After piling up the bodies, the party proceeded on into the coal mine, until they reached what was basically the far end of it -- as far as the dwarves had managed to mine it so far. Up ahead, they spotted a blue light.
Alex crept closer to check it out, and heard someone muttering to himself in elven, and saw indistinct movement past an entrance into a brightly lit section of caves, which were mostly blocked off from the mine by the shattered remnants of something that looked shiny. Gem studded, in fact.
Since Lilia was the only one who spoke Elven, Alex brought her close so that she could try to make out what the person was saying. "Something about his pets... sensing intruders?"
So, yeah, some vampiric mist attacked. The party was already in a tunnel with few side passages (this being an exploratory dig to see how much farther the vein went, basically), and were even in a slightly wider space where several of them could fight. Unfortunately, all the mist got into the wider space, and when Ironhoof turned into a velociraptor to help his dragonne fight, he discovered that non-magical fangs weren't all that effective. During the battle, the mist managed to 5-foot-step its way through the party and attack various people... because, among other things, they were distracted. By the gloomwings.
A few rounds into the combat, a large [D+D large] butterfly with hypnotic blue wings appeared, forcing the whole party to make will saves to avoid being confused, and fortitude saves to avoid being weakened. The next round, another one joined in. The dragonne charged them -- most of the vampiric mist was down, and the eidolon seemed to be doing a good job of chewing up the rest of it -- but they managed to bottleneck it at the cavern entrance -- no one in the party could attack past it, and both of them could attack it. Plus, ranged attacks were problematic with the dragonne in the way, although after all the vampiric mist was dead Alex started giving it a shot (ha ha) from far enough back that he was out of range of their confusion etc. And Lilia dismissed her eidolon to summon a lantern archon, which could make ranged touch attacks that were 100% magic damage.
...which was important because both gloomwings had Stoneskin spells on. This made them difficult to kill. Ironhoof was able to see past them into the room, really more of a natural cavern, where an ancient, possibly undead elven mage was slowly making his way across the cavern towards them, muttering to himself and throwing out the occasional spell. Like a Blindness, that the dragonne resisted. There were two more gem-studden cylinders in the cave, not smashed, but opened.
Ironhoof decided to get into the fight, spider-climbing on the ceiling to get past the gloomwings taking an AoO (which hurt some, but wasn't especially serious). The canary followed suit, although Artican hid somewhere in the cave to see what was going on.
'Lich': "Beasts?! Why are beasts attacking my pets?" *fires a ray of exhaustion at Ironhoof, but misses*
Despite the stoneskin, and the somewhat unfortunate tactical position, prolonged pounding by the party managed to put down one of the gloomwings. This made the lich VERY MAD. He called the other gloomwing back before it could get hurt, and fireballed the party, who was mostly standing in the coal mine still.
The dragonne and Alex evaded, and Lilia was far enough back and Artican was far enough forwards, but Ironhoof was badly, badly hurt, and the coal mine was on fire. Where was the fire-extinguishing wand? Merged into Ironhoof's dinosaur form, unfortunately. Lilia exchanged her lantern archon summon for a pair of water elementals, which started putting out the fire before it could really catch, and the party decided to RUN AWAY!
The remaining ghouls showed up to block their path -- accidentally, they were carrying bodies and weren't especially eager for a fight, or capable of surviving more than a couple rounds -- and the lich caught the party in a stinking cloud while they fought, but the fire and smoke and his own stinking cloud kept him from really targetting them after that without getting close, which he didn't want to do. They drove off the ghouls (killing four, two ran off), recovered from retching, and then Alex managed (through a combination of luck, skill, and an admatium digging tool) to collapse the tunnel, blocking them off from the fire (although it was hopefully already extinguished by the water elementals) and the lich. For the moment.
They gathered up the bodies and took them back to the dwarves for payment, which they received down to the tenth of a copper.
Artican: "Make sure you burn those bodies. Gloomwings aren't very dangerous, but if they laid eggs in the bodies we've only got a day to burn them before they hatch, and we do NOT want to fight the young."
Ironhoof: "So... what about the two ghouls that got away?"
...yeah, it was time for a hunt. Ironhoof had already used his wild shape for the day, and was too large to fit in the smaller tunnels, but he'd memorized Reduce Animal for his dragonne, and told it to protect Lilia as she, Artican, and Alex went with groups of dwarves to try to track down the ghouls. Alex turned out to be the best tracker, but all three groups eventually arrived at the crevasse (the dwarves had a more technical term for it) where the ghouls were hiding. They were hiding pretty well, but not well enough to avoid Alex's eagle-eyes, and she was able to kill them both instantly.
They let the dwarves retrieve the bodies for burning -- it was slow, but the safety measures they put in place made sure no one fell or collapsed the crevasse on themselves or anything. "Taking the proper safety precautions is the best way to make sure you don't get killed," said the foreman, just before the second body hatched, and he was devoured by a hungry hungry caterpillar.
Artican: "Yeah, we're boned."
Luckily for the adventurers, the dwarves were closer to the monster than they were. This was not lucky for the dwarves. Like the foreman, a second dwarf was bitten and disintegrated -- it looked like he turned into a shadow, which faded away, leaving nothing. Three dwarves attacked with axes, and two of them managed to prick themselves on the caterpillar's spiny hair, and were paralyzed. The third was eaten in one bite. Artican managed to un-paralyze one of the others, and told him to run away -- which apparently involved falling into the crevasse by failing a climb check. But at least he was away from the caterpillar! The canary flew off to help the fallen dwarf, since 'remove paralysis' had been his last spell (he'd spent most of his magic healing up the druid after the fireball) and maybe he could save him.
The other dwarves ran off, but not before one of them tried to coup-de-grace the caterpillar still unhatched inside the other ghoul. He failed, not being able to see it, but the axe wounds did let them see that, yes, there was a squirmy caterpillar inside, not *quite* ready to come out...
But first, doom number one. Alex tried to play hit and run from the side passages, getting a couple sneak attacks in but having a hard time actually sneaking, since the caterpillar had INSANE perception. Lilia summoned some lightning elementals which were at least immune to poison and paralysis, and while they only did a little damage to the monster, they distracted it for three rounds killing them. By that point it was looking pretty hurt, so the dragonne made a suicide charge to try to finish it off... and *almost* succeeded.
Lilia was able to summon a dretch to actually finish it off, and then Alex coup-de-graced the one that hadn't hatched yet, successfully. They took the bodies up to be burned, and Alex managed to use alchemy to prepare five doses of the tenebrous worm's venom, which she thought she'd be able to sell at a high price (she didn't like using poison herself).
And they hoped nothing else would happen that day, because they were exhausted.
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