This story is based on the wizards of the coast adventure The Dungeon of the mad mage. There are spoilers
The cave becomes familiar to the party. The dank smell of rot and decay fades away into familiarity, almost like a memory. The cracks on the wall, the deep scrapes from combats past, and the decomposing bodies that litter the ground slowly begin to morph into the landmarks of their adventure. The party continues to move in silence, but this time it feels different. It is a comfortable silence that is shared amongst comrades. The trust might not yet be there, but its threads begin to weave between each member with each step.
Roakala takes the lead with her cursed sword which emits a soft light that washes over the ancient stone. It creates soft shadows against the walls of the caverns, this time they are less menacing. This time they stroll with a more relaxed ease as they finally make it to the forest of pillars. The party stands at a familiar crosswords. To the north, a path already travelled. To the south, a clear warning of certain death. To the East, an unknown variable. The party stands in contemplation.
“Where to now princess?” Roakala asks, unable to resist the smirk that appears on her face.
Diljaris’ tail twitches in playful frustration as she instantly retorts with “I am not a princess!” She doesn’t sound annoyed. There is a certain friendliness in her tone. Diljaris looks around at her options for a moment before continuing “Well if we are looking to make money” she reviews her options one more time “I think the best chance of finding magic items might be due south” she says as she points at her option. Above the door way in freshly painted letters the warning reads “Certain death this way”
“You want us to go towards death?” Gorak chimes in
“Yes, we need money and towards death would more than likely have magic items we can sell”
“You barely made it out of the last bout with monsters, shouldn’t we prepare more before we go running towards our deaths?”
“Well my friend” Diljaris replies as she places her scaled blue hand gently on Gorak’s shounder, giving him a warm and friendly smile, “We can’t know for certain that any of the other paths will yield a less dangerous path. I would argue that we will never be ready for what we don’t know. But I don’t want you to feel pressured, no one is forcing you to go. You can leave when you like. I am here to conquer this dungeon and my gut says that that way” she says as she points south “is the first step in doing so.” She pats him gently on his shoulder and begins to step due south. “Whose with me?”
Roakala is the first to react. Her head swivels between the two members of the group before letting out a frustrated grunt “Dammit! Wait up princess.”. Roakala walks after Diljaris. She drags her feet lazily.
A heavy dwarven hand falls onto Goraks shoulder. The old worn glove smells of fresh oil. “Well boyo?” Drugnar says “You did ask for more adventure.” Drugnar chuckles as he continues after the pair. Gorak stands in place, the room growing dark as the cursed light’s reach no longer engulfs him. He sighs in frustration and begins to take steps towards the party. They pass through the door warning them of certain death.
The doorway empties into a long dark hallway. A hallway that is well travelled. The ground is littered with tracks, both young and old. There are deep overlapping footprints belonging to humanoids of varying sizes. There are animal tracks and long deep wheel imprints. There are bits of ash and burnt out torches. It is clear that despite it being marked for certain death, this path down here is a busy avenue.
The party moves cautiously over the tracks. They look eagerly towards the end of the hall, expecting a dangerous surprise. Perhaps death would be the answer to the strange nature of this corridor. Finally they arrive in a room. There are neat piles of ancient stone, earth, and ruble throughout the room. Around those, digging supplies of varying condition. There is also a small body in the room. It is slumped over against the wall. It’s leathered green skin has begun to rot. There are signs that rats have begun to nibble on it’s body. An ear is missing and the body sits on what is left of a pool of blood that seems to have dried long ago. There is no way of knowing when the body died except that the belly has bloated.
Rakala examines the body carefully. “Well” she says as she ponders the goblins visage “whatever killed the goblin took anything valuable.” The party searches the room for valuables and clues as to what might be in the next room; but all they find are the discarded tools and deep footprints leading in and out of this room. There is another exit to this room. One that has been freshly and hastily made. This doesn’t share the workmanship of the caverns they have already travelled. This was made by new hands. Hands that don’t hold the same attention to detail as the original carvers of this earth, but somehow still talented enough to create a new passage way.
Roakala looks into this fresh wound. The cursed light washes over the freshly dug rock. The light reveals the madness of the new architect. It bends and turns with lack of reason, although the function stands up right with the support of new shabbily cut wood. The new path is ugly and it sews distrust in the party. Diljaris steps up and touches the wall. Examines it for a moment.
Gorak comes forth and gets close to the ground, touching one of the deep wheel wells. “Well if there is any treasure, it seems to be moving through here.”
“Agreed” Diljaris replies finally looking away from the stone “Whoever made this is using it to transfer something pretty important.”
Gorak nods “But the question is who’s using this tunnel and what are they carrying?”
“The real question is do we want to deal with whatever made this thing?” Roakala chimes in, pointing at the corpse of the dead goblin.
“I mean” Diljaris answers with her bright warm smile “We did come down here for some adventure”