Having successfully scouted the room at the bottom of the stairs, Jak described it to his comrades as a large space at the center of which was carved a large 10′×10′ hole. Four men, seemingly guards by their less than casual arrangement, occupied the room.
Having, for once, surveyed a room without alerting everyone in it, the party felt that it was possible to catch these men by surprise and deal with them quickly without being trapped in a confined space. Feeling that their window would not be open forever, Jak began to rush the room, hoping to drop the two closest guard into the hole, presumably followed by this companions. But something went wrong.
Somehow, the guard became alerted to our presence, called out what sounded like a code phrase and without waiting for an answer, repositioned themselves before the party could even enter the room.
Seeing that we were once again being forced to fight in a bottleneck, our party decided to retreat up the stairs hoping to gain a positional advantage. But unlike our previous encounters, the enemy did not pursue us and instead used the opportunity to set up positions in the room below.
Accepting the inevitable, we pushed forward, finding ourselves once again fighting shoulder to shoulder, severely limiting our options, made more awkward by the limited visibility provided by the slope of the staircase. But, as always, our fearless foursome held their own and began pushing into the room.
All seemed to be going well when along came a spider. Seemingly kept for just such an occasion, a giant spider was released into the room and herded toward our direction. With a mighty leap across the pit, the hairy beast was upon us, or more specifically, Arak. Seeing the threat coming, Arak wisely fortified himself against the effect of the creature’s venom, this nullifying the worst of its attack.
Seeing the eight legged menace as the more obvious threat, we concentrated our efforts and leg by leg, reduced the creature to a gooey, hairy, and none to lightly smoking husk, narrowly missing Jak in the process.
Once their little pet was vanquished, the rest of the guards fell as well, short of one that fled the room. Not wanting to run into an ambush without steeling ourselves for another battle, our party took a short rest, searching the main room, a room which appeared to get the guard’s room, and the spider’s pen, but found nothing of value, other than the knowledge that a spider’s web is highly flammable, thanks to Crow’s incendiary curiosity.
Having caught our breath, we continued on, discovering more hallways and connected rooms. As the party approached a large room containing a large wooden table, Jak tripped a pressure switch in the floor, causing a portcullis to come crashing down, thus separating him from the rest of the party. As if waiting for this to occur, several men entered the room, one carrying a very well used spear, clearly the leader of the pack. Feeling the rage burning inside him, Jak summoned the chilling power of the Acanthian Peaks, ice forming on the tips of his obsidian horns, fog rolling out of his nostrils, frost crystals spreading across the room from were he stood. With a clear head, Jak began making his way out of the room, assisted by his comrades from beyond the bars.
Making matters incrementally worse, several enemies also appeared from behind Arak, Crow, and River on the other side of the portcullis. Seeing that his crew was not alone, Jak bolted down the hallway with all his might, drawing upon the images of what happened beneath the falls when their party had been divided. With equal surprise to both enemy and ally, Jak smashed into the rear flank of the foes engaged with the rest of the party. Instantly, the party dynamics began to kick in, River taking advantage of a distracted enemy, Crow and Arak afforded slightly more freedom to unleash their magic.
But, where did the man with the spear go? Jak expected him to be right on his heals! There was no time to worry about what was not behind him for there was much to worry about before him, for Arak and Crow were quickly finding the close quarters far to confining and River, while doing his best to give them the room they needed, was being pushed back against the portcullis. Eventually, the party was able to slay most of the enemies that separated the party, but one individual was proving to be particularly tenacious.
As our party has come to expect, just as the light appeared at the end of the tunnel, an avalanche choked it shut. The avalanche came in the form of the man with the spear, accompanied by a host of new enemies, thus explaining his delay.
Fortunately, slick ice continued to emanate from Jak’s position, thus impeding the progress of the new foes, forcing them to pay much more attention to where they placed their feet and less on their defenses. Sensing that fear was beginning to take hold of the party, Jak let lose an encouraging bellow that echoed off the walls of the narrow hallway, drawing upon the party’s formidable courage, allowing all to ignore the pain of their wounds as River had done for him so many times before.
Forcing the light to appear at the end of the tunnel once more, the party attacked with continued ferocity, pull out every trick and treasure they had, particularly Arak, who’s trick bag seemed to have no bottom! Jak concentrated on keeping the enemies separated from the man with the spear, given that all foes who stood with him proved particularly formidable. River kept continued to punish any who attempted to get past our defenses while keeping the party conscious. Crow even resorted to using his staff for more than just an implement of magic, solidly cracking enemies in the face whenever they dared get too close, which none in the party had seen him do before.
Unfortunately, another first took the form of Jak falling limply to the ground, after delivering one last blow to his attacker, though icy mist continued to roll off his unconscious form. The party continued to pull from unknown reserves of courage, fighting off the few enemies that remained and River was able to provide just enough healing power to get Jak back on his feet.
All that remained of their enemies was a lone archer, fear plainly evident on his face after seeing Jak, the only member of our party his crew had managed to drop, now climbing back to his feet.
With a mix of cowardice and wisdom, the archer bolted toward the room connecting to the stairway from which the party had originally descended. After a short chase, the party decided that pursuit was futile, especially given their current exhausted condition. They were indeed lucky to be standing at all, much less blindly running into the darkness.
So they decided to rest in the room with the slitted door and mend their wounds, for they knew the “Dark Wizard” and the rift still stood before them. Hopefully, when they awoke, their past experience would give them the tools to face the future.