|Valantica Caverns Key -
Scale 1 square = 5 feet. For orientation, consider
North to be at the left of this map.
From the Journal of Thetis the Wizard.
We were tasked by the Baron to find the vermin, and we tracked them to the lower valley and into a low crack in the hillside, underneath a block of granite. After much consideration we gathered a party of eighteen warriors, along with myself, and Garwynd from the temple and went back to the entrance. Bringing gear and torches for going into caves and caverns, we got down on our bellies and slithered into the entryway. After much effort we managed to get through the 2' high entrance. The crack opened up becoming taller and narrower as we progressed, and I observed that the walls here were made of limestone.
Once we could stand upright, we lit torches, and the party progressed into the first chamber. Clearly now, these were limestone caverns. In the first cavern, the highest part was the height of two spears and the space opened up allowing many men to walk abreast. We continued east and the cavern began sloping downward and narrowed considerable into a passageway taller than a man, but only wide enough to let us travel in a single file. We came upon an intersection, a fault in the granite that cut perpendicular to the direction of our travel. We turned and followed the new passageway, downward and to the south. After a sharp bend we came to a cavern that contained many stalagtites and stalagmites, and the ceiling, relatively flat was lower, and we felt constrained some. The new chamber was rough and ended abruptly. Our passage was blocked by a chilling lake, the lake opened towards the south, perhaps a stones throw wide, and we could not see the far wall of the chamber. I enchanted an arrow with a light spell, and one of the bowmen shot the arrow over the lake. The lake went a good distance to the south, and the chamber containing the lake was perhaps 12 paces wide, 20 paces high, and the arrow fell into the lake and winked out in the depths. We never did see the farside of the unknown lake chamber. Measuring distance in the underground is difficult. We turned back, and went the way we had came from. The passageways were all cool and damp, and in some places slippery as well.
Arriving back at the intersection, we now continued North, and begin going upward towards the surface in this new passageway. Once again, after a short time we came to another four way intersection that crossed like an x. We chose to bear left, heading northwest, and came to a cold stream. The stream was not deep, and we stepped into it, fording the stream without even getting our knees wet, The passage narrowed somewhat and turned sharply to the Northeast. We came to an underground river, running fast and deep. It was cold, too wide for a man to jump, and we could see a dead end passageway ahead across the river. We were attacked!
Shouts came from the guards at the rear of the party, and one of our guards was cut down by many black arrows. I worked my way quickly to the rear of the group, and after stepping across the shallow stream unleashed a bolt of lightning towards the x intersection. In the narrow confines of the passageway the bolt deafened me for a time, but no more black arrows came out of the darkness at us. We returned to the river and threw a grappling hook across and secured a line for two of the guards to quickly cross. They confirmed this passageway ended in a dead-end, so we returned to the first intersection after the first cavern, and headed west.We did not make progress going this route. After just ten paces we came to another underground river, and crossed this river on a narrow ledge, but were quickly halted by an impassible river. Another of the guards perished in our attempt to make a crossing here. We could see another intersection in the distance, but were forced to turn back.
We lit a new set of torches and made our way back to the second intersection, that was the x intersection. Here we had two unexplored passageways, one led to the northeast, and one that led to the Southeast. We took the Southeast passage, and came to yet another x intersection. This intersection, as it turned out, was where the passageway from the impassible river led, and we were attacked again from the Northeast passageway of the third intersection, several guards were struck by black arrows, and they returned fire, successfully hitting a creature that cried out an orc curse at us and fled. We gave chase, and the creature dived into a hole and wriggled down into a chimney of sorts. The lead guard managed to stick it with a second arrow, but in a moment, the orc was gone.
We put a rope on a guard and secured the line, and the guard dived into the hole with his dagger and a torch, and was soon lost from our sight. A long while later he returned, saying the small pit led to a downward chimney that opened abruptly some ten paces beneath us into an enormous domed chamber sixty or seventy paces across. The floor of the domed chamber was at least one hundred paces below the opening. He said we managed to kill the orc we had been shooting with the bow as it had fallen to the floor of the domed chamber and lay there in a crumpled heap. It was definitely an orc. Not having enough rope for us to safely descend to the floor of the domed chamber, we went back to the first chamber and gathered many large and small rocks that we used to temporarily seal the pit to the Lower Chamber.
We lit another round of torches and continued on this trek descending towards the Southeast and further into the earth. In a short time the passageway began to slope upwards and the passageway opened into a chamber so vast that we could not see the chamber floor, or the ceiling, nor the chamber walls to the North or South. The passageway continued, turning into an elevated causeway wide enough for two men to walk abreast, but the causeway had a sheer dropoff into the darkness below. Casting another light spell onto an arrow, a guard fired the arrow into the great causeway chamber, and a hail of black arrows fell upon the passageway entrance from the depths of the cavern below. Quickly casting a protection spell, I made my first mistake of the day, urging the warriors to retreat back the way we had come. The Knight, Sir Valmar, disagreed, and ordered his men to follow him, and they charged across the causeway leaving myself and the cleric Brother Garwynd to fend for ourselves. We ran after them, hoping that the black arrow orcs would be distracted by the knights ahead of us. After a few moments of extreme danger from the unknown we successfully crossed only to find ourselves joining an intense melee. There were giant reptiles here, reptiles that walked on two legs. They were fast and vicious, but we prevailed. It was a bloody victory, I used many of my spells, and only four warriors, and Sir Valmar, was left standing. Brother Garwynd helped two more warriors recover their senses and some of their strength. We spent more time here in what I came to call the hatchling chambers, Sir Valmar posted guards at the causeway entrance and the rest of us busied ourselves in destroying the egg clutches of these flesh-eating man-sized reptiles, and then taking some time to rest and recover.
Of the original group of a score, there
were only nine of us left standing. Two had departed the group earlier,
and the remainder were dead. We left them where they lay, and gathered
up the extra torches, food, and water, as much as we could safely carry,
and after resting for a bit more, lit another round of torches and plotted
our escape. The hatchling chambers all ended in dead ends, so we would
have to cross the causeway again and return from the direction we came
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