircled us. Now that I had a chance to look at them in the light these were not our elves. They had dark skin, nearly black, with white hair and longer ears. All were brandishing weapons and speaking in harsh voices. I could only understand it partially but banshee was looking more and more worried. I sheathed my weapons and was about to explain why we were here when a blackness to put the dark in these caves to shame enveloped us. I felt several sharp blows and felt my consciousness slip away.
I woke groggily in what looked to be another cavern. As I came too I saw that I was with Marcus, Banshee and Raine. We all had out gear but we were locked in this small cavern. Looking around I saw various creatures in varying states of injury lying around the walls. Closest to us were three dwarves. Still groggy I moved over too them and began to try and question them about where we were. One of them explained that we had screwed up while “helping these dark elves. They had been trying to capture those trolls, not kill them. Apparently we were to take their place as the “entertainment” now. Awesome. I asked him if he was part of the mining crew that had come down here, he said he was. Being somewhat pissed about our situation I guess I relayed the information that all his team had been killed a little harshly. The conversation ended with him punching me in the mouth.
So now I sit here writing this, knowing that we could be called out to fight at anytime. The others are trying to get some sleep. I suppose I should do the same. We may need all our strength. I’ll end this journal here, hopefully it will continue for a good while but if not I simply hope it makes it back to the surface.
- Justin D’moore