This is Episode 4 for “Dads, Daughters, and DND.” Be sure to check out the previous episodes before watching this one. The link is given below in the description.
Selana had just defeated the vile mushrooms trying to poison the swamp. During the confrontation one of the mushrooms bit her, sending deadly venom coursing through her veins. Distraught, the Gardener remembers that there may still be hope for Selana.
Gardener: “I know of a Druid. She has visited the swamp many times in search of rare plants and components for rituals. If anyone has an anti-venom it would be her.”
Selana: “Where is she?”
Gardener: “Well. . . that is the problem. The last time she visited the swamp she never left. Which can only mean one thing.”
DM: The Gardener pauses, afraid to continue.”
Selana: “Which is?”
Gardener: “It means she went into the Underdark. There is a hidden passage, the same one the mushrooms used to get up here. But. . . the Underdark is no place for you. The mushrooms are nothing compared to the horrors that lurk in that darkness.”
Selana: “Well, if my options are stay up here and wait for the venom to do its job or go down there and find this druid, I think the answer is pretty clear.”
DM: The Gardener nods slowly. He understands that doing something is better than doing nothing.
Gardener: “It sounds like you have made up your mind. Follow me.”
DM: He turns and wades through the murky swamp waters. You see that the plants that were rotting and black have begun to slowly regain their original vibrant colors. The Gardener brushes his leafy fingers against the plants as he walks by. Flowers nervously bloom at his touch as if unsure if it is safe to seek the sunlight once more. Insects buzz around the flowers, eagerly waiting for them to regain their confidence. Life begins to spread throughout the swamp. Soon the poison is washed away and is already but a memory. In the distance you can hear the roar of a waterfall. You walk around the shore of a large lake to the edge where a curtain of water cascades over the side into a smaller lake below that feeds into the multitude of smaller ponds that make up the swamplands.
Gardener: “Watch your step. The algae makes the rocks especially slippery.”
DM: He extends a leafy hand for you to take and gestures to the steep rocks that form a natural staircase that leads to the base of the waterfall.
Selana: “I gladly take his hand and carefully make my way down.”
DM: You can see a faint smile at the edge of his green lips. He helps you down the slippery rocks. The mist washes over you, drenching your hair and cloak. It is cool and refreshing, and you realize that this is the first time you have bathed.
Selana: Haha gross.
DM: The gardener lives in a swamp and even he thought you smelled bad.
Selana: Oh stop! But at least I am clean now.
DM: You reach the base of the waterfall. The Gardener lifts his arm, vines spreading out and creating a makeshift plant umbrella. He holds it beneath the falling water, creating a passage for you to walk through.
Gardener: “I am grateful for what you have done for my swamp. I wish I could do more to help you.”
Selana: “No. Thank you. This would not have happened if it was not for me in the first place.” I give him a hug.
DM: He is momentarily taken aback by your gesture but puts his other arm around your back and gently squeezes.
Gardener: “Good luck. Selana the Slayer.”
Selana: I release him and wipe away the water on my cheeks that is only from the waterfall, most definitely not tears, and walk through the opening in the water.
DM: You can feel the temperature drop immediately. A chill seeps into your wet clothes as they cling to you. You can see well into the cave even without a light, and you realize that the floor is slowly but surely sloping downward. You are on a meandering path into what is known as the Upperdark. The top most level of the Underdark. This place is full of terrible creatures that only the brave, or the foolish, would like to encounter.
Selana: I guess I am a little bit of both. There is no turning back now.
DM: The passage narrows ahead. It is just barely wider than your shoulders, and anyone larger would have a tough time squeezing through the gap in the rocks.
Selana: I take a deep breath and step sideways into the opening.
DM: A few shuffling feet into the passageway, a black skinned salamander takes notice of you. It is clinging to the wall at eye level. It turns a curious eye toward you, surprised that you are here, but not scared.
Selana: Aw, it sounds kind of cute.
DM: It slowly opens its mouth, revealing rows of small milky white razor sharp teeth. Before you can react, a thick, sticky black tongue shoots out of its mouth and hits something against your shoulder with a wet smack. As fast as the tongue shot out, it pulls it back into its mouth with a large, eight legged prize. The spider’s legs curl around the salamander’s mouth, twitching violently, looking for anything to grip but the salamander’s skin is too slick. The salamander bites down with a sickening crunch; the legs spasm and then stop moving as white ichor oozes out of its mouth before it swallows its meal.
Selana: That is the most disgusting thing… Ugh! I shimmy as fast as I can.
DM: You think you can feel insects crawling on your skin but you are not sure if it is real or not.
Selana: Gross, gross, gross! Am I out yet?
DM: Yes. You exit the passageway into a large cavern.
Selana: I brush myself off and pat myself down, making sure there aren’t any spiders on me.
DM: After looking silly for a few seconds you are confident there are no spiders on you.
Selana: Good. I hate spiders.
DM: I know.
Selana: There is going to be more spiders down here. Isn’t there?
DM: Mmmm… maybe.
Selana: I get my bow ready. Let’s do this.
DM: The cavern is wide but not very tall. Smooth stalactites steadily drip water down onto the rising stalagmites. In areas where the ceiling is lower, the rocky formations have met and formed into large stone pillars. You can also hear and catch glimpses of black skinned salamanders scurrying about.
Selana: Good. Eat all the spiders.
DM: The Underdark is made up of a maze of interconnected tunnels and caverns that stretch for miles in every direction. There are six tunnels leading out of the cavern. Which do you choose?
Selana: Do I hear anything coming from any of the tunnels?
DM: All you can hear is the steady drip, drip, drip of water from this cavern but each of the tunnels remains a silent mystery.
Selana: Well, I guess it does not really matter then. I will roll a die and pick whichever tunnel it tells me to.
DM: Leaving your fate to the dice gods? I am so proud of you.
Selana: Four it is.
DM: What’s behind tunnel number four? More tunnel! If you reach out with both arms you can barely touch the walls of the tunnel. You also realize that the height of the tunnel is roughly the same as the width. You get the feeling that this tunnel may not have been created naturally.
Selana: What could have made a tunnel this big?
DM: You feel a sharp pain in your arm. Its spreads up your arm like wildfire to your shoulder. It feels like forever before the pain begins to subside but in reality it was only a few seconds.
Selana: Okay. I speed up, but carefully. I do not want everything to know that I am here.
DM: You exit out of the tunnel into a large cavern, moving fast but relatively quietly. The first thing that catches your eye is the small pulsing lights that cover the floor of the cavern. They range in color from neon green to deep purple. It is mesmerizing and a beautiful sight.
Selana: I want to pick one up.
DM: Any specific color?
DM: You gently pick up a purple glowing light and as you bring it closer to your face you see that it is in fact some kind of worm. It wriggles around in your palm, pulsing purple light happily.
Selana: Aww. . .
DM: It lifts itself up and tilts its head curiously at you. Then it opens its mouth, revealing row after row of tiny shark like teeth. It chomps down on your palm. You can feel the little teeth digging away at your skin.
Selana: I clap my hands together.
Selana: Yeah I am going to smush it. Dumb worm.
DM: Alright then. You clap your hands together, smashing the worm in between your hands with a satisfying squish. The rest of the worms in the cavern emit a high pitched whine and begin to pulse their colors rapidly. In seconds, the cavern is transformed from a quiet worm nursery into a chaotic middle school dance.
Selana: I think I should go.
DM: From up above, you hear skittering of claws on stone. As you look up you see what looks like a man-spider hybrid. It has a human torso and head with four humanoid arms and four spider legs attached to a spider’s abdomen. It is descending from a thick white strand of spider web toward you.
Selana: I pull out my bow and fire at him.
DM: With him descending directly toward you and him not having a lot of space to move around, you will get advantage.
Selana: Good. I hate spiders. I pull a magical arrow back and release.
DM: The glowing arrow hits the chiten directly in its pale torso. The impact lights up the entire cavern for a brief second and in that moment you see the entire ceiling of the cavern is covered with these spider humans.
Selana: How many is that exactly?
DM: You guess at least one hundred.
Selana: I run!
DM: Which way?
Selana: The way I came in?
DM: Two chitens are descending over the entrance you came in, blocking it. You can try to fight your way through them.
Selana: I run for the opposite side of the cavern. There has to be another exit.
DM: You sprint through the cavern, your leather boots crushing worms as you run. After a few squishy steps your boots are covered in a rainbow of glowing goo. The chiten’s screamimg in rage at you smashing the worms. More and more are descending from the ceiling, rapidly trying to cut you off from escaping the cavern. You see a narrow exit up ahead; you will need to crawl to fit into it.
Selana: I want to run and try to slide into it baseball style.
DM: With incredible grace you lay yourself out and slide right into the opening. You are the envy of every baseball player. You gained a bit of a lead on the chitens but you can hear their spider legs scrabbling against the stone floor. They are gaining on you and you need to crawl.
Selana: I crawl as quickly as I can and if any of them get too close I want to kick it in the face.
DM: Clawed fingers scratch at your heels as the chitens reach the mouth of the tunnel you are crawling through.
Selana: I slam my foot down on the hand.
DM: You drive your heel down on top of the hand, crushing it against the stone floor. You can feel bones break as it withdraws its hand, screaming at you. The tunnel widens a bit, allowing you to stand, but a bit hunched over. With every step, the tunnel ceiling retreats and now you can run unimpeded. You look over your shoulder; the tunnel you came out of is at the base of a massive cliff. The chitens are pouring out of the tunnel, scrambling over, on top of each other in their desperation to get to you. You are running across a wide open expanse. Even with your darkvision you can’t see walls in any direction. Up ahead there is a swath of pitch darkness. The stone floor ends in an abrupt drop off. But across the gaping chasm is another ledge; it is lower than the one you are running on, and you might be able to jump the gap.
Selana: I do not slow down at all. In fact, I want to run faster and jump.
DM: You throw yourself forward over the infinite darkness below. The distance is a little further than you thought. You hit the edge of the cliff at full speed, blasting the air out of your lungs. Your fingers find purchase and you cling on for dear life. A group of chitens fail to stop in time and tumble over the edge of the cliff, disappearing into the inky depths. With a surge of strength you pull yourself up onto the cliff’s edge. Your arms are burning from the exertion and your chest hurts from the impact with the wall. You can already feel a massive bruise forming. The chitens are howling in rage on the other side of the chasm. You do not know what they are saying but you are confident that it is not very nice.
Selana: Oh yeah? I stand up. That’s what you get, nasty spiders! You are gross! I stick my tongue out at them and do a little dance.
DM: As you taunt the spiders with your dance, you hear a loud CRACK beneath your feet. A large portion of the cliff shifts and slides toward the chasm, taking you with it. You ride the slab of rock down the cliff, bouncing once before you are thrown off of it. You do not know how long you are falling for but you hit the ground hard and black out. Something grabs at you and you can feel yourself being dragged.
Selana: Can I fight back?
DM: You are so weak that whatever is dragging you simply knocks your hands away. You drift in and out of consciousness, catching glimpses of your captor.
Deanna: “Wake up.”
DM: Your eyes flutter open, you can feel the warmth of a fire. Your head hurts and your vision is blurry.
Deanna: “Drink this. Quickly.”
DM: A woman’s face leans over you. She is pale, and her face is framed with midnight black hair. She does not appear to be that much older than you. In her hand is a small wooden cup with a foul smelling liquid in it.
Selana: I turn my face away from the cup.
Deanna: “Then I guess you will just let the venom finish what the fall could not.”
Selana: “Wait. Are you the druid the gardener talked about?”
Deanna: “He sent you down here looking for me? Fool.”
Selana: I take the cup and drink the smelly medicine. “What’s your name?”
Deanna: “I am Deanna.”
Selana: “Am I cured?”
Deanna: “Of the venom? HAH! Oh, child. That’s just for the swelling and headache.”
Selana: “Oh. . .”
Deanna: “Get some rest. We will discuss that when you wake up.”
DM: Your eyes get heavy and you drift off into a dreamless sleep.