Chapter 12: Horror in Horfid!

Ambyrmont 17th 1014

After a restful night Dohrum enchanted a lantern with Continuous Flame while Chang tidied and cleaned before he and the others left, once more following Aleanor's sigiled hand. They encountered a herd of reindeer, the largest of which had massive antlers and a proud and noble air.
Jedon used his skills and magic to approach and communicate with the beast. From this he gathered that the healer and her husband had helped them in the past and missed her presence. The herd leader left Jedon a final cryptic message, "Beware those that fight in your mind, and those that do not breath."

Towards mid-afternoon they approached a large village, over the centre of which a cloud of mist hung. Two groups of scouts were sent out, Chang and Aleanor went one way while Jedon and D'mond went the other leaving the rest to keep watch in the lee of one of the buildings.

Both parties found signs of battle, burnt buildings while the sound of hammering could be heard from the centre of the village. More worryingly a note was found pinned to some of the doors, old and faded it carried a familiar message:

The Change Comes!
As predicted by Sergeant Brenton, the change approaches; don't be caught unaware when the True Masters arrive! For just a small contribution of gold you too can hear the revelations of Sergeant Brenton and his inspired Ministry of the True Masters. Chose your own destiny: Remain in the dark or become one of the Elect, the chosen few guaranteed the grace of the True Masters! Hear Sergeant Brenton speak at his nightly meetings in Fountain Square just after nightfall, every night. See you there!

Jedon and D'mond tracked a pair of guards while Aleanor and Chang had a rather more bloody encounter, killing one and taking another back to Thanduil and the rest.


Meanwhile Thanduil, Dohrum, Zan and Victor had been joined by Lethbron, a female bard and a group of rather gaunt looking rebels. After the bard had ordered Zan and the others to bare their arms she explained that illithids had taken control of the village and were digging for something. At this point Jedon and D'mond appeared and Chang dragged the bound and gagged guard they had captured. He was recognised as a trapper and a rogue named Stegan. The party questioned him, hoping that there would be a chink in the illithid's defences.

Stegan sketched a map in the snow and the Companions followed his directions into the centre of Horfid. They encountered a patrol of enforcers and the noise from the combat drew more of the vicious fighters from their hideout. A long and bloody battle ensued until all bar one of the enforcers lay dead in the streets. Chang took it into his own hands to explore the Courtyard Inn, where Stegan said that the prisoners were held while the others searched and hid the bodies of the dead enforcers.

Suddenly there was a loud crash from the direction that Chang had gone and the rest of the Companions rushed to see what had happened.

The sound was Chang breaking into the inn via an upstairs window. Inside he found a group of enslaved villagers and Eina the healer who had been blinded by the illithids.

Meanwhile the others were engaged by a swarm of strange rats who appeared to be able to cast spells and possessed some of the same powers as the mind flayers.

Entering the ground floor of the inn they joined up with Chang who along with D'mond and Thanduil searched the first floor. D'mond was dragged into a room by the leader of the enforcers who in the struggle fell through the weakened floor of the room. At the same time Baron Jubfek entered the inn. In the confusion D'mond was stabbed with a poisoned blade by the enforcer while after much taunting the Baron left leaving two illithids to fight the companions. A tough fight ensued eventually ending with the mind-flayers dead, along with D'mond.

Dohrum and Aleanor chased after the Baron but he escaped on the sled they had spotted following them earlier.

Rejoining Lethbron and the other rebels they regrouped, shocked by the loss of their long-time companion, planning to have her brought back from beyond the veil as soon as they could get the components for the spell. In the meantime Eina cast a spell of preservation on the elven rogue while the others prepared to return to the heart of the village and explore the mysterious pit that the illithids caused to be dug.

Heading towards the centre of Horfid where the pit lay, the companions investigated the various buildings, large and small they passed. All were empty and of little interest until they came to a tinker's shack which still had a layer of snow and ice on the roof. Jedon found a few scraps of metal round the back while Victor kicked the door open. As the door swung back the snow slipped off the roof and started to edge towards him! It wasn't snow but some form of ooze and as they attacked with blades and bow it split into a number of smaller ones. Eventually after both Dohrum and Victor had almost been engulfed by the hideous, mindless creature, they managed to destroy it. Dohrum and Victor using their own armoured bodies as weapons while Jedon dragged an old portable blade sharpener from the shack and dropped it on the ooze.

Into the Pit

On arriving at the pit they found the air warmer and more moist than elsewhere in the town. In the light of Chang's wristgem steam could be seen rising like a fog from the irregular opening in the ground. A crude but sturdy ladder led down into the pit to a ledge some way below. From this another ladder, and another until eventually the bottom was reached. Chang went down first and Victor stayed at the rim to keep watch.


At the bottom of the pit lay a large pool with narrow, natural passages leading off in several directions. A mass of broken equipment lay amongst the warm water of the pool which was fed by a stream from the south east which exited to the north.

Victor joined the others, encouraged and fortified by a group of Lethbron's rebels and a bowl of stew. They took the eastern passage which soon forked and they followed the southern branch. This soon came to what at first appeared to be a dead end. Chang climbed the shear face of the wall and lowered down a rope for the others to join him as the passage continued at the higher level.

Chang explored ahead of the others and discovered a forest of fungi. Along with this he had a strange conversation with a sentient mushroom-man. Moving on through a series of narrow passages and small chambers they reached a chamber littered with the shed carapaces of multicoloured beetles. Investigating further Jedon found a natural trapdoor of web and beetle husk. Lifting it caused a number of giant beetles to emerge. They sprayed liquid from their glands that caused ice to form on bare skin and metal armour alike. Victor suffered from this, the joints of his armour locking solid but the others managed to kill the creatures. In the space below the trapdoor contained the bones of a small humanoid wearing black slippers along with a gold and jade brooch.

Thanduil identified the items as Slippers of Spider Climbing and a Brooch of Shielding.


As they started to return towards the surface they encountered the strange mushroom folk that Chang had met earlier. They were thanked by mind-speech for their actions and were told that the illithid had been searching for something in the pool but were scared off by something in there. They then sent done the villagers to retrieve what they had found. The creature warned them that something powerful lived in the pool and controlled creatures that 'drained the sap of the living'.

At that point shadowy forms emerged from wall and ceiling and attacked. One was larger than the rest and bore a simple gold circlet on his brow. The battle as the heroes tried to both fight the incorporeal foe and make for the exit was long and draining, both physically and metaphorically. Most of the party was left weakened by the chilling touch of the shadows but in the end, despite a last battle on the ladders they made their way to the surface and freedom.

(to be continued…)

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