Taking the lead together, Glog and Sterling gingerly lowered themselves down the ropes. They successfully traversed the 80+ foot drop to the cavern floor, noticeably littered with rotten debris. Yelling up for the rest of the party to follow, they began to hear clicking, scuttling noises getting louder from places beyond their present view. Cracking another sun-rod; its golden glow battling the foul darkness, the floor became illuminated, and the clicking sounds became defined as the adventurers saw the first movements of the large, tentacled-insect-beasts they would soon be forced to battle.
Surrounded by the beasts on all sides, some quick thinking led Glog to hurl some of his rations in between the two nearest crawlers. The monsters reacted, investigating the new source of smell and taste that gave the group precious moments to tactically eliminate one of the opposing carrion crawlers and move to more defensive positioning. Almost as if acting on instinct, Glog’s challenging shout rattled the vile determination of the nearest crawler; his bellow reverberating within the cavern, sending tremors deep within the monster’s chitins. Seizing the moment, Muri crept behind the critter, attacking with such veracity that the only remaining movement of the creature was its lifeless shell slumping forward in defeat, its clacking quieted; never to be heard again.
Turning his focus, Varas promptly dropped an arctic chill over the two crawlers surrounding the discarded rations, a stiff frost enveloping them immediately. With their outer shells brittle in the cold, the blades of Muri and Glog shattered the body of one of the remaining crawlers and sent the other panic-stricken for the darkest corner it could find; immediately followed by a volley of arrows and magic missiles.
Searching the decayed corpses of victims long past, the party pocketed a few coins and proceeded to verify that the area was clear of any further threat. Under some of the refuse and littered carcasses, the group discovered two narrow tunnels downward to another room below. A foul, humid wind issued from the caverns below.
Upon descending, the party spied two murky pools gathered from water trickling from the ceiling above. Perceiving slight ripples occasionally, the adventures deduced these as spawning pools for the crawler creatures that should be avoided if possible. Quietly discussing the issue, it was concluded that Varas would freeze the pockets of water as best as possible, and the party would sneak by unnoticed. Only the clamor of Glog’s armor was noticed by the young critters, and a few scrapes from their feeble attacks were of comical nature to the group as they passed by into the next chamber of the cavern.
The rocky walls appeared disturbed in two opposing corners of the room, and a dark stairway led eerily further down at the far end. Sensing something was amiss, the party searched the room, uncovering numerous magical warding traps near both of the markings on the walls. The team took up defensive positions.
As Muri approached the darkened stairway, two masked creatures burst forth from the hollow walls, surprising even the expectant team Glarg. A well timed duck saved Muri from a grievous wound, while Varas was forced to enact the magic defenses of his shield to survive the vicious onslaught. A quick inspection verified these were also crawlers, but worse. Their masked faces hardly blocked their mutated, twisted features; clambering tentacles, stout legs, and the ebon-flamed swords they wielded we backlit by the faint, almost dimming glow provided by the sun-rods.
Sterling drew back his powerful bow, and let fly a volley with intensely deadly accuracy. Expecting the prevailing squeal of a punished enemy, he gasped in astonishment as the arrows merely deflected off the creature’s superior, naturally curved armor. Alerting the others immediately, a new tactic would clearly be needed. Stepping up, Varas cast sleep on the distant crawler, sending the creature into a meditative, highly exposed stature. Muri lifted the edge of the slumbering creature’s mask, and struck his dagger blade across its exposed throat in a veritable coup de grace, the crawler’s life instantly slipping from the quickly expanding yellow-green canyon below the mask.
Glog rattled the now solo crawler assassin with a roar, challenging it to even think about attacking anyone else. With Varas dropping an icy hand that grappled the creature, and Muri digging his garrote deeper with every flail of its arms, Sterling and Glog were able to dispatch the formidable foe. The adventurers were truly exhausted, having unleashed their most demanding of attacks to even score hits on the crawler mutation. Removing the masks and fire-brands from the defeated creatures, they also found a few gems and coins to help line their pockets. Acknowledging the room was probably the safest place to recover before moving down the ominous stairway, they laid out their packs and settle in for a rest.