Partway through our collecting the items the drow and enemies dropped, Darvin vanished in the usual explosion of heat and light, though it seemed louder somehow. Knowing that other things could have seen and heard that, we pressed onwards.
In the next room, a massive worm creature slithered out of a hole in the wall, eating a collection of kobolds before it. We looked at each other and moved onward.
Hours later, we entered a hallway with a gaining sense of unease. As though we were not alone. As we continued, we began to see small crystals scattered around on the crystals, and a pale, bluish-green light up ahead. A chill settled into our bones as we approached it.
“Asakku, you are the quietest of us—check ahead and see what that is.”
He nodded and vanished into the darkness.
While we waited, Gunnar and Elif knelt to examine some of the crystals scattered about. “It’s just glass,” Gunnar said, disappointed.
Elif raised an eyebrow. “They’re diamonds, Gunnar. Diamonds.”
Not wanting such a resource to go to waste, we collected as many as we could and put them into the bag of holding.
Asakku returned, telling us a dragon waited ahead. He described it, and Lionel shook his head and told us he had no idea what type of dragon it was without color. Elif made a joke about doffing our armor to sneak through the room. I rolled my eyes, and Lionel looked me over and made a pass. Again.
We sent Asakku back with a light to check the color of the creature and waited with bated breath. A few moments later, Asakku returned to us, staring down the hallway. In the dim light, we saw two brilliant, ember-like eyes, staring at us from the darkness.
“It’s awake,” Asakku said, his tone sarcastic.
“Hey there,” Gunnar said with a smile and an awkward little wave.
“Why are you here?” it asked in an eerie, whispering tone.
“We’re headed to the surface,” I said, pointing up.
“Why?” he asked, tilting his head a little and slinking closer.
“Well, as interesting and fascinating as this trip has been, we’d like to go home.” I glanced at the others, who nodded.
“I see. Perhaps one of you could stay. Maybe the snack-sized one.”
“No. But there are some drow corpses a short ways back.” I shook my head.
“I see. Bring them to me.”
We did so, schlepping a number of the corpses back to the dragon and depositing them on the floor. He collected them and dragged them into the room, leaving them at the foot of the stairs, upon which sat a spear. I would have studied it further, but the dragon blocked my view and grinned a toothy grin. “Now I shall have meals for several days.”
The dragon roared at us, and Asakku echoed his cry, rushing in and beating the creature with his fists and destroying one of its eyes. It snarled and turned toward us and reared back, vomiting a gout of vile green smoke, tearing at us.
I stepped to the side and drew my bow, firing an arrow at it and missing in the darkness. Lionel moved up behind my shoulder and chuckled. “You’re gonna love this,” he murmured, gesturing and murmuring some quiet words. Past me went a brilliant firework, turning into a dragon and twisting through the air like a firework, slamming into the dragon and exploding in a shriek of magic power. The dragon howled in response, blinking the one eye Asakku hadn’t destroyed.
Utilizing the beast’s distraction, Asakku continued to beat the dragon with viciousness I rarely saw from him. He then drove his spear through the beast’s eye with an almost feral snarl.
Elif glanced at her weapon and tilted her head. “It says we should take the body.”
We all looked back at her with confusion. “Why?” I asked.
“Saga says we should take it.”
“Oookay…” I said, shaking my head and setting to stuffing the wyrmling’s corpse into the bag of holding we’d acquired.
Asakku glanced at the staff and then at Lionel. “Can tell me anything about that?”
Lionel snorted. “It’s magic. What more do you need to know?”
Sighing slowly, Asakku approached the spear and hefted it, studying the weapon for a moment before shrugging and walking back to us.
All around the cavern we stood in, strange greenish crystals studded the walls emitting dim light. Elif poked a few with her halberd, Saga, and Gunnar picked up one the size of his fist. We didn’t know if they were worth anything, but… might as well, I supposed.
Leaving the chamber where we found the dragon, we plodded onward, soon entering a narrow, twisting hallway. Behind me, I heard a sudden cry, and turned my head to see a strange… brain-like creature attached to Lionel’s back with four, clawed feet, tearing the hell out of him. Blood poured down his back, and fabric went in all directions.
Asakku reached for the beast, but it squirmed free and skittered off between his legs, leaving a pool of blood spreading from Lionel—who had collapsed.
“Might as well go out with a bang,” Lionel gasped, hurling another dragon-like firework at the monstrosity on the floor not far from him.
Elif stepped past Lionel and swung Saga at the creature, missing it but at least blocking it from reaching Lionel. Asakku wasn’t far behind, planting his foot into the monstrosity and stomping it before thrusting his spear down into its squishy body.
Leaving the others to dismantle the thing, I knelt beside Lionel, pressing my hands to his back and calling on the power of Bahamut to seal his wounds. The halfling took a slow, deep breath and groaned, curling into a fetal position on his side.
The beast scuttled away, backing into the shadows and melting away as though it had never been there. I grunted, telling the others we should leave this foul place, but move with Lionel between us to protect him from further harm.
Gunnar’s form shifted and twisted, becoming a giant ant the size of a dog, his antennae waving. I shuddered inwardly as he scuttled forward a step and then began clacking his mandibles in an excited manner and dancing back and forth. I assumed that meant he’d found the beast.
Elif and Asakku pursued it while I stayed with Lionel, working to heal his wounds further and ensure his safety. Under my hands, the wounds in his back continued to heal, and some of the deathly paleness left his skin.
To my side, I saw something purple and heard crackling. Then Asakku let out a yelp of pain, staggering back away from the creature. Gunnar poked the ground in front of the brain, and a stone cage appeared out of the ground around it.
“Looks… uh… like you might have that covered,” Lionel said, grasping at the shreds of his clothing and peering around at the ongoing conflict beyond us.
Elif shrugged and pushed her halberd into the cage and dealt the monster a horrible blow.
I draped my cloak around Lionel and winked at him. “Nice butt.”
“Thank you,” he said with a chuckle.
Beyond him, the brain shrunk and crept through the bars of its enclosure, retreating down the hallway, pursued by the others.
I charged forward toward the beast, passing Lionel and heading into the fray. Asakku took several rather vicious hits and went down in a pool of blood, gasping for breath, and I moved to his side, dropping to a knee between him and the creature and called on the power vested in me by the gods once again, trying to slow his bleeding.
Elif slayed the thing behind me, but I ignored it, focusing on healing our friend. We barricaded ourselves into an alcove, where we discovered a corpse wearing a suit of armor engraved with angel wings and rays of light pouring down from the helm. Rather beautiful, to be honest. I swapped out armor and placed the old armor into the bag of holding.
After that, we collapsed into sleep, taking shifts and watching for other dangers.