Children of Netherhearth
After trekking through some tunnels, you arrived in a huge cavern with a warm, humid atmosphere that was teeming with types of reptilian animal life incongruous in a subterranean setting. Built into the side of the cavern wall was the facade of an ancient Golden Age temple or monument of some kind. As you neared it you were attacked by a pair of enormous snakes, bizarrely mutated monstrosities whose forms seemed to shift and warp, and who possessed strange abilities. During the fight, a choker lurking in the gloom also made an opportunistic attack against Grindle. However, a combination of good luck and sound tactics allowed you to quickly overcome the snakes, while the choker fled back into the darkness.
After the fight you briefly tried to open the doors leading into the monument. Although it seemed possible using Leo’s force powers, you surmised that the cost to his vitality would be too high given the upcoming ratkin siege, so you left it for the time being. A quick glance through a hole in the bottom of the door confirmed that the inside of the monument was the source of the humid, warm air in the cavern.
You continued along the tunnels eventually dropping though a gap in the floor back into the passage between Scrim Palace and the now collapsed xilix bridge. You returned to Scrim Palace all the while being increasingly harassed by aggressive rats.
In the tunnel just before Scrim Palace you spotted a pair of ratkin females crafting some of the hollowed sling bullets used by the slingers, and managed to stealthily kill them both without raising the alarm. Peering into Scrim Palace itself, you discovered that it was now home to a wretch being fawned over by a couple of dozen females. You quickly formulated an ambush strategy and launched a surprise attack hoping to swiftly bring down the wretch. Your plan succeeded, and without the wretch’s frenzying powers the rest panicked and fled.
During this encounter you discovered that the ratkin use bones that give off a magical light. Although the ritual magic necessary to create the effect was comparatively unsophisticated, the fact that they are capable of it at all is not good news.
Following your victory, you began to make your way back to Netherhearth as fast as possible. By successfully killing the wretch you had greatly delayed the ratkin’s ability to effectively begin a pursuit, as there seems to be a big difference between wretches and regular ratkin in both their intelligence and their ability to communicate with others of their kind. Nevertheless, sounds of pursuit became increasingly evident as you neared Netherhearth and found yourselves entering tunnels with a greater density of ratkin, presumably amassing in anticipation of the upcoming attack on your home.
In the last half hour of the chase you pushed yourselves to your physical limits trying to keep ahead of your pursuers. You were harried at every turn, having to fend off attacks by rats of all sizes, hit-and-run attacks by ratkin slingers, and even an attack by a foolhardy wretch who was lucky to escape with its life. However, by this stage the peril and adrenaline of the chase and the repeated minor clashes had buoyed up your powers to their maximum potentials. The three of you smashed through all opposition in your inexorable progress towards your home.
Finally you reached the entrance to Netherhearth only to find it blocked by a stone gate, and manned by a troop led by Karnak. He was reluctant to let you in, even though you were being harried by slingers whittling away the last of your strength. Your pleading, threats and cajoling finally paid off – although Karnak was determined to keep you out, the other men with him eventually defied his orders and opened the gate for you. You staggered through, battered, bleeding and exhausted, and collapsed on the grass nearby. The horde made to surge through after you, but quickly retreated, howling, when confronted by the dawn-light of the Skystone.
Fifty feet away, Bessie the cow, initially startled by the commotion, returned contentedly to her grazing.