D&D 5E: The Road Not Taken

Valrak'shi Journal Entry 5

It has been three days since I last recorded my thoughts. This day has been a very long day of rowing, but finally we have found a location that seems to be safe for a good rest and for hunting fresh mushrooms.

When last I wrote, we had just put onto Darklake. Traveling on the Darklake is different than on the seas aboveground as there are only subtle currents here and there, mostly just still water, and obviously no wind. In order to get anywhere it is mostly up to us to paddle. Luckily for us Shuushar is familiar with the Lake and the area, he assists putting us into a minor current that helps in our paddling. We found a boat, a raft and a mushroom and we tied them all together with a rope in a line with the boat in the lead.

The first day of travel is pretty uneventful up until near the end. Shuushar was following Duergar runes etched in the cavern walls when he failed to see a stalagmite rising from the stagnant waters. At this point, Lutien has passed out from ingesting the water accidentally; he’s curled in a heap on the floor of the boat. We smacked into the stalagmite, one of our vessels going one way, one another and catching us upon the middle. Galathalas and Stool were near an edge and both toppled into the waters. I used my rope to toss him a line and pull him in. Before we can get them totally in the boat, darkness drops from the sky.

A creature that I recognize from my readings of the Underdark (but had yet to run into one) to be a Darkmantle falls upon Eldeth and covers the entire top of her body, completely. I try to hurry and get Gal pulled in the boat when we hear the bones snapping and Eldeth stops moving. Looking above Gal sees 2 more of the beasts preparing to descend. They use their innate powers to drop a globe of darkness around them. As the darkness glides down Jimjar takes a shot at the one holding Eldeth, hoping to save her before it’s too late. Ian takes a shot at one of the descending dark spots, blind but hopeful, but shot comes out the other side of the blackness missing its quarry.

At this point Gal is back on the boat and casts Shatter upon the two in the sky. Hitting one squarely it drops from the sky into the water, the other takes damage but maintains its glide towards the boat. I jumped forward to where Eldeth was and lashed out with my shortsword, slaying the one still holding Eldeth…but it was too late, her essence had already left her body. Galathalas kills the last with a blinding blast of Eldritch Blast.
After the battle is over, Ian performs last rites for Eldeth and we sink her to the bottom of the Darklake. He had promised her he would return her shield and hammer to her people and so he will, storing her gear along with his things.

We untethered the boats to get around the obstacle, then reconnected on the other side, continuing on our way. We traveled for a few more long hours until we came across a Duergar-built mechanism that looks to have been designed to control water flow. We found a ledge to rest on while manipulating the levers to allow us passage through once we were done.

Day two started out well, everyone was well rested and ready to continue on. Having rowed most of the day before, I traded places with Jimjar and took a seat in the back with Gal. While sitting I kept a vigilant eye on the waters behind, just in case. It was a good thing…it seems we were being followed. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was not far below the surface and in my experience, few things stalking you in the Underdark means you anything but ill. I figured it best to strike first, casting Faerie Fire on it I limned it with a bluish fire, highlighting it so that everyone could see exactly what we were dealing with.

The beast jumps up out of the water, lashing out with his claws he strikes true. I attempt to dodge but fail, taking a couple of nasty gashes across the chest and arms. Now that we can see what it is we can tell it’s an aquatic troll. A nasty creature for sure, and not one to be taken lightly as they are known for the evil nature and healing abilities.
Galathalas wasted no time dipping into his knowledge of troll lore, he casted a spell on the troll that took form as an icy hand, clutching and squeezing. I would later learn that this spell prevented the creature from regenerating as they are known to do. A handy spell indeed! After his spell, Ian jumped back to our mushroom boat and infused me with healing power, of which I was grateful. I dare so I could not have handled another slash like the previous, my wounds were bleeding out. Lutien, awake and rested today after the sickness yesterday let fly arrows, 3 in total into the beast. Oh how it wailed and thrashed!! And then, out of nowhere I see Derendil above me…the Prince must have leaped directly over us, enraged as he was to land upon the troll. They traded slashes back and forth as the rest of us continue to hit him for all we have. Eventually the light fades from his eyes as he slips out into the water, sinking down as the Faerie Fire eventually winks out from around his shoulders, abandoning the corpse to total darkness.

We quickly pulled Derendil back in the boat and set to tending our wounds. Ian uses more of his restorative magic to knit flesh and bone for Derendil as his breathing slows and he settles down after the encounter. Afterward we head out once again, slightly worn but feeling good about the encounter and keeping a wary eye all around. The rest of the day is uneventful, but as we near the end of day the water turns cleaner as we near what we assume is a type of spring.

Day 3 starts brighter than any day so far, there was light coming in from the many different mushrooms and lichen scattered about, and the water seemed to move a bit more, it felt more like being close to the surface than it has since setting out on Darklake. After several hours of travel, the ceiling started creeping lower and lower until at last we were forced to lie down in the boat to simply get by. Shuushar assured us this was the correct path and that he could successfully navigate through the tunnels. This lasted for about 2 hours before we could sit up once again.

Later on in the day as we travel through one of the many passageways in the labyrinth-like nest of tunnels, we see some bat-like creatures on the ceiling. Thinking we may want to avoid the fight if possible, I cast Silence and Darkness on our group to assist in sneaking by. Tymora was with us as we made it through unnoticed and unharmed. Gal used his Devil’s Sight to navigate and Stool allowed us to communicate as we went through blind.

And the end of a long day 3, we make our way into a nexus of sorts. A cavern that opens up a bit where many passages connect to it, with an island in the middle. Around we see mushrooms and as defensible of an area as we can expect. Shuushar tells us he was here many years ago and suggests we take this opportunity to rest. I checked the area for edible mushrooms, finding nearly 14 lbs which should help us in our future days upon the Lake! The Trilomack mushrooms are kind of a leathery meat but they will suffice, once properly prepared and soaked. I start the process of preparing these and as an afterthought hollow out the cap to allow us an extra 2 gallons of fresh water on the boat.

I must stop writing now, my eyes are blurry and my mind is exhausted. I still must take my turn at watch later in the night and want to make sure to get plenty of rest for the trials ahead. Losing Eldeth was noticeable within our group…the morale took a hit I can sense, and I’m keeping my eyes on our surface friend Lutien who seemed to be feeling the Underdark more than most. However, he seems to be in better spirits and I can’t help but think it’s because he has a sense of purpose now. At every opportunity I notice him working with his bow, fashioning new arrows and apparently learning which materials in the Underdark work the best for his fletching. This is good. It is important to focus on what keeps you sane when in the deep dark. That mental focus will help us all survive.

Tomorrow we continue on to Gracklstugh, a city not known for its niceties, but a city that I’m sure we can leave a mark on, one way or another.

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