Our cast of characters…
Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)
We picked up this week following the party’s defeat of the ‘rancor’ demon, as they searched it’s lair for treasure. They soon located a pile of boulders that covered the entrance to a long stair, and in the process of clearing the boulders uncovered a hollow one that contained a stone tablet.
Of course, the character who found it also dropped it, breaking the tablet, but the party’s magic soon had it whole again. Upon reading it, the group had another riddle to ponder, namely:
“In the center lies the gate
but opening it is sure to vex
many are the guards who wait
as you go to the center hex
randomly sent to find a way
back to a different iron door
a seventh time and you may stay
and seek the glowing prize no more
you have won old Iggwilv’s prize
her hoarded cache of magic
and freed the one with yearning eyes
whose lot was hunger tragic.”
After making (and breaking) camp, they finally took the stairs down, and soon Sabian’s scouting revealed a chamber populated by more of those wrinkled, multi-eyed baby-things, all apparently involved in some religious ritual. Though he returned to the party and appraised them of these proceedings, he soon returned bearing Kendradell’s amulet so that he could understand the words of the ritual.
Hearing their leader’s plea to the “unwinking eye” to “liberate” and “deliver us from bondage”, Sabian decided to put the ritual to an end. After freshening the sleep poison on his hand crossbow bolt, he fired a shot at the leader, but it failed to pierce the leader’s skin. In reaction to his attack, the leader and several of his followers began opening and closing their eyes rapidly, while emitting light from them (sort of an ocular strobe light).
Seeing the sudden burst of light from the chamber ahead, the rest of the party crept cautiously forward. By the time they reached an angle where they could see the interior of the chamber, they could see two of the creatures leading Sabian towards the leader, while cutting the straps holding his armor. Naturally enough, a melee ensued.
Though the followers were quickly slaughtered, the leader and a group of bodyguards led Marcus and Kalik out of the main chamber and into a connected one filled nearly 2’ deep with bones. Leaping to the center of the chamber, the leader began gesturing frantically to (seemingly) little effect. Kalik quickly tumbled between the legs of the guards as Marcus moved to engage them, seeking battle with the leader.
Just as Marcus finished off the last of the bodyguards and entered the room to do battle with the leader, a voice rang out from behind them; another member of the group (I’ll confess my memory forgets who) spotted two spectral forms closing on Marcus and Kalik, the first of which quickly engaged Marcus in spirit combat. Thus distracted, it was stunned to feel Kalik’s enchanted silver blades dig deep into it’s form and destroy it.
As Marcus struggled forward through the bones to engage the leader, Kalik found himself in battle with the second ghost, who quickly overcame him. As Marcus slew the leader, the ghost possessing Kalik began taking stock of the world around him. Due to his strange behavior, the possession was soon discovered and undone. The ghost’s objective, some tiny glyphs carved into the walls of this room, were left intact by the party, as they could not decide whether breaking them (which would free the ghosts here from their bindings) would be a good idea or not.
A search of the first chamber uncovered several scrolls, most of which were unreadable. One of the creatures had been gathering them up to flee with them, but was caught and killed with them in his arms; his blood soaked into the parchment, obscuring the blood they’d been written in. Those that were readable were discovered to be a sorcery spell (Tap INT), a roll call of the various demon breeds that Iggwilv commonly kept on hand as guardian, servants, and whatnot (the ‘rancor’ was of the breed ranacoor, and the multi-eyed babies were of the breed mirinogire). The third scroll was a letter (likely unsent) demanding tribute from a man named Lothar, who supposedly held a ruined temple nearby (perhaps the one they sought?). The final scroll contained only a wizardry spell (Flame Sphere).
Once satisfied that they had discovered everything of use, they continued on, and soon found themselves face to face with a hungry xorn, who demanded a tribute of gold from each party member who wished to pass. Their chosen route of travel soon brought them back to their origin (so much for the Rule of Lefts). Backtracking soon found them standing before one of the iron doors they sought, but their attempts to open them caused them to all be teleported to a small chamber somewhere else in the caverns.
The first exit they explored led them to the animated remains of a hill giant smith, who had apparently been folding and refolding the metal of the blade he’d been working on since Iggwilv’s day. Upon spotting the party, his only comment was “temper”, which the party quickly decided meant he wished to quench the blade in their blood. The giant zombie could not leave his own chamber, so the party elected to leave him to his fate.
In the next chamber, the group was ambushed by ropers, but they quickly escaped from them and set once more on their way, following the Rule of Left (the rule of left, BTW, means that whenever faced with an option of which path to take, always take the left-hand path first). Though they passed a number of other likely passages, their chosen course eventually led them to a chamber dominated by a large rock situated near it’s center. The only interesting feature of said rock proved to be a small niche which revealed a life-sized human skull, apparently made from a single piece of crystal.
Kendradell’s lore had only sketchy information concerning the skull, but she remembered a few tales from the ancient Suloise empire, where the mages of power had crafted such skulls to dominate and control other races….
On which note, so ended another evening….