Blood. Ato's plan worked ingeniously, providing the distraction they needed to avoid the reef shark circling below them. As the group swam towards the western-most passageway, screams were heard from behind, as another unfortunate applicant who must've been wounded during the fall was attacked by a reef shark. Thrashing of water surrounded his--now--corpse and the corpse of the human Ato killed. Making their way to the lip of the passageway, the group climbed out of the water, needing to assist Veythe due to her dehydration. Ato was able to leap out of the water, soaring through to air for several feet before tumbling onto the entrance to the tunnels. With the entrance being so small, the group was forced to push into the tunnels a little ways in order for everyone to get out of the water. Looking into the tunnels, you see blackness: no light radiates from within [tunnels are considered to fall under the light category of Darkness, while the main cavern is considered to have bright light].
Looking at the state of the other applicants, the group sees two kor and a human beginning to climb the walls, while the rest are either desperately swimming or already having made their way onto the lip of another passageway. The snap of a bow being fired is heard for a brief second before pain radiates from Ato's stomach, a massive arrow sticking into it [7 piercing damage]. Looking over, you see the elf with the greatbow standing on another alcove of a passageway, moving to pull another large arrow from his quiver...
Vielara's voice rings throughout the cavern with a chuckle, "Fifteen applicants remain, and it might less soon enough..."
OOC: There are three applicants in the water still, racing for the edges of the water. Three applicants are already climbing the walls. The elf (Dickface) is on one of the edges of an alcove. The remaining two cannot be seen.
Vasha, the first to the opening, began to pull herself up. Suddenly, she felt a hand on her butt, pushing her up. Once on the ledge, she looked down, and saw it was Ellangil. She looked at him a moment, confused look on her face. He looked back at her with a mischievous smile. Even more confused than before, she reached down to help pull Vesra up and got her sister to the safety of the tunnel. Once she knew Vesra was safe, she started pulling Veythe and the others to safety. She noticed the tunnel was pitch black, and they would need some sort of light to navigate it.
She was about to say something when the arrow caught her attention. That fucking elf. She thought about throwing a dart in his eye socket, then thought better of it. She pulled Ato deeper into the tunnel with her and Vesra, saying, "The Mer needs help, we need light, and someone take care of that damned elf!" At the mention of needing light, Vesra forms a ball of fire in her hand, lighting up the tunnel around them and helps Veythe to get Ato down the tunnel.
While standing at the mouth of the two tunnels, Vasha can hear the sounds of footsteps coming from the northern tunnel. "We might be having company soon, from this direction." She motioned the others to go down the southern tunnel, while remaining at the mouth of the northern tunnel, weapons in hand. She stays there, until everyone passes, and will then bring up the rear.
(Vesra casts Produce Flame, moves into southern tunnel 30 feet, Vasha Perception check 15)
Kayn attempts to help the others up on the ledge as well. His scrawny arms are like twigs compared to the massive biceps of the Barbarian. But he's helping! And helping is good. Each time he tries to push up, his head dunks into the water. He rises from the water panting, but tries again. Eventually it's his turn and he attempts to scramble up the wall as quickly as possible, his claws scratching at the cave wall like a fork on a plate. It's useless, but the push of the barbarian makes him think he's progressed. Victorious, he grins at those around him.
The *twang* caught him off-guard followed by the eventual *thunk* of arrow in flesh. Kayn's eyes narrow and he begins moving his hands in an intricate pattern of arcane symbols, muttering the spell under his breath in goblin. Finally, he gestures forth and a bolt of fire flies from his hands into the cave wall near the Elf.
As if on queue, his balls of glowing light dissipate. "Into tunnel!" Kayn calls, moving deeper in.
(Casts Fire bolt; Rolled 12, Moves 30' into the south section of the tunnel)
The others were safely out of the water - it worked. As they moved deeper into the tunnel to make room, Ato surged out of the water himself, landing in an ungraceful heap at Veythe's feet. He scrambled back to his feet and turned to see how the remaining applicants were faring, taking in the scene before him. He had the briefest instant to recognize the twang of a bowstring and turn his head to see the elf in the next passageway over before the fire blossomed in his belly. The impact drove him back a pace and he dropped to his knees with a grunt, biting off a cry of pain. He looked down, shock and disbelief on his face and didn't resist as hands grabbed at him, pulling him back further into the darkness and cover of the passageway.
"I'll... I'll be OK," he stammers out through gritted teeth. "We need to keep moving. The test is to..." His words cut off with a sharp intake of breath as he tried to climb to his feet again. "Agh, damn that elf..." He takes a breath, probing at the arrow still embedded in his body. "The test... got to get back to the Expedition House, not necessarily kill that lot."
Despite his words, he doesn't struggle against anyone who is trying to help him, however.
Veythe accepts the hand up and scrambles against the wall. her legs slip for a moment and she almost falls back into the water before she fumbles over the edge and scrambles away. Her fingers are running across the instruments strapped to her, even as her other hand quickly flashes a thanks at Vasha.
"Hush babies," Veythe mumbled. "I'll treat you nice and right once we're back out of this hell pit." She doesn't notice initially that the rest had climbed up until she hears the solid sound of an arrow piercing flesh. Veythe's head snaps up, snarl on her lips. She sees the arrow sticking out of the mer and how he suddenly fell. "Shit."
Veythe quickly darts over to grab Ato with a growl, eyes glaring off in the direction of the elf. She pulls the mer further back as best she could, hopefully out of the line of sight, struggling mostly as she wasn't feel all that well right now. Parts of her hurt and hunger gnawed at her gut. The salt water did her no favors.
"Come on," Veythe mumbled. "How bad is it?" Veythe glances down and winces. "Okay. Bad. Uhm." She fumbles for her pan flute. "This should help," she mumbles, and quickly starts to blow a short lyrical sound through her pan flute, drawing her fingers quickly over the wound.
As Veythe works her magic, Ato feels relief almost instantly as the healing energy courses through his body, mending the torn flesh. A sigh escapes his lips as the pain disappears. He grasps her hand before she can pull it away - "Thank you Veythe, I owe you a great debt."
The pain gone, another kind of fire blooms within the merman, that of anger. The elf must pay - maybe not today, but this will not be forgotten. It's face burned into Ato's memory, a silent vow ensures the elf will pay - blood for blood.
Releasing Veythe, Ato climbs to his feet and draws his weapons, shortsword in one hand, dagger in the other. "Let's finish this."
The group made it to the wall ender the western tunnel. Unfortunately, one of the other applicants did not. The sounds of the shark attack were bad enough, Ellangil decided not to turn around and look. He lost count in his head how many of the applicants were still in the game. Then it dawned on him that he had no idea how many of the applicants were going to be kept. In the first two trials, applicants had the ability to just leave. But in this third trial, losing meant death. What if only five were kept? The twins, the human, the mer, and the goblin … and him. Ellangil was loyal to a fault for those who fought beside him. He decided that holding this thought in his head was no good and let it go.
Vasha was the first to climb the wall. Her plan was to pull from above while he pushed from below. He went with it, no use arguing when ‘how’ they got out wasn’t as important as just getting out. That is when Ellangil decided to be a bit mischievous. It wasn’t a sexual impulse, it was more about seeing how she would react. His brethren in the tribe pulled these little pranks all the time. So as Vasha began her ascent and Ellangil’s job was to aid her, he placed his hand on her butt and gave a big heave to get her that last step to the top. She turned to look and had that confused facial expression trying to discern if it was intentional or accidental -and- what was his intention if it had been purposeful. He gave an impish smile and quickly moved on to the next one to lend a hand. When the goblin was next, he almost picked the little thing up and tossed him to the top but decided two little jokes in hurried fashion with a new group would be over stepping his bounds.
Then trouble hit. The twang of an arrow had an obvious sound to those who knew the weapon. This one was deeper, stronger … more than just a shortbow. Yet more than a longbow. His tribe had warriors and hunters that used the greatbow. He had fired it before in practice. Quickly he turned to look while some of the party was helping the Mer out. It was indeed a greatbow and the damage output was vicious.
"Fifteen applicants remain, and it might less soon enough…”
That witch was really starting to pull on his last nerve. Being the last, Ellangil climbed as quickly as he could, and the party entered the tunnel out of harm’s reach. It was dark in the tunnel, limiting his visibility, and he was no healer. He stood guard while the party tended to the arrow. Vesra put up a spell that produced some much needed light for the party. This made the barbarian feel better. He unsheathed his bastard sword and pulled a handaxe out from its belt loop. Veythe had done some kind of healing song (he’d ponder how that worked later) and Ato seemed rejuvenated coming to his feet.
Vasha heard noises coming from the northern branch of the western tunnel fork and urged everyone to the south. Ellangil took the lead with both weapons out, but he will not move until everyone gives the ready check. He moves cautiously down the southern corridor noting the straightness of the passage and the ease at which a greatbow arrow could travel. Heading south could very possibly put them in combat with McDickface
OOC: move cautiously down the corridor (Perception – by sight). IF an arrow is fired, Ellangil will charge the hallway to close the gap (Dash if need be) in hopes that he puts the elf (or whomever fired at them) in melee before a second arrow/ranged attack can be fired. If he does not have to Dash, he will throw his handaxe at the 20’ (Will need attack/damage roll) mark so as not to have disadvantage. Once in combat, he will stand in the middle of the corridor so as to (hopefully) gain Attack of Opportunity on any baddie that tries to pass him during reaction. If handaxe is thrown, he’ll use the bastard sword two handed.
Moving deeper into the tunnels, the only sources of light come from the passageway entrances and the ball of flame which Vesra holds preciously in her hands. As they plunge further into the tunnels, the group can hear the patter of feet against rock, seeming to come from every direction. Suddenly, the screams of at least two humans and goblins echo through the tunnels, coming from the southern tunnel. Passing the second passageway entrance, Vesra sees the elf look back wide-eyed at the passageway before shakily releasing an arrow down into the corridor behind him. Seemingly unsatisfied, he straps the bow to his back and dive into the water, swimming east, while the screams continue to ring out from his fellow applicants.
What would make the elf so fearful that he would rather take his chances with the sharks?
The answer comes quickly enough, as unearthly shrieks ring out from all directions of the group's location. As Ellangil continues to move forward, Vesra's source of light only pierces so far, and he finds himself staring into the black void. Suddenly, claws lash out from the darkness, as a null charges towards him, swinging rabidly. Quick to get his guard up, Ellangil parries the attack with his handaxe [Attack roll of 7]. Not a second or two later, Vasha likewise is beset upon by a null, though nimbly dodges its attack. [Attack roll of 8]. Veythe and Ato turn towards the source of the shriek coming from the northern corridor, only to see the horrific sight o a null barreling around the corridor's bend, charging towards them as well.
Vielara's voice echoes through the tunnels, "Eleven applicants remain. Who of you will make me proud and survive?" How does she know all of this?
Kayn can see the enemies as they charge. Null, commanded by the vampire. They're here for food. They will be sorry. He begins to cast something, but stops. Light... group needs more light. Instead, he strikes up a torch; pulling it from his pack, and with a flick of his nails, setting it alight. (Fires up a torch)
Veythe narrows her eyes out of annoyance. She pulls her pan flute up to her lips and begins to play a sharp staccato beat, like the sound of war drums but breathy and airy at the same time. She stamps her foot in time with the beat, focus heavily intent upon her music and upon the well of mana within her. The music brought to mind battlefields, of weapons and blood, rushing and pumping of adrenaline. She kept it short, ended it with almost a shriek, and with a snarl pulled on the well of magic deep within and flung out her palm.
(poison spray on the null behind us using 1 black mana; bardic inspiration for ellangil)
His back up against the other behind him, Ato knows he doesn't have much room to maneuver - this is certainly not his chosen mode of combat. From behind Vasha and Veythe, he uses whatever small advantage he can against the creature as it rushes forward in the tight corridor. Seeing an opening between the two women, he lashes out with a calculated strike, hoping to do as much damage as he's able, as quickly as possible.
OOC: Sneak Attack w/ shortsword since Vasha & Veythe are within 5' of the null.
Ellangil could barely make out any kind of outlined features as the place went completely dark. An unexpected twist which he hoped a fellow party member could rectify. His barbarian instincts kick in as he perceived an attack coming his way and narrowly got his handaxe out to parry at the last possible second. That was way too close he thought to himself. The only reason he was successful was due to the light being illuminated from the null.
The barbarian placed a wry smile upon his lips. No more running through tunnels or playing around. This was his purpose within the party, Live Free … Die Well. A flute played in the background providing a feeling inside of him that lifted his spirits. It did not matter because he attacked with vicious confidence.
Ellangil took a step to the right allowing him the full arch of his blade in the corridor. Both arms acting in unison to bring the bastard sword and axe towards center mass of the null. It was not in perfect timing; the axe (Natural 20 To Hit, 9 Damage) was a split second sooner squaring the undead in the chest and causing a splatter of blood to shower the area. Had it not been for his strength, he might have lost the grip on the weapon, but the barbarian was experienced enough with the weapon to not allow that to happen.
The bastard sword (Natural 20 To Hit, 15 Damage) followed the blood splattering attack and hit with equal ferocity. The weapon came in at the upper torso just below the handaxe and with great power passed horrible through the undead beast severing it in two, both halves being moved by the force of the impact, innards exploding all around and baptizing any who were close enough. Ellangil roared as only a barbarian could. Who was next?
OOC: Ellangil will look around to see how the others were fairing and preparing for a potential second Null that might be behind the one I attacked. If no others are present, then he will move (if possible) to help out a party member.
Vasha heard the shuffling noises behind her again and turned in time to see a null running down the tunnel at the group. She could now hear commotion all around them, and knew her fear had come true; they were being ambushed. "No," she whispered, and stepped forward to intercept. She took a casual stance, both hooks at the ready. She swung her right hand forward, slamming the null squarely in the face with a satisfying thud. She followed up with a left jab to it's abdomen. This second hit felt even more satisfactory. Finally, a good fight. Unfortunately, not a fight against someone she considered an equal.
(Moved 5 feet north. Attacking null to the north. First attack 24 to hit for 4 damage, bonus action attack 18 to hit for 6 damage)
Vesra saw the null coming toward the group from the west and her first instinct was to throw her little ball of fire in its face. Now that the goblin had a torch, she didn't need it for light. She tossed the fire into the face of the null, then glanced at the goblin, reminding herself to make him another flower crown when they were out of this mess.
(Attacking the null to the west 20 to hit for 6 damage)
As Ellangil charges past his allies to assist with the northern null, he glances at the lake, noticing that the sharks have torn apart all of the applicants who didn't make it away in time. The elf, alongside two kor and a human, continue to climb up the cavern wall, though the elf seems stuck, unable to advance further.
Both nulls scream and attack once again, their claws rending into both Vasha and Ato, raking across Ato's shoulder and Vasha's chest.
As soon as she punched the null, Vasha felt a burning sensation across her chest. Glancing down, she saw blood trickling down her shirt. She scowled at the null, and did something she never did. She yelled. "No, you bastard!" She sent both hands directly into the foul creature's chest, knocking the damned thing to the ground. "Stay down!"
(North null - Attack 1 13 to hit for 3 damage, bonus attack 24 to hit for 4 damage, null is now Prone)
Vasha rarely spoke, so her battlecry immediately told Vesra that something was wrong. The druid looked over and saw the blood drip from her twin's chest. She immediately rushed to her sister's side, a snarl on her normally smiling lips.
"Nobody hurts my sister," Vesra growled as she cast produce flame again, this time immediately hurling it at the now-prone null. The null let out a final horrible scream as it turned to ash.
Ato snarled at the raking pain as the nulls claws slashed across his chest. The goblin next to him seemed to be doing something, but if so, it wasn't affecting their opponent visibly, and then Vesra ran to her sisters aid, leaving him to face the slathering thing alone. Wonderful.
He tightened his grip on his weapons and looked for an opening to strike. Suddenly Kayn called out and caught the nulls attention momentarily, just long enough to give Ato his chance. He darted in, and stabbed up under the things chin, burying his blade. Blood poured down the hilt and over his hand before he could pull the short, stabbing sword free.
"If there are more of them to the south, why do we want to go that way?" He peered off into the darkness in that direction, and strained his ears for sounds of their approach.
The group quickly dispatches of the three nulls, having only suffered minor injuries spread out across all of them. Ellangil, looking out at the main cavern, can see the sharks devouring several corpses floating in the water. Counting the number of applicants, he notices that the human which had recognized him and was climbing the cavern walls had fallen into the water, and now laid lifeless, lapping with the waves. A scream catches the groups attention, as they see the elf desperately trying to climb the cavern wall as a null reaches the mouth of the passageway and begins scampering up the wall after him. Your judgement dictates that his fate is sealed either from the null or from the sharks in the water below. The previous screams echoing from the southern tunnel have stopped.
You see another applicant reach the mouth of a different passageway, the most-eastern passageway, wielding a rapier and in the middle of combat with a null. He seems to be currently holding his ground, however, as he parries the nulls claws and counters with his own jabs.
Vielara's voice rings across the cavern system once again, with her ominous count, "Ten applicants remain. The rest food for my nulls, unworthy of my love. Working together increases your chances of survival, as my leading group has discovered.A hint to those attempting to scale the treacherous walls."
Chest burning, Vasha stopped a moment to catch her breath. She gave her sister a reassuring hug, then noticed Ellangil next to them. She released Vesra and aggressively pushed the barbarian into the wall of the tunnel. "The next time you grab my ass, you'd better plan on doing something with it," she growled quietly. She paused, listening. She could hear the sounds of flailing in the water, the screams, the sounds of combat. But to the west; nothing. She cocked her head, then nodded, releasing Ellangil. "This way," she said to the others, and headed down the path to the west, pulling her sister behind her.