Popo and Wilibald Took awake in near-darkness, soaking wet and disorientated. As their eyes adjust to the faint glow of phosphorus mushrooms and slimy moss, the dull sound of a bell fades from the cold, dank air. They are lying with their legs dangling in water, across steps that descend into cold and murky water. More water, stagnant and foul smelling puddles on the floor of the small flooded chamber, and the glow comes from an archway ahead. Beyond they can just about make out a large room, a cellar of sorts, with a faint beam of dwindling light coming from a chimney or alcove across the far side of the room.
The two Hobbits carefully stand and make their way to the archway, listening intently. Faintly, they can hear the sound of wet slaps, footsteps splashing through the puddles somewhere beyond the arch. The chimney has a rope dangling and it seems to lead up, out of the chamber, and that is certainly natural light peeking through meekly, as if afraid of disturbing the dankness below. They sneak into the room, and freeze as movement from a side passage draws their attention: a pair of softly glowing eyes peer from the darkness, as a humanoid figure begins visible. The Hobbits stealthily cross into a passage opposite, the middle of three, mirrored opposite. They duck behind some rocks and broken masonry, keeping an eye on the figure, while looking towards the chimney with its rope and possible exit.
Meanwhile, above ground, by the murky pool, Alberic and Dafydd hold a rope as Gilthannas secures his gear and dives into the water, following the sub-terrain passage to a set of steps that lead out into a dark flooded chamber. He immediately hears movement ahead, beyond a crooked arch, and moves to the corner, drawing his bow and sighting along it. In the room beyond, a large and ancient cellar, glowing eyes belong to some slimly humanoid creature peer through the darkness: those eyes seem to pause as they sweep in the Elf’s direction, and the creature lets out a gurgling missing croak that is reciporocated from another passage: the same one that the two unseen Hobbits are sheltered in! The Elf tugs on the rope, alerting Alberic and Dafydd, who quickly sow their gear and wade into the water, swimming and treading as fast as they can to join their companion.
The Hobbits race across the room, heading for the chimney. They duck into the alcove, hidden amongst the debris (rocks, feathers, bones). Wilibald chucks a rock to try and distract the creature that comes out from the passageway, but only causes them to turn his way, their pale green eyes fixating on him; they move towards the Hobbits, just as Alberic and Dafydd wade out of the water, joining Gilthannas by the archway. The three warriors are just in time to see the Hobbits rise form their hiding place, and for Wilibald Took to grab hold of the rope in an attempt to climb…
…the rope pulls down, and a bell rings out loudly in the chamber, momentarily deafening the Hobbits.
Then, from the passages, more of the creatures, Dwellers from the Marshes, squelch into the main chamber, six in all, splitting off into two groups as they spot the companions. Then, much to everyone’s worry, another four shamble out of the passage closest to the archway, and head towards the two Men and the Elf.
The three warriors let loose with their arrows, felling two of the Marsh-Dwellers before they advance. Gilthannas moves back behind the others, as Alberic wields his long-hafted axe and Dafydd draws forth his spear; across the room, the two Hobbits draw their King’s Blades and prepare to defend themselves.
The creatures attack with tooth and claw, blocked at the arch by Alberic and Dafydd; they slap aside blows and stab, felling another, then another as Gilthannas transfixes it with an arrow; Dafydd gets bitten, but his armour absorbs the worse of it. The Hobbits find themselves outnumbered, striking the creatures with stinging blows, but bashed in return. Wilibald parries with his sword, ducking and dodging, but Popo takes a blow to the side of his head, winding him. Then more of the creatures come out of the passage, crowding both groups. At the archway the warriors struggle to hold them back, and start to give ground. The Hobbits are hemmed in at the chimney, holding their own as more of the creatures swipe at them with their sharp claws.
Alberic and Dafydd combine their attacks, bashing one across the head, allowing the Barding to spear it in the chest; the creature falls, only to be immediately replaced by another. Gilthannas shoots over their heads, felling one of those attacking Popo, but as Dafydd ducks to avoid the shaft, a Marsh-Dweller whacks him across the chest, forcing him back as he begins to feel weary. He jabs one in the gut, and Alberic delivers a glancing blow against another, but both warriors are separated, forced back into the flooded chamber, only just keeping the creatures from reaching the Elf. By the chimney, Wilibald rolls and ducks, his small and elusive nature allowing him to avoid the sweeping claws; Popo, on the other hand, finds himself weary from blows and staggers back. He sees a gap before him, and dives through, rolling out of the fight and retreats to the nearest passage: a coloured archway of old, crumbling bricks, a short series of marble steps leading down. He hurries down, out of the way, and finds himself face-to-face with a sturdy reinforced door, marred by deep claw groves.
Alberic forces a Marsh-Dweller back, but the effort tires him. He tries to position himself to help Dafydd, as the Barding finds himself hemmed in, and then one of the creature’s claws him badly, shredding mail as it draws blood. He staggers back, in pain, but manages to deliver a blow to its jaw. The Elf shoots it in the head, and it falls back into its brethren, dead. Wilibald, still avoiding blows, stabs one in the chest, killing it, and looks around to see his brother disappear down the steps.
Seeing his companions harried, Alberic lifts his voice in song, momentarily lifting everyone’s spirits; it obviously has some effect, as Dafydd manages to pull back as another Marsh-Dwellers rakes its claws across his chest. He almost falls to his knees, close to exhaustion, but remains standing and lashes out at his opponent. Gilthannas takes out another, an arrow in its eye.
At the reinforced door, Popo tries to pick the lock, but finds none. Suddenly, the door swings open, and a pair of weary, starving Dwarves are revealed: one old, one young, both barely standing. Popo says something along the lines of ‘come with me if you want to live’, and the Dwarves follow the Hobbit out of the wine cellar, where there’s no exit, and cautiously look out onto the battlefield. They quickly introduce themselves as Balin and Oin; the two missing Dwarves!
Dafydd is knocked back by a Marsh-Dweller, but the staggering blow takes him away from the fight momentarily, allowing Alberic to sweep his arc in a long arc, decapitating one of the foul reeking creatures; another falls dead as the Elf pierces its heart with an arrow, and by the chimney, Wilibald crosses blade with claws, then fells another; three remain.
As Popo escorts the stumbling Dwarves across the room, heading for the arch and the pile of bodies, his brother takes his last opponent out as it is distracted by the fleeing party, and follows in their footsteps.
By the arch, Gilthannas takes out the next to last creature, clearing the way for the Hobbits and Dwarves. The last one faces off against Dafydd, who summons the last reserves of his strength, and rams his spearhead straight through its chest, exploding its heart and tearing out of its back. The last Marsh-Dwellers slides off, dead.
In the passages, faintly, more footfalls can be heard, wet and slapping. With most of them weary, one wounded, the company quickly wade into the water and prepare to swim back to the surface…
End of Session
XP Awarded: 2 each.