Chapter 34

Evil Versus Good

April 10, 2021

At the outskirts of Mushroom Groves, the adventurers took a little time to rest and recuperate from their recent fight with the undead. Agariacus went ahead to communicate with the Myconid and negotiate passage for the party. Their collective mind was concerned about the presence of Aspasia, a Lawful Evil enforcer for the Fire Giants of Vogradopolis, whom they doubted could be trusted to keep the location of the Groves silent from her masters.

Agariacus was able to persuade the Mushroom people that the adventurers who were Neutral and had no loyalty to Vogradopolis would be led blind-folded through their sacred central chamber and sworn to secrecy while Aspasia would have to be eliminated from the group before they returned, passing through the Groves again on their way back. Thus they were allowed across the central chamber to the cave tunnel they believed their Dwarf quarries would be coming through.

The Cave of Columns, so-called because it is a space filled with spindly stone columns stretching from floor to ceiling almost like a forest, would be the arena of conflict. They placed a magical alarm at the entrance of the tunnel to Mushroom Groves and Stone Shaped a pit trap there, then set up their stake-out with everyone benefitting from magical Darkvision allowing them to remain in total darkness.

As the hours went by, Agariacus tried to discuss with Ramona and Diega the deal he had made with the Myconid to eliminate Aspasia. The hushed conversation was partially overheard but not enough to give the Dwarf the full picture. When a voice singing Dwarven songs was heard deeper in the caves, Raz was dispatched to investigate.

The Elf scouted ahead with her cloak of invisibility and found the very Dwarves the party was hunting: eight freed slaves and a trio of Dwarf adventurers: one bard, one cleric and one paladin. After reporting to her fellows, the adventurers formed a plan of attack which would involve Ramona animating her collection of corpses for extra muscle.

The teenage necromancer decided to try using the Amulet of Necromancy she had gleaned from the undead in the Cave of Doom, knowing it would empower her casting but at an unknown cost. As she wove her magic spells, the power of the amulet made itself known, granting her the ability to cast as if she were an arch-mage but simultaneously stealing twenty years from her and shifting her into the morality of Evil. By the end of casting, Ramona was a mature woman with a psychotic glint in her eye and a squad of five skeletons and five zombies.

Though everyone seemed uneasy with the change in Ramona (except Aspasia, who recognized the new darkness in her soul), they had to proceed with capturing the Dwarf Prince amongst the freed slaves. They headed in with Raz scouting ahead once again, but when she saw the enemy apparently waiting in ambush she came back to halt them. Then she spotted a Deep Gnome watching and gave chase, killing it before being chased off by a Xorn erupting from the ground beneath her feet.

The fight was on with both sides rushing to meet in the middle. The Xorn and the Deep Gnomes were working with the Dwarves and Agariacus recognized them as a trio he had met before. They left him alone until he chose to side with the adventurers. Meanwhile, the Dwarf paladin Sir Legram Ironhide summoned an Earth Elemental using his magical Warhammer and sent it after Ramona’s undead while he fell to dueling with his former associate Aspasia.

The battle was epic. The Dwarf cleric and paladin were aided by their invisible bard companion while the Earth Elemental splintered Ramona’s skeletons. Raz was unceasingly targeted by the Xorn and the Deep Gnomes seeking vengeance for their fallen kin. She was knocked down and revived a few times by Kaamber while Sir Legram eventually managed to neutralize Aspasia only to be himself killed by Agariacus.

The brutal conflict rendered both sides major losses. By the end of things, only Ramona and Kaamber were still standing, facing the Dwarf bard, the Elemental and one Deep Gnome. Utterly exhausted, the duo fled into the dark forest of the Cave of Columns, leaving their fallen comrades behind with the bodies of the Dwarf paladin and cleric as well as the Gnomes and the Xorn.

Chapter 35: Lost in the Underdark