Branca 8th, 331
The Singing Mercenaries awoke to find themselves in dank, dark cells, the floors covered with sludge. They had been dragged through the swamps for what felt like an eternity, and they were all battered, bruised and bloodied, and were very wary of what they had been lying in. They were unable to glean much from their surroundings, but the size of their cells indicated they were made by the strange creatures that had captured them.
Not long after, after they had all come to, they could hear a low, majestic sounding voice coming from the far end of the hallway. Striding past each of their cells came a majestic-looking werewolf, clearly a captain of some sort, who inspected them one-by-one. “So,” he said, “you are the ones who gave my trackers the slip? I don’t know whether to be impressed by you or to go kill my trackers for their incompetence! Regardless, my cohorts will doubtless have some interest in you, especially you, gnome.” The captain seemed to have some grudging respect for them, but was not about to let them go free. He also recognized the bloodcraze that had affected Shikou. “This one is rabid…he doesn’t know how to control himself, his rage. Were he not a prisoner of the masters I would put him down myself.” Turning on his his, the werewolf commander strode off, back down the hall. “Guard them well,” was all they could hear as he left the dungeon.
The Singers languished for several hours after their inspection by the werewolf commander, only to be surprised by the splintering sound of wood being crushed into balsa sticks. It seemed that Tattered Onion had been captured by the creatures as well, and he had finally built up enough rage to free himself from his restraints and burst through the wooden bars. The other Singers quickly got free, although it appeared that the rough journey had made Shikou’s condition no better, in fact he seemed more feral than before…he had been gnawing at the wooden bars with is teeth in an attempt to escape before the others freed him.
On getting out of their cells, the adventurers were immediately spotted by their jailors: three of the strange creatures who had captured them. Although they had no weapons, the adventurers were able to quickly overpower their captors, as the diminutive creatures were no match for the physical prowess of Tattered and Shikou, nor the psychic assaults of Winward. After crushing the small creatures, the Singers inquired as to Tattered’s whereabouts in their absence. The Goliath explained that he had taken off after them into the forest as soon as he had recovered from his illness and injuries, but he had been captured by the little green chatterers, and had fortuitously been able to escape after their arrival.
Confused, and not completely satisfied with the explanation, the heroes pressed on. They were also disturbed by Shalazar’s absence, but vowed to look for him. The dungeon area was small, the only exit a spiral staircase cut into solid rock that took them an hour to travel to the top off. Once they reached the next level, they found themselves in a much more earthen contruction, with a few small tunnels branching off into several directions. Scouting ahead, Shikou was able to find a room full of the strange creatures, sleeping around a guttering fire. The group found nothing of interest, but took the opportunity to slaughter the creatures with their bear hands in their sleep to avoid surprise attacks from behind later.
Continuing through the underground warren, they came upon more of the creatures, this time eating. These too were quickly silenced: Shikou’s mastery of unarmed combat and Tattered’s cumbersome fists made short, bloody work of the creatures. In the midst of the dining hall the Singers were able to find their weapons and armor, all stashed in large chest at the far end of the hall. Glad to have their gear returned, they continued to trek through the maze. Eventually they came to a strange looking fork: one of the walls was clearly more rubble than walls, and a small tunnel had been ill-disguised. Taking the initiative, Winward used his small size to investigate it. Although it took him some time to return, he reported he had found nothing but a dead end to the party, and they continued on.
The party eventually reached what appeared to be the main room of the warren. After mercilessly dispatching more of the unsavory creatures, the adventurers found themselves faced with yet another long climb through a spiral stairwell. As they climbed, the geology changed again, this time from dirt and earth to soft stone.
Reaching the next level, they found themselves within a vast cavern, the roof of which stretched hundreds of feet into the ceiling. In the middle of the cavern was a great stone structure, and perched atop of it were many of the small creatures that inhabited the cave network, although they appeared intent on something going on where the Singers couldn’t see. Although Shikou’s bloodcraze nearly gave them away, the party was able to subdue him long enough to sneak around the stone in order to see what was taking place.
They were horrified to see the leader of the strange creatures standing in a rockpool at the foot of a giant-sized throne. Seated down in the water was none other than Shalazar. The leader was gesturing frantically at the dragonborn, while the others were seated on an amphitheatre-looking stone, apparently carved from the stone floor of the cave itself. Not wanting to waste any time figuring out what was taking place, the Singers charged in amidst the diminuitives in order to save their cohort.
In that moment, as the sounds of fighting began to echo amongst the rocks of the cave, the bloodcraze Shikou felt took its final hold. He lost all sanity, lashing out at the closest living being, whether friend or foe. Elrias and Jett, not realizing their friend’s condition, charged headlong onto the seating stone. Elrias’s force waves sent many of the tiny creatures flying off of the stone only to break their necks on the ground below, while Jett managed to free the soaked Shalazar from his crude rope bonds. Roaring about messing with a Dragonborn when death is on the line, Shalazar charged straight for the leader, lopping his head off in one clean sweep.
Meanwhile, Winward had invoked his melodious playing to confuse the raging Shikou, causing him to fall into the pool. The enraged monk, separated from his friends, took the opportunity to rip several of the small creatures apart.
40 or 50 of the creatures eventually lay slaughtered, their blood slicking the amphitheatre with gore. Glad to have their Avenger returned to them, the Singers inquired what the creatures had wanted with him. Shalazar was unsure, saying he could barely make out their babble, only that they had called dragons their greatest enemy. Confused, but with nothing to go on, they searched the rest of the cavern.
Despite its size and beauty, there was nothing of note about the cavern itself. The great throne, however, had its own secrets. Set on a pile of humanoid skulls, it was clearly the seat of a great creature, perhaps the one that controlled the Singers former captors. Underneath the throne, they found a trapdoor the led to another spiral staircase, cut into solid rock.
After several hours of climbing the stairs, they eventually emerged back into the dank, fetid swamps of northeastern Narlasil.