|Grey Vastness of the Warlock Moon|
With two weeks of rest Makepeace and his companions, the Warlock and the Chimney Sweep, have found their bruises faded and their fame waning. It seems time to go back into the heart of the moon, down the long stairs. There is more gold, more colorful artifacts and more food to be found. A scrawny monkey like lad agrees to join, inspired by the band's stories of easy money under the cobblestones. In addition to Monkey Lad, the Chimney Sweep brings along his former babysitter, a sullen local girl named Angela who is willing to hold a torch and despondent enough to leave the safety of the sigils without armor or weapons.
Descent is easy, the giant golden pillar beckons at the bottom of the stairs but again the band ignores it, glad of their previous caution. One of the books recovered by the Warlock proved to discuss the pillar, claiming it was a trap that often shredded thieves. Heading South through a bronze door the adventurers find that the room formerly occupied by the horrible hopping heads is sterile and devoid of anything of interest. An arch leads Southward though, and behind a huge twill curtain (climbed and removed by the Sweep) is a colossal room consisting of a deep chasm spanned by a cunning stone arch. With the curtain gone, the room is filled with buzzing, and clouds of insects can be seen rising from the chasm.
Afraid of assault by stinging insects the party covers a torch in lard (The monkey boy has stashed some stale lard of dubious provenance) hopeful that the thick acrid smoke it produces will drive off insects. Tying a rope around the bridge the band starts across with Makepeace in the lead, using his ax for balance. Halfway across the bridge, the rope loop that protects the adventurers from falling snags on something under the bridge, and when Makepeace lies down and peers over the side he sees a golden hammer hooked to the bridge by a golden chain. It is a simple matter to remove the hammer and continue on to the chasm's far side. Passing through another arch the adventurers discover a strange garden maze in another vast grey stone room. Paths of stark white grass lead into thickets of red orange thorn. Testing the thorn bushes reveals them to be animate and capable of slow constriction, but not aggressive.
Moving along the white grass paths, the adventurers begin to hear strange voices grumbling in around a corner in the hedge maze. Peering around the corner Monkey Lad spots four green men with sharp features and overly large heads sitting around a small sod fire and cooking a human arm. Deciding not to waste their surprise attempting parley with anthrophagic green monster men, the party attacks from the shadows, The Monkey Lad, Warlock and Sweep pepper the sitting creatures with a rain of crossbow bolts, while Makepeace charges forward to interpose himself between the creatures and their spears, hacking one of them down along the way. The green men prove resilient, and while two are struck by the party, only one of them is killed and then only with two crossbow bolts and a cleaving blow from Makepeace's battle ax. The green men scramble for their spears, undeterred by Makepeace's efforts to hold them off with his ax, and one takes a lethal blow so that the other two can slip by. The Warlock and the Monkey lad rush into combat, and soon all but one of the creatures is slain. The last green man, shows no intent of surrendering, and only goes down when Makepeace leaps on top of him, getting clawed up badly in the process.
Efforts to negotiate with the now captive green man are unsuccessful even if the Warlock can speak the language of the creature. It's insistence that it will eat the party is off putting, and when Makepeace tests the creature's own flesh for edibility (any fresh meat being a valuable commodity on the Dungeon Moon) he discovers the green men are toxic to humans, but manages to vomit without doing himself permanent damage. Makepeace executes the green man refusing to allow it time to pray, as is the costume amongst his fiercely atheistic family.
Futher search of the maze of red thorns reveals little, and efforts to burn them only create instant growth. Before returning to the chasm room Makepeace plucks a piece of thorn with the goal of weaponizing it by including it the bottle oh high proof alcohol he carries as a pick me up, disinfectant and firebomb. While the chasm room, insects still buzz, but emboldened by the previous lack of insect attack the party sends a rope down to the bottom of the chasm. The Sweep agrees to climb down, and finds that after twenty feet (of an 80' climb) the walls appear covered with a chitinous layer riddled with holes. Sweep continues into the depths, with the smell of rot growing ever greater and buzzing sound increasing. As he reaches the bottom of the chitin sheathed crevasse Sweep notices the source of the stench, a huge pile of rotting organic matter covered in insects, some of them as large as a man. The entire floor of the chasm is blanketed in filth and sludge, but amongst the browns and greens, Sweep's lantern catches the gleam of gold and silver. Acting quickly the acrobatic youth grabs up the nearest valuables, coins, a few gems, a sodden spellbook and a golden filigree sunflower statute. All the while Sweep watches the giant flies off to his sides, but the horrible creatures, their mandibles and proboscises dripping with acidic juices, seem content to wallow in the surrounding rot. Unwilling to test his luck to destruction, Sweep grabs the rope and signals for the rest of the party to pull him up from the vile pit, and the joyous band leaves the chasm chamber without incident.
After a foray to town, to rest, the band renters the underworld and returns to the villas they discovered on their previous foray. Once in the buried city, the adventurers follow the ancient cobbles toward the sound of a river, passing two more abandoned villas in addition to the pair they noticed two weeks before. The river proves swift but shallow, it's water cold and teaming with fish, one of which Makepeace manages to spear. After examining the large blind fish and wondering at it's blue bio-luminescent eye pits the party quickly investigates the garden of the nearest villa. Liek the first it proves to have a large overgrown garden, and the adventurers dig up a fruiting bush with odd cylindrical fruit. Makepeace also fills his pack with dirt to help the expansion of the garden he wants to set up in one of his hometown's abandoned buildings. Before the adventurers again leave the underworld, the Warlock stumbles across another library, and all available space amongst the party is crammed with ancient books which the Warlock can read during the time before the next delve into the heart of the Dungeon Moon.