It was a most unremarkable day. Drexa stretched his long scaly legs over his magnificent throne. The pile of boulders propping up the basic chiseled stone high backed chair raised the seat of his authority to a dominating height in the room. Drexa was proud of his stonemason, Bularg. To be able to work stone in such a way as to craft an actual seat was a truly amazing piece of technology. What Bularg could do with stone was unmatched by any of the other lizard folk Drexa knew. Bularg’s skill increased Drexa’s status and he liked that.
Gripping the sides of his throne with his sharp claws, the Lizard King shifted his heavy frame to one side of his chair and looked out over his subjects. Nine of his lizard folk stood at attention spread out through the room. They all carried heavy war clubs. They were strong and battle hardened warriors. Drexa liked that. Strong followers made a strong king. And Drexa knew in his heart that he was a strong king.
Drexa grasped the heavy gold chain around his neck and absently traced his claws through its golden links. The chain was a token of his station. It was a mark of his authority as King. Being King wasn’t easy. Many warriors had tried to unseat Drexa and he had the scars to prove it. But these usurpers were no match for The Lizard King. A fond memory passed through Drexa’s mind of him in his younger days challenging the old king, Deeth. Deeth was strong but had become slow in his old age. Drexa remembered moving quickly past his guard and driving his spear into the old lizard’s heart. Drexa worked hard to keep his strength and his quickness up so as to avoid the fate of King’s before him. So far it had worked well.
Drexa wanted better for his people. He led them out of the swamps and into a series of caverns built by the short bearded ones long ago. It was a safe place to raise a family and prosper as a community. Then one day the humans arrived. Drexa generally did not like humans but these were somehow able to speak the language of his people. They offered gold and riches in exchange for free passage through Drexa’s lands and safety from his people. The Lizard King liked this arrangement. It was a good alliance.
Strange chanting broke Drexa out of his reverie. He gazed down upon Sleeslack, the Shaman, who was casting the bones. Sleeslack stared intently trying to properly divine what they foretold. ‘Ill omens, my Lord. The bones tell me what we already know. Your scouts are long overdue. They should have returned down the staircase some time ago.’
Drexa frowned, ‘Sleeslack you worry unnecessarily. The humans have been good to us. The alliance is strong. They would not dare to move against Drexa. The scouts will return soon enough. Have patience. Good things come to those who wait.’
The fire erupted without warning. A powerful fiery blast which burned away and blackened scales, melted eyes, and sucked the wind out of lungs. Gasping for air, Drexa looked around his royal chamber seeing the charred remains of his loyal followers scattered across the floor. He opened his mouth to rally his shaken lizard folk when a heavy shaft of wood tipped in iron hurtled out of the darkness, flew right into his mouth, and pierced the back of his skull. Drexa felt his blood pouring down his face and neck – flowing over his burnt and ruined scales.
A human man moved swiftly into the room from the south. He seemed to have metal skin and wielded a flaming sword and a shield. At last a target upon which Drexa could unleash his considerable fury. He moved forward and unleashed a flurry of claws and teeth upon this puny human. But this one moved well bringing his shield up to fend off one set of claws and teeth. But Drexa snaked his body around thrust another claw forward. He had used the same gambit to pierce many a human warrior with metal skin. But this one’s skin was strong. Somehow it turned his blow aside.
The human grinned as he swung his flaming sword in a wide arc cutting deep into Drexa’s torso. The Lizard King felt another of those accursed bolts bury itself deep in his midsection. Drexa could feel his strength begin to fade as a feathered creature flew past him and struck him on the side of the head with a flaming spiked metal ball causing his head to spin. Drexa fell backwards and came to rest wearily on his throne. As his life ebbed away he saw every last one of his lizard folk cut down and burned. Crafty Sleeslack made the metal man’s skin red hot. But Drexa’s smile was cut short as another bolt flew out of the darkness to burrow deep into the shaman’s face and knock his lifeless body across the cold stone floor.
All went quiet. Drexa tried to move but could not. His vision was ringed in darkness like a tunnel getting more and more narrow. And as his last raspy breath escaped his lips, he saw a small shape melt out of the shadows. The little human took Drexa’s heavy gold chain from around his neck and dropped it into his bag as if it were naught but a trinket. What remarkable day it turned out be in fact. Everything went black.
Having dealt with the lizard folk, the party turned their attention to areas north and southeast. To the north was a large waterfall and a room filled with fungi. To the southeast was a large room filled with mist. Templeton was smart enough to have Brenn check the floor as they crept in and they found that it dropped away in the middle of the room below the mist. It could have been a nasty fall. Chained to the walls of this room, the party found 3 prisoners. Two were captured fire cultists. One seemed to be some kind of local. All three were in real bad shape. Badding used some lay on hands magic to heal the wounds of the local fellow. He turned out to be named Don and made a living sailing a boat up and down the Dessarin. He was kidnapped by water cultists and somehow wound up here. But he had no information about this place. The fire cultists were tricked for a bit by Templeton until he discovered they knew nothing and tired of them. They were left to rot.
Quintus made another safehouse by using his Claws of the Umberhulk to create a burrow. And Puck cast a Leomund’s Secure Shelter. Don was given food, water, and a spear and told to wait there until we returned. It was too dangerous to try and make it to the surface alone. And even more dangerous to come with us.
There were three choices of where to go next: the mushroom cave to the north, the magical darkness beyond the prison cave, or the large cave strewn with empty pieces of equipment to the west.