Ringwell Awaits is the 20th episode of The Chain. It aired on June 19th, 2019.
The Assassin at the Butcher's
Some of the party realize that there is something odd about the figure who was hidden in the mess hall, but only Slim can see at first that half of his face is an unnatural pale white and the other half is a more normal drow shade. He’s crouched on top of a small counter in the corner and is wielding an intricately mechanized crossbow. Leech speaks to him in drow and says, “We can all see you here. You’re uncovered. Your invisibility no longer works. Surrender to us. We just wish to talk to you.” The assassin replies in the same language.
In response to what he says, Leech casts an agonizing blast at him. The drow recovers, then invokes the power of Lolth. Everyone but Slim, Odie, and Copper is wrapped around by heavy white spiderwebs and held in place. Slim attacks the assassin, hitting him twice and distracting him. The drow removes some kind of bag from his pouch and shoots it with his crossbow. It explodes in dust, but has no other obvious effect, then casts another spell and misty steps to a new position, where he shoots his crossbow at Slim. He fires three shots, all of which hit. Slim feels his blood begin to burn as the poison from the arrows begins coursing through his body. Leech orders Odie to take up a position next to the assassin and help Judge. Judge puts a seal on the assassin then breaks free from the nest of webs that were holding him. King casts a spell at the assassin and, in response, the Hlan casts a curse at King. King sees a bunch of spiders emerge and begin crawling over him, but he’s not bothered. Copper shoots the assassin twice, then Bigcat moves forward and pummels the assassin with her barbed tentacles, killing the assassin, who now appears to be a man, not a drow.
Judge searches the corpse to try to figure out who this person is and finds some vials of poison, but no identifying documents. Boots takes the assassin’s hand crossbow, which can fire three shots at once. King examines the corpse to try to figure out his race. He appears to be human, but still has bi-colored skin. Judge looks to see if the Hlan has a mark of Lolth on him, which he does not, but he finds a black iron ring on his hand. Boots tries to remove the ring, but it won’t come off. Boots slices the finger off and as he examines it closely, he can see that there are filaments exuding from the ring into the finger, holding it in place. They search this room for secret doors, finding none, but recall that they passed a door in a previous room.
Tunnels Under the Shop
This door leads to a stair down with a very low ceiling. It empties into a basement. Upon inspection, they find that one of the walls is a false wall. It’s not stone, just loose rubble that’s been piled up. Boots strums a chord on his mandolin and it shatters the false wall, leading into an unnatural looking pathway that looks like it goes off under the city. Slim goes back upstairs to try to secure the entrance to the butcher shop while King sends a message to Angel through the diplomat’s pouch, instructing him to send some guards to the butcher shop and take steps to re-open it as a business.
Boots casts light on one of his beads so he can see where he’s going and King does something similar. The tunnel is made of limestone and chalk. Examining the walls, it appears to be recently made with very primitive tools. The tunnel they’re following opens up into a large room smelling of compost and offal. They see a large pile of garbage in the middle of the cavern that seems to be the source of the smell. Leech approaches the pile to see if there’s anything there of interest and some large figures with tentacles emerge from the pile. The trash elementals, after climbing their way out of the pile, attack Leech, pummeling him, grappling him, and puncturing him. Judge puts a seal of Asmodeus on one of the elementals. Odie, the quickest to recover, conceals his glee at Leech’s predicament and bites the elemental, as ordered and doing more damage than expected with his poisoned bite. Boots uses his lieutenant ability to give King the next attack, which he uses to cast a fireball into the cavern. The fireball does profound damage to two of the creatures, singes the third, and knocks Leech unconscious. Copper shoots the creature holding Leech twice, then asks Bigcat to try to take Leech away from the elemental. She manages to grab Leech and pull him away from the Otyugh. Slim activates his ioun crystal and rainbow energy crackles along his blade. He advances towards the otyugh, skilling one on his foreswing, and then slashing a second one with his backhand. As he hits, Judge consumes his seal to wound it further. Boots plays a quick tune and swirling lights appear on the air above the excrementals, which causes both to be dumbfounded by the lights and unable to react. Boots then says a healing word and Leech rejoins the fray. Leech convinces Bigcat to let him go, then casts an agonizing blast at the more gravely wounded otyugh. One of the blasts misses, but the other hits. Slim hears a voice in his head, speaking some kind of snarly and slimy sounding language, and the otyugh that Leech woke up with his agonizing blast tries to grapple Slim, but he ripostes the attack and kills it. Judge attacks the remaining otyugh and hits it twice and consumes his seals. Buts conjures a bubble of acid at the otyugh, causing it’s flesh to burn and boil.
Leech orders Odie to harry the excremental and help whoever attacks it next. King casts toll the dead and does some more damage to the creature. Copper shoots it twice and the second arrow kills it. Leech immediately casts a couple of healing spells on himself, then the group decides to take a short rest in this cavern. Copper looks around the cavern for tracks, but doesn’t see anything. Boots is looking at the cavern and determines that maybe it was dug out by something with claws or teeth that could dig. Leech orders Odie to dig through the midden pile, but he doesn’t find anything of interest, except that in the offal they find chunks of earth.
After their short break to recover, they decide to take the tunnel to the left, which comes to a dead end after about 50 feet. Judge finds a small pile of gems near one of the walls as he looks around to see if there are any secret doors. Most of it is quartz, but they do find a few tourmaline. Boots examines the dead and and finds that part of the wall there is a very different texture. The rest of the walls are roughly hewn limestone, but this wall -- while the same material -- is smoothly rippled. Boots guesses that maybe some creature has dug out these tunnels. Boots points it out and Judge examines it, but doesn’t see any evidence of secret doors. Boots tries kicking the smooth wall and finds that it’s very solid.
They decide to turn around and check another tunnel. King and Slim decide to check the tunnel to the right. It leads to another large cavern, in the middle of which is a large depression. The bottom of it is very smooth and about three feet deeper than the rest of the floor. Judge picks up a rock and tosses it into the middle of the depression, but nothing happens that he can tell. Boots walks around the perimeter of the room, but he doesn’t really see anything that catches his interest. Leech orders Odie to go investigate the depression. He stands in the middle of the pit and does a little dance, but nothing happens. Slim looks for directional scratches on the surface of the smooth stone, but he doesn’t see any sign like that, except that the surface of the depression grows smoother closer to the middle. Boots walks all the way around, but nothing happens. Boots ties a rope around himself, has Slim hold it, and leaps into the middle of the depression and nothing continues to happen. Copper suggests that maybe this is just where they were digging to try to find Ringwell. Judge also walks all the way around the perimeter of the cavern, showing the demon in his sword, when suddenly the ground begins to shudder and a purple worm breaks through the floor, right under Boots. Boots manages to evade the gaping maw of the purple worm and does a flip, landing lightly on the floor beside it.
Boots uses his lieutenant ability to make some changes to the order of operations, then Copper shoots the worm twice. Bigcat moves up to also attack the worm, but misses. Judge puts a seal on the worm and then casts a wall of fire, encircling the purple worm with the hot side towards the worm. Judge then repositions himself to try to get out of the reach of the worm. King cast a cantrip at the worm, but it misses. The worm strikes through the wall of fire and swallows Slim. Out of the ground next to Judge, the barbed end of the worms tail emerges and hits him. Judge isn’t able to maintain his concentration and the wall of fire dissipates, but he is able to cast a hellish rebuke in retaliation. Buts casts a stinking cloud, but the worm doesn’t seem to be affected. Slim tries to fight his way out of the worm, using his martial prowess to distract the worm from the people outside. On his second hit, the worm begins to retch and vomits, ejecting Slim and most of the contents of its stomach. Boots runs up and stabs the worm twice and, with a defensive flourish, prepares to defend himself. Odie repositions himself so he’s not inside the stinking cloud but continues to harass the worm. Leech throws agonizing blasts of energy at the worm; both hits, one seeming more effective than another.
Copper shoots and another arrow sprouts from the worm’s side, then Bigcat attacks it with her tentacles. Judge steps down into the pit to get close enough to attack the worm with Exile, striking it twice. Buts steps forward to get line of sight and casts acid splash at the worm, causing a portion of his hide to smoke and bubble. King also steps up and slashes at the worm. He hits it and it slumps over, dead. King orders Buts to see if she can harvest anything from the corpse of the purple worm. Slim removes two of its teeth for a trophy while Buts locates its brain. She starts carving her way into the body. She makes a hole and starts pulling out internal organs, then widens the hole a bit and sticks her head in. They can hear muffled talking, then she comes out and said, “I thought it was dorsal, but actually it’s…” She dives back in and all they can see are her boots kicking. When she backs out, she has a couple of handfuls of brain and says, “I thought I had it, but I don’t think this will work.”
Slim starts carving on the worm and King investigates the purple worm debris, but doesn’t find anything useful. King casts some healing spells, as does Copper, to help Slim and Judge recover from the fight. The exit from this room goes about 40 feet and then splits left and right. Copper looks for tracks and finds some humanoid tracks that go off to the left. Leech orders Odie to turn invisible and scout down the other corridor, which goes about 60 feet to a carved out room, with a large hole in the ground and a metal ladder leading down. Leech sends Odie down through the hole, which is about 30 feet deep. It opens into another large natural cavern and a corridor running to the south. At the bottom of the ladder, Odie notices a pack sitting on the ground. Leech orders him to inspect it. He finds a basic dungeoneering pack and a note inside. Leech asks him to look at the note. The writing inside is a thin spidery script that says, “Merranath- Be wary. We do not know what a forbiddence looks like, it may be a door, or it may be something unrecognizable. Use the first W to defeat the forbiddence. It will regenerate, so move quickly. We have no idea what you will find inside. But the Stone will probably be in the Core and it will take time to find it. Use the last W to get out. Signed, Zed.”
Leech orders Odie to bring the note back and takes it from him upon his return, then sends him down the other tunnel. The other corridor goes to the right and ends up in another room, similar to the first Odie found, but with no hole down. Copper leads the way and helps the rest of The Chain sneak down the corridor and down the ladder to the pack. Copper notices that the wall the ladder is against is rippled and smooth, similar to the previous wall they’d seen above. King notices that the wall looks more like the results of a stone shape spell than a normal carved wall. One by one, they climb down the ladder: Slim first, then Copper. Boots leaps into the hole and lands soundlessly. Judge, King, Buts, and Leech follow, with Bigcat jumping down behind Copper. The pack, when they see it, proves to be a standard adventurer’s pack. They spend some time debating their order of march and figuring out how they can send Odie in front of them and keep Leech moving along. They ultimately decide to send Odie out at the edge of Leech’s vision, and the rest of them follow behind, with Boots guiding Leech. Odie eventually reaches another large room. It’s octagonal and has been worked. The walls and ceiling are covered in bas relief, but they’re so old and worn they can’t make out what they used to be. The floor is a mosaic tile, where flecks of paint are still visible, but again, it’s too worn to make out what it represented. There are doors in the north and west walls. The one to the west stands open, but the one to the north is shut.
The First Forbiddence
The open door on the west wall is carved with runes. There is a pool of now solidified molten gold on the floor. Buts examines the runes on the door to see if he can figure out if they were magical. She says it was definitely a forbiddence. She says it was definitely a power word, but not death or others they know. She says these have to be ruins of the Shauraseni Empire. It’s too old to be anything else. Judge shows Buts the note they found in the pack to see if she can figure out what the “W” it refers to is, but she can’t quite figure it out. She thinks it’s magic, but she doesn’t know what it might be. She’s trying to connect the dots and make a guess.
Boots examines the gold and finds that it’s cooled. Slim peeks around the door, but it’s dark inside and he can’t see. King looks at the closed door and finds that it also has runes on it. It’s closed and there’s no evidence of gold on that door. Buts says, “I think these runes are different than those. I think there was something in here working that stopped.” She opens the door, “I was right.”
Judge says he thinks if this was the forbiddence and it’s currently inactive they may need to hurry through before it regenerates as the note says it was. He guesses that there might be someone already in Ringwell and they’ll have the item they need to get back through the forbiddence. Copper reads the tracks in this area and sees some large humanoid footprints coming out of the door on the north wall and small humanoid footprints going in the door on the west. They decide that the large prints were probably the solar celestial and follow the smaller prints.
They walk into the tomb of the sun elf. There’s a 15 foot tall diamond that is brittle and has a large humanoid hole in the front of it. There is glittering diamond shale strewn across the floor. There is another door in the western wall of this room, as well. It has runes on it and those runes are sealed with gold. Judge asks Buts to look at this door and, while she does that, Judge uses his hellsight to see if there is anyone hiding in this room. He doesn’t see anything. King also looks around and doesn’t see anyone. They hear voices, sort of distant, but becoming louder and louder. Six figures materialize around them and seem as surprised as The Chain. They’re all kitted out differently. One of them is wearing a symbol of the ram astride the world. Another has a symbol of a pack of jackals. The Master of Jackals recovers first and forces a command check against Boots. The Master of Jackals barks a howling command, almost like a hyena, and his comrades -- each one wearing a black iron ring -- move to attack.