Field Journal: Entry Four
The others sleep. I can hear the call of the feywild, and I must soon slip into my trance and relax my body as my mind continues to drive forward.
Our unit arrived at the dwarven stronghold’s underground entrance, locked by powerful magic. The magi Vesmir was quite efficient at unraveling the rune that sealed the entrance. I did see the look of recognition of the rune among both Vesmir and the scoundrel Corbin – I must keep an eye on this.
As we made our way into the underground stronghold, Vesmir conjured some werelights that helped lead the way. I had little trouble seeing in the dark, and would have preferred not to show our position by light, but not every member of our unit had this advantage. The scoundrel Corbin advised us to be cautious, just as the gnoll Grizh’naw barrelled through into an antechamber. I heard the shift in the stone as he activated a pressure plate and watched as a large bolt clipped his shoulder before he could move his large frame out of the way. Corbin took point after this, his sweeping eyes taking in the rest of the room for traps. Seeing nothing but empty crates and a skeleton, Vesmir launched a light into a chamber off to the side – only to be met by an ethereal screech. We saw creatures unknown to the world or the feywild, writhing masses of tentacles and eyes that appeared to be drawn to the areas of the room piled with dead rats. Grizh’naw rushed in with Corbin, who spared me a glance to point at the skeleton. I agreed immediately and rushed to action, picking up the bones and tossing them to the room, attempting to distract the creatures. The plan was solid, based on our limited knowledge, but tactical errors occur; the countermeasure was ineffective and we had to face the full force of the creatures. The mage conjured his powerful shadows, and between us we dispatched the foul beasts.
Exploration after this point was far more cautious. Vesmir kept the light closer to our party as Corbin swept the corridors for traps. He disabled traps deftly, with precise hands. I continue to be impressed by the young Halfling; however he fails to realize how much more he could become through militant training. His ancestors were proud warriors I stood by in the wars that ravaged this land many years ago; I cannot help but wonder how they would feel if they saw this young man – So obviously skilled, but so improperly channeled that he became a thief and assassin. I watch as he barely ducks to avoid a flame trap that he was attempting to disarm. I realize as he barely has to move that these traps were set up to allow for ease of movement of smaller races – dwarven traps made to stop those that are taller. Corbin effectively disabled one trap, jamming it so that the gout of flame was stopped, but the fix was temporary.
We came upon another doorway, and before entering, we heard noises similar to those we heard after Vesmir offended the tentacle beasts with his magic illumination. We were determined to take a more tactical approach this time, something I was proud of seeing – our party was becoming a positive unit. Vesmir claimed capability to mimic the screech the previous shoal of beasts that attacked us. Corbin claimed releasing the traps should effectively hamstring some of the force, and so we readied ourselves to break the jam on the first trap and release the second. This plan was more effective, and we headed off some of the smaller creatures. A shout from Vesmir indicated a second entrance to the room opened and a much larger beast was coming out – similar to the smaller masses of eyes, but much larger and predominately covered in a beak-like maw. I saw Grizh’naw rage as his partner was threatened, and I decided firm action was necessary. I placed my hand on the gnoll’s forearm and transferred myself to the feywild, bringing Grizh’naw with me. With a simple step, we reappeared in the line of fire. I tried to keep the beings at bay while Grizh’naw waded into the fray, and I watched in horror as the tentacles touched his head and he seemed unable to fight. I viciously cleaved the beast with my halberd, but there always seemed to be more tentacles attacking the gnoll and incapacitating him. Our group fought valiantly and soon enough the creatures faded to the mist and we were recovering from the challenge.
Our sweep of the rest of the first level showed some interesting features. A forge appeared to be heavily trapped, and Corbin indicated that the disabling mechanism could be reset, though he didn’t know where. With previous finds of hidden doors and hastily made traps, this stronghold is becoming more dangerous to both us and whatever was in here with us. Corbin also uncovered and dispatched a very dangerous trap involving the stills and alchemist’s fire, and a sealed door that sucked in metal objects. The traps all appear to be designed to prevent us from descending further, and with a farm and brewery present within the stronghold, the area appears to be designed to hold whatever is down further without needing to leave. I have to wonder now how disadvantaged we will be tracking the earthshaper through a mountain, but the needs of the army requires it.
My orders are clear. My directive is laid out. The only shroud that troubles my mind is the ever-growing darkness of the descent, and my worry that we may not be on the offensive within this stronghold, but playing into a more powerful gambit than we know.