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    Canonfire :: View topic - Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil - Part 1 (Back Home)
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    Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil - Part 1 (Back Home)
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:27 am  
    Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil - Part 1 (Back Home)

    Cast of Characters:
    Berenn: Half-elf Priest of St. Cuthbert /Ranger
    Elrae: Human Bard
    Emyn: Human Paladin of Trithereon
    Gotrek: Dwarven Battlerager
    Hepla: Human Mage (kind of a witch)
    Isilme: Dark elf Bladesinger/Song Mage/Priestess of Eilistraee
    Noot: Human Thief
    Taki of the Hill People: Human fighter (soon to be Sword Master of Kelanen)
    Thorgrim: Dwarven Cleric/Fighter

    I decided to use the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil module, though it's 3rd ed, and continue things along that line. I was going to transition into the GDQ series, but I don't think the party was strong enough to do it. So, this became a good alternative. Further, it fit because they passed up all the other hooks I dangled. Anyway, I think the beginning may end up being a bit disjointed, as there were a lot of things going on. However, I'll do my best to summarize everything.

    [DM OOC: You have all arrived back in Hommlet. Time to take care of any business you want to do. I'm planning to "fast-forward" a few months. That'll do two things. First, the mage's can get spells. Second, winter will be over. So, the plan's basically to skip these next few months, which you all pass rather peacefully resting and relaxing, smithing, hunting, fishing, practicing skills, whatever. Everyone should post what they're doing. Mages need to post a list of spells they will try and learn. I'm not going to do a bunch of side treks. The party is going to relax for a few months. In this time, actually in just a few days, Elrae can get his Cittern back, it having been repaired for the afore-mentioned price. Emyn gets the Ring of Spell Storing (1 Speak with Animals spell).]

    Hepla and Isilme finish the spells they were working on. That night Hepla has dinner and drinks with the party and says,"Star and I are going for a walk. Don't wait up for us". As she leaves she hands Gotrek a gold coin covered in pink wax. As she passes Emyn she sits on the arm of his chair and kisses him full on the lips ,"Don't forget me." She reaches down and picks up Star and walks out the door. A moment latter he hears a bump up in her room.

    Emyn and Gotrek go check on her. Once in Hepla's room they see that all the windows are locked from the inside, all her stuff is there except for her bone dagger, her cat talisman and her badge of the Order of the Cat. The only thing out of place are her adamtium claws in the middle of the floor. They sit on a folded piece of paper. The writing says "You may borrow anything of mine that is here. H." Under the paper is a sealed envelope addressed to Isilme.

    Emyn prays to Trithereon that she is well and to protect her, wherever she may be. He also finds a platinum piece in his pocket, covered in pink wax. In fact, everyone finds one. "Sometimes, I don't understand how women think..." is all he says.

    Isilme attempts to scry Hepla, but she cannot.

    Elrae comes home to see his wife and child. This will be the first time he lays eyes on his child and is excited to see him or her. Emyn gives a small gift for Elrae to congratulate him on the birth of his child. A small recorder flute that can be used by a child so that he can teach it music.

    Just thought I'd also mention, next week is the beginning of Growfest, one of the four week-long intercalculary weeks that balance the calander.

    Growfest: In Greyhawk, Growfest is not taken as a week-long public holiday, though it is regarded as a time of good cheer with the full arrival of spring. The weather is usually blustery, with cool sunny days alternating with heavy rain. Farmers, herders, longshoremen and other workers prepare for the upcoming busy summer, and merchant activity is high. Growfest 4th, Godsday, is the Vernal Equinox, and thus an important day. It is also St. Cuthbert's Day, the largest annual festival celebrated by those of that faith. In the City of Greyhawk, the highlight of Growfest for the rest of the populace comes on Freeday evening, Growfest 7th. This event is the Desportium of Magick, a contest between illusionists who seek to cast the most magnificent display of illusion/phantasm magic on an established theme, that of a historical attack by monsters and humanoids on the Grand Citadel.

    Isilme gets directions from Berenn, then uses her mirror to scry Zendrelda's Tower. She travels there, to meet with this witch and learn her fortune. She sees the tower, as expected, and steps through. Almost immediately, she hears a message spell that tells her where to find Zendrelda. Eventually Isilme finds her, setting out lunch for two. "Please, enter," she says.

    She takes a sip of tea "Greetings again lady, much has happened since we have last seen you. Since the reading of the cards my life had changed and I have newly been focus on the path of the spiritual.

    "So, Isilme," says Zendrelda, "what is on your mind that has you leaving your companions and traveling to see me?"

    "Zendrelda, I fear for the family I left behind. Though many of my kin are wicked and evil, I know there are worthy souls to save and bring back to the light of the sun. I think a great danger rivaling Lolth herself rears it's ugly head amongst them in the city of my family. I would not see my people driven even further into the darkness. I rush home to warn my mother of what I have learned. I would have a reading on these events and what you can sense from the magic of this ring the drow eldrave wore....it bore a magic tied a tentacle wand the likes I have never seen and the user blasphemed Lloth and worshiped another."

    "I know as a witch, you converse with powerful spirits. When I was trapped in the ethereal and feared for the lives of my friends, I nearly turned to the use of this amulet to save them. I felt a powerful presence........ but yet the circumstances under which I found it make me worry about the origin of whatever is tied to it. Have you seen symbols the likes of these and have you any idea what manner of being I may be dealing with?"

    She looks at the amulet, but cannot recognize any of the symbols. The writing is like nothing she has ever seen. She senses strong magic from the amulet. She asks for the circumstances under which Isilme found it, and she describes the room and pentagram, Zendrelda seems to have an idea. She begins to cast further divinations, and then sits back. "It is strongly tied to the Outer Planes," she says.

    As Isilme nods, as if having always known that answer was coming, Zendrelda continues. "To the Celestial Realms."

    Seeing Isilme's confusion, she adds, "the pentagram you described, it is known to me. It was a ward against Celestial Outsiders. This Markessa, the one from which you took the amulet, was warding it to keep it hidden."

    Isilme says "forgive me if my memory is hazy. I have recently studied the Elemental planes in depth and my head is still spinning. Is that not the realm of Angels? I believe I may have read something basic about these planes in a treatise on Wizardy."

    As Zendrelda cannot tell her more, Isilme thanks her and leaves. Isilme will check in at the trading post first thing in the morning to see how business has been doing - she starts the process of moving some of the basic laboratory equipment found in the TOEE for her own small personal lab. After that, She spends the afternoon shopping for regular items to furnish or make comfortable her new home (using the chest or her item spell to move things home). She will visit Burne that evening and have pleasant conversation and tea, getting him up to date on all of the groups latest adventures - she will collect the magic mirror using the "item" spell to bring it safely to its new resting place in her home. The next day Isilme spends some time drafting a letter to her mother, and using her artistic skills to painstakingly make copies of the symbols on Eldraves robes, a drawings of eldraves ring and tentacle wand as well as a few notes of the encounter in her traveling notebook. Soon she will be prepared to travel to Verbobonc.

    Isilme will use the mirror to visit the room at the temple of Trithereon in Verbobonc.
    She will wizard lock the door and let the priests know she has arrived and which room she is using and that she is requesting audience with the high priest when he is available.

    She will head to the court to pay appropriate respects to the Viscount as a Hero of Hommlet and then report to the Kings Daughter as a Member of Hepla's Order of the Cat to appraise her of the groups adventures and any information gathered. He will be able to see her later, but she does meet the Viscount's daughter, with whom she shares her adventures. I'm sure it seems very exciting to her! Isilme then requests a meeting with the Elvish ambassador when they are available (if they arrived from the elven lands yet). Unfortunately, none have arrived here, which isn't a surprise as elves do things in their own sweet time.

    During the wait time, she will keep reading the books and visit the Sage, Bentham, to see if he has answers to the questions she had him researching. She will also give him the drawings of the symbols on Eldrave's robes, the ring, wand and as a separate question drawings of the symbols on the medallion. She will show him the original items as well to give him a feel for what he is researching and make sure the drawings are accurate enough for him. She wants to see what kind of information he can dig up on any of it.

    Later, she meets with Cornelius Arx, High Priest of Trithereon. He is very pleased to meet her again. She tells him of all the things that happened and how her experiences lead her to become a priestess herself and tread a less worldly path. He is quite pleased.

    Isilme then personally gives him the Gold necklace set with rubies and matching earring as a donation. "I wanted to personally give the church many of the riches gathered during our travels," she says. "Yours was the first, the only, church to accept her as a drow with open arms. It is a debt of gratitude I not sure that can ever be repaid."

    High Priest Cornelius Arx is VERY pleased with your donation. "This will go a long way towards easing the suffering of the people dispersed by the activities of the Temple of Evil and resettling them."

    When she asks about getting a statue of Ellistrae created and added to the shrine in the Temple, he says the church will higher the best artist around for the job.

    She als shows him the "Hebrew amulet", which she has come to understand the markings originates from the celestial plane. He takes it and agrees to look into it.

    Finally, she finds an artisan to have a very finely detailed realistic looking elvish mask made of silver form fitted for her face.



    She also Has an ornate Silver Longsword made and buys two silver daggers.

    ***

    Berenn will continue to supervise the clean up of the old moathouse, especially the broken tower which will be Gunhk's home. He will also spend part of the day hunting and familiarizing Ra and Thoth with the area. Berenn will also take Elmo out and map the entire area which is now under Warden's Station. An updated map will be a valuable resource moving forward. We will also try to get in a visit to Nulb to see if the town can be rebuilt or what can be salvaged.

    On the third morning back, Berenn will take Elmo (loaning him his Ring of Feather Fall), Ra and Thoth to Nulb. We will fly low enough, so if Elmo falls he won't go splat. He will start teaching Elmo how to fly and getting him familiar with Thoth and teaching him about griffons in general.

    Berenn rides around on the griffons with Elmo. He takes to the air quite well, and as another ranger tends to the griffons with much care. Together they scout the area daily, and once even fly to Nulb. The town is a desolate ruin, only six months after the destruction of the temple. Most of the towns buildings have collapsed, and those which could, have burned to the ground. Vegetation is already creeping back through the buildings, especially near the creek. Only the old Waterside Hotel, mainly constructed of stone and logs, still stands relatively intact.

    As Berenn and Elmo approach the old inn, they notice some light inside (it's dark now, after wandering around a bit.) They also notice smoke coming from the chimney. Berenn will very quietly peer into a window. He will have Elmo and the griffons on standby to depart. He sees a figure wrapped in a hooded cloak sitting before the fireplace.

    Berenn uses Detect Evil, but senses nothing. [Remember, only true evil is detected. I use Know Alignment more for these things!] He follows this up with a Know Alignment, searching the figure's auras. They are a swirling mess, with many strange contradictions. However, the overall bent is clear, Chaotic Evil.

    First, Berenn sets a snare at the front door. Then he prepares his Call Lightning spell while keeping an eye on the building. Elmo will watch it from above on Thoth, keeping an eye on any possible exits. Since the trap is still set on the front door, Berenn will call out before he casts the spell. "This Sir Berenn Silverwood knight of Verbobonc and Warden of the these lands. The house is surrounded and there is no hope of escape. There is a vanguard hidden around the inn and I will give you until the count of 5 to come out the front door and surrender." If he doesn't emerge I will finish the spell.

    When nothing happens, Berenn unleashes the lightning. A thunderous crash hit the building, the flash of lightning illuminating the area briefly as the lightning bolt blasts it the rear of the roof. The front door crashes open, and a figure rushes out, to be quickly wrapped up in the snare set by Berenn. Coming up to the front, you are shocked by who you find...Lareth!



    Berenn will quickly spring forward and subdue Lareth and Elmo will fly down to assist. Once unconscious, we will thoroughly search him taking anything deemed dangerous or of value from him. He doesn't really struggle. He wears his old plate mail, badly bashed up and darkened by fire. He also has a staff which Berenn quickly takes. He looks at Berenn, and for a moment his listless look flashes with hatred, but then he just sags, staring at Berenn with his one good eye.

    Berenn and Elmo remove Lareth's armor and leave him tied and gagged for the journey to Warden's Station. He will fly flung over Ra like a sack of potatoes in front of me. Once at Warden's Station Berenn will dispatch Elmo to Verbobonc, have the Viscount notified of Lareth's capture and request further instructions. Berenn will not take his eye off Lareth until he is properly secured, in one of the cells in the dungeons. A fitting place for him.

    Also, when they return they find that ghouls attacked workers clearing the dungeons. There were a half-dozen disappearances over the last couple months, while the party was in the south, but nobody thought anything of it. While Berenn was scouting Nulb, the ghouls were spotted as they grabbed a couple of men clearing debris in the dungeons. The dungeons have since be sealed off.

    Berenn puts Lareth in a cell, as he said. He doesn't seem to have much to say, appearing very lost and listless. He mumbles nearly imperceptibly, and stares off into space with uncaring eyes.

    ***

    Berenn summons the rest of the party, which arrives shortly. Thorgrim will ask Berenn how he was able to capture Lareth. When he hears the answer, he will say, "Seems almost too easy...is it possible that he meant to be captured? What would be the ramifications?" He paces back and forth. "Lots of mysterious happenings going on. Hepla's disappearance, Lareth's appearance, undead invaders. The latter two are surely related, if not all three," says Thorgrim.

    The party agrees that they should first check out the lower levels, and they head down the stairs into the lower level. They find the area of the cells and the old torture chamber, which is cleared of torture stuff, clear, and the secret door down to the tunnels to the crypts, where Spugnoir was killed, is still spiked shut. They then make their way around through the rest of the dungeons. A sweep of the area shows no ghouls, though they do find a large pool of dried blood at the intersection between the halls to the crypts and the cistern. A long bloody drag mark heads to the crypts.

    They head into the crypts, and there are confronted by a couple of ghouls. They flee back into the crawl tunnels before Berenn's holy might! The party never went back into those tunnels before, as they are very small tunnels, about 2-3' high and basically clawed out by the ghouls. Even the dwarves would have to crawl to get through them.

    Thorgrim and Berenn will enter the tunnel. The rest of the party will wait at the crypt entrance. "When we find any ghouls," says Berenn, "we will attempt to drive them back toward the crypt. When they emerge, Gotrek and Taki can kill them."

    The two look at each other and grin. "Good plan," says Taki, "I will Stand on one side of the entrance to the crypt and Gotrek can take the other we will kill them as they come out."

    "I should lead the way," says Emyn. "They cannot paralyze me for my faith is too strong."

    "And I shall scout in Wraithfrom," says Isilme. "They will ignore me, and I can follow any crack, regardless of how small."

    The plan set, the party begins to clear the tunnels. It takes all day, and multiple uses of various spells. However, they are able to clear out all the tunnels. There were a lot, but Thorgrim seals off dead ends areas as they go, gradually limiting the ghouls' area. They eventually drive 6 ghouls back out into the crypts, where the rest of the party quickly deals with them.

    Eventually, Isilme finds the ghoul lair, a small chamber dug out of the earth. There she finds the final three ghouls and one ghast.

    This cave is not clawed out like the rest of the ghoul tunnels, though it looks like it was likely cleared out by them, as if it had been totally buried once. It is cut at strange angles, creating weird shadows, bends, and curves. Its stone walls are of a cloudy purple color. Rising from floor to ceiling about 10' high is a four-sided column, natural but extensively carved so that each side sports a different graven image. Before the column is an altar made of dull, porous, slightly corroded black rock, sitting atop a 1' platform of black stone speckled and streaked with violet. The room is cold, a soul-numbing chill that grips Isilme's heart even in her wraithform. It is a fact, no mere judgement, that this is a place of darkest evil.



    She reports back, saying, "Bury it. This place has been sealed this long without evil escaping why mess with it and give us more problems?"

    Berenn suggest we take a look at the cave. "The ghouls and ghast present no danger to us. If there is some ancient evil near my outpost, I would like to know what we are dealing with. If we can't figure it out, perhaps there are others residing in Hommlet that may have knowledge (Jaroo or Y'dey)."

    "This place should be investigated and purged of evil," says Emyn. "Otherwise, it will just continue to generate undead."

    Once agreed, the party crawls along the tunnels, Emyn in the lead as the ghouls cannot hurt him. It is an easy matter to deal with these undead, and eventually everyone reaches the chamber with the column. One side is jet black and depicts a tall muscular man in full plate armor with unfamiliar flanges and fluting. He wears a cape and holds a wavy-bladed sword. The second side is dark green, carved into a man in flowing robes with long sleeves and a high collar. Covering the face is a strange mask. The third side is deep red and depicts a man in high boots, a doublet, and guantlets of a weird twisting design. A hood drawn tight around the face covers the head. The fourth side is a man colored deep indigo. The figure is clothed in a many-pleated robe wish a sash covered in strange symbols. His head is cowled and he cradles a scepter in folded arms.

    "Who are these characters, I wonder?" Thorgrim asks, aloud.

    Using their divinations, the party learns the folowing: It radiates magic of an undetermined nature, as well as strong Evil, though of a type unknown. The symbols don't really reveal anything, though they seem similar to those which Isilme had the sage looking into.

    "Clearly this has been this way for a long time," says Isilme. "Let us secure the area and ensure nothing disturbs it. Tenser recognized those symbols, and I already have a sage researching them. Perhaps we could call a council of the local leaders and have them see if they can shed some light. I will make some drawings we can show them."

    Isilme takes out her book and makes a detailed drawing of each side of the characters in the cube and appropriate colors, as well as a secondary drawing of the symbols on those robes using her artistic skills.

    "I think we should remove Lareth from the area immediately," she adds. "Have him sent to Verbobonc and have justice dispensed, or dispense it here and now. His being here at this time can be no mistake."

    "I have already sent word to Verbobonc ," says Berenn, "Hopefully there will be a response soon. I agree we should show the council what we have found and perhaps someone will recognize these writings. We will await word from Verbobonc before I decide.

    That said, Berenn has Lareth imprisoned below the moathouse, with Gungk and Petri watching over his cell. A couple days later, Elmo returns with word from the Viscount. Basically, he lays the entire matter at Berenn's feet. Berenn is now lord of those lands, and he is the dispenser of justice there. Other than that, the Viscount seems unconcerned, though he congratulates them on finding the scoundrel before he causes any more mischief.

    "I believe it is time for us to deal with this Lareth," says Thorgrim. "We need to find out all he knows, what he has been doing these past months. Also, let us find out if it was he who was responsible for the ghouls' incursion into Berenn's keep, and if he knows anything of the ancient evil stone that lies beneath it." Thorgrim thinks a bit, then adds, "Maybe it would be better to keep that last part private, unless he shows prior knowledge."

    Before the party goes to question Lareth, Isilme will cast polymorph self, and become "banshee" again. She also casts detect charm and detect magic on Lareth to see if he is under the influence of any influences or spells. She would also suggest one of the priests would cast detect lie while we question him. Lareth hasn't really moved since Berenn left. They find Lareth a burned and broken man.

    "Lareth, chosen of Lloth. My godess called me here to confront you, yet you escaped - not without something to remember me by at least (she smiles). Seems you have saved me the trouble of chasing you to the ends of the earth for justice. But you came here for a reason and you must have known it would put you in peril. Why are you here?"

    "Lady Lolth has turned away from me," he says sadly. "I am no longer in her favor."

    Emyn whispers to Elrae, "Who is this Lareth?"

    "Lareth is the dirtiest, low-down, good-for-nothing, evil, vile, scum-of-the-earth villain to ever to show his half burnt face to us," replies Elrae. "He caused havoc and brought despair to our fair Hommlet before we ventured to destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil. He is a human thrall to Lolth which in itself is an abomination. We had him in our grasps at the moat house and he turned yellow and ran away rather than to pay for his crimes."

    Berenn ignores Isilme's comments, and steps up to Lareth. "I am now Lord of Warder's Station," he says. [Remember, Berenn was given the old moathouse, mainly to keep bandits and worse from using it again in the future. It also allows the Viscount to exert a bit more direct control over the wilderness there. Warder's Station thus falls outside the boundaries of the village of Hommlet, and Berenn is the lord of the keep, and the surrounding lands (not a lot, but enough). He owes fealty to the Viscount. As a forest guardian of St. Cuthbert, he also has duties to see to the safety of the region around Hommlet, and he answers to both Otis, Elmo's older brother, as well as Canonesse Y'Dey. So, it's a bit complicated.]

    "You will answer my questions. After the fire was set by one of my associates, how did you elude me once you left the moathouse. I will have other questions as well, but we can start here. Keep in mind your fate may lie with me, so any cooperation may be the difference between imprisonment and a short drop and quick stop. Regardless, if I am not your judge, I will be required to give testimony at trial and I would mention any useful information you provide. It may give you a small amount of solace to know the individual responsible for disfiguring you and setting the fire met an untimely end at his own hand."

    Lareth says he used a secret exit, and then magic to hide his tracks.

    "Why did you lose Lolth's favor?" asks Isilme, drawing a frown from Berenn, though he says nothing, also interested in the response.

    "I don't know," replies Lareth. "Maybe it was failure."

    "Lolth doesn't reward failure," says Isilme coldly.

    "Then where did you go?" demands Berenn. "What brought you back?"

    " I went West," he replies, "seeking escape. I fell in with some survivors of the temple, and eventually found my way to their temple in the mountains." He seems lost in thought for a moment, then continues, "but there I found nothing but disillusionment. The temple was not what it seemed to be, and I left there as well. Having nothing left, I made my way back to Nulb where you found me."

    Further questioning reveals that those from the Elemental Temple in the Lortmil Mountains were very interested in the moathouse. They seemed to feel the place was important, though Lareth never learned why. He knew there was nothing for him there, and Lolth was no longer with him. He was alone, and though they seemed to place some mysterious importance upon him, he didn't care. Plus, he wasn't very enthusiastic about their strange deity. He had (even for him) serious misgivings about it. It just seemed wrong. Thus, he left.

    He recounts how Commander Hedrack survived the fall of the temple. He led Lareth and a small band of survivors into the mountains, to the small hamlet of Rastor. It is a village in the mountains that lies beyond the official writ of the Viscount and Veluna. There Hedrack revealed the truth of the Temple of Elemental Evil.

    The Demon Queen of Funghi indeed had planned to create an empire, based upon Elemental Powers. It was thought such would be more palatable for those who would be drawn to her. The plan worked, and together with The Old One they created the Orb of Golden Death, the temple nodes, and everything. When the temple was thrown down originally, Iuz had been pre-occupied with affairs in his own lands. However, he had never really been Zuggtmoy's ally. He saw her empire as a useful counter to the goodly states of Furyondy and Veluna to the south, a way to draw their strength away from his border. He also knew that should Zuggtmoy fail, she would be sent back to the Abyss while he would remain free, losing very little. He didn't plan on her imprisonment, and that opened up possibilities, subverting the temple for his own. Iuz sent Hedrack to search for the imprisoned demoness as well as the orb. What even Iuz didn't know was that there was another power working behind everything. The Elemental Eye.

    Hedrack was subverted from service to Iuz, and was secretly worshiping the Elemental Eye, a primordial, chthonic deity. Powerful fell creatures from beyond had tricked the demon queen into following her plan, only for the furtherance of their own ends, though Lareth knows not what those may be. After the Temple of Elemental Evil's original fall, they never had any plan to free Zuggtmoy, whom they had been using from the start. Nor were they about to let Iuz use the temple for his own ends. In the end, their attempt to hold back Iuz and the true followers of Zuggtmoy only kept the Temple fractured, which aided in the party's final overthrow of the temple last year, and its destruction. Now the remaining servants of the Elder Elemental God have retreated to their mountain temple, to continue their plans, whatever they may be.

    Lareth had originally been approached by other drow and converted to the worship of Lolth. He was sent to investigate the temple for himself, and to see what use they could make from its ruins. He was playing a dangerous game all along, not working for the Temple at all, but seeking to gain power within it for himself and his drow masters. When he found out the truth of the Temple of Elemental Evil and The Elemental Eye, he fled once more. Having nowhere else to go, he made his way through the hills, eventually to Nulb which he found destroyed. He was hiding out there over the winter with no real goal left.

    Isilme shows Lareth the Drow House Symbol of Eliserves, the other drow house that we ran into at Markessa's, and describes another house symbol (her own). "Were any of these the Drow that approached you? Do you recognize anything? Did the symbol on your cloaks when you were here at the keep have any meaning pertaining to this primordial god?"

    No, he doesn't recognize the drow symbols. The cloaks were given him by Hedrack. They were the symbol of the Temple. What Lareth didn't realize at the time was the symbol was really the symbol of the Elder Elemental God, the deity worshiped by those in the mountains and those secretly behind the rise of the Temple.

    "I think we should avoid disturbing the monolith and altar until we know more about it," says Berenn. "I am also going to hold off on judging Lareth since he is providing some useful information. I don't think he presents a real danger in his present state."

    "Will you allow me to pass judgment and sentence on Lareth," asks Isilme. "My goddess called me here to face him, for good or ill."

    "If it were under different circumstances," replies Berenn, "I would have to deny the request. However, since my outpost isn't established as of yet, I will grant your request. I would give you the following to ponder when you pronounce judgment: It is far easier to take a life than to give it and one more death will not undo the suffering which has been caused here."

    Isilme thanks Berenn, as he has bestowed a great honor upon her, especially when this prisoner is a non-elf. She promises to mull his words over carefully before rendering a decision. She then uses her mirror to return to the Free City of Greyhawk, as well as to leave another message to her mother. She knows she plays a dangerous game in using the mirror to travel home, but she cannot escape the feeling that she owes her family something. She then heads directly to the mage guild to see if Tenser ever got her message. They shrug, and nobody really knows anything about it. Isilme if frustrated, but she learns that maybe she shouldn't trouble arch-mages quite so much! She travels to the library, to research the Elder Elemental God. She stays in Greyhawk City for a week, but can find no references at all. Frustrated further, she returns to Hommlet.

    Once back, she visits Lareth first. "Lareth, it has been given to me to pass judgement upon you. I originally came here at the call of my goddess as a counter to your presence in the service of Lolth. I more than any of them know the unspeakable acts you must have committed in the demon queen's name to please her. Yet despite your service, in your greatest hour of need, Lolth has turned her back on you. I do not know what desire for power drove you to her worship, but you are in need of a new purpose are you not? Even you yourself have said that this strange deity, this worship of the elder god gave you serious misgivings and seemed "wrong". As an alternative to immediate death for your crimes, which you surely deserve, I offer you the chance to live and move on. If you willingly place yourself under a Geas or Quest, to aide us faithfully in every way until the threat and scourge of this elder god and his worshipers both on the surface and in the underdark has been defeated - I will commute your sentence. Once the quest has ended you are free to go - never to return to this Viscounty under penalty of death. Returning to your wicked ways will be your choice and yours alone at the end of the quest. But I hope this mercy shown you, and fighting beside us, you will see another path and turn to the worship of another god."

    She pauses to let the whole extent of her sentence to sink in, then adds, "If you choose otherwise, I will see your sentence carried out as soon as possible."

    Lareth considers what Isilme has said. He seems surprised that she would offer him anything. He will think on it.

    [DM OOC: BTW, let's assume we are now about a month ahead. Without exact dates, we're jumping ahead a few weeks, to the middle of the month of Planting. It's Low-Summer now in the Flanaess. Temps run from lows in the mid-50's to highs of low 70's. It has still been raining off and on. Thorgrim and Gotrek can work at enlarging the tunnels towards the column. They can use Stone Shape to help, along with other spells. He has the Earth Elemental too! They easily create a new tunnel straight to the monolith, rather than the crawl hole from the rear of an old crypt. A stout door is installed at the entrance, place under magical protection, and two guards left there always. Also, at this point all the people from down south finally appear, having completed their 3 month journey north. Icar, Deric Vayne, the alchemist, some men-at-arms, and the freed slaves who took Berenn's offer all appear and are settled in the area.

    Over the course of the last few weeks, Isilme works often with Lareth. His broken psyche begins to heal a bit, and she can sense that he has lost some of the taint upon his soul. Whether this is from true remorse, frustration over being abandoned by his "Goddess," or simple apathy is hard to determine. However, he eventually begins to seem to look forward to her visits. She teaches him the truth about Lolth, the Drow, their society, and gradually works to break the walls he built over many years. She explains to him the teachings of Ellistrae, and though he seems skeptical of her as well, he does listen. By the time another month is up, she can see that his aura has shifted. He is yet surrounded by a chaotic turmoil of elements, but there are now equal portions of light and dark which swirl around him, contesting for his soul. [Is it better to explain Know Alignment spells like this or just say "he's now Chaotic Neutral?"]

    Also, it's now mid-Flocktime (the next month). Temperatures are steadily increasing, about 10* higher than last month. Snow has been long gone, though rain has been pretty common which bodes well for the coming year. The Vernal Equinox is coming up, a day especially revered by many, especially those of the Old Faith (druidic) and of St. Cuthbert.]

    Also about this time, Hepla finally returns. One night, while the party is eating at the inn, Hepla just walks in. Emyn grins and can't seem to stop before rushes to her and gives her a kiss. Then, blushing, he apologizes and asks her what she has been up to these past months.

    "Working with mom," she replies. "Secret stuff," she adds with a giggle. "That is a great ring you got there, were you on an adventure while I was gone?"

    "We cleared out some ghouls from under the moathouase that were missed and discovered some sort of evil altar and statues that we still have not figured out. Berenn captured Lareth and Isilme has been working to turn him to her faith. He is a broken man, having fallen from favour with his spider goddess. Apparently, there is a new cult that is behind the old Temple. Apparently, they were behind what was going on at the temple of elemental evil. They're somewhere in the Lortmils. I imagine that will be the next adventure we take on. As for the ring, I traded for it at Greyhawk. It is a ring of spell storing, so I will have to get someone to cast speak with animals in it after each time I use it."

    "Wow, and I thought this was going to be a quiet time!" says Hepla.


    Last edited by ragnar on Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:28 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:38 pm  
    Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil - Part 2 (Departures)

    The next week Hepla and Isilme are invited to the Silver Consortium. They use the mirror to travel to Verbobonc. There they find yourselves in the presence of some mages of great skill and learning. Specifically, they meet the gnome artificer, Petendithas Homeforger, and Juelihm the Conjurer, master of the Guild. Petendithas Homeforger is a stiff, straight-backed Gnome has a shaved head and a squared beard. He can normally be found wearing the uniform of his office, Royal Artificer of the Silver Consortium of Verbobonc. Petendithas takes his position very seriously, for it is his responsibility to equip the city guard, the military, and even the Viscount himself with magical arms and armor. Within the Silver Consortium only Juelihm the Conjurer (the master of the guild) wields more power.

    Juelihm the Conjurer, a conjurer of great skill. He is in late middle ages, with a long greying beard, very Gandalf looking, wearing blue and white robes, and carrying a staff with a dark crystal attached to its gnarly end. He took the Silver Consortium, which was originally much more simple, and greatly expanded it. He had hoped to compete one day with the Guild of Magic in Greyhawk.

    Hepla and Isilme learn that their exploits in the area and beyond have not gone unnoticed. They are offered a place in the next level of the Silver Consortium hierarchy. This will open up the ability to gain more spells from the SC (4th to 6th level), as well as other kinds of similar things, like supplies, scrolls, and potions. Of course, all of this comes at a cost. 100gp/spell/level to find a new spell. The SC does not have every spell, like the Guilds of Magic in Greyhawk, but they have a lot. They also will recharge items for 1/2 the price of the Greyhawk guild, thanks to the Artificers. There's no new cost for this "promotion", they are simply accepted on merit into the next level of the SC.

    Thorgrim has meanwhile started working on his shrine, while spending time with Lyseious the Alchemist. He starts to get his new lab all set up, in the old torture chamber under Warden's Station (the old moathouse). Thorgrim suggests that the remainder of the party community treasure be donated to support any mage research and alchemical operations.

    "What better use could it be put to?" he says by way of argument.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Thorgrim is also ready to donate to The Cause, if need be, and suggests that other party members be likewise prepared...like to the tune of 1000gp each. Thorgrim is curious as to what sorts of expenses will be required to support Lyseios, and what his rate of manufacture might be. If it's time to place an order, the party is interested in 10 or more Potions of Extra-Healing, about 4 Potions of Heroism, 1 or 2 Potions of Flying, maybe a Philter of Beauty...and definitely some Powder of Lycanthrope Repelling! Potion of Vitality seems somewhat useful...maybe one of those. Elixir of Health will restore feeblemindedness and more...Thorgrim is very interested in that! Need a few of those if we plan on taking on any Illithids! STILL no clue what Life Elixir does. Thorgrim will ask Lyseios what that potion does. Could be more valuable than Extra-Healing, but who knows? Haha no way in hell will we be able to afford this shopping list!]

    Berenn also finds that the Gnomes of the Greenway Valley have sent a contingent to assist in the rebuilding. There are dozens of skilled masons, as well as diggers, sappers, miners, etc. They're gnomes. They recognize the enormity of the threat which was posed by the temple, and consider they own you a debt. They also remember fondly Wonillon, who was apparently quite well-liked in the Kron Hills. Anyway, they bring money as well, and together with their labor it's enough to cover half the costs of rebuilding the place. It will also cut the time needed now by 1/2. I would think that you can have the place 100% rebuilt in one year. I really am not an expert in medieval building, but I think that's probably reasonable.

    Other than the unnamed people who arrived, you also have the following:

    Deric Vanne: Berenn's henchman whose life he spared.
    Icar: blind sword master
    Lyseios: Alchemist
    Hyril of Safeton: Avenger of Trithereon (Emyn has to see him to the Cathedral at Verbobonc, to officially join his order.)

    Also, Icar has disappeared with Taki, both of whom have been gone for nearly a month.

    Further, Emyn finds that Lareht actually very interested in Trithereon. The vengeance aspect really appeals to him. With Isilme's permission, Emyn will speak with him and attempt to convert him to the faith. He'll also send word to the closest church that he is doing so. "Redemption can come through vengeance," says Emyn.

    That REALLY appeals to him. Over the next few weeks, Emyn finds that Lareth has come around quite well. The protective side of Trithereon is a bit harder for Lareth to accept, as he feels people should stand up for themselves, and those who do not do not really deserve much say in what happens to them. However, the idea of vengeance, now Emyn has DEFINITELY found a convert there. In fact, Emyn finds Lareth taking quite strongly to the it. [Remember, this isn't like the modern day monotheists. He BELIEVES in Trithereon. Everyone believes in all the Gods. Becoming a priest of one, well, that's different and a bit more specific. So Emyn doesn't have to convince him that Trithereon is right; such ideas don't have any place in polytheistic societies.] Lareth is just becoming more at ease, having perhaps found a deity that fits his current mentality. He has never been to Verbobonc, and is very interested in the cathedral.

    With Lareth starting to change, and having found no indication that he had any idea about the presence of the monolith under the moathouse, the party finally decided to ask him about it. When they mention it to Lareth, he seems surprised and says he had no idea. "The ghouls lived back in there," he says, "and I was content to leave them alone. I never know anything about the monolith."

    Berenn decides to take Lareth to see it, and they bring Lareth there. He instantly recognizes some of the symbols. He's not sure what they are, but he saw them when he traveled to the village of Rastor. Though he didn't go to the temple itself, some of the priests in town wore similar garb with similar symbols. They are the clothes and symbols of the Elder Elemental God.

    ***

    Taki comes back early one morning and tells the party "After seeing Helpa brought back by a single tear, I began to question my faith in the gods. I left and found Icar who was a sword master of Kelanen. He began to mentor me in this, and I have decided to follow the path of a sword master of Kelanen from this point forward. I have given up the maul and the hammer, and from this time on I shall be dedicated to this of this, he pulls out his +2 two handed sword. In battle I will be in front winning the day for you my friends and for the greater good of Kelanen. Forgive my being gone but I am back now and I am ready to move ." With that said Taki waits for questions or for the party to allow him back in. [DM OOC: This was directly related to one of the cards Taki drew back in Zendrelda's Tower, and I created a Sword Master of Kelanen class to handle it.]

    Hepla gives him a big hug and says, "I understand the need to deepen a relationship with a god. I am still searching, but I am most pleased that you have found someone and something to believe in. Congratulations." She hugs him again then lets others talk to him.

    "Thank you little sister," he replies.

    "I am glad you have found your way, Taki," says Emyn. "Kelanen is a noble god, and I shall be glad to stand by your side against our foes." To Hepla he adds, "Hepla, I am sure the Cat Lord would be pleased to have you as a devotee."

    "You have found a noble calling, sword master Taki," says Isilme. "But I knew you were destined for great things when you rushed the evil drow cleric alone."

    "Maybe now I will have the power to take one down alone," he replies. "Also with my new beliefs I can no longer use this magic maul or the Iron bands if any of you would like to make use of them, The bands are a powerful weapon and I would hate to see them fall into the wrong hands."

    "Perhaps we should hang the maul in a place of honor," says Emyn.

    "Noot shall have the bands," says Taki, handing them to the young thief. He then picks up his maul and looks at it long and hard. He then places it in the corner near the fireplace. "Perhaps if we get a couple of nails we could hang it here someplace."

    "Welcome home, Taki!" shouts Thorgrim, as he smacks him on the back. "You return at a most auspicious time."

    Thorgrim then uses his carpentry skills to mount Taki's maul above the fireplace. He also shares to everyone that he has instructed Lyseios to expend ALL his stores, manufacturing potions of extra-healing. "We will have about 20 when we embark on our next adventure. Methinks we shall be needing them," he says.

    "Taki, welcome back. I am glad to see a smile on your face, once again!" says Gotrek with a smil. "I can't wait to smite our foes, side by side!"

    With everyone back, Thorgrim summons the party to the Trading Post. As the sun begins to set behind the Lortmil Mountains, casting long shadows across Berenn's fertile lands, its newly-growing crops waving in the breeze, Thorgrim gathers the party back to Hommlet for an evening of feasting, housewarming, and homecoming, for Hepla and Taki both. The journey overland on horseback is uneventful and pleasant, with warm waning sun and cool breezes. Crickets chirp, and the drone of cicadas make for a constant backdrop to the sounds of other creatures. As they pass through hill and shady dale of the Kron Hills, the over-arching shadow of the Lortmils rushes across the land, seemingly racing to meet them in Hommlet.

    As they near the trading post, the party sees that the shrine to Clanggedin has been covered in a shroud of cloth. No more can the hammers of Dwarven stoneworkers be heard clanging away into the eve. The tools that used to lie about and untold thousands of chips of stone have likewise been cleared away, and the street swept bare. The party notices a mound of indeterminate nature in front of the shrine, similarly shrouded. They hear the crackling of fire, and smell the aromas of roasting meat. Fire pits come into view, and the party sees animals there roasting on spits: four whole pigs and two baby oxen turn in the fire, their fat sizzling and hissing as it drips on the coals. Some dozens of ducks and pheasants and perhaps some other fowl are in process of preparation for roasting. Cauldrons bubble and spit froth, the sound of their clanging lids merging with that of clanking mugs and laughter. Barrels of drink are stacked about the trading post, and the party sees some familiar faces about. Clearly, the revelry has already begun.

    Burne is there and also Rufus, and even Salamander can be seen drinking. They shout at the party's approach and up comes a cheer from the crowd. It seems half the town has turned out for the event. Near the entryway to the store, Dwarven stoneworkers speak and laugh with Elmo.

    Thorgrim dismounts unceremoniously, as per usual, and holds a moment's conference with the leaders of Hommlet. He turns to the party. "Open House," he says, smiling warmly and outstretching his palms.

    Those who have been following the construction of the upper level had already noticed it was larger than the bottom. The cantilevered design was devised by Thorgrim himself, perhaps to show off his Engineering skills. The effect is to create a shaded porch area. As Gotrek approaches, he stops short, noticing for the first time something that was fashioned while he was digging in the caverns beneath Berenn's keep: a wooden porch has been built! Elevating the entryway out of the mud makes the entire place look more inviting. "Aye, Gotrek, I built it meself." When Gotrek looks at him, disbelieving, Thorgrim tells him, "I have been practicing the art of shaping the more temporal elements." He and Gotrek then lead the party inside to check out their new digs, showing them all around. This part Gotrek knows well, and he proudly shows off his room, which looks like a Battlerager lived there. "Come," Thorgrim says. "It is time to begin."

    He leads the party downstairs and into the street. With a nod to Rufus, the man gathers the attention of the crowd. Thorgrim then addresses all:

    "When my friends and I first came to this village, we could not foresee that for some of us, this place would we call home." He gestures first to the remodeled trading post, then to Elmo, who pulls a cord, unveiling the completed shrine.

    "It is also become home to a shrine devoted to my god, Clanggedin Silverbeard, who led me down this path, and protected our party on many adventures. May his light shine in the Surface Lands as it shines below."

    The shrine is made of granite of differing hues, though mostly shades of gray, of course. The archway stands perhaps 12 feet high, and marks a curved recess, wherein can be seen a platform on which rests the image, life-sized, of a Dwarven warrior, head bowed, clad in chainmail and holding crossed battleaxes. Steps lead up to the shrine, and those approaching would be able to see Dwarven runes inscribed on the archway. The base of the statue also has runes inscribed, as well as Elvish script and letters of the Common tongue. It is simply his name in three languages: Clanggedin Silverbeard.

    Thorgrim gestures again, and the mound of indeterminate nature is revealed. Perhaps twenty-score arrows stand bundled together and soaked with oil. On top are piled various weapons: spears, axes, swords, bows, and picks can all be seen. Thorgrim gestures to someone in the crowd, and two wicker forms are brought out. BIG wicker forms, like the size of Giants. They have some sort of target at their midsections. Thorgrim approaches the weapons pile. He places Taki's old masterwork maul and Hepla's bullwhip on top. He places Gotrek's magical two-handed battleaxe on top of these.

    He summons Gotrek to him, and casts a spell on him, then another on himself. [Protection from Fire] Gotrek merges back into the crowd and disappears from view.

    Next Thorgrim gets out his own trusty old two-handed battleaxe. "You have served me well, on many adventures," he says to his weapon as he prepares the sacrifice. He presses his forearm against the blade, and it bites into his flesh, the blood flowing down his arm in rivulets. He throws his axe on the pile and lets some of his life's blood spill upon it, before he turns to face the crowd with upraised arms.

    "Clanggedin, I serve THEE!" Thorgrim shouts. He drops his arms, and at the signal, Gotrek reappears from the crowd, lugging Taki's giant crossbow, almost as big as he is. He has a coil of line in his other hand. He drops the line and readies a harpoon. Somewhat unsteadily, he shoots the harpoon at the giant target and strikes it through the leg, partially collapsing it. He quickly reels in the line, and the harpoon catches the target and draws it near. The crowd cheers.

    Gotrek fixes a flask of oil in the claw of the next harpoon. The flask has some sort of wick sticking out of it. He cranks the bow. At a word, a villager offers his pipe to Gotrek to help light it. The wick is lit! Gotrek loads the bolt, takes aim, and fires at the remaining target. The flask shatters on impact, scattering droplets of burning oil, and the wicker form erupts in flames! The crowd goes wild. The bolt has actually gone through the wooden targets at front and back, but no further. Suddenly is seen a glint of light, and an anvil drops from the darkening sky to descend upon the head of the wicker form! It is crushed to bits, and flaming debris scatters wide, surprising the crowd. Hepla looks around to see if anyone caught her using her Telekinesis spell. It appears nobody did.

    One of the flaming bits catches a trail of oil, and flames race upon its length to the weapons pile, which ignites with a mighty whoosh, sending a black mushroom-shaped cloud ascending. The crowd roars. The fire roars, blazing with weird blue-green and violet flames and shooting the occasional streamer as the magic weapons are burned. The flames reach perhaps 20 feet into the night sky, causing an intense heat which forces the crowd to back away, and in the slight breeze even licking the stone of the shrine, which is unaffected, of course. Thorgrim and Gotrek stand ready to subdue the fire should it get out of control, but the flames quickly die as the sacrifice is consumed. The crowd stands in awe.

    Gotrek grunts. "Well, it works."

    "Let the feast BEGIN!" shouts Thorgrim.

    The beasts are removed from their spits and cut for eating. They are replaced with the quick-roasting fowl. Potatoes and other vegetables provided by the villagers are scooped from boiling pots. Thorgrim approaches Isilme, and offers her a bowl of something. "Frongoi Soup," he says. "To remind you of home." It is a stew of mushrooms, painstakingly gathered from caves nearby. Ale and beer flow by the gallon, and there is wine, too. Musicians begin to play a jaunty tune. Some villagers start to dance.

    "What, no Gutshaker?" Gotrek asks Thorgrim.

    "Are you kidding me?" he replies, and produces three mugs of the fermented goat's milk. He hands one to Gotrek, and one to Hepla. "Well, it seems our performance went off without a hitch. Elrae should be proud." They toast the successful consecration of the shrine. "To Clanggedin!"

    Gotrek grabs his leaden anvil from where it has sunk into the ground under the ashes of the Wicker Giant. He presents it to Isilme. She accepts with a wicked gleam in her eye.

    "But Thorgrim, the runes, what do they say?" asks Emyn.

    Thorgrim lights his pipe and takes a long draw. "Well, one says 'Whur A Faeyn', the battle cry of Clan Delgrim," he says. "It means Wake The Iron." He takes another few puffs. "Then there is 'Fasgaidh', which translates to a cleansing of vermin...one of my favorite words from my home tongue, as it so strongly relates to my purpose here on this earth." Thorgrim puffs away, staring at the dying embers of the sacrificial fire.

    "And the last?" Emyn asks.

    Thorgrim laughs. "Oh, that?" He chants something that sounds like a spell. "That translates to...BLOOD AND VENGEANCE!!!" The boom of his Battle Cry hits the crowd like a warhammer, actually bowling over some of the drunker ones, the strength of Clanggedin washing over all and instilling them with newfound fervor to revel into the night.

    Eventually, the festivities die down, and everyone goes to sleep, all but one. In the stillness of the night, when everyone else is asleep, Gotrek seeks out the statue of Clangeddin. As crickets chirp, he digs down, to uncover the base. With quiet precision, he chisels six words into the dense granite. All the words in Dwarvish. A hush falls upon the area, as Gotrek then takes Goreblade out, and cuts his forearm. He smears the blood into the inscribed words, as he fervently speaks. When done, he covers the base up again. No one the wiser of his deeds.

    The only witness is a one-eyed crow. The crow caws, as if in delight. Gotrek tells it to shut up, in no uneven terms. The crow but laughs at Gotrek, with intense intelligence. Gotrek sees this, and laughs heartedly back. He thrusts Goreblade into the dark night, invigorated. Approval has been given. The crow flies away into the night, heralding its arrival from afar. And in their deep lairs, and in caves far away, and in the Underdark, and even in their rooms in Hommlet(and many towns away), creatures of evil intent shudder in their slumber. They know they are doomed. They will wake up sweating from nightmares, but will soon forget the fear of their disturbed dreams. Until.......

    In the morning, Thorgrim discovers that there is no slag or debris from any of the weapons. "A complete consumption," says Thorgrim. "That is very rare, and very good. It means Clanggedin was well-pleased with our sacrifice."

    About midway through the next week, Berenn's patrols spot about a dozen campfires around Nulb. They couldn't get close enough to see who it is, but they heard a very guttural language, definitely humanoid, being spoken. They counted at least a few score, but it was hard to tell. They sent two riders back to Warder's Station, while the rest of the patrol stayed to continue their watch.

    I will have to summarize, as lots of posts were lost here. The party is back together, except for Hepla, Isilme, and Emyn. Hepla and Isilme were studying spells, and couldn't leave. Emyn remained to watch over them. The party, along with Berenn's men-at-arms, are just outside of town. They are on the hill overlooking the town, and can see the temple in the distance. Berenn has done some sneaking around, and he thinks there are goblins in the gatehouse. Pretty much any other approach seems relatively safe. Berenn also finds some dog prints, at least a half-dozen, as well as something man-like but big. He's not sure what it could be, but it's barefoot. All the tracks go into the temple area, through the gatehouse. They aren't in grounds, so they must have entered the partially collapsed temple itself. Berenn hasn't tried to sneak up to the temple, aware that goblins are in the gatehouse guarding the approaches. Rather than sneak in during the night, the party sleeps, resting up for the next day when they will assault the temple and drive out these humanoids.

    Godsday, 11th of Wealsun (581)
    It's a clear day, about 75* with nearly no wind. The party has learned overnight that there are hobgoblins in the old temple. During the night, they saw the hobgoblins making a cursory search around the few remaining buildings left in Nulb. They have now all retired to the temple, except for a few which are in the gatehouse. There's been no other discernible movement since then. With dawn, the party rushes the temple. It's a simple matter to dispatch the hobgoblins at the gatehouse, which put up hardly a fight at all. A few escape on worgs, but they are chased down by Berenn's few cavalry.

    Taki kicks in the doors, and the party then enters the temple itself. They notice a large portion of the right transept is collapsed, around the inside corner. As they look, an arrow flies out from the rubble, just missing Berenn's head. Another arrow flies out, narrowly missing Berenn again, who then leaps up into the rubble, followed closely by Taki. As they scramble up through the debris, they see inside the temple for the first time.

    They are looking into the area of the central altar, with all the pillars and the well, which they once used to escape from one of the lower levels. The pillars are all white marble, veined with ugly red. Some along this side are collapsed, along with part of the ceiling. The altar block of pinkish white marble is about 7 feet long and 5' wide. There's a hollowed out portion atop it in the shape of a human, and there's something lying on it there. Lots of broken stuff as well as debris from the walls and ceilings is scattered around.

    The hobgoblin archer has run away, back through the pillared hall. In the center of the hall, there are two masses of about a dozen hobgoblins. One faces the front doors, the others turn to face Berenn and Taki. You also hear hobgoblin cries from further inside, back by the throne. Glancing that way, you see a handful of hobgoblins back there too.

    "Now let's see what this wand can really do." Elrae says as he uses the Wand of Highfolk. "Isilme let me borrow it," he adds with a grin.

    Taki charges south, barreling into the first of the hobgoblins. He yells as he charges, waiting for the hobgoblins to turn around before he strikes the first one down. Elrae then moves up onto the rubble and snaps off a charge of the wand. Instantly about half the hobgoblins in the central group turn on each other, snarling, arguing, and eventually swinging blades. Gotrek rushes towards them, cutting down the first one as it turns to fight its companions. Behind them, Thorgrim climbs up through the rubble, surveying the scene.

    Berenn leaps to the ground, crouching behind a toppled pillar for cover, and puts an arrow through a hobgoblin archer's eye! Noot sneaks up through the corner, hiding in shadows which are plentiful this dark night.

    Two hobgoblins fire bows at Taki, and he takes two arrows for [5] and [2]. One right in front of Gotrek fires its bow, but it fumbles so scared of the dwarf that it drops the bow right there! The hobgoblins swarm Taki, who takes one hit [2]. Two hobgoblins from the left charge Gotrek, and he takes one hit [6]. These seem bigger. A couple circle around behind Gotrek, while the rest take out shortbows.

    The goblins hide behind pillars, seemingly unwilling to commit, and the goblins of the center group are mostly fighting each other!

    Berenn can see some humanoids at the far end of the temple, and he hears chanting from that direction.

    Taki then hits and kills another hobgoblin, while Gotrek steps up and hacks down the archer who dropped his bow.

    Thorgrim stands tall on the rubble, and summons the fury of Glanggedin as he casts Battle Cry.

    "BLOOD AND VENGEANCE!!!"

    Stunned, all the goblins in the right transept, the group of hobgoblins fighting themselves in the center, and the ones surrounding Taki are all stunned!

    Gotrek then uses his second attack to kill another of the larger hobgoblins, while Taki strikes down 3 more with his dazzling display of swordsmanship.

    Noot slips through the rubble and behind the right-hand goblins, still hiding in the shadows.

    Elrae snaps off another shot of the wand, this time setting off a couple of the hobgoblins in the left transept to fighting. The other two run off towards the throne. Finally, two beyond the group surrounding Taki rush to the front doors, where they throw off the large bracing timbers and make to rush outside!

    One of the goblins rushes up at Thorgrim, only be to sent tumbling back down by a dwarven boot to the face. A hobgoblin from the other side comes up behind Thorgrim, scrambling up, only to be stabbed in the side by Elrae, who was completely ignored. Another hobgoblin tries to rush by Taki, who effortlessly cuts it nearly in two with his claymore. Gotrek cuts down another hobgoblin, as two more turn to rush at Thorgrim, only to be cut down by their angry companions.

    Noot sneaks up behind a goblin and slices its throat.

    The two by the doors throw them open and rush out, only to be turned into pincushions by Berenn's archers by the gatehouse. Seeing no more enemies around him, Taki moves up beside Gotrek, to finish off the last of the hobgoblins in the center.

    Berenn fires a shot at a hobgoblin at the far side of the temple, but it ducks back behind a pillar and his arrow bounces off harmlessly. They're just out of effective range, so he moves forward, angling towards the well for cover. When he gets there, the smell is awful, and he realizes that the hobgoblins have been using it as a latrine.

    Gotek and Taki kill the last two hobgoblins and then move on. Gotrek heads left, and is met by the last survivor of the elite hobgoblins there. Taki moves up besides Berenn, asking him why he stopped by this smelly well. When two arrows bounce off the well, he say, "Oh."

    Berenn smiles as he creeps to the right, pops up, and fires an arrow at a goblin hiding behind a railing, hitting it in the chest and dropping it. He ducks back as two more arrows zip by. Elrae moves down off the rubble and out into the center of the nave, keeping behind the pillars. Meanwhile, three goblins from the right charge up the rubble at Thorgrim. Noot stabs one in the neck as it rushes by him, killing it, but the other two scramble up towards Thorgrim, who seems happy to play "king of the hill."

    Suddenly, Berenn and Taki hear a growl from down the large main staircase which heads down into the darkness ahead of them. Lumbering up from the stairs is a monstrous creature.



    Sit-rep: Thorgrim's standing atop the rubble with two goblins attacking him. Noots down to the right, behind a fallen pillar, where he has been picking off goblins. Elrae is in the center of the pillared nave. Gotrek is up to his left, fighting the last elite hobgoblin. Taki and Berenn are behind the well. There's one more goblin to the right, and three up passed the stairway, firing bows. The large ape-thing has just come up the stairs, and is growling menacingly at Berenn and Taki! Beyond all of them are more hobgoblins, but you can't quite make them out from here.

    "What in the nine hells is that big ugly monkey?" shouts Elrae. "That's no ogre that's for sure." Elrae fires a volley of 5 magic missile, hitting the thing clear in the chest. Berenn fires an arrow, which hits the ape creature in the shoulder. It roars, locking it's eyes on the ranger, who suddenly feels a bit smaller.

    Thorgrim hits and kills one goblin, and as the other scrambles towards him, he hits that one too, splitting its skull open! As the last goblin comes out of its stunned stupor, it charges Thorgrim as well, taking a dagger in the back as it runs by the hiding Noot. Noot wipes his dagger on the goblin's ratty clothes, then nods to Thorgrim.

    Gotrek trades blows with the elite hobgoblin, but neither lands anything telling. Taki rushes around the well, and attacks the ape-thing, which manages to dodge his blow. The creature attacks Taki, hitting him twice with it's claws [12] [12]. It bites him [10], and then delivers a vicious rending of Taki's body [19]. Taki takes a total of 53 damage and is stunned by the ferocity of the creature.

    Berenn takes another arrow [1]. He fires back at a goblin to the right, hitting it in the face and killing it instantly!

    [Thorgrim OOC: Really? He just lost 70% of his HP in a single round of battling the ape. Thorgrim will move to join Taki, but hopefully not in death.]

    The ape-thing bellows furiously, as Elrae launches another set of magic missiles. They scream around Taki, and all slam into the thing's face. It tosses Taki to the side [3], and advances towards Elrae and Berenn, leaping up onto the ledge of the well.

    Berenn backs off and draws his rod, meaning to move around to assist Taki, as Elrae draws Snowfang. Gotrek rushes up behind the ape and hits it in the back with Goreblade, sinking his axe deep in the thing's body. It roars in agony. Taki gets up, heedless of his wounds, and charges back towards the ape-thing.

    Meanwhile Thorgrim comes down from the rubble pile and begins to make his way across the temple, as Noot uses his slippers to go up a pillar and hide in the plentiful shadows along the ceiling. He hears chanting from the far end of the temple.

    Taki hits the ape with a wicked stroke of his sword, just as Berenn slips over and touches him with his rod, healing [20]. Noot stealthily moves across the ceiling, keeping above the various supports to remain unseen. Throgrim moves up beside Elrae, who backs away from the beast as it spins and attacks Gotrek. It would have hit him with two claws, but Taki weaves his blade around masterfully, keeping the ape from landing any blows at all.

    Gotrek then sweeps a blow across the ape's leg, dropping it to one knee, before landing a second blow which caves in its skull. The ape tumbles backwards into the pit, nearly ripping Goreblade from Gotrek's hands but he barely manages to pull the axe free.

    Four more arrows come flying down towards you, but all miss, bouncing harmlessly off the intervening pillars. Now everyone hears the chanting which is coming from the area of the old throne.

    Taki looks at Thorgrim and asks, "If you do not mind, old friend, I could use a bit of healing before I charge into this chanting fellow." He nods to Berenn, "Thank you too."

    Noot moves across the ceiling until he is right above the throne. He sees a very large, well-armored hobgoblin standing there with two others flanking him and a goblin to his side. There are two other hobgoblins, just down from the raised dais. There are two final hobgoblin archers using two pillars for cover and firing at the party. A final hobgoblin comes up from the stairs, sees the dead ape-thing fall, screams in a berserk rage, and charges forward. It hits Berenn, and the two topple over into the well! Berenn takes [4] from the fall, but he twists and stabs the hobgoblin, driving his sword through its head from ear to ear.

    Two arrows fly down towards Taki and Gotrek, who are protected behind the cover of the pillars. Taki waits for Thorgrim to move up to him, accepts the cure spell [10], then nods at Gotrek. The two charge to opposite sides of the stairway, going after the two hobgoblin archers. However, both run into fields of caltrops, in the area. Each takes [2]. Taki is reduced to half movement until he spends a round removing the caltrop. Gotrek has the caltrop stuck, and suffers 1/3 movement until it heals.

    Elrae fires more magic missiles, taking out the hobgoblin on the left! The right hobgoblin fires another arrow at Taki but misses him.

    Elrae goes over to the well, but then finds Berenn's already pulling out his rope of climbing. He thus turns back in time to see Thorgrim moving up towards the stairs. He looks down, and at the bottom sees a huge pile of rubble where the lower levels have collapsed. There is a small cleared out area where the ape must have been, but otherwise, the rest of the way is totally blocked.

    Taki clears out the caltrop this round, while Gotrek just moves off through the field, singing. He hits another caltrop at the far end, taking [1], and now has movement cut in half again. Down to 1/6 movement, or 2". Still, he's got that old determined battlerager look!

    Elrae fires another magic missile, sending them screaming off toward the right-hand hobgoblin archer. They whip around the pillar from both sides, slamming it in a magicall pincer which slays it easily.

    Noot can hear chanting from below, but nobody is actually chanting, so he thinks there's an invisible spellcaster there.

    Thorgrim opens his portable hole, takes out his planks, and throws them down to cross over to the other side, calling the others to them. Taki carefully makes his way across the caltrops, and a hobgoblin rushes south to meet him. The hobgoblin swings a morning star, but misses.

    Gotrek charges, and even with his hurt feet, he still reaches the surprised hobgoblin. Before it can react, Gotrek buries Goreblade in the things face!

    Noot drops the Iron Bands at the leader, but they miss, clanging off the throne and rolling to the side.

    The leader is holding three javelins, and he throws one at Gotrek, hitting him for [6]. It explodes in a terrific clap, and releases its lightning bolt right into him [20]. The bolt continues and rebounds off the far wall, though without hitting anyone else.

    Elrae moves up, crossing the planks, and Berenn climbs up and does the same. He leaves his rope and bow behind, for now, drawing his two blades.

    Before anyone can act, the goblin leader throws another javelin, blasting Gotrek for [24]. The other two warriors take up positions to block the way to him. A goblin picks up the iron bands, looking at it. Noot gets ready to throw daggers, when Elrae casts Glitterdust on the throne area. They all make their saves, except the goblin, which is blinded. The glitterdust reveals another hobgoblin to the left.

    Thorgrim casts a Silence spell, which ends the chanting as the entire throne area goes silent. Gotrek, Taki, and Berenn all then charge the area, easily slaying the remaining humanoids. Once the shaman goes down, Thorgrim cancels his silence spell. He hears Gotrek grumbling as he wipes off Goreblade, "Stupid goblins."

    Looking around, they see that the place is a total ruin. The stairs are completely blocked, and even the well is totally destroyed at the bottom, leaving no way to go. Speaking of which, Taki looks over at Berenn, who fell into the well that the hobgoblins were using for a latrine. "Daggum," he says, sniffing, "you smell like ya fell into a dungheap!"

    Berenn ignores him, and finds a goblin not yet dead. He speaks with it and learns that they were basically a wandering tribe. They were told of this ruin by some priests they met in the hills about a couple days from here. They were told to come here, that they'd be safe as people avoided the area anyway. He describes the priests, and they sound strangely familiar to the priests Lareth described from the mountain temple. Other than that, he doesn't know anything about Lareth, or anyone or anything.

    Berenn strip him of anything of value, take him over to the well, and tosses him in. "You can slowly rot down there!" Berenn turns from the well. "I believe this was a diversion,"
    says Berenn. "I am going to fly back to the station and take stock of the situation. After you have searched the place, make good speed in your return. Berenn gives orders to his men to wait for the party before heading back to Warden's Station, mounts Ra and starts flying home. He also curses the horrible stench!

    Berenn returns only to find the Warden's Station was attacked while they were gone. A few were slain, but the garrison responded well. The main problem was Gungk, who suddenly set upon the garrison itself. Against the giant, they could do little but hide. Meanwhile, intruders entered the lower level. Lyseios was there, but he hid behind some barrels. It seems they weren't interested in him or his workshop though. They went straight to the cells.

    "They took Lareth," says the alchemist.

    The guards outside then tell how the intruders fled on some kind of giant spider-bee things, flying off to the West. Nobody could do anything until Gungk finally returned to his normal self, and by then it was too late to do anything but deal with the dead.

    Berenn will address the garrison after he has cleaned up. "Today has been the first for this outpost and we have lost some of our brothers. I swear to you those who committed these crimes will be brought to justice! My comrades and I will be leaving shortly to deliver the final blow to the survivors of the Temple of Elemental Evil. In my absence, continue to train hard and protect your home. Duty, Honor and Glory!"

    The party takes care of some last minute business, then everyone gets ready to depart on the trail of Lareth and his rescuers. Thorgrim is especially upset that they didn't kill him outright, and Isilme makes a comment about cutting off heads. Emyn is also upset, but in a more personal way.

    As they prepare to leave Hommlet, Emyn is sitting on the porch of the trading post. A short 4'10" lady in a long black dress walks out of the inn. Anybody inside would swear she had not been inside. She wears a wide brimmed old fashioned hat. She first goes to Hepla and hugs her, then whistles very loudly and Star shows up and jumps into Hepla's arms. Then they walk over to Emyn. She looks up enough so he sees the bottom half of her face. He is looking at the most beautiful woman he has ever imagined seeing. She says, "When Hepla turns 18 you may visit our home." The lady looks back at Emyn and says,"Do not presume any liberties before, understood?"

    Emyn nods, and the woman reaches out and touches Emyn's hand. For a moment he is ten years younger, when she takes her hand away he returns to his regular age. The woman then heads back into the inn. Hepla follows, but her mom is gone.

    Before the party departs, Berenn takes Ra and Elmo on one morning hunt. The morning air is crisp and the game plentiful. The group ends up near the Gnarly Forest and Berenn leads Elmo and Ra up a hill. He looks out over his lands and cracks a slight smile. " I leave to bring justice to those who have violated our home, I leave my outpost and lands in your capable hands." Berenn takes in a large breath, the crisp clean air fills his lungs and he then exhales it slowly. "Be ever vigil, these lands have known bad times and we have been tasked with restoring peace." Berenn pets Ra on his head. "Take care of Elmo and Isis while I am away Ra my friend." Berenn then hands a map and his Ring of Featherfall to Elmo, "The map is accurate and up to date. I have marked the areas which will require the attention of the patrols. The ring will keep you safe from falling as you continue to practice riding while I am gone. Ra will allow you to ride him while Isis is taking care of the young. Protect the land, but do not become careless with your life or the lives of the men. Rufus has men in Hommlet and Verbobonc can be here in days, if the need arises, you may call on either or both. Make sure the repairs continue on schedule, we need the outpost functional as soon as possible."

    Berenn takes one more look at Gnarley Forest, "I will miss these lands and my friends." He then heads back to Hommlet to join the rest of the party as they leave on Lareth's trail.
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:10 pm  
    Part 3 - On the Road Again


    Viscounty map as the party leaves Hommlet
    Starday, 22nd of Wealsun (CY 581)
    So, you set off in the morning on Starday. It is a nice warm day, with temperatures now up to the low 80s. A clear day greats you with bird songs and the waves of villagers as you depart. Isilme strikes an interesting sight these days, wearing a dark suit and hooded cloak of spider silk, and a beautifully defined mask made of silver with Grey Elvish features over her face. The party is pretty upset, Isilme and Emyn most of all, at how they gave Lareth the opportunity to reform and were repaid by betrayal and foul murder.

    "We shall find this cur," he says, "and when we do he will wish he had burned to death back at the moathouse."

    "His head is mine," says Isilme. "I am tired of foes returning from the grave."

    Your first day is relatively uneventful, as you follow the road West, towards the Gnome communities in the Greenway Valley. You pass a few more villages on the way, but they are extremely small, only a handful of buildings with scattered farms. Not even an inn or any such building. Towards the end of the day, you reach Kron. It is a large rocky hill, to the north of the road, which has been built into a fortress by the industrious gnomes.


    Kron

    The gnomes come out and check you out as you approach. Elrae pulls out his Gnome Friend ring and greets the Gnomes in his usually charismatic fashion. As Taki speaks his greetings, Elrae takes out his gnome ring. They are quite impressed, as these are only very rarely given out. They speak with Elrae for a bit, who tells the tale of Wonillon. They only ask the normal stuff, where you're coming from, going, etc. Then they let you pass with good wishes.

    Emyn just nods his head to the friendly gnomes and flashes a smile. He asks Elrae," Find out if they saw some odd creatures flying westward recently."

    "Did you happen to see any strange flying creatures that look like spiders flay past these glorious hills?" he asks.

    The gnomes look at each other, then laugh slightly. At what, it's hard to say, but Emyn senses it is at him. "No," says the leader. "Nothing like that has passed this way." They then allow you passage into the Greenway Valley.

    Although small gnome villages are scattered throughout the Kron Hills, it is in the lightly wooded Greenway Valley that the majority of gnomes make their home. This pastoral valley has grown to become one of the largest gnome settlements in the Flanaess, mostly due to the brisk trade carried on with the merchants of Verbobonc. The valley is currently home to about 10,000 gnomes. The valley is divided into twelve townships, each looked after by one of the gnomish noble families. The Central Township is the seat of the Gnome King, Pithriggen Rubyeye. His family has ruled the Gnomes of the Kron Hills for over 500 years, and it is very well respected by the other nobles and commoners alike. His son Jimm, the Crown Prince, lives in Verbobonc and sees to gnomish interests in the city.

    The houses in the valley are very reminiscent of the buildings of Verbobonc, a mix of old and new, gnomish and gothic styles. This should not be surprising as Greenway Valley was the birthplace of the famous Gnome architect Snirthiglin, who drafted the plans for Verbobonc years ago. Many also live in rents (gnomish for cellar), preferring the smell of the earth to the open air homes of their brethren. Along the Greenway, the name given to the road running through the valley, numerous inns, merchant houses, markets, and taverns are located, catering to traders and travelers alike. Further, each noble house has a large factory along the Greenway where goods from the mines are received, stockpiled, and sold to traders. By gnome law, no product of the mines may be sold by the nobles at any other place. All commerce thus centers around these factories, and it is there that the true interface between the gnome/human commerce occurs. An agent of the King, the Satveegr, oversees each factory. He is responsible for the collection of taxes, the auditing of the mine records, and for mitigating disputes which arise between the factories and traders. These posts are especially sought after as there is ample opportunity for monetary gain associated with them.

    Gnome Marshalls, appointed by the King, travel throughout the valley on a regular circuit. They keep the peace in the various township. Their rulings may be overturned by the authority of the various nobles; however, in matters regarding intertownship crimes and disputes, they answer only to the King. These posts are also highly sought after as the Marshalls are among the most respected individuals in Greenway Valley.

    Each township has an organized militia, and the total force of Greenway Valley numbers upwards of 5,000 gnome soldiers when fully mustered. They may be raised by either the Gnome King, or by the Viscount of Verbobonc (with the Gnome Kings approval, of course.) The Gnomes volunteered to aid the Dwarves of the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars, and the last time the militia was raised was at the request of the Viscount who desired their help against the hordes of Zuggtmoy. Since the sacking of the Temple of Elemental Evil, life has largely returned to normal in the valley, and happiness and prosperity have returned to the Gnomes of the Kron Hills.

    When the gnomes realize who you are, they set you up in the best available inn (when you decide to rest) and provide a feast of epic proportions. You find to your amazement that you are considered heroes to the gnomes of the valley.

    "You more entrepreneurial types should establish a trading system with these gnomes and Hommlet," says Elrae to Thorgrim and Berenn.

    Berenn will take the opportunity to introduce himself as the Lord of Warden's Station and discuss opening relations once the outpost is fully operational. If the gnome leadership is interested in relations, a more formal meeting can be set for a future date. I extend an invitation to the leaders to visit the outpost once it is operational. He finds the gnomes already know of Warder's Station, for it is from the Greenway Valley that the gnome workers came to help with the rebuilding. Berenn then meets one of the Gnome Marshalls, and he promises to bring this to the nobles, maybe even the king himself. It's a good start.
    Sunday, 23 Wealsun (CY 581)
    You awake in the morning after an excellent rest, and the gnomes provide you a nice breakfast with eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and even milk. When you take your leave, you find they've also given you enough food and drink for a week on the road. You leave, and have a very pleasant day riding through the rest of the Greenway Valley. About midday, you pass out of the valley, through the border village of Osnabrolt. It is typical of the rest of the gnome villages, being half warrens and half buildings. Here you find that you are not known at all, but you are still treated with respect by the gnomes who do not fail to notice Elrae's ring.

    You travel the rest of the day, and shortly before nightfall you reach another village, Littleborough. This village is the home of about 150 halfling stouts. They dwell in little boroughs, hence the village name, which typically have only one door, a shuttered window, and a chimney. They are very carefree, working only as much as they need to. They interact little with the other communities of the Kron Hills, though this is as much because of laziness and disinterest as for any other reason. They are very friendly with a tribe of centaurs which lives to the Southeast. They raise much grain which is traded to the centaurs for their hornwood bows and for the variety of fruits, particularly Karafruit, which they gather in sheltered glades. There is no mayor over Littleborough, though each year the inhabitants elect a Sheriff. His job is not only to judge in the case of any legal matters, of which there are few, but he is also the liaison with the gnomes of the Greenway Valley. As he is almost constantly shuttling back and forth between the two communities, sometimes even traveling to Verbobonc itself, the position is greatly desired for its adventurousness. There is one inn in Littleborough, The Galloping Pike, where the Greenway crosses over the Clearwater River. Prices are quite low, and the quality and entertainment grand as travelers are the villages main source of news and the Halflings attempt to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.



    The halflings make a big fuss about your arrival, not really getting many visitors.

    Emyn asks the others in the party, "Wasn't your old friend Derry was from here?"

    "Yes, he was," says Thorgrim sadly. When this is realized, the villagers wonder whatever happened to that most inquisitive of halflings."

    [Berenn OOC: You might want to soften up how he died ... "He was a moron and drank poison" doesn't sound so great.]

    Emyn tells the halflings that her never knew Derry, but only of him as he died in the battle for the Temple of Elemental Evil before Emyn joined the group. He suggests speaking with some of the others in the party for more details. Elrae tells the tale of Derry, embellishing a bit at the end so that they don't learn of his foolhardy potion-testing technique! They seem very saddened by the news. Soon word flies all around the village about Derry's death. You are taken to the inn, where all your needs are met and you are again provided meals as the townfolk flock around. In time, Derry's parents arrive, seeking news of their wandering son.

    [Berenn OOC: Nice touch! If they are Derry's parents, shouldn't they have blown themselves up or come to some unfortunate end years ago? ]

    Berenn expresses his condolences after the news is related to the parents. Isilme entertains the towns children with her magic horn of bubbles. She gives her condolences to Derry's parents, and asks if they are comfortable money wise. They seem too stunned to speak. Hepla sits with the parents and tells them of their son and how he was interested in her but that he never took advantage of her. "Just a friendly kiss now and then," she says with a smile.

    "Aye, Derry. A brave lad. Too brave, some might say!" says Gotrek. "A battlerager's heart, that one."

    "Our son?" they say. "It is hard to believe. He was one of the wisest in our family." She turns to her husband and says, "Oh Drego, did you get your toe stuck in your nose again?"

    [Berenn OOC: Yup ... they share the same gene pool.]

    The party spends a rather unhappy evening with Derry's parents, who are quite saddened by the loss of their son. They also have another son and daughter, who are both older, and responsible, for little folk. Elrae tell tales of adventure, and they are enthralled by the story of Derry's brave attack against Lareth. He end up kinda fudging the end, that he died testing a potion that turned out to be poison, and instead just says that he fell in battle against ogres, giants, and worse when you brought down the Temple of Elemental Evil. By the end, they at least leave with the understanding that their boy accomplished much, in his short time, and died a hero. Few halflings ever leave Littleborough, and none have ever done so much. Though saddened, they leave with a sense of pride in Derry's deeds. They do ask if it is possible to bring his remains back, to be reunited forever with the rest of his kin.

    Thorgrim puffs his pipe and stares into the fire. "Aye, the party has changed much since its inception. Many new faces, but many the same." He returns to his smoking.

    Taki agrees to do this, if possible, thanking them for their hospitality. Noot goes up to Derry's parents and kneels before them. He takes out his magic short sword, which glows with a soft light. "I did not know your son," he says, "but his companions gifted me with his blade. It is fitting that it return, even though he could not."

    He holds the sword out, and Derry's father takes it gently in both hands. His eyes tear up, and Derry's mother wraps Noot in a big hug, thanking him. "We shall treasure this always," she says, holding back tears of her own.

    Isilme takes the platinum circlet of moonstones off her head and hands it to Derry's mother. "Sell this, and may the money help you live more comfortably. Derry was a good and brave soul, it is the least I can offer you. The stones were from the very temple he helped to defeat." [OOC: value is Platinum Circlet set with 5 pale blue glowing moonstones (circlet 500 gp, stones:100 gp, 50 gp, 10 gp, 5 gp, 5 gp)

    Emyn promises to escort Derry's parents to his gravesite once the adventure is over so that they can pay their respects to one of the heroes of Hommlet. Shortly thereafter, everyone goes to sleep.

    Godsday, 25 Readying (581 CY)
    After a restless night, plagued by memories of Derry's death and the sadness of his family, you awake and press on. It is the hottest day of the year so far, and you find yourselves quite uncomfortable, especially Isilme who doesn't like the bright light of this hot summer day. She pulls a cloak up over herself, and has to cast a resist heat just to keep from overheating. You spend most of the day quietly riding, people keeping their thoughts to themselves. By the end of the day, you approach Castle Hagthar, boundary between the Viscounty of Verbobonc and the Archclericy of Veluna.

    This rather decrepit keep marks the southern border of the Archclerichy of Veluna. It commands the heights of a massive rock escarpment, overlooking the Greenway where it passes the border. Although it was obviously a once proud citadel, it has fallen in disrepair.


    Castle Hagthar (actually Montsegur in France!)

    At the foot of the escarpment is a small village, with an inn where you may stay. Once in the inn they ask around about anyone seeing flying spider creatures and knowledge about the temple. Nobody has seen anything like that around here.

    "Is the keep is still in use?" asks Hepla.

    "Oh yes," says the innkeeper. "though it's seen better days. After fleeing Euroz tribes, driven from the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars, sacked the castle, it's never quite been the same. Nor has its lord."

    "I am surprised the lords of the castle even survived a successful orcish assault," says Emyn. "I hope the orcs do not continue to plague the area."

    The innkeeper sets out food and drinks as he continues. "Well, that was about 70 years ago. Nobody did survive, though the current lord, Farkaesh, the Grim they call him, was just a young boy at the time, and was not in the castle when the orcs attacked. Once the orcs were driven off, he inherited the fiefdom. Of course, he quickly lost most of it, and now barely holds onto what little remains."

    "Who took the lands?" asks Emyn.

    "He lost most of them gambling," says the innkeeper. "Now all that remains is a small area around the castle." He glances up sadly, as if looking up towards where the castle sits atop the pinnacle. "He spends most of him time along the lonely battlements, staring off across his lost lands."

    "It seems to me he has done poorly by his people," replies Emyn.

    The innkeeper bristles a bit, as Elrae adds, "If he'd only trade with the gnomes of Greenway Valley. Really it is none of our concern. We really should move on."

    "If I declared a Pursuit of Vengeance against incompetent nobles, I'd probably have to kill half the aristocracy," muses Emyn.

    The innkeeper laughs, "Only half?"

    Hepla looks up at Emyn and says, "I hope you will not come after me or anyone else in our party."

    "I'm already chasing you, my dear," he says with a coy smile.

    "Would it be inappropriate to call upon your Lord?" asks Hepla.

    "No, not at all," says the innkeeper. "We'll send a boy up to see if he'll accept visitors."

    "Tell him it is Lord Berenn and Lady Hepla," she says and he nods, grabbing a boy and sending him running to the castle. After a bit, he returns, with news that the lord of Castle Hagthar will see you presently.


    You follow the old road up the steep slope to the castle. It is clear that it sees little traffic, and is mostly overgrown. It winds back and forth along a narrow slope, with many defensive walls along the way.

    [img]httphttps://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-OyBGZr6uMk4/UuWIwbMLdwI/AAAAAAAACP0/CF0pl_9rcu0/s300/Approach%2520to%2520Castle%2520Hagthar2.jpg[/img]
    Looking up at the castle just before you head up the last, steep switchbacks, you find it hard to believe anyone ever took this place by assault.

    It will be dark soon, but you pause for a moment as you enjoy the most spectacular sunset you've ever seen.


    By the time you reach the main gate, you are pretty exhausted, the climb of about 2000' having taken quite a while. You find the gate open.

    Main Gate

    You are met by the Seneschal, Aghur Naran. He is an old Bakluni man, at least 80 years old or more. Yet, for his age, he has the sharp eyes of a warrior, and the scars as well. He sizes you up (everyone who went, and I'd like to know who went!). He tells you that dinner is being hastily prepared, Lord Farkaesh was not expecting visitors. He takes you through the gate, across the ward, and up the steps to the keep. It is very spartan, and you immediately notice the lack of the normal trappings of nobility. You are take to the great room, where you find the lord of the castle, Farkaesh the Grim.

    Lord Farkaesh the Grim

    [I found an image of this old Cathar castle, Puilaurens, just to have a cool pic. When I did some searching, I stumbled onto this site, which is rather cool. Take a look at one interesting place!]

    http://www.catharcastles.info/puilaurens.php?key=puilaurens

    The seneschal introduces you to Lord Farkaesh, and you see in him more than a bit of Bakluni blood as well. Strange in such an out of the way place as this, to have a Bakluni noble. A handful of servants shuffle around, all doting on their lord in the most effusive manner. He hardly seems to notice, and often waves off one or more of them, making them scamper away. He bids you welcome to his home, and waves for all to eat.

    He is most impressed by Lord Berenn, though he confesses he has never heard of Warder's Station. He bows to Lady Hepla, and you see a sadness pass over his face, just for a moment, before he nods and with a deep sigh sits back in his chair. Aghur Naran sits beside him, watching over you all as you begin to eat.

    When Thorgrim mentions Dorob Kilthduum, the room suddenly becomes quiet. Lord Farkaesh stares at Thorgrim, and one of the servants spills wine on Taki's lap as he looks up hastily. "Got what they deserved," says Lord Farkaesh." The seneschal puts a hand on his shoulder as Lord Farkaesh slams his goblet down, sloshing wine onto the table. "Greedy, ungrateful Dwur!" he almost yells. "It's all their fault! Everything. Even..." his voice cracks and dies away, as Aghur Naran holds his shoulder tight and whispers something to him, trying to calm him down.

    Isilme attempts to break the tension by introducing herself to the lord, as a member of the Order of the Cat.

    The Lord is still upset, and sits back in sullen silence as Aghur Naran greets Isilme. "You have the voice of a songbird," he says with a tired smile. "Why do you cover your face?"
    [DM OOC: I want to say, "were you burned by acid or something?" but just can't!]

    Lord Farkaesh doesn't seem to hear anything, either upset or lost in memories from decades ago. "Is there some service we could perform?" asks Berenn. "I would see your lordship's suffering eased if possible."

    "Fireball" says Isilme quietly, but in a tone that implies the subject is now dead. She also says to the seneschal, "Your lord seems extremely troubled, what has happened here? Perhaps our group can help?"

    As Lord Farkaesh starts to mutter, the seneschal looks at Berenn. "No," he replies. "He is just tired."

    "Tired!" yells Lord Farkaesh. "Tired of waiting these long months for help that never arrives!" He looks at Thorgrim. "Where are your Kilthduum kin? The castle is lost without them!"

    Aghur nods to the servants, who come and take hold of their lord, gently, but with control. He barks commands at somebody who isn't there, orders for the positioning of a catapult, something else about a postern. His servants play along with him, and lead him out of the room.

    "I apologize, my lords," says Aghur. "Lord Farkaesh is tired, yes. Tired of life. It has been hard, these many long years." He then tells you the story of Castle Hagthar.

    This rather decrepit keep marks the southern border with the Archclerichy of Veluna. It commands the heights of a massive rock escarpment, overlooking the Greenway where it passes the border. Although it was obviously a once proud citadel, it has fallen in disrepair since the wars with Keoland. Taken by Keoish invaders in 400 CY, it was bypassed by the Veluna/Furyondian armies during the Small War, and was not reconquered until 442 CY in a siege lasting 2 years.

    Due to its relative unimportance compared to Veluna's other frontiers, reconstruction did not resume until the 470s. The work was completed in 482 CY, and although the new fortifications were formidable, they were far less daunting than the earlier defenses. This proved to be quite unfortunate, for in 507 CY, fleeing Euroz tribes, driven from the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars, sacked the castle. They held Hagthar for 9 months, while Veluna's calls for dwarven assistance went unanswered. This event aroused much resentment among Velunas southern nobles and continues to plague relations between them and the Lortmil Dwarves to this day.

    The castle was rebuilt once again by the Plar of the Southern House of Veluna, although little true effort was put into the undertaking. The current castle is only a shadow of its former self, and its current lord, Farkaesh the Grim, is about as poor a soul as his castle. Hardly wealthy by any means, he inherited Hagthar from his father along with sizable lands extending well into the Relgwood which he quickly lost gambling. Castle Hagthar and the land for only a dozen or so miles radius around it is all that remains from the previous fief. Farkaesh is now nearing 90, and has lost any interest in life. He spends his remaining days staring dejectedly from his lonely battlements, surrounded by a score of retainers interested only in being named his heir. They dote over their miserable master and one must wonder whether it is the place itself which draws such people to it.

    He then adds, "The orcs slew his entire family, while the young lord was off hunting in the Relgwood. He stood by helpless as the Velunese nobles laid siege to his home, slowly starving the Euroz into submission. They could have driven them out earlier, at least so he thinks, had the dwarves of Dorob Kilthduum answered calls for help. Little did anyone know they had been overrun by the same humanoid hordes." He shakes his head, "Now my lord lives more in the past than the present, as if he is back there, in those days so long gone. It's strange, how he remembers them, details that are so long forgotten even by myself, who was ever his friend."

    "Is there nothing to be done to cheer him?" Hepla asks. "He was kind enough to give us this dinner, and gratious enough to receive us so his nobility remains but it seems to me his hope has left him. Although, for just a moment, he reacted to my being here in almost a special way. How can we help?"

    Hepla looks at Isilme, "I bet it has been a long time since a song was heard in this hall, perhaps the two of you could sing a song," she says, glancing also at Elrae. She looks at Aghur and says,"Would that help? What song would he like to hear?"

    Elrae starts to sing a song, but it simply doesn't grab Lord Farkaesh, who is led out of the hall by his servants. Isilme joins in, and even her enchanting voice fails to bring him back into the hall. They finish the song, but Lord Farkaesh is gone. His servants have taken him to his rooms. The seneschal apologizes, but everyone can see he is genuinely sad. The party then learns his story.

    They find that Lord Farkaesh is the seneschal's half-brother, as Aghur Naran is a bastard. Their father had an affinity for Baklunish women, and took a Kettite noble for his bride. A few years later, while fighting in a border war with the Kettites, he took a Kettite woman, Aghur Naran's mother. His mother was slain in the war just after Aghur was born, and Lord Farkaesh brought him back to Castle Hagthar. He raised him as his own, much to the disappointment of his wife. The only reason she put up with the affront to her pride was the knowledge that, under Veluna law, a bastard had no claim to inheritance.

    Anyway, Aghur and his half-brother, the current Lord Farkaesh, became inseparable. The only reason they survived the assault of the orcs was because they were off hunting in the Relgwood when the Euroz attacked. Everyone they knew was killed when the orcs took the castle, and ever since Lord Farkaesh has been a solitary, brooding man. Aghur, loyal to the end, has stayed by his brother's side his entire life. He has endured the loss of nearly 90% of the fief, mostly to gambling debts, but also to simple mismanagement. Still, he has never left. He watches out for his brother still.

    "See the servants," says Aghur, "they are more than just servants. They are all distant kin, gathered together in Lord Farkaesh's final years. They are nothing but scheming relations, never here throughout his life when they may have mattered, but here now, doting over him in his senility. They know that Aghur cannot inherit, thus they fawn over their 'Lord' in the hopes that he will pick one of them as heir, or that their claim may be recognized."

    He sits down heavily. "Vultures, vultures everywhere," he says, shaking his head.

    "Elrae?" asks Hepla, "Do you know any Kettite songs? If we leave the door open, maybe he will hear the song and come back. If not Aghur will you tell him that his guests want to leave but cannot without thanking him for his hospitality and getting his leave to go back to the Inn."

    Aghur shakes his head, "It's no use My Lady. When he is like this, he may as well be 20 years old again. His mind doesn't return for hours, if at all."

    "He reacted a bit strangely when he saw me," says Hepla. "Do you know any reason for this reaction?"

    "You probably remind him of somebody from his youth," he replies.

    "Have your priests not looked at him?" ask Isilme.

    "What priests?" he laughs. "We are not so fortunate here, as to have such powers at our disposal. Besides, Lord Farkaesh has seen Ninety winters. They would say this is normal."

    "We are skilled in the healing arts," says Isilme. "Perhaps we can help?"

    Aghur takes you up to Lord Farkaesh's room, on the next floor of the keep. He only takes the priests, though not Thorgrim as Lord Farkaesh is in a distinctly anti-dwarf mood. Once in the room, they look at him, even cast some spells, but find that they cannot do anything. Finally, Berenn takes out his Rod of Xodal. He says a prayer to St. Cuthbert, and even adds in a short prayer to Zodal, God of Mercy, as he places the rod upon Lord Farkaesh's forehead. The rod glows in a series of scintillating colors, something it has never done before, and Lord Farkaesh closes his eyes. When he opens them they are totally lucid. He looks around, as if seeing for the first time in years. Aghur starts to say something, but the words catch in his throat as Lord Farkaesh stands and embraces his brother.

    He's still old, but suddenly he is mentally healed. He thanks the Gods, and turns to Isilme. "Will you please remove your mask?" he asks. "A voice that beautiful, can only belong to an angel," he says, smiling.

    She sighs "Sadly, people often judge by looks rather than deeds. It should not matter."

    Berenn bows to Lord Farkaesh, "You have been locked away from your people for too long my Lord. Welcome back from the darkness. If you would have nothing else, I would like to take my leave and retire for the evening. Tomorrow will come early and we must continue on our way. We will make a point of stopping here upon our return."

    He doesn't press Isilme further, and the party retires back downstairs where they resume eating. Lord Farkaesh cannot sleep now, not now that he's been reinvigorated, so he returns with them. He and his brother talk as if they haven't seen each other in years, while for the most part the rest of you simply share the good food. You notice the servants/relatives don't exactly seem all that happy now.

    Eventually the party retires for the night, looking forward to the morrow after such an auspicious start to their adventure.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:53 pm  

    It's fun to see that your group traveled through the gnomish lands in the Kron Hills, as well. Smile

    I do love the pictures you provide.

    SirXaris
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:31 pm  

    I am absolutely amazed how the internet helps my game. I never had so much at my disposal back in the days when I played FtF with friends. Now, when I need a castle, I have but to do a quick Google search and PRESTO! One castle, ready to go. And now with the proliferation of pics from places like Facebook and such, there are all kinds of images which can add to enjoyment. It's like being able to come up with images which are like the old cutouts from classic modules, like Tomb of Horrors. I'm not an artist who can draw up stuff easily, and it sure wouldn't be done will. However, the internet is even better.

    I'm glad you appreciate it. I like using the many real-world places I find. I have been amazed in the last couple years of the myriad places I've found. Castles and ruins are scattered throughout Europe, and most are both very cool and mostly unknown. This allows me to add lots of good detail, with a minimum of busy work. I do love the memories of those old days, when I scribbled a castle map on a piece of paper and just rolled with it. We even had a 4x4 laminated hex/square map which we used to draw on with Dry Erase markers for battles and such. Now, I have the internet, Maptools, etc. It's a whole new world for D&D!
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:25 pm  
    Part 4 - Gardening

    Waterday, 26 Readying (581 CY)
    In the morning, and you can tell it'll be another hot day. A partly cloudy sky offers some respite, along with alight breeze blowing from the East. You find Lord Farkaesh and his brother Aghur are already down in the village. The villagers haven't seen them in a couple of years, and are amazed at the transformation. He thanks you for everything you've done.

    He joins you for breakfast, where you can explain to him your trade ideas. Virtually no trade passes through this way, as the gnomes of the Greenway Valley have trade agreements with Verbobonc for all their gems. This out of the way frontier between Veluna and the Viscounty sees very little traffic, and less trade. Since the Hateful Wars, the dwarves of the Lortmills have apparently gone deep, and of course, no more trade flows from Dorob Kilthduum. Thus, the Farkaesh fortunes have gradually diminished. All that remains of his families fiefdom is the castle and the land for about 10 miles around it. You notice that he doesn't seem angry now when he mentions Dorob Kilthduum.

    "At risk of committing another gaffe," Thorgrim begins, "I would ask you more of Dorob Kilthduum. It was once my home. I was born there, and was but a child when the Euroz invaded and conquered the mountain fortress, scattering my people from their home. I have lived these many long years with but a single dream: to oust the Euroz usurpers from that place, and return it to its rightful masters. I realize you feel betrayed by the lack of promised help from your Dwarven allies, but know this: at the time you spoke of, there was nothing left of the Dwarves of Dorob Kilthduum. The Euroz had destroyed us first, before turning to your lands."

    He doesn't remember last night, as he makes no mention of it. He nods, and agrees with Thorgrim, telling him how when he was young he was full of anger at the Kilthduum Dwarves, blaming them for no better reason than to have some outlet for his anger and grief. He knows better now.

    "Not many survived that time," he says ruefully, and places a shaky hand on Thorgrim's shoulder as he looks him in the eyes. (that is to say, your eye. sorry, couldn't resist!) "Dwarf or man."

    "Aye," Thorgrim replies. "I have yet to meet another of my clan since that time." He pauses. "It is possible there is none other still alive. If so, it shall needs be me who becomes the next patriarch of Clan Duerkas."

    Once they finish breakfast and are ready to move on, Hepla thanks the lord and wishes him well "I hope to see you when we come this way again."

    He takes Hepla's hand and kisses it. "As do I, my Lady. It has been a pleasure." Turning back to the others, he asks, "So, to where do you travel? You certainly aren't merchants or pilgrims."

    "Adventures we be and evil is what we are to destroy," says Elrae between bites. "We are pursuing an acquaintance of ours who was taken away by some strange fly creature that looks like a cross between a spider and a bee. Last seen heading west towards a temple of unspeakable evil."

    "Can you tell us anything about the village of Rastor?" Thorgrim asks.

    He tells you that if you follow the Greenway, it will take you a small town, Vala Real. It's about a days ride. From there you can follow the road south to Rastor, about another two days journey. However, there's an old road that heads south from here, winding its way through the foothills and into the mountains, all the way to Rastor. It will takes about a day from your journey. It's no longer used, but you should have no trouble following it with his instructions.

    After he responds to Thorgrim's question Hepla will step forward again, with a 500gp gem in her hand, "My order of the Cat is in need of some lairs that we can fall back to if needed. How long would this 500 gp gem rent a room in your keep for a Cat Lair? And would you consent to such a rental? This must be in a written deed so no one can say we only took advantage of your goodness." She will take out paper and ink to record such a deed, then ask Isilme to copy it, one for him and one for the order.

    As for renting a room in the keep, that simply isn't a possibility. Nobles don't rent rooms in their keeps. However, there is an old watchtower along the old road he told you about. It's just about a days ride south. It has long fallen from use, and he will deed it to you, if you'd like.

    Hepla accepts the deal, and Lord Farkaesh happily signs over a deed to her.

    "Why is the old road no longer used?" asks Thorgrim.

    "The old road went southeast," he says, "over the spur of hills and into the Valley of Karaduum. It was a prosperous township of the Viscounty, about half-dwarven in population, which sat on the crossroads between the Viscounty, Veluna, and Celene. It was destroyed by the Euroz hordes during the Hateful Wars and was never rebuilt, as they say the place is now haunted. From the valley, there are roads to Dorob Kilthduum, Rastor, and Celene. The elves who retreated from the fight at Karaduum named the path the Trail of Tears, for the great losses inflicted upon them as they fled to safety. It is an easy path, though I cannot vouch for what you may find in the valley."

    Bidding Lord Farkaesh and his brother farewell, the party leaves on road to the southeast. You travel for about half a day, climbing up the steep spur of hills. Near the top, before a small valley which winds it's way SE into the Valley of Karaduum, you come across the tower Lord Farkaesh spoke of.



    The tower is nearly completely overgrown with creepers, and you can see the open doorway above, but the wooden stairs that once reached it have since rotted away. There are some further stone walls, now crumbling, which seem to have encircled a small area, perhaps for stables or other such buildings. Other than the tower, there is nothing left.

    Berenn stares at the tower for a moment and turns to Hepla, "How much did you pay for this dump?" Berenn scouts up the base of the tower looking for recent activity and if he finds none, will look for an entrance at the base. As he moves forward, Hepla casts fly and then flies up to the top to get a better look. While she flies up, Berenn spies movement as he scouts around the base. The very vines are moving. He shouts a warning just in time to save the party from surprise!

    Berenn backs away, yelling loudly. "Run! It's a...." His words are cut off as three vines grab a hold of him, one around his head.

    Since everyone had a "wait and see what it does" kind of attitude, the plant goes first! Berenn yells his warning when he sees the party just waiting, but it's too late. Vines seem to come alive all around you, from the tower, the old walls, the brush, even along the ground. It is like this entire area is alive!

    Three wrap around Elrae. Two wrap around Gotrek. As mentioned, three wrap around Berenn. Three wrap around Isilme. Two wrap around Taki. Three wrap around Noot. Two wrap around Emyn.

    None wrap around Elrae's horse. Two wrap around Gotrek's horse. Two wrap around Berenn's horse. One wraps around Hepla's horse. One wrap around Isilme's horse. Two wraps around Taki's horse. None wrap around Noots horse. One wraps around Emyn's horse.

    [DM OOC: I assume the only ones dismounted yet are Berenn and Hepla. You all may act in reaction to the plant attacks. If you are grabbed by vines, you can see (and feel) them wrapping tighter and constricting you. I have to follow this up with another post, so wait for it!]

    [This turned out to be a tough and deadly encounter, but very difficult to do. I used grappling rules, for the attacks of this plant, a Choke Creeper! It was a very tough fight to manage, and I was thinking to skip it, just throwing out a quick synopsis. However, as I read it, I thought it worth posting. Not only was it tough, but it may also help other DMs consider how to use this thing.]

    Three wrap around Elrae. Elrae breaks free of one, but the other two vines achieve grapple holds. [4 dam] Two wrap around Gotrek. One vine achieves grapple hold.
    As mentioned, three wrap around Berenn. One achieves a grapple hold, the other begins to strangle him[3] Three wrap around Isilme. She somehow avoids all holds! Two wrap around Taki. One vine strangles Taki [5] Three wrap around Noot. Two vines achieve a hold. Two wrap around Emyn. Emyn avoids both holds.

    None wrap around Elrae's horse. Two wrap around Gotrek's horse. Both achieve holds. Two wrap around Berenn's horse. Both achieve holds. One wraps around Hepla's horse. Fails to gain hold. One wrap around Isilme's horse. Achieves hold. Two wraps around Taki's horse. Both fail to achieve holds. None wrap around Noots horse. One wraps around Emyn's horse. Fails to achieve hold.

    All attacked horses are spooked.

    [DM OOC: Grappled characters must follow following rules:
    If held: They may try to break free or attack with a size S weapon. Breaking free means winning opposed grapple checks. If unsuccessful, status is unchanged. If successful, status improves by one: held characters are freed, locked are only held. Held characters take 1d2 each round.
    If locked: The attacker makes the defender fall to the ground in the combat square. The defender suffers 1d3 points of damage and remains in the attacker’s grasp. In addition, the vine has achieved a strangle-hold. The attacker chokes the character, inflicting damage. The victim remains in the attacker’s grasp and suffers 1d6+1 points of damage. If the attacker repeats the press on his next action phase, the damage bonus increase to +2 and continues to increase if the attacker can repeat the press without interruption. A press repeated through five consecutive attacks would inflict 1d6+5 points of damage during the fifth round. ]

    Berenn is pulled to the ground [2]. Elrae falls from his horse, suffers an additional [2]. Gotrek falls from his horse [4]. Isilme falls from her horse [2]. Taki falls from his horse [1]. Noot stays on his horse. Emyn stays on his horse. Elrae's, Hepla's, and Noot's horses bolt. Noot breaks free of one grapple, but the other vine still holds him tight. He falls to the ground when his horse bolts, and lands hard on his wrist. [5] Oh, and I forgot Thorgrim. He's hit with 4 vines! Thorgrim avoid two grapples, but two achieve holds. [3]
    He is also thrown from his horse [1] which bolts away!

    [DM OOC: NOW you can all react. I have to add, this was the party's first experience where the Riding skill would have been useful. They learned! They also learned the importance of Concentration, something I took from 3rd ed. Rather than making spells automatically fail when damaged, I like the idea that a mage can still attempt it, but has to make Concentration rolls. Unfortunately, this party had ignored that rule.....]


    Elrae breaks free of one vine. He is still held by 1 vine. Gotrek fails to break free. He is held by 1 vine. Berenn breaks free of one vine. Held is by 1 vine, locked by 1 vine. Isilme casts wraithform. Taki breaks the lock. Still held by 1 vine. Noot gets out of all the vines wrapped around him, then tries to roll away. Emyn draws his sword and cuts one of the vines whipping up around him, cutting it in half. Thorgrim gets totally free, twirling around like a madman, er dwarf!

    Further, Emyn cut the vine holding his warhorse, Camille. Gotrek's horse breaks free.
    Berenn's horse breaks free of one vine. Still held by 1 vine. Hepla's horse still held by 1 vine. Isilme's horse still held by 1 vine. Taki's horse breaks free.

    NEXT ROUND [figured I should let you know when it's a new round, to follow the encounter.]

    Isilme casts fly, and moves up and away from the vines. Noot kicks his horse hard, and rides back, away from the vines. Thorgrim was prone, having been thrown to the ground. He stands up and tries to back away from the vines, but he can't get far enough away. Gotrek fails to break free. Elrae fails to break free. Hepla fires magic missiles at the largest vine she sees, seemingly the main trunk vine. They blast into it [23]. Emyn wheels around, hacking another vine [11]. Berenn breaks free of the vine that is holding him, but not the one strangling him. Taki fails to break free of his vine.

    The vines continue their relentless strangling attacks. Three vines grab Thorgrim, one snaking around his neck. He breaks free of one, but is held by another and strangled by the second [6]. The vine holding Gotrek wraps around his neck as well [2] while two more grab him. Elrae breaks free from the vine holding him, while one more grabs him. He is able to stay on his horse and control it. One vine grabs hold of Emyn, while another grabs his horse. Berenn takes [4] from strangulation, while two more vines grab him. Taki begins to be strangled [5] while two more vines grab him.

    [DM OOC: So, Isilme is flying out of harms way and in wraithform. Hepla is flying out of reach. Noot rode away out of the area. Elrae is held by 2 vines. Berenn is held by two and being strangled by another and is prone. Gotrek is held by two and being strangled by another and is prone Taki is held by two and being strangled by another and is prone Emyn is held by one. Thorgrim is held by one and being strangled by another.]

    NEXT ROUND

    Noot heads off to round up the spooked horses. Isilme drops her Wraithform and casts Solvent of Corrosion on the mass of vines [10], and there is a near immediate hissing and burning from them as they start to shrivel up. Hepla fires another magic missile barrage [19]. Elrae fails to break free of the 2 vines. He is now prone. Berenn fails to break free of the vine strangling him, though he does rip one of the other two off. He is also prone. Gotrek fails to break free of any vines. He is held by one and being strangled by one and is prone. Taki breaks free of the two, but is still being strangled by another and is prone. Emyn tries but cannot reach his Potion of Plant Control. He is held by one vine. Thorgrim fails to break free. He is held by one and being strangled by another.

    One vine starts to strangle Elrae [4]. Berenn continues to be strangled [9] and is wrapped by a second vine. Gotrek continues to be strangled [6]. He breaks free of the other, but two more wrap him. Taki continues to be strangled [7] and one more wraps him. Emyn breaks free of the vine wrapping him. Thorgrim continues to be strangled [4] and the other one starts to strangle him too [4]. One more wraps him.

    Camille breaks free of the vine wrapping her, but Isilme's and Hepla's horses go down under more vines. Berenn's and Taki's horses break free and bolt. The only horses left in the area are Isilme's, Hepla's, and Camille. Noot's on his, rounding up the others. More vines are seen snaking towards the party from the central mass.....

    "Fireball it!" yells Isilme.

    NEXT ROUND [This plant is turning out to be pretty tough!]

    Hepla casts Fireball on the central mass of the plant creature [23]. The vines mmediately seem to withdraw from the area of the fireball, though the plant doesn't really catch on fire. Isilme casts Fireflow and spreads the flames out towards the party, and some of the vines immediately unwrap from people and pull back. About 1/2 the vines retract, but then the spell goes out as the fire goes out. It simply never really catches the thing on fire.
    The vine strangling Berenn let's go, and he breaks free from the second one. Gotrek pulls the vine around his neck free, but it stays around his chest. The he frees himself of another as well, while the other two retract. Taki rips the vine around his neck in half, but still remains wrapped by the second. Two others retract. Thorgrim continues to be strangled [8] [3] by two vines, while the others retract. Elrae fails to get free, then the vine lets go but another wraps him up. Two retract. Emyn digs into his pack and drinks his potion of plant control while one vine wraps Camille again. The other retracts.

    Next round, Emyn is able to calm the vines around him, and with the plant control potion gets the thing under control. He gets all the vines to release everyone and everything.

    Emyn says, "Let's back off and find a way to kill this thing from a distance."

    The mages easily accomplish this, and they destroy the massive plant. Berenn and Thorgrim start working on the wounded, and the party finds that most of their spells are exhausted by the time they are done.

    "Nice place you have bought, Hepla," says Berenn sourly.

    As Noot returns to the party with the scattered horses, she replies, "It's a fixer-upper!"

    Thorgrim wonders aloud, "I wonder if it would take to grafting? We could splice a few other dangerous plants to it and make a hybrid...a Yellow Musk Tri-Flower Zombie Creeper Strangle Vine. It would be a formidable danger to any following the wrong approach, and more than suitable for home defense." It is clear that Thorgrim's interest in Botany is piqued by this encounter. "I have always loved mechanical traps best," he says. "But opening my thoughts to include living things in the fortification of a stronghold...this interests me, deeply." He gets out his pipe and lights it, staring off into the distance.

    He is thinking of the masterful mechanical traps of the Dwarves, and wondering if he shouldn't be devising one that's never been seen. He thinks of the deadly fortifications of Dorob Kilthduum, and how they were no match for an invading host. He thinks of magical wards, and his growing granted powers, and wonders if magic might not trump all other defenses. Then he thinks of all the magic the party has overcome during its days of existence.

    Finally, he says, "Fortifications don't matter. Plants don't matter. Magic doesn't matter. Only life matters. Enough living beings can overcome virtually any defense, and only living beings can successfully defend a home...any place..." Thorgrim looks into the evening sky, and watches his smoke rings dissipate in the breeze.

    "Of course, a generous use of all three...traps, guardians, and magical wards, along with the simple-yet-effective pitfalls, spike traps, crush-traps, and the usual walls and moats...A moat of fire might be easily devised..."

    He says no more, lost in his thoughts.


    [It was a weird fight, and were it not for Emyn's potion of Plant Control, I daresay that there would have been some deaths. Still, that's what such an item is for. I recommend this creature for all DMs; it really packs a wallop and scares the crap out of players!]

    After exploring the tower and finding it pretty much an empty husk [no pun intended], the party decides to camp for the night. Still, they camp well away from the tower, with Thorgrim using his Fortress in a safe location.
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    Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:14 am  
    Part 5 - Rastor

    Earthday, 27 Readying (581 CY)
    You have a comfortable night's sleep, and awaken to another warm summer day. Clouds float lazily overhead, and you can set off down the old road into the valley. Everyone's healed and spell points are restored. Berenn was able to heal the horses as well.

    Hepla finishes measuring the tower and, while inside takes a rock and scratches a crude cat figure on a inside stone wall. She shows it to Isilme and Star, who is there for just a few minutes. "Here is a place where we can fall back to if we ever need it. Remember the cat wall well. Once we get the men to work here, it will be much nicer but at least we have a start. Isilme, we both need to think about what to put here."

    "It is a bright sunny day," says Emyn. "The undead from the valley will not reveal themselves in such a place. Let's be off!"

    Berenn makes preparations to deal with the undead if they should appear. He will keep his holy symbol clenched in his left hand as the party rides through the valley.

    Gotrek smiles. "Perhaps we should wait until nightfall?"

    You follow the road south, down from the steeper hills. You can see that it crosses a small valley, then continues further into a larger valley in the distance, beyond a a smaller row of hills. There is a small river snaking through the larger (main) valley, and from your higher vantage point you can make out the ruins of a good-sized town.

    Ruins in the valley floor.

    There are some ruins here at this upper valley as well, which appear to have been a shrine of some type. Other stone and wood buildings have long crumbled. All that is left here are some standing stones, marking a crossroads. The main road continues down into the valley below while a smaller road leads to the right (west).


    Ruins in the upper valley, at the crossroads.

    [Hepla OOC: Hepla casts Polymorph Self, changes into a black dragon and flies to 100 feet to get an overview of the situation. ]

    [DM OOC: There is no situation. You're coming down the road from the higher hills. You are in the small valley just NW of the large valley to the SE. You can see the ruined town in the distance, probably another few hours to get there. ]

    You are currently at a crossroads shrine. The road you're on branches here. The main road continues down to the valley floor and the ruined town. There is another branch which goes right (SW) and Berenn tells you (using his cartography skill) that is the direction to Rastor. In fact, dwarven etchings on the stones reveal signposts that agree with Berenn's assessment. The road to the right leads to Rastor.

    Isilme also casts Polymorph Self, changes into a small white dragon, and follows Hepla.

    "Some day that will turn out to be a bad idea," mutters Thorgrim.


    Road to Rastor

    You have left Cat Claw Tower and proceeded down the road towards the Valley of Karaduum. You are at the first crossroads, in the higher elevation valley. The ruined town is east (I think I said SE, but it's more East. Anyway, you can clearly see that it's a pretty good sized valley. It goes East, then SE, and is probably about 50+ miles long, and 20 miles wide in the center. You'll be on the path going SW, towards Rastor, marked with dots.

    Hepla and Isilme fly on ahead of the party, and see that the road, very overgrown here as it's been out of use for 100 years, goes along the hills here and then up over a steeper section, through a narrow draw. They scout out ahead, staying a few miles away, and you aren't bothered by any encounters. Well, they scare off a mountain lion! Anyway, you follow the road until nightfall, when it reaches the river, shown on the map and just northeast of the lake. The path continues towards Rastor following the river.

    [DM OOC: Please ignore the location of the Temple off in the mountains, as well as the name. You don't know of it, nor will you be able to see it. Just head for Rastor. The party camps, spending days worth of play to set up watches and be generally paranoid. In the end, they have a peaceful night's rest!]

    Freeday, 28 Readying (581 CY)
    You pass an uneventful night, listening to the river roll by. The day is partly cloudy, and the temperature has drops a bit. It's not a big deal, but enough to make Isilme comfortable without resorting to a spell. After a quick breakfast, Hepla producing some blackberries she found nearby, you can continue onward.

    Taki rides out front and scouts a bit and then take up a flanking post to help protect the party. Meanwhile, Hepla and Isilme cast Polymorph Self, again taking the form of a couple of dragons, Isilme this time taking the black dragon form. "I doubt many creatures will bother a pair of them," she says. Once they take to the air, they can see that large valley to the south with the lake in it. Ignoring the valley, the party moves west, towards Rastor.

    You travel most of the day, following the slow-moving river along its way West. Sometime after noon, you come across an old wooden bridge, mostly collapsed. The road crosses to the south side of the river here, and you find that it is an old ford which is easily crossable by your horses. You make your way across the river, and continue west. The river valley opens up a bit, with maybe a mile or so of relatively level ground to the south of the river, along the road. You first come across some ruined farmsteads, but then after a few hours you begin to see widely scattered farms. Well, Hepla sees them, scouting ahead. After finding the first sign of civilization, she returns with the info. She saw maybe half-dozen farmers, tilling fields and such up ahead.

    "We should check out Rastor and gleam any information we can," says Elrae.

    Emyn says, "I doubt we can use it easily for a base of operations. The Elder Eye folks took Lareth there originally, so it is likely occupied by hostile forces. Perhaps someone should speak with these farmers instead to get an idea of what to expect before we go barging in."

    "If the farmers are living here in the shadow of Rastor," says Berenn, "it is logical to assume they are not going to be sympathetic to our cause. We should make camp for the evening just outside of the farms and send Noot into town to see if there is any information to be had. Hepla and Isilme can keep on eye on him. The rest of us can be on standby."

    That settled, they all camp out here, while Noot goes on ahead. Elrae is a bit crestfallen that the party didn't want him to waltz in to town demanding to know where the Temple is. He awaits to hear back from Noot while he practices a new song. The farmers notice Noot's passing with interest, but they quickly go back to their work. If he doesn't go out of his way to talk to them, they don't come over either. He rides along the road until if reaches a fork in the river. The village of Rastor is not very big, set on a mountainside above the two forks of the river. The road meets another, more well-traveled road, just below town, then the main road heads up into town.

    Built at the end of the road, Rastor is a rough little mountain village. He can see that it is primarily home to humans and dwarves, as there are a few still about, including a dwarven smithy just finishing up his work. There is a tavern on the left, the first big building, called the Grey Lodge. The place seems pretty quiet.


    [DM OOC: Obviously, ignore the modern things, like the cars. Just make them carts!]

    He dismounts, and ties his horse to a post before entering. There are only a couple people in there, a man and a half-orc. They are sharing a pint of ale. They look up at Noot with the eyes of people not unused to newcomers, but wary nonetheless. He meets the tavern keeper, Yarew, a thin, small man with dark eyes. The men go back to their business as Noot gets an ale.

    Noot spends about an hour, but doesn't find out much. [Failed his Information Gathering roll] The people are, like can be expected in such an out-of-the-way place, quite close-mouthed with strangers. He learns that this is the only place where outsiders can find a room. The people in Rastor are basically hardy mountain folk, free-willed and free-spirited, who don't really like people telling them what to do. He also learns that there is a "fair" amount of trade which goes down the main road to Veluna. The road you came on is apparently considered "closed" as it's not safe and there's just no reason to go that way. What trade exists is usually various precious metals and furs which these folk trade to merchants who make the journey back and forth on a monthly basis. It's a pretty quiet place. Noot comes back a few hours later, relating what he found out. The party is camped with only a very small fire down by the river. No tower tonight; you don't want to attract that kind of attention.

    "I will do a mounted patrol through the area," says Emyn. "Along with Taki," he adds, and the hillman gives a curt nod.

    "Good idea," says Thorgrim. "We know the temple is near. Both land and sky exploration may reveal its location, without us having to ask anybody."

    "Shall we take rooms for the night? I sense these farmers are good people. But some may report our presence to their evil masters out of fear. We should take rooms at the inn, and stay up late eating and drinking. We should make up a story...about traveling far to the west or somesuch, and ask about what's going on around here. A villager may well let slip valuable information. Mayhap we can coax information from a loose tongue without inquiring directly about the temple. Emyn and I or others could mention our religion, inquiring about what sort of faiths are predominant here."

    Thorgrim chuckles. "We could be pilgrims! A diverse multiracial group of heavily-armed and armored, magic-wielding, carousing, nosy pilgrims!" He grunts. "No, that won't fool anybody. Hard to pretend we're anything but what we might appear to be. And Adventurers are always nosy. An adventure story, then. Something to the west. Something simple. And mention faith when convenient. See what pops up."

    "I am not completely comfortable with walking into Hastor," says Berenn. "I think the best course of action is not to let anyone know we are here and perhaps a recon of the area will reveal the temple's location. Something just smells wrong about Hastor."

    "There was not much there," says Noot, "and I didn't hear anything about a temple at all. All the talk was about either the weather or about trade up and down the road. At least I got a pint."

    "Okay," says Berenn. "The plan is Gotrek and Elrae will go into town tomorrow with Hepla and Isilme shadowing them. Gotrek will try to pry some information out of the smithy and Elrae will use his talents on the inn folk. "

    [Berenn OOC: Personally this is probably going to look weird to a town who hardly gets any traffic, three visitors in 2 days. Just remember, this town probably has a spy for the temple, so use common sense when it comes to getting information (This is especially directed at Elrae).]

    Thorgrim grunts. "Our experience with the hospitality of Suderham has left us wary. I suppose that is well and good."

    The party then sleeps for the night, taking turns at watch but encountering nothing.

    Starday, 1st of Richfest (CY 581)
    So, it's Starday, the first of Richfest. You awake in your camp to a cloudy day, though it's nice and warm. You find yourselves wishing your were back home, getting ready for the festivities at this usually pleasant time, not getting ready to wade into battle with more unsavory elemental fanatics.

    Elrae and Gotrek approach, with Isilme invisible following behind them. Hepla flies above in the form of a hawk. Noot, since he has been seen in town, follows along but keeps to the background; he stays in shadows as much as possible. When Elrae and Gotrek approach the town, they find that there is a lot of activity. The people are setting up decorations all around the small, central square, in preparation for festivities.

    Gotrek and Elrae wander into town, and Gotrek stops at the blacksmith's. He's a dwarf, working on some small items for the Richfest celebration. He doesn't really react totally well to Gotrek, recognizing that he is a battlerager. He seems to be pretty wary. When Gotrek offers to help, he shrugs and hands him something small to work on. When Gotrek goes to it with skill and gusto, the blacksmith nods and goes back to his work.

    Meanwhile Elrae wanders into the square, and sees that the townsfolk are setting up a bunch of tables and such, with the women covering them with tablecloths. Children are playing, and everything seems very festive. He takes out his Cittern and begins to strum a happy song. Meanwhile he hears a shriek, and looking up he see a hawk being harassed by a small crow. With a laugh, Elrae keeps singing.

    Hepla/hawk flies up and fast to get away from the nasty crow rather then ripping it apart. She is alert to magic in case it is an unnatural crow. "It probably is just a crow," she thinks, "but no sense taking a chance." It keeps messing with her, nipping at her as it tries to drive it from its territory. Eventually, Hepla/hawk flies into the forest nearest where she had last seen Berenn. She lands and changes back to normal once she is deep enough to not be seen. "Stupid bird," she says.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek notices a lot more stuff in the blacksmith's shop than he would need for a town this size. When he asks about it, Tunraug (that's the blacksmith) isn't too forthcoming.

    Elrae makes friends with some of the locals, saying he was simply wandering the roads and heard of Rastor from some boring Raoists in Veluna. He decided to head this way and share his songs with them this Richfest. They seem quite happy to have a real bard in town, and he's soon surrounded by children, though the young girls are held in check by their mothers, who cast wary glances his way. By noon, Elrae learns from the children that there is a temple in the mountains southeast of town. Sometimes the kids see the robed priests moving about the woods. Elrae goes to the inn about noon, and quietly slips into the woods to relieve himself, where he fills in Berenn and the rest.

    Gotrek stays in the blacksmith's shop working. Eventually, Gotrek is finishes a few pieces. The blacksmith then invites him out back for an ale and a smoke, taking out a couple of long pipes from a cupboard, along with a small box of pipeweed.

    While the party waits for Gotrek, Isilme, still invisible, casts Polymorph Self, changes into a bird, and flies away, seeking this temple. She quickly finds a path which leads up into the mountains. She follows it, and it leads to a mountainside cave, set into the side of a cliff. It's forty feet across, and about 30 feet deep, with a smooth, tiled floor leading to a pair of iron-bound wooden doors. Each door is 15' high and 8' wide. The left door has a massive iron doorknocker, while a humanoid skull (probably an orc) is spiked to the right door.

    She changes form into a pudding and oozes under the doors, where she then changes back again since she can't really see anything. Beyond the doors is a long hall. The walls are plastered and painted with murals of demons, human sacrifice, and people being ravaged by the powers of the elements. These scenes continue down the entire length of the hall.
    Immediately in front of the doors four symbols are placed in mosaic in the floor: a silvery white circle, a brown triangle, an amber diamond, and a blue-green square (symbols of the elements). The hall goes about 80' before ending in double-doors. About half-way down is a four-way intersection, with hallways going left and right. To the right is a guard room with 4 gnolls and another door. To the left it continues out of sight, though there is a door down on the left. Content at having found the entrance, she then returns to report.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim sits by the riverside and smokes his pipe, thinking about the Elements. His Dwarven roots are set deeply in stone. He has new respect for elements like wood. Would air, fire and water now also play into his fate? He turns his Ring of Water-Walking, and thinks about Isilme. He looks at the river. His distaste for water travel still remains strong, despite its swiftness. He thinks about his consecration ritual for the shrine to Clanggedin in Hommlet, and wonders again at his fascination with fire...why is that? Is it because it's so ephemeral, lacking substance, but yet containing great power?

    He thinks about what sorts of beings would worship these forces of nature? They are just that, forces, uncaring of the fates of Men or Dwarves or the whole Multiverse. They are no more to be worshipped, and probably less so, than the sun or the stars. They are lost. Those who would seek to see the entire Multiverse devolve into its basest forms. What of the beings who think? Why, then, are we here? To build Constructs and Civilization, only to be fed into the maw of oblivion?

    He spits into the river. "The Temple and all her minions must be destroyed." Thorgrim returns to camp, opens his Portable Hole and retrieves, sharpens and oils all his weapons until Isilme returns.

    [I have to say, this was one of my favorite posts by a player. It reveals one of the good things about playing via email or forum. It's hard to get such introspective moments in a FtF game, but rather easy for a player to type. One simple post like this adds more to a character's personality than all the combats, proficiencies, and spells combined!]

    "So, what's the report?" asks Hepla. "My only report is they have a nasty crow here."

    "I found a trail leading into the mountains and an entrance further up," she says, pointing that direction. "The interior is guarded."

    "Guarded yes" Berenn states, "But not guarded alertly. If we are quick and quiet, we can easily gain entrance and kill the first set of guards without anyone being the wiser. I think we should use our stealth and cast silence on the guards, then quickly kill them."

    " Isilme, this is good news," says Noot. "It sounds like a back door, and they are much better to enter than front doors."

    Eventually Gotrek reports back, not really having found out much but enjoying his time hammering iron. The party moves towards the entrance, which they reach during the night. Berenn finds a good place to camp nearby, but too close, from where you can keep an eye on the entrance. They see no activity through the night.
    Sunday, 2 Richfest (581)
    Just before dawn, Isilme scouts out the entrance again. With a Stoneskin in place, as well as Invisibility and Fly, she feels pretty safe. She approaches and notices arrow slits which she didn't see the night before. A Wraithform spell allows her to slip inside, where she sees gnolls behind each of those slits, in guardrooms. None are paying any attention, and basically are lounging around or sleeping. She returns to the party and tells them of the gnolls, and they decide to keep watch through the day, then deal with the entrance during the night.

    That day, the doors are opened in the afternoon. Four gnolls exit, along with a tall half-elf. The half-elf is riding a strange creature, the likes of which none of the party has ever seen. It is very large, nearly 8' at the shoulder, four-legged, with the burly back of an ox and scales glinting through matted red fur. This fur spreads into a thick ruff of trembling quills that frame a simian face. Its front claws are the clotted knots of coarse fingers while its back feet are hoofed.

    The half-elf pats it affectionately and then they ride off, away from the path, and into the wooded mountainside. Two of the gnolls hurry after them, while the other two just lean on their longbows with bored looks.

    Taki whispers to the party leader asking permission to go after the half elf.

    "Inadvisable," says Berenn. "If it is a patrol and it is doesn't return, the temple will change their posture. Currently they are very relaxed and I want them to stay relaxed." He puts a hand on Taki's shoulder. "You will have a shot at the half elf eventually. The party will observe the temple for the rest of the day and wait until the night is at its darkest before we attack."

    Just about nightfall, as the two moons (both nearly full) arise, you hear a very load and strange howl echo throughout the mountains. It raises the hairs on your neck, and makes everyone a bit uneasy.

    "Werewolves!" says Thorgrim. He suggests the mages use their powder of Lycanthrope Repelling.

    Hepla gets the powder out and ready, though she thinks Thorgrim is being paranoid.

    Meanwhile, Berenn sneaks closer to the entrance where hears the gnolls talking. Since he knows gnoll, he hears that they are waiting for Mereclar to return. Berenn returns to the party and sets forth a plan.

    "Hepla will cast Sleep on the 2 gnoll guards," he says. "Once they are asleep, Isilme can slip inside and check on the inside guards. If it is clear, we rush in, cast silence on the guards and kill them. We can kill the sleeping guards outside, prop them up and set an ambush for Meleclar when he returns."

    A plan in place, they are able to silence all the guards with a quick combination of sleep spells from Isilme, Hepla, and Elrae. In short order, they have all the guardrooms cleared out. The rest of the party can then enter.
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    Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:24 pm  
    Part 6 - The Crater Ridge Mines


    Here's a map of the first section of the "dungeon."

    You bring the dead inside, and gather all the bodies in the arrow slit rooms. There is no telling exactly when or where the half-elf will reappear. There are closed doors beyond the guardrooms. Further, there is a chamber up to the north. Finally, the dwarves recognize the construction as dwarvish in nature.

    [Berenn OOC: I remember the last time we played around in something made by dwarves.]

    "I say we have Noot detect traps and creep around in the shadows and see what is here," says Berenn.

    Noot sneaks down the corridor and returns, saying there are a couple of creatures there. He doesn't recognize them, but they seem like lizard-men, standing about 6 feet tall, and covered in roughened leathery scales. They also have a toothy lizard-like head with a fin-like crest that runs across their heads and down their necks. They each are holding long spears with wicked barbed heads.

    Before Berenn casts Silence, Thorgrim does it himself, on one of his colored stones. Then he follows Taki and Gotrek who charge down the corridor. They crash into the startled lizard-men, and take them down with mighty sweeps of their weapons. They smell pretty bad, and when Thorgrim gets there, he puts his stones away in his pouch. "Trogolodytes," he says, nudging one of the dead bodies.

    Meanwhile, Emyn and Noot wait outside, hidden, while Isilme and Hepla change shape into gnolls. Hepla/gnoll, sniffs, giggles and says, "They smell better dead." She then joins Isilme outside, pretending to be bored guards. When the half-elf returns, they will ambush him.

    The two passages continue off into the darkness, the passage to the right having some steps going down. The party drags the trog bodies back to the arrow slit room, and about the time they get them there, those outside hear something loud approaching through the forested mountainside. Keeping hidden (it's now dark) they see the half-elf returning on his strange mount. The two gnolls are behind him, carrying the dead carcass of a large deer. The half-elf sees the two guards (Isilme and Hepla in polymorphed form) but doesn't seem the least bit alarmed, as they are still polymorphed into gnoll forms.

    "Hm!," whispers Thorgrim. "Didn't think that ambush was going to serve any purpose."

    The half-elf rides up, without more than a nod to the guards (Hepla and Isilme). He's about to ride by and go inside. The two gnolls carrying the deer are lagging behind.

    [DM OOC: If he continues passed Hepla and Isilme, which he seems intent on doing, he'll ride right inside. Right now Emyn is outside, hiding behind some trees. Noot is looting bodies in the left-hand arrow slit chamber, along with Elrae, watching through the arrow slit. Taki, Gotrek, and Thorgrim are there as well, having drug the bodies of the trogolodytes back there. Berenn is in the entrance; he was on his way to contact Hepla and Isilme when the half-elf road up.

    Hepla has grease prepared. Gotrek is drinking his potion of invisibility and making he way back around to the entrance. Thorgrim goes with him, his "silence stone" in his free hand so they won't be heard. Berenn withdraws around the corner as the half-elf approaches.

    He rides by, and enters through the doors. The two gnolls stop and say something to Hepla and Isilme, but of course, they don't speak gnoll! Berenn hides back in shadows, and the half elf just rides right on in, with nary a look to the side, so he doesn't spot him.
    Inside, Thorgrim and Gotrek come around the corner just as the half-elf reaches the intersection. All stop in surprise. Taki is trailing behind the dwarves.

    Isilme casts sleep on the two outside gnolls, which instantly drop to the ground. Hepla then casts grease under the mount, which instantly stumbles to the ground. It tries to roar, but within the bounds of Thorgrim's stone, which he tosses under the beast, no sound issues forth.

    The half-elf, still hanging on, tries to get his mount to go forward. However, it is suddenly met by the combination of Gotrek's axe (which makes him appear) and Taki's sword. Between the two, they slice huge chunks from the flailing beast, which rears back and sends the half-elf tumbling backwards. He springs up just in time for Berenn to ram Bonefire through his belly. He looks down in confusion at the flaming sword jutting from his abdomen, then slumps to the ground, well and dead. Emyn slays the two gnolls outside as Gotrek and Taki finish off the mount.

    Gotrek grunts. "Let's see what else we can find here." He turns to Noot. "Noot. Will you check the corpses of the gnoll guards, the mount, and the half-elf before we continue?"

    "Sure," says Noot, checking them out while they close the exit doors. Hepla and Isilme change back into their own forms, while Thorgrim spikes the doors shut.

    [Berenn OOC: A bit anti-climatic ... I was expecting more of a fight.]

    [DM OOC: Well, Berenn got a critical on the half-elf, and though he was a 6th level fighter, you scored an instant death critical!]

    Noot slashes the strange mount's throat, and to his surprise, as it dies, it turns to ash before his eyes. Then even the ash fades away leaving only a slightly discolored mark on the ground where it fell.

    "What sort of otherworldly creature was that?" asks Emyn, looking at the priests.

    They shrug, having never heard of such a beast. Even Isilme with her knowledge of the planes cannot say. After dragging the half-elf out of sight as well, the party moves back to the left. The move down the side passage and find a locked door, which Noot quickly picks. Thorgrim pulls open the door, Gotrek, Taki, and Emyn right behind him. In front of him is a scary sight! The chamber beyond is 20'x30' and there are about a dozen other zombies. Each turn at the sound of the door opening, and they begin to move your way with an eerie moan. [this is room 12]

    Throgrim slams his pick into the zombie, then steps into the room. "About time I can kill something!" He ignores the next closest zombie, moving well into the room. The thing claws at his armor ineffectually. Gotrek follows him into the room, making a charge at the zombie right ahead of him. He slams his axe through its face, driving it backwards and to the ground. Taki follows, with a bit more control, and takes a swing at the zombie by the door, cutting it nearly in half from shoulder to waist in one swipe! Hepla prepares to cast a spell, but she now cannot see into the room, nor can anyone else do anything. Elrae moves out of the way, to allow Emyn to move up to the door and shield Hepla and Isilme anyway. Berenn keeps an eye out back along the main corridor, while Noot stays on the ceiling above the door.

    The zombies move up and swarm everyone in the room. Three grab at Thorgrim, who takes two hits [1] and [2]. Four attack Gotrek, but they can't get through his armor.
    One attacks Taki, but misses as well. The next round the party kills the rest easily, as the door in the hall opens. A gnoll with a long strange weapon stands there looking very upset.

    Isilme immediately sings her charm spell, which captivates the gnoll. She finds his name is Tek; his real name is too hard to pronounce. He's the gnoll shaman. Hepla looks inside the room. It looks like a pretty junky place, though there are some shelves with various shaman items upon them. Little jars and bowls and such. Hepla has Detect Magic working, and note that there are two magical potions there. Isilme learns they are healing potions.

    Tek doesn't know about anything beyond this area. Through the double-doors are the gnoll barracks. There are another 20 gnolls there, along with an ogre. To the north are trogolodytes, which don't get along with anyone. To the south are old mining areas; he has no idea what's down there except dangerous creatures. Some gnolls went down there recently and never returned. When asked about the half-elf's mount, he seems legitimately scared. He doesn't know what it was, but it's howl was terrible. [Good thing Thorgrim used his Silence spell!] He also reveals that Meerclar, the half-elf, got his orders from a red-robed priest named Naquent.

    Taki steps forward and punches the gnoll as hard as he can on the end of the chin, knocking it out. Noot slits its throat, and the party moves on to the double-doors to deal with the gnolls in the barracks. Noot listens and hears a deep guttural voice inside, speaking in broken common. Something about "get up" or something. It's hard to understand.

    Emyn knocks on the door, which makes everyone else in the party sigh, shake their heads, or worse. Noot hears loud footsteps approaching and a deep voice, "Bout time!"

    Taki steps up just as the double doors are pushed open. Everyone else backs up quickly, and standing before Taki is a very large ogre, with a spiked club. Behind it are about half-dozen gnolls. The doors to the two gnoll barracks are open, and more can be seen inside.

    Hepla begins casting a spell, but Thorgrim throws his silenced stone by her and into the room, and its area of effect interrupts her spell. Thorgrim then steps up passed Taki and attacks the ogre. He trips going around Taki, falls, and is stunned for 4 rounds! Further, he gets a critical hit on himself for [36] as he falls right on his pick, which breaks two ribs and punctures a lung. [No movement until healed]. He also manages to hit Gotrek [11].

    [DM OOC: Worst fumble ever! Not only a fumble, but I rolled a 00 which meant roll THREE times. First he had a simple dex check or fall, which he failed, and was stunned for 4 rounds. Then he got a critical hit on himself, then a regular hit on Gotrek. EPIC FAILURE! That's what happens when you try to rush passed your friends! LOL Sorry, can't help but laugh!]

    Taki steps up and attacks the ogre [27] with a wicked slash of his two-handed sword. The ogre reacts by hitting him back with his spiked club [16]. Gotrek then steps up and scores a wicked blow against the ogre's chest [25]. With a gurgle, the massive beast goes down with a slam.

    Emyn grabs Thorgrim and pulls him back out of the way, as Berenn comes up and checks him. A quick healing check heals [2], but he sees that Thorgrim will need serious help and he's totally dazed.

    Isilme flies up to the ceiling, still invisible, while Noot uses his slippers and walks up to the ceiling too. Elrae was about to cast a spell too, but it is also ruined by Thorgrim's stone.

    The gnolls are all stunned by the sudden death of Wormspike, and don't react this round, except for a couple more coming out of their barracks.

    Noot walks into the room upside down and stays up on the ceiling. From there the gnolls cannot reach him. There are quite a few, so he moves to center 20' high and stays there for the moment. Elrae holds his position back in the hallway, since he can't see into the room anyway. Isilme flies back into the 4-way intersection and looks around. The entire intersection is covered by Thorgrim's silence stone.

    Berenn takes out his rod and heals Thorgrim [10]. [see not in gameplay section for future use of the rod, but it now heals 10 once/day.] Taki goes over the dead ogre, but stumbles, falling to the floor.

    The gnolls recover from their momentary hesitation, and charge to the attack! They all miss, and the battle quickly goes against them. Gotrek, Taki, and Emyn easily dispatch the rest in a few minutes, while the others aid Thorgrim.

    Hepla leans close to Thorgrim and whispers,"This may hurt, but hopefully you can finish what I'm going to start, giggle, and you don't have to tell anyone what I did." She reaches out with both arms and, with her knowledge of healing, pulls his body until the bones line up, then casts Cure Serious Wounds to set things, like bones, and then releases him. If he needs some more help she will use a potion of healing but his ability with healing spells should be useable once she helps set the bones.

    "Careful with that pick," says Taki. "It is a wonder you didn't kill yourself."

    As Thorgrim regains his senses, he looks at the hole in his chainmail, the blood on his pick, and at all the blood covering him. He looks at Hepla, and says, "Thank you, child," as he rises to his feet. He retrieves Souldrinker and grunts. "Well, she still works."

    He is contemplating not using the Stone of Silence stratagem again until he has a more coherent idea of what that means, exactly. Since the mages are usually more to the rear, it would make more sense to carry the stone with the party as long as it's useful, and then always cast it forward into the thick of battle. Sounds may escape, but their effects will have to be dealt with as usual.

    "It was an honor to help you," says Hepla. "Many times you have saved us and me from death."

    Meanwhile, Noot ransacks the area, looking for anything useful and taking a few gems and coins. When finished, the group moves to the "south" and finds another room. This chamber is large and mostly empty. Four four-wheeled iron carts are here, with high sides and a strange sort of handle on the one end. One of the cars lies on its side. To the south, two rough-hewn passages lead out of the room, a pair of iron rails running down the middle of both, with lengths of timber supporting the rails at set intervals. The passages here are not lit. The lit torches are only back in the areas around the entrance.

    Hepla, eyes wide at something she has never seen, says, "Wow, are these things for working in the mines? It looks like people could ride in them." She looks at the dwarves, "Can we go for a ride?" Looking inside them, Hepla sees the carts are empty and the carts are quite old.

    "Imagine how many enemies we could run over on the battlefield with such an armoured cart!" says Emyn, thinking of the possibilities.

    "We should leave this for now," says Thorgrim. "Mines can be dangerous."

    Isilme says "I dont think we should head into these mines until we clear the temple above ground. I have some experience in underground exploring and one could find yourself lost down there for weeks with a cave in."

    The party then moves to their left, investigating a long narrow chamber. Iron bins full of ore, covered with dust and rust, line the walls of this long chamber. A huge machine of some type occupies the middle of the room, with a chute leading into a pair of massive stone cylinders and a wooden trough underneath. The cylinders appear to be connected by gears to a single, huge crank, sized for a giant to turn. Small bits of stone lie scattered around the machine.

    "Well, even without proficiency in mining," says Thorgrim, "One can see that this is an ore-crusher."

    With nothing else of note, and no desire to enter the mines, the party moves back "north" to the trog area. Once in the intersection where you killed them, they have options. The north wall of this 40' wide, 20' deep chamber is rough, as are the two passages that extend to the north. It appears that this might also be the start of a mine, with roughly worked walls scraped and chipped by tools. The right passage descends with crudely carved steps while the other seems relatively level. Berenn quickly finds tracks which match the trogolodytes. They come and go from both tunnels.

    "Let's exterminate these trogs," says Thorgrim.

    They take the left, more level, passage, which goes about 200'. Scouting ahead, Isilme finds that it bends around to the right and ends in a chamber [232]

    This cavern has a smooth floor. Laid into it in new brownish stone, is a triangular mosaic about 15' across. The walls have disturbing black sigils crudely scrawled into them. You can't read them. There are two passages leaving this chamber, each starting with crude steps. Nothing in this area is lit; Isilme and Noot do the scouting so far with their infravision and then report back to the party at the earlier intersection.


    Map L

    "What are the marks written with," asks Hepla.

    "They are just scrawled on the walls with some kind of black stuff," says Noot.

    "I don't know," adds Isilme. "I think charcoal."

    Elrae casts Continual Light upon his crossbow, to allow everyone without infravision to see. Meanwhile, Thorgrim flips his eyepatch around, using the continual light crystal to shine the way before them. Still, Isilme and Noot scout about 100 or so feet ahead, far enough to be completely out of the light and not be able to see the party's light either.

    Everyone moves down the crude stairs, and enter another chamber [230]. A woven fiber sleeping mat lies on the floor in the south part of the cave. Hanging over it are two greatswords, mounted on the wall. As the party is coming down the stairs from 232, Isilme hurries back to them. Noot's sneaking ahead too, but she simply yells, "Trogolodytes!" as she flies back!

    Isilme flies right back passed everyone, and into the center of the rear cavern [232]. Noot takes off down the passage to the right [to 231], runs up the wall to the ceiling, and hides.

    The trogs move up about half-way then thrown spears. Gotrek gets hit with two spears [8] and [5] while Thorgrim gets hit with one [5].

    Gotrek, Thorgrim, and Taki charge the trogolodytes. They all have another spear, and the three front ones have them set. Gotrek runs on a spear [4] and Thorgrim takes a hit [10], but the one fighting Taki not only misses, but his spear snaps on Taki's armor.

    As they near the trogs, the smell is horrible. Gotrek and Thorgrim aren't affected, but Taki is sickened [-4 to his strength for a while]. Gotrek hits a trog [12], Thorgrim hits one [9], and Taki hits one [20] cutting it right in half! Elrae fires a crossbow bolt, missing. Emyn takes a position on the stairs, to protect Hepla and Isilme should anything else approach. Berenn keeps an eye out behind them and up the other passage, just in case. He has Bonefire in hand.

    Noot stays on the ceiling, hiding in the shadows. Hepla stays ready to cast Grease, but holds back for now. Berenn, with two swords, holds his position in the center of the chamber, keeping his eyes open. Elrae fires another bolt, but misses again.

    Emyn calls upon Trithereon and summons a giant lizard, which he sends to attack. It bounds down the stairs, goes up along the wall like Noot with his slippers, and attacks. A trog in the rear rank plants its spear, impaling the lizard [14], but the lizard also bites the trog too. More trogs move up, and two hit the lizard, killing it. Trogs attack Gotrek and Thorgrim, missing.

    Thorgrim kills the trog he hit earlier, as does Gotrek. A couple throw spears, one hitting Taki [4], then others move up to attack, though Taki kills two with dazzling swordplay.

    Isilme flies down into the next room, from where the trogs are coming from, and once she's out of the light, she closes her eyes and waits for her night-vision to come back. Unfortunately, Elrae moved forward, so when she opens her eyes, she finds she's STILL in the light. Worse, there's a large Earth Elemental standing amongst the trogs!

    The trogs all wince as Elrae's light moves forwards and temporarily blinds them. They also take up a strange hissing/howling sound.

    Thorgrim hits the trog in front of him [12], while Gotrek hits the one in front of him, killing it. Taki moves up and finishes off Thorgrim’s trog, prompting a yell from Thorgrim. “That still counts as MINE!” yells Thorgrim!

    Meanwhile, two spears come flying down the tunnel where Noot's hiding. One hits Noot, hiding on the ceiling and not looking that way, in the back [8], and he falls from the ceiling, landing hard on the floor [4]. He has been watching the fight, so his infravision is useless, his eyes having been looking at the lighted area. Still, he rolls over to see two trogs coming his way with large spears. He also starts to feel sick from the stench that surrounds him.

    Two trogs move up to attack Taki and Thorgrim, but both miss. Isilme hears chanting in the strange Trog language coming from the darkness, and the elemental seems to grow even bigger and stronger. It then lumbers forwards, right towards Taki. It swings a massive fist, hitting Taki with a tremendous blow [20] and launching him backwards 10'. He lands on his ****, right at the foot of the stone steps.

    Isilme, flying into the darkness, casts Silence on herself. Far as she knows, the chanting stops. Noot rolls under the legs of the trog, comes up behind it, and stabs it in the back [8]. Thorgrim hits the trog in front of him [10]. Hepla casts levitate on the elemental, but it has no effect.

    Gotrek steps back, takes out his potions, Speed AND Superheroism, and drinks them both. He feels a weird gurgle in his stomach, then more strength than he's ever felt.

    [DM OOC: The potions were VERY compatible, and the Super-heroism worked an extra 50% better. He gains a total of 5 levels levels in ability, along with 15 hps. He also gets the regular effects of the speed potion.]

    Elrae fires some magic missiles at the creature, which slam into it, knocking small bits of stone off. Emyn swears and moves down the stairs to defend Taki. He takes his javelin of lightning and throws it at the elemental. It slams into it for [15], and the bolt of lightning also takes out the trog behind it.

    Gotrek tells Thorgrim to help Noot, and he stands his ground as the two trogs attack. He hits and kills one, then the trogs miss, then he hits and kills the other. Thorgrim moves down the side passage and hits one of the trogs attacking Noot in the back [10].

    Taki gets up, shaking off the elemental's punch. The elemental moves up and hits Gotrek with another big punch [15], but the dwarf holds his ground with a grunt. Taki then takes a swing at it, hitting it [15].

    More trogs come up the side passage, throwing spears at Noot and Thorgrim. They all miss, and they actually hit the one that Thorgrim hit already, killing it. Six more trogs come out of another side passage. They bunch up just inside the area of light. Once outside of all the light, Isilme can see further down the main tunnel, where a large trog with a greatsword is standing. There's another side tunnel going off to the right. Unfortunately, there's no sign of the chanting trog.

    Noot steps back beside Thorgrim and uses his dagger of parrying defensively, while striking out with Black Knife, sticking a trog in the side [7]. Isilme draws her sword and gets ready to attack the sword-wielding trog. The trog just stands there watching the combat. Thorgrim hits the same trog as before, killing it. Gotrek swings and misses the elemental, as Taki moves up and also misses. Emyn moves up beside it as well, but is hit by it as he approaches [15] and knocked back to the ground. He gets up, but can’t attack. Berenn moves around to help Thorgrim and Noot, and kills two trogs with his two blades, as Elrae casts a sleep on the trogs behind the Elemental, singing three of them to sleep.

    The earth elemental then attacks, hitting Gotrek [27] and knocking him to the ground. The trogs then attack. They all miss. The ones beyond the Elemental watch their companions drop to the ground and hesitate.

    Gotrek was knocked to the ground by the elemental, but he still gets another blow, as he rolls through its legs and chops it in the leg [20].

    Hepla then sees about another dozen trogs coming up the other passage, towards the rear of the group.

    Noot attacks with his dagger again, sticking the trog [5]. Thorgrim hits his [10]. Berenn hits his [12]. Taki hits the elemental [16] and Gotrek stands up, smacking it hard [12]. Emyn then steps up and hits it too, finally shattering it in a shower of rocks.

    Elrae fires a lightning bolt back down towards the other trogs, taking out about half of them with one shot. The rest flee back the way they came. The trogs beyond the elemental also run away. Hepla then casts her own lightning bolt, and blasts the fleeing trogs into oblivion.

    The three fighting in the side passage all miss, and Thorgrim and Berenn each hit again, killing their foes. The trogs are all dead except the swordmaster! Isilme is not hurt by the lightning bolts, but they momentarily blind her. When she can see, all she sees is Gotrek's backside. The battlerager just charged down the tunnel!

    Hepla races after Gotrek, but after she runs out of the light, she realizes she can't see anything and stops. Emyn, chasing after her, runs into her, and the two fall together to the ground. Meanwhile, Isilme flies after Gotrek just as he enters that big double chamber area [224]. The remaining trogs have all run through the first chamber already, and standing in the small neck between to the two chambers is a large creature with a leonine torso and legs, batlike wings, a man’s head, and a tail tipped with iron spikes. It stands 6 feet tall at the shoulder and measures 15 feet in length. It has a 25-foot wingspan. The leonine torso has a tawny hide, the mane is a lion’s brown-black color, and the batlike wings are a dark brown with sparse hair. The head resembles a human male's; the mane resembles a heavy beard and long hair. It fires a volley of spikes from its tail, 4 of which strike Gotrek [15].

    When Isilme finally sees the dire situation, she casts spectral force and a squad of dwarvish warriors (12) follow in on Gotrek's heels as backup, screaming and hollering and carrying on like dwarves do. These spectral dwarves will fire Heavy Crossbows at the manticore when they arrive and then pull out War Axes to engage next round.

    Elrae looks back around the corner, sees the bodies of all the charred and blasted troglodytes, and hears more trogs further up the tunnel. With the party seemingly looking to chase ahead, he uses Snowfang to throw up a Wall of Ice across the left tunnel, effectively blocking it. Thorgrim and Berenn hurry down the tunnel in pursuit of the others, relying on their infravision to see. Hepla takes out her crystal. [Those little crystals only give off light in a 15’ radius.] Her and Emyn proceed after Thorgrim and Berenn. Noot checks around, finishes off any wounded trogs, and waits for Elrae to return.

    In the main chamber, Gotrek takes out his potion of Ex-Healing, regaining [22]. Meanwhile Isilme slips off to the left as she creates her illusion of the group of dwarves. Gotrek glances back and smiles…..

    The manticore takes to the air, flying up towards the ceiling of this large cavern. It’s about 25’ high here, as the cavern is about 50’ wide. From there it fires its tail spikes again, this time primarily at the spectral dwarves, which keeps Isilme pretty occupied dealing with the illusory damage and making sure the manticore doesn't figure things out.

    At the far end of the cavern, well, beyond the narrow point, the lead trog with the greatsword hisses at the others. They finally stop their flight, turn around, and throw spears, with a few hitting dwarves. None hits Gotrek. [Isilme takes out another couple dwarves, not wanting to push her illusion…] The trogs then form up in a line across the chokepoint.

    Noot and Elrae finish off the sleeping and wounded trogs. Elrae’s light also reveals the two tunnels to the right, which open into larger chambers (227 and 229 on the area map. There's another chamber beyond 227).

    Gotrek advances cautiously, keeping a wary eye above as he does. He doesn’t charge, but the trogs get attacks of opportunity with their long spears. They all miss. He then kills one! Isilme drops her spell concentration and uses her Wand of Highfolk on the trogs.

    Thorgrim and Berenn arrive to find a bunch of dwarven warriors ahead of them. They quickly surmise it was Isilme’s doing. Thorgrim works his way carefully through the illusionary forces, while Berenn sheathes Bonefire, taking out his bow. Unfortunately, his sight is soon messed up by the arrival of the others (Hepla, Taki, and Emyn).

    [DM OOC: Gotrek, Hepla, and Thorgrim all are using their quartz crystals (15’r). Elrae has his crossbow with a 60’r. That’s slung on his back now. It’s hard to do all the sighting things here, but I’m making an adjustment to the map to take into account those with infravision and without. I’m basically leaving the battle map revealed, but putting an opaque circle around those with light sources so you can really see what’s up. Sometimes it may be important. Isilme is basically not able to use her infravision now, with so many lights around. However, the room is sufficiently lit from a few areas that you can basically see throughout. The ceiling is in shadow, but it’s hard to miss the manticore anyway!]

    Speaking of which, the manticore swoops down and takes out a couple of dwarves, literally dropping on top of them! The trogs all attack Gotrek, but they cannot get by his defenses.

    Noot and Elrae show up shortly. “Are we invited to this party?” asks Elrae.

    Gotrek swings and misses a trog. Taki steps up and hits the manticore [24]. Hepla moves around to the left, and the manticore attacks her with an AoO, but she’s got stoneskin to protect her. Berenn then fires an arrow at the manticore, but it flies wide!

    The manticore attacks Taki with it’s claws, hitting for [6], as it takes off into the air and out of reach. Thorgrim shakes his pick at it angrily, and waits for it to return.

    With the manticore back in the air, Emyn moves over to Hepla’s side. Isilme casts Haste. It pretty much has an area of effect of this entire chamber. The manticore is hasted, along with Taki, Hepla, Isilme, Emyn, and Thorgrim.

    The trogs score two hits on Gotrek [5] and [5]. One of the trogs hits the one next to it, which turns on it, snapping angrily. The leader barks an order, and one of the trogs turns around and sneers at him. He says something to the trogs behind him, and one throws its spear at the leader, barely missing him. Seems the wand worked after all!

    Berenn then fires three more arrows, scoring one hit on the manticore [6].

    Berenn fires and hits the manticore again [7]. Hepla prepares her magic missile, but holds fire for now. Noot hangs back, keeping an eye behind them. Elrae draws Snowfang, holding his crossbow in his left hand, and points the sword at the manticore. He calls upon Snowfang, and a blast of cold issues forth, completely covering the beast [18]. As the snow and ice cover its wings, it finds it can’t stay aloft and plummets to the ground. As it hits the ground, Thorgrim rushes forward, hitting it with his pick [10]. Taki then flies forward. The manticore fires another blast of its tail at him, hitting him with 4 spikes [10], but Taki reaches the manticore and stabs it through the brain. The beast shudders and slumps, dead.

    The trog leader cuts down the trog that attacked it. An enraged Gotrek kills another trog.
    The trogs all run away with the death of the manticore, and Gotrek kills one as it turns to flee. The leader tries to shout at the fleeing trogs, but is interrupted by a series of magic missiles from Hepla’s outstretched fingers [20]. Berenn moves over to the right, intent on firing at the trog leader, but Gotrek moves up and gets in the way.

    The trog swings at Gotrek, hitting him with a resounding clang! Gotrek laughs and hits him with at least two telling blows which drive the trog to the ground and then smashes its head to pulpy mass! With a successful wisdom check, Gotrek then comes out of his brief rage.

    The tunnel bends around to the right. At the end is a large chamber, about 30' and roughly spherical. The manticore's lair, by the smell of it. Well, that and the half-eaten body. There is also a lone trog in here, back against the far wall and holding its spear out defensively in front of it. Noot captures the trog with the Bands of Billaro, and Elrae tries to communicate in draconic, but finds that trogs don't speak draconic. [that's a lame 3rd ed thing! ]

    Emyn says, "Maybe this thing trained the manticore. If it can be a useful guide then we should use it, otherwise, kill it. Troglodytes are voracious and a plague on villages that they raid for food."

    [DM OOC: The speed potion now wears off, but Gotrek is still under the effects of the super-heroism. I also used some healing from Berenn and Thorgrim. Gotrek's at 110hp for now, from the potion of super-heroism, and attacks as a fighter 5 levels higher!]

    While the party tries unsuccessfully to speak with the captured trog, Gotrek gets impatient. "Bah!" says Gotrek. "I gots me some more trogs to kill." He turns to leave, "Talk to them if'n you want. Me ax'll speak fer me!" With that he turns and strides out, walking after the trogs. He also puts away his quartz, planning to use his infravision.

    Isilme says she can fly back, invisible, and check them out. It seems they likely connected to the other mine passage we didn't take. She'll know in a few minutes. She then takes off. Elrae mentions that he iced off the left passage, so that route's safe for quite some time, least down in these cool caves. In the mean time, Gotrek has already headed back out, and he hears the sounds of trogs down the tunnel and the metal clanging of a fight.

    "We should really go after Gotrek," say Berenn, as Emyn gives a coup de grace to the trog and Noot takes back the Bands.

    "Yep," says Thorgrim. "Good to know some things never change."
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:53 pm  
    Part 7 - Trouble with trogolodytes

    Gotrek charges on down the passage. He gets down the stairs [to area 221] and sees a tall, thin earth elemental in a small chamber about 50' ahead. It's looking right at him.

    Elrae is at the top of the stone steps, along with Taki, Thorgrim, and Berenn. Emyn is still back with Hepla and Noot. Nobody is sure where Isilme is, as she's invisible. Noot spends a couple minutes going through the room. In the end he finds two jeweled rings on the hand of the half-eaten man.

    "Disgusting," he says, taking the rings.

    When Gotrek rushes at the creature, it turns and flies away back down the hallway. He sees stony wings sprouting from its back, though they don't seem to move or have anything to do with its ability to fly. With a growl, Gotrek pursues. When he gets where the thing was, he can see down the passage to another chamber where a half-dozen trogs are fighting each other.

    The elemental "flies" over the fighting trogs, disappearing into the darkness further ahead. Gotrek runs headlong into the trogs, killing one instantly with a swipe of Goreblade as he sings. Not a raging song, but simply an old dwarven battle song.

    Eventually, Berenn rushes down, taking out Bonefinger for use in the tunnels, as Elrae follows behind. Taki uses the magical flight bestowed on him by Hepla's spell to fly down over everyone's heads and lands besides Gotrek, ready for battle. Thorgrim moves up slowly, making sure to exterminate the remaining trogs and monsters in the caverns.

    Hepla, Emyn, and Noot bring up the rear. Hepla starts to cast Detect Magic on the rings, but she is stopped by Emyn. "Save your spells," he says. "Elrae can perform that task with his sword. We may need your mystical strength to clean out this nest, my love."

    "Thank you dear," she replies, taking careful note of Emyn's use of the word 'love'." "And thank you Noot. If we got everything let's find the others."

    Back down the tunnels, a bunch of centipedes about 1' to 5' long come out of the side passage. Four are killed immediately by the combined attacks of Taki, Gotrek, and the trogs, but then many more swarm out. They crawl over one another, along the walls; there are even about 4 along ceiling right above everyone! One of the trogs goes down, bitten by a centipede, but Taki and Gotrek are missed. A couple of larger ones are attacking Taki and the trog next to him. The trogs forget about anyone else and turn to fight off the centipedes. Thorgrim reaches the battle site and moves down and slams his pick through one centipede, killing it. Gotrek backs off and kills two, as does Taki.

    Taki gets bit for [1] by one of the 5' long centipedes. Gotrek also gets bit [2]. One trog gets bit a couple of times. One attacks Thorgrim and misses.

    Taki slashes at the one next to him, hitting it [14] and Thorgrim hits it, finishing it off. Everyone else holds back, not really participating.

    Next round the centipedes continue to attack. Three bite the trog, which biting it a couple of times before it finishes off one of the centipedes. The other trog runs away, bit a few times itself. One small centipede follows after it, while the others swarm Gotrek.
    He is bit once [1], and another attacks Taki, missing.

    Gotrek and Taki both kill the two centipedes attacking them, though Taki takes two swings to kill the big one! Then another trog appears from the tunnel to the right. It has an eye tatooed on its forehead, and makes a terrible hissing and carrying on when it sees all its dead centipede pets! It starts speaking in its weird trog language, and Taki finds himself held immobile.

    Gotrek kills the centipede in front of him, then moves up to the trog. He takes a bite from a large centiped as he does so [3]. Berenn moves up to the trog spellcaster, missing swinging Bonefire before him, but he is intercepted by a centipede. The last trog keeps fighting the two remaining centipedes.

    Thorgrim angles over, while the rest of the party (not Isilme) moves up. They now can see the thin, winged earth elemental up ahead where the trog fled chased by the centipede.

    Gotrek stepped up to fight the trog priest. When he gets up there, he sees lots of tattoos all over it. Berenn stepped up and has a little 1' centipede trying to attacking him. Thorgrim is between him and Taki. Elrae, Emyn, Hepla, and Noot are bringing up the rear. Isilme is nowhere to be seen.

    The trog shaman reaches out and touches Gotrek, who feels a strange sensation. His mind becomes clouded with so many strange thoughts and images that he is rooted in one spot. He's not stunned, but simply confused and cannot take any actions. The last trog attacks, hitting a large centipede with its spear, then backs away from the combat.

    Berenn kills the centipede in front of him, steps up and hits another. Thorgrim steps back and casts Dispel Magic on Taki. It breaks the Trog's hold person spell as well as Isilme's Fly spell. Taki stumbles, dropping to one knee. Emyn slips around behind Thorgrim, trying to get to the priest. He attacks the centipede, hitting it.

    The centipedes attack Emyn and Berenn. Emyn is bit [2] but Berenn is missed.

    Elrae stays back, out of the way. Hepla casts Magic Missile on the elemental down the tunnel, and it turns and flies away into the darkness. She can't even tell if she hit it.

    Noot goes along the wall, making his way to the ceiling above the intersection of the tunnels. Down the tunnel, he sees the trog stumble and fall where it seems to be writhing in pain. He also sees down the right-hand tunnel and there's another elemental thing there too.

    Taki says weakly, "this bite burns," and he then tries to regain his feet and move to attack the nearest monster.

    Hepla rushes up to Taki, reaches out and holding him back. "Let me see," she says. She looks at the bite and frowns. "Taki's been poisoned," she says. "It is too late for anything I can do," she tells him.

    Thorgrim turns, and takes a look. "I can only Slow the poison," he says. "Curing it is beyond my ability."

    "Let me go little sister," says Taki, standing on unsteady legs. "I must help my friends." With that said Taki takes a step towards the combat then falls weakly to the floor, he pulls himself up to one knee, and you can see the look of pain and extreme frustration on his face.

    Gotrek continues to be held in place. Hepla casts magic missiles, hitting the trog priest. A series of flashes occurs, as each missile hits, which she thinks are very reminiscent of a Stoneskin. Noot throws his bands at the priest, but misses.

    The priest backs off a step, and casts a spell. The stones explode out of the ceiling, right above Noot. He takes [6] and falls from the ceiling, taking another [5].

    Berenn hits the large centipede twice, killing it. He is then bit by the last large centipede [3]. Emyn rushes passes Gotrek and Berenn, ignoring the centipede which tries to bite him and fails, and attacks the trog shaman. He hits him [12].

    Thorgrim casts Slow Poison on Taki. "This will slow the effects for a few hours," he says, "but only Berenn can truly help you."

    Taki shakily gets to his feet. [Con is now down to 9; he's lost 8 points so far. Slow Poison will slow the effects for another few hours now.]

    Elrae steps up and casts a magic missile, hitting the centipede [24] and killing it.

    Noot stands up and throws blackknife, which bounces off the Trog harmlessly. He draws another dagger, and looks for the bands. The flew passed the trog and bounced down the tunnel behind him, out of sight. He heads off to retrieve them.

    Berenn feels the burning the wound, so he sheaths his broadsword and casts Neutralize Poison on himself. Hepla looks through her herbs to see if she can help Taki, who thanks her and Thorgrim as he gets to his feet and moves up to the trog priest. Gotrek stands there seemingly dazed. Emyn attacks the priest, missing.

    The priest steps back and casts another spell. The earth from the floor, ceiling, and walls all close together forming a wall between himself and the rest of the party.

    Gotrek continues to stand there. He has a confused though intent look on his face. It's like he's looking at something very strange. In another couple rounds he comes out of it anyway. He shakes his head, then looks around confused. He said he was having strange visions of tentacled slimy things. He actually felt like he was somewhere else, in some kind of void surrounded by these strange things. He blinks. "Bah!"

    Meanwhile, Hepla looks at the wall and looks for a big stone within it. When she finds one, she casts Enlarge on it and slowly makes it bigger so that it crushes the stones aroud it and the fall out. She does this slowly so there is not an explosive reaction to the stones enlargement, then she cancels her spell and the stone shrinks back, leaving a large hole in the wall. She then peeks through. She doesn't see anyone on the other side; however, the tunnel bends around to the right out of sight.

    Taki squeezes through the hole and heads after the trog priest. As Taki rushes forward, the ground explodes outwards, with the stones hitting him for [6]. He shakes it off and continues, eventually coming to the end chamber. There he finds the trog priest, just finishing chanting in its strange tongue.

    Taki tackles the trog successfully, and they both fall to the ground, the trog dropping its spear. It grabs ahold of Taki's head, and everyone hears Taki scream echoing down the tunnel. Taki starts pounding on the trog, which reacts by clawing and biting. Taki slams it's head over and over again against a rock, and as the others show up, they see him going as berserk as Gotrek. In fact, Gotrek gives a nod of approval as Taki gets up. He's taken [10] damage from claws and bites, but the trog's dead, it's head smashed to a pulp!

    Taki looks down at what he has done and then back up at the party and smiles. "That is how you get things done," he says as he stands up and walks away. "And one of you search that damn priest," he says. "You all might as well be good for something."

    Hepla follows quickly behind Taki, taking out some herbs. "Now, let me see that wound." He stops, and she uses her herb to stop the poision as Taki wipes his hands on her cloak.

    Once she is done with the healing, she walks in front of Taki and uses a cantrip to clean her cloak. "Just because I can do this is no reason to use me as a cleaning rag. You did good taking out that trog, but don't forget that we treat one another with respect." All 4'8" of her stands with her hands on her hips in front of him, she then giggles and says,"Don't we look a sight, and we have not even found what we came for yet."

    Taki leans down from his 7' height and looks Helpa in the eye. "Do not think to speak to me you little girl. I am the one that gets things done around here while you all play with your magic." With that said Taki steps past her and loots the body of the trog shaman. He pockets some coins and stuff and looks at the party, "finders keepers."

    "We all get things done," replies Hepla. "You with strength and size, others with other gifts. Now the items you have taken need to go to the common pot, if you want to carry them that is fine but everyone shares. And I am not a little girl." She stamps her dainty little barefoot foot.

    "DRAS Stonecrusher," says Gotrek, making Stonecrusher appear and putting away Goreblade. [He has one of those Bracelet of Charms.] Gotrek is wielding Stonecrusher and a Buckler now, in case he has to knock out Taki.

    "Little dwarf," says Taki. "Mind your own affairs least I stomp you back into your place."

    Hepla turns her back on Taki and says to Gotrek,"I guess he has invited you into this, but I am first." She then turns back to Taki and starts a spell.

    "Little girl," replies Taki. "I see you in the process of your magic, but it wont be enough." With that Taki begins walking away.

    "You fear my magic," she calls. "Fine, shows you have some brains."

    Gotrek moves over to Hepla, ready to protect her just in case.

    Berenn speaks up, "Enough of this all of you! I don't what is happening here, but it ends now!"

    "Taki has been bewitched," says Gotrek. "I don't think your "commandering" will assist here."

    Taki laughs at the party, goes and finds a place to sit down, and pulls out some rations. He sits there with a bored look on his face eating a dried biscuit.

    Emyn walks up to him and without warning punches Taki in the face [8]. Taki flips back off the rock up which he was sitting, rolls back up, and draws his blade.

    As Emyn draws his, Noot throws his bands at Taki, though they miss, clanging off the far wall. "Noot," says Taki. "I will deal with you next if you throw them bands at me again."

    Gotrek snorts, and taunts Taki. "Oh, look at the big man. If you are looking for a fight tough guy, come and get some!"

    "Get in line shrimp," replies Taki, warily circling Emyn.

    "You will not disrespect Hepla," says Emyn. "I know that priest did something to you, and you are not in your right mind, but if I have to slay you to protect her, I will."

    "Shut up you love sick fool," says Taki in reply. "Swing your blade and get to fighting or get to running. Maybe I will make her my woman after I cleave you in half."

    "What makes you think I would be your woman?" says Hepla, hands on her hips.

    "If I decide you will then you will," he replies with a wink.

    Hepla, seeing how things are getting out of hand, sighs and says, "Did not want to do this but...", she runs up and jumps into Taki's arms.

    His natural instinct is to catch her, and when he does she kisses him on the lips thus releasing the shocking Grasp she has secretly readied. She hopes this effect should jolt his brain into a reset, hopefully. After the kiss, while he is still realing she will jump down and take a few steps backwards.

    Taki takes [12] from the shocking grasp spell which Hepla just unleashed! The big man hits his knees from the effect of the blast, he then looks up and smiles at Helpa. He gets up and walks away, while Hepla turns and shrugs.

    "Taki, what's wrong with you?" shouts Thorgrim.

    "Nothing is wrong with me," he says. "What so ever other than being wounded by all of you in the party, that little bitch shocks me Emyn punches me and now you are shouting at me, either heal me or leave me alone."

    "Taki, why did you wipe your blood soaked hands on Hepla and treat us all like we were your enemies?" asks Emyn. "Why did you steal the treasure from the trog priest? This is not the way of Kelanan."

    "Because I wanted too," replies Taki. "I killed it, and it should be my treasure."

    Islme suddenly shows up, not invisble anymore. She is carrying a pillowcase full of goods and tells you she had to kill a Trog priest trying to dispel the ice wall put up to protect us. She asks Hepla to help treat the posion she recieved in a some wounds with her skills. She will then describe the layout of the caves and what she saw.

    "What the hell happened to Taki?" she asks.

    After getting a quick synopsis from Hepla, she flies off after Taki. Everyone else follows as quickly as possible. They catch up to Taki at the next intersection, and Berenn casts Detect Evil. While it shows nothing odd about Taki, the area between the next two tunnels suddenly glows maliciously under Berenn's divination.

    Isilme checks it out, and the wall seems to shift as a bunch of stones blast outwards in an arc. Of course, she doesn't take any damage thanks to her stoneskin. The evil in the wall is then gone.

    "Whatever it was," says Berenn, "it seems to move through stone with ease."

    Before moving on, Isilme will approach Taki and say "We endured the epic battle with the drow priestess together, and I know you had your misgivings about the party then, but please refrain until we have finished our quest here. Fighting amongst ourselves will only make us weaker for the enemy."

    Taki nods, but says nothing. The party then continues, following the tunnels down which the trogs fled, Isilme casting Invisibility again. About 40' down they come across the dead body of a trog. About 60' further the tunnel opens up into a large well-lit chamber [220] . Isilme, already invisible, goes ahead. She hears a strange chanting in the Trog language from ahead, and when she gets to the open chamber here's what she sees:

    This chamber is nearly 100' square, with entrances on all four corners. It smells of loam and blood. A three-tiered ziggurat rises 15' above the floor, which is of soft earth. A black cloaked figure wearing robes like the trog priest Taki killed stands atop the pyramid on a triangular platform the color of watery mud. It holds a knife above its head in both hands, chanting. A blood-soaked body lies at its feet unmoving. There is a large drum behind the figure. The walls of the chamber are covered with tapestries of dark brown and black images of demons and other hideous creatures. It is all somewhat reminiscent of the Temple of Elemental Evil, but there are also many other strange beings depicted, sinuous and tentacle covered, all very eerie.

    She immediately feels the evil unholy nature of the place. She almost flees, but summons up enough courage to stay and take note of everything else.

    There are 5 trogs arrayed in front of the pyramid. Four hold two of their long spears while the one in the rear wields a two-handed sword. In the middle of the trogs is one of the thin elementals. There are 5 more arrayed around the pyramid and in front of each tunnel leading to it. There is another standing on the 2nd tier front of the pyramid. There are also three other elemental creatures, though of a different type. One is before each of the two southern entrances and one in the middle, between them. These are larger than the other elementals, with cracks throughout their black, rocky bodies. Glowing fire can be seen within the cracks which reminds Isilme of lave beneath the surface.

    "Well," says Thorgrim. "We came here to fight. Those elementals will be more of a liability to the trogs than an asset, since any break in the priests' concentration will cause the elementals to turn upon their summoner." It's the same reason Thorgrim is reluctant to use such summoning power in combat.



    [DM OOC: The party spent a LONG time discussing this situation. Some wanted to rest, but others thought that was silly, since coming back would just be harder with totally alert and prepared defenders. So, they came up with a plan. Here's the synopsis:

    Pre-cast spells
    Drink any needed potions of healing!
    Noot, Hepla, and Gotrek take invisibility swigs from Gotrek (down to 4/8 left, but Thorgrim has another potion in portable hole)
    Thorgrim will have to cast TWO silence spells, to silence Gotrek's singing. Might be better to just have Gotrek start to sing. Let that be the sign for Isilme to drop the anvil that she Itemed!
    Gotrek also rubs Oil of Armor on himself. No need for speed as Hepla will cast Haste on everyone before they start.
    Thorgrim drinks potions of super-heroism.
    Emyn rubs Oil of Dexterity on himself.
    Isilme casts Protection from Evil.

    Actions
    Gotrek starts to sing. Signal to Isilme to drop anvil. She can immediately fly away.
    Hepla holds for just long enough to know Isilme's clear, then fireballs the room!
    Noot goes along ceiling, invisibile, working his way behind everyone.
    Taki, Emyn, and Gotrek charge in.
    Others cast support spells.

    So, basically it's the same plan as in the beginning of Ghostbusters. "Get her!"]

    Before doing anything, Isilme uses her Wand of Highfolk on the trogs, which gets the five trogs start to fight amongst themselves! This is Gotrek's cue to start singing, and Isilme then drops the anvil, saying the command to return it to full size. It drops on the unsuspecting trog. [I will give the trog a save, just as if this were a trap.] The trog is hit squarely by the anvil, smashing it to the ground! [23]
    Isilme then flies away quickly to get away from the coming fireball!

    [That's a surprise round!]

    ***

    Next round Isilme goes FURTHER away, just in case. Hepla uses the nearly exhausted Staff of Irardenthas (Staff of Power taken from Slavelord) to shoot a fireball at the center of the pyramid. It engulfs the trog priest, and all that's left is a smoking ruin of flesh and lead. Everything is all melted and fused together into a big slag of yuck! The elemental on the lower tier is engulfed as well, and it dies too.

    The elemental in front of Hepla spits out a blob of lava, which hits her [8], igniting her clothes! The one in the middle moves up and swings at her with its fists, but misses. Emyn charges and attacks the elementals, but misses. Berenn moves up and fires his bow from the corner of the side passage, but misses. Gotrek charges the elemental on the right, hitting it (and becoming visible) for [16]. The elemental hits Gotrek [8] back, and Thorgrim moves up to assist Gotrek, but misses. Elrae moves up the left side with Hepla and Emyn, while Taki takes off up the right side to follow the dwarves.

    "Snowfang protect us," say Elrae, hopeing his sword will keep him fire resistant from the lava spewing elementals.

    Emyn shouts to Hepla, "Back off and roll in the dirt!" He engages the elemetals in full defensive mode to enable her to escape. He will willingly take blows meant for her, even if it means throwing himself in harm's way.

    Berenn then fires at the elemental between the trogs, hitting it [8].

    Round Two: Noot, seeing that the trog leader is dead, decides not to worry about backstabbing. Rather, he throws his iron bands at the trog with the two-handed sword. Unfortunately, he misses again. Berenn fires another arrow, hitting the same elemental for [4].

    The elemental that he hits takes off and flies straight at him, but Taki, coming up the tunnel, cuts it in two with an AoO as it flies by! The remaining earth elementals all grow this round to double their size!

    Elrae casts Melf’s Acid Arrow, and hits one of the big elementals [6]. Emyn attacks the elemental in front of Hepla, hitting it [8]. Thogrim casts Resist Fire on Gotrek.

    Hepla backs off, rolling on the ground to put the flame out. She takes another [3], and struggles to grab her wand of flame extinguishing, taking it out. Isilme flies over to just in front of the trogs, where she casts prayer, affecting the entire party. Gotrek then hits and kills the elemental in front of him.

    The two magma elementals attack Emyn. They both miss as Emyn takes his defensive stance between them and Hepla. Taki moves up around to the left, attacking the elemental that Elrae already hit with the acid. He hits it [14].

    The trogs continue killing each other, while Berenn moves to the other side of the tunnel, and uses his last shot to hit the elemental on the SE corner of the pyramid [8].

    Round 3: Berenn fires an arrow at the same SE elemental, hitting it again [8]. It moves up and attacks Gotrek, hitting him with its fist [8]. The NW elemental flies up to Taki, hitting him [5]. Another flies over Gotrek and attacks Thorgrim, hitting him [9], while the last one attacks the trog swordsman, missing.

    Hepla puts the flames out as the the trog swordsman turns and swings at the elemental, hitting it. The last trog attacks Taki, missing.

    Elrae, uses the power of his cittern to cast a magic missile, hitting a magma elemental [15]. Emyn hits the same one, killing it! Gotrek finishes off the elemental in front of him with another hit from Goreblade. Thorgrim misses with his pick. Berenn fires more arrows. He hits the elemental that attacked Thorgrim twice [10]. Noot makes his way to back around to the top of the pyramid.

    The magma elemental attacks Emyn, hitting him [2]. Isilme flies over and cast CLW on Hepla [8].

    Gotrek goes into a Rage!

    Round 4: Suddenly, something comes up underneath Gotrek. He is clawed [?] and bit [?] by a huge mouth which comes right up through the earth. Whatever it is, it’s the strangest thing anyone’s ever seen. Its body is made of a pebbly, stone-like material. It has a large, powerful mouth on top of its head with three long arms, tipped with sharp talons, symmetrically positioned every 120 degrees around it. Between the arms are large, stone-lidded eyes that see in all directions. At its base are three thick, short legs, each directly beneath an eye. The whole body is designed for burrowing, mouth first.

    Hepla uses her healing proficiency, healing 3 damage. She’s fine again! She gets up, thanking Isilme for her care. Unfortunately, she notices that her clothes are a complete shambles. Elrae holds his cittern in his off-hand while drawing Snowfang again. He then step in front of Hepla and Isilme to guard them. Emyn swings at the magma elemental, but his sword is sundered by the creature! Berenn hits the elemental with another arrow [3].

    The thing attacking Gotrek goes back underground, and Gotrek starts swinging at the earth where it disappeared, spit and dirt flying everywhere! [I let him make a wisdom check to avoid attacking the ground in a rage, but he failed it!]

    Noot sneaks down and backstabs the trog swordsman [16]. The trog spins around, hitting Noot with his two-handed sword [20]. Noot is knocked backwards to the ground, but Taki comes up and attacks the trog, diverting its attention again. He hits it [23] and the trog whirls back around to face Taki. The trog swings back at Taki, hitting him [19], and Taki also hits the trog again [23]. Both combatants are quite hurt, and Taki realizes that he is not facing a simple trog.

    Thorgrim misses the elemental. The two elementals both attack Thorgrim and Emyn. Thorgrim’s hit [6] while Emyn is missed. Thorgrim misses again, but Berenn buries another two arrows in the elemental, killing it!

    Emyn tosses his broken blade aside, quickly drawing his longsword.

    Round 5: Noot gets up and stabs the trog again, killing it as Taki hits it with his sword, cutting off its head. Good simultaneous blows! Elrae steps up and hits the magma elemental with Snowfang [15]. The elemental hits Elrae [9], but Emyn finishes it off with a blow from his longsword. No other foes are in sight, and Gotrek successfully comes out of his rage. He doesn't exactly slump, though he seems disappointed and mutters, kicking the dirt.

    Emyn rushes over to Hepla to see if she is ok as he looks dolefully at the twisted remains of his chosen weapon. He will cover her with his cloak if her clothes are that badly daamged that she might be showing more skin than she would like.

    As the party regroups and takes advantage of the moment to get some healing, Elrae looks around. "Ok what's still standing? And keep an eye out for that xorn." Elrae will see if Snowfang can detect any magic in this temple.

    Taki walks over to Emyn and drops his magical longsword at his feet with a loud clang. He then walks back over to search the trog swordsman. He picks up the thing's two-handed sword, marvelling at the exquisite craftsmanship and the engraved runes at the base of the blade. Smiling, he swings it in a few practice arcs. The balance is perfect for him, and he takes the trog's sword sheath as well. "Groovy!"
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:47 pm  
    Part 8 - Thank Thithereon it was't the codpiece

    With the defeat of the trogs, the party then decides, once again, to turn their attention to their companion Taki. The big hillman had been acting strange since his battle with the trog priest, and they felt something was seriously wrong. Now he's taking treasure, without any discussion, and Gotrek calls him on it.

    "I killed my share or more than my share," says Taki. "You all's share of the treasure is in that heap of blown up **** over there, I am taking this sword and that is that, and you Berenn do not want to heal me then don't maybe next time you might have to get your blades dirty instead of hanging back with the females"

    Gotrek eyeballs Taki. "Lad. I don't mind you taking the sword. You need it, and helped out Emyn in the process. BUT. If you start grabbing **** for yourself again, blood will be spilt. "

    "Mind your business dwarf," he replies.

    "If you are not careful Hillman," says Berenn, stepping forward. "I will start using my blades on your head!" Berenn draws both blades and advances.

    As Taki prepares to defend himself, the xorn suddenly comes up beneath Berenn. He is hit by two claws [2] and [3] and by the bit [16].

    Isilme casts charm monster, but to no effect. Berenn hits the xorn with both blades, doing [3] and [2]. Gotrek rushes over and hits the xorn with Goreblade for [5]. The xorn retreats again!

    Taki pulls his sword and charges at Berenn, but the xorn comes up under Taki next round, just as he starts his charge. He is hit by only one claw [1]. The xorn retreats back underground, but Taki ignored it anyway, going after Berenn

    Isilme ends the Haste spell, hoping to keep her friends from killing each other, as Noot uses the wall of force from his ring, completely encircling Taki, who charges into it! BOING!!!

    Taki screams, "Let me out you pack of cowards, all of you are in this together!"

    Hepla says,"We all just did a great job working together to destroy evil. Thank you all for helping to save me. Now what is going on? Taki, you went from a great fighter to beeing greedy and unfriendly, although giving that magic sword was a noble act. What are you doing?" While saying this she rips off the burnt dress and cloak. She is wearing Emyn's cloak and hat. She rescues her cat items and, for the moment puts them on her hat. Her Ioun stone should still be working.

    The xorn comes back up under Taki, hitting with another claw [3] as Berenn drinks a potion of Extra-Healing. The xorn moves incredibly fast, and it goes back into the ground before Taki can attack. The frustrated hillman feels around the wall of force, then pokes at the ground. He then turns and beats on the wall of force.

    Noot walks over on the ceiling, right above him. "You saved my life," he says, looking down at Taki while standing upside down. "Give me your word you will stop fighting and I will take the wall down. I know you for a man of your word, who would rather die than break it. What say you?"

    "If you let me out, I won't split his head open," replies Taki, looking at Beren. "But I am keeping what I earned."

    Noot drops the wall, but then tosses his bands on Taki, which enwarp him in their steel constraints.

    Emyn says, "I think the trogoldyte priest must have done something to Taki's mind when he grabbed him by the head. Taki did scream like something bad had happened. Is there a way to cure insanity?"

    "If you all ever let me out here I am going to skin you goody two shoes alive!" yells Taki.

    "Taki," says Emyn. "Have you so quickly abandoned Kelanen?"

    "I have abandoned nothing," he replies. "All of you have turned on me for me doing what I think is right. Run along to your little whore and leave me be!"

    Emyn flushes but manages to stay calm and say, "Taki, you are not well, so I will forgive your words. I know you are not truly capable of such evil things."

    "You damn fool," says Taki. "If I get out of these bands I will kill you first."

    Berenn casts divinations on Taki, seeking an answer to his actions, while ordering Thorgrim to do the same.

    "You still trying to give orders half breed?" mocks Taki. "Tell them to let me go and pull your steel, coward."

    Berenn ignores him and seeks the blessings of St. Cuthbert to remove any curses which may have fallen upon Taki.

    Taki visibily relaxes. "Hey I feel different now, you can turn me loose now."

    "You're not a very good liar, Taki," says Emyn, unconvinced.

    "No really guys take these bands off of me and throw that big sword in the treasure pile. I am good now and beg you all to forgive me and my actions."

    "Give me your word you will not fight us," says Noot, "and I'll release you."

    "Noot," says Taki. "I am your friend. I gave you that ring and the bands and charged in to protect you. I give you my word I will not attack unless to defend myself."

    After Taki speaks, Noot says, "Very well, my friend." Noot releases him.

    Taki takes the sword he took from the dead trog, walks towards Berenn, and drops it at his feet. "Here you go my friend," he says, sarcastically. "Next time pick your battles as you may not have this many friends with you." With that said Taki finds a place to sit down and begins to patch up his own wounds the best way he can.

    "I will give Taki the benefit of the doubt," says Elrae. "Obviously there is strong evil here and it affects us in mysterious ways."

    "What of the other treasure he took?" asks Isilme. "He needs to relinquish that as well."

    Taki gets up from tending his wounds and walks over to where he hears Isilme, who is invisibile. He places that stuff on the ground and says, "If this is what you care about then you may have it as well." He then returns to where he was sitting and starts patching his wounds again.

    "I dont care about the items," says Isilme, flying up to stay safely out of Taki's reach. "I care about you honoring the agreement we made regarding treasure as a group. You have acted with much dishonor and selfishness. I am shocked your god has not turned from you in the face of such lawlessness and greed."

    The xorn then attacks again! This time, with people keeping an eye on the ground, it fails to gain surprise. Hepla, ready for it this whole time, quickly casts Levitate on the xorn, and lifts it bodily right from the ground!

    As long as Hepla keeps it levitated correctly, it cannot hit anyone below it. Gotrek hits it a couple times for very little damage. At that point he realizes that edged weapons don't really work on this thing. He takes out Bonecrusher, and commences to bash it to pieces! Though it is still hard to hurt, there's nothing to stop him from easily slaying it now.

    With the xorn dead, the party again turns to Taki, asking him questions about his behavior. He listens silently, then finally replies. "As none of you trust me perhaps it's best I leave, but if I do I want that large sword and I will be gone."

    "You are hardly in a position to make demands on us," says Isilme. "If you want to leave, then leave."

    "Isilme," interrupts Emyn. "I say this because if Taki's mind has been affected, your elixir of health should cure it. I saw it once at the temple when they gave it to a madman who spent half his days barking like a dog and the other half peeing on things."

    "Convince him to drink it then," she replies, flying down and handing the potion to Emyn.

    "Thank you, Isilme," says Emyn. "Taki, please drink this potion. I will give you my next treasure pick in exchange if you do so. I swear this by Trithereon."

    Taki drinks the potion and hits his knees and shakes his head a bit looks up at the rest of the party. His eyes are clear, and have a look of embarrassment in them. "I think I have acted poorly my friends I am very sorry."

    Emyn says, "I hope you are well, Taki. It pained me to strike you earlier. I apologize for my conduct."

    With Taki's insanity cured, the party breaths a collective sigh of relief. They also give praise to the Taki player for good role-playing, as he really didn't like doing it! A detect Magic reveals magic in the sword which Taki took from the trog, as well as some keys from the priest. The two keys are exactly alike and have faint auras of Alteration magic. The sword is like a big claymore, with earth symbols etched in the blade. Elrae searches his bardic knowledge, but he knows nothing about it.

    With everything seemingly in order, the party moves on. Area 218 is a guardroom, with a large boulder pushed in the way of a natural passage heading down. Room 219 is a jail. They find three humans there, chained up. The trog caves stink pretty bad, and the prison worst of all. It is a relatively small cave which smells of urine and feces. Chains are bolted into the walls, and a few metal food dishes lay on the floor. Near the back of the cave a coal-filled brazier glows, a pair of hot irons stuck into the heat.

    The humans were from outlying farms/villages, a farmer and two sons, and have been held by the trogs for some time, having been taken at the end of winter. When they hear it is Richfest, they can tell you that they've been held for three months. There were about a half-dozen, but they've been sacrificing them monthly. The last, the farmer's last daughter, was sacrificed today. They are extremely malnourished and sick.

    The two side tunnels continue on. The one on the right continues with area 217 (smelling of trogs) off to the side. It's an older trog guardpost. The passage ends in a VERY stout door. The other tunnel reaches a cavern (area 204) littered with bones. Isilme sees trog skeletons, and other things which she can't quite recognize. The smell of trogs is pretty strong just this side of the chamber, as if they marked it as the edge of their territory, if they do that. Nobody really knows much about them.

    Emyn says, "Berenn, these prisoners could use the touch of your rod. We also need to get them to the village before moving onward lest they die. I don't think they can manage the trip alone. We can also arrange lodging for our mounts at the same time in Rastor." Emyn feeds and waters them but only gives them small amounts to avoid causing surfeit.

    Berenn uses his rod on the farmer and sons, revitalizing them with the magical healing of Xodal. "How about we not walk the prisoners to town and have what we just did advertised?"

    Isilme will create food and water for the prisoners, adding, "Besides they are weak and need rest. They can hold up in the ogre area with our mounts."

    "We should escort them back to Rastor given their condition," says Emyn. "That will give us a chance to rest a night in an inn and stable our mounts."

    Berenn disagrees. "I don't think we should leave the temple. If they can't make it to town on their own, they can wait here until we have completed our adventure. They should be relatively safe."

    "Very well," says Emyn. "Maybe they can care for our mounts while they are waiting? We should also arrange proper burial of the man's daughter." He then asks them if they know why they were being sacrificed, if they knew.

    They don't know. Once finished, Thorgrim can set wards up in the passages, though it hardly seems necessary. There is nothing left around here it seems. The party then returns to the southern halls and secures them as well. The farmers really want to leave, but they are too weak to likely get far. They will rest up, and with food, and Berenn's rod, they will be fine. They will be happy to watch over the mounts while the party presses onward. The party takes some time to rest and recover their strength, before moving on.

    Moonday, 3rd of Richfest (581)
    You awaken after a well-earned rest. You were not disturbed during the night, and you are free to continue your explorations in the morning.

    "Let's see what lies below us," says Gotrek as he replenishes his utility belt from his stock in Thorgrim's portable hole.

    They go back to area 17, where the old ore carts were. There are tracks leading out going down two separate tunnels. Isilme casts invisibility and fly upon herself, then takes off down the tunnels to check them out. Hepla also casts a stoneskin on her as well.

    Isilme heads down the right (east) tunnel, but after about 100' comes across a statue of a gnoll, a howl of terror on its lips. Recognizing the work of a basilisk, or worse, she returns and goes the other way. The other passage goes quite a bit further, passing through one small empty chamber and eventually reaching the larger one. It seems empty as well. A small side tunnel heads east, linking back up with the other tunnel, which she very carefully follows back to the gnoll statue, verifying that they are the same. Further south from the left tunnel is an upgrade which she doesn't ascend as well as a side smaller side tunnel which she doesn't investigate more than the 60' or so she can see. It seems to be narrowing, and likely dead ends after a bit.

    Isilme returns, and the party heads down the west tunnel. Actually, the mine tunnel on the left actually starts to go UP!!! The dwarves also can tell you that these tunnels north and south are BOTH curving to the east, and not really going down.

    As you pass through the chamber with the rubble pile (19) you are surprised by a sudden shifting of rocks. Berenn barely turns as two wormlike creatures come rushing out of the pile. They move with incredible speed, and despite Berenn's awareness, completely surprise the party. One goes straight for Noot, while the other goes at Emyn. Noot is hit [19] in the right side, and he feels intense heat emanating from the creatures. Looking down, he sees a large burn mark on his leather armor. Emyn is also hit [10] in his right arm, and the heat goes right through his armor. He shakes the worm thing lose and his armor is nearly glowing where it had latched on! Lucky for him he has a ring of fire resistance.

    Isilme flies over and attempts to levitate one of the worms, but fails. Noot successfully tumbles backwards away from the worms, coming up with his daggers in hand and ready!

    Elrae steps up and attacks the creature with Snowfang, and finds that the thing really doesn't like the frost brand. He hits it for [14]. However, Elrae notices the cold blue flame of Snowfang dim suddenly as if its cold was sapped. Luckily, it quickly comes back.

    The thing attacks Elrae, hitting him in the torso [5]. Elrae's cloths immediately catch fire!
    The worm attacks Emyn as well, missing.

    Berenn moves up swinging his blades, hitting the thing with his broadsword. He hits the thing [8], but then sees that his blade has actually melted, with half of it simply falling away to the ground! Emyn also attacks, simultaneously with Berenn, missing. Gotrek moves up, but pulls up short when he sees Berenn's melted sword. He then switches to the minotaur axe. Hepla fires magic missiles, hitting the one for [10] and the one on Emyn [8]. Thorgrim casts Resist Fire on himself. Taki moves up next to Emyn and attacks, hitting the worm [18]. His sword, as well, melts from cutting through the incredibly hot creature!

    "Good to have you back, my friend," says Emyn. He then backs off and calls to Elrae. "Elrae, use your cone of cold on these things before we run out of weapons!"

    "Snowfang now is your time to finish these hell-spawn fire worms," says Elrae. "Stand back everyone!" and cone of colds the worms.

    Noot backs further away, slipping into the shadows. Berenn backs away, casting Resist Fire on himself. Isilme flies back away, to stay out of Elrae's line of fire. She now remembers at least the name of the creatures, Thoqqua. The Thoqquas attack. One hits Emyn again for [2]. It also melts away the right leg piece (your armor is -1 until repaired). The other attacks and hits Elrae in the upper arm [7].

    Taki tries to attack, but Gotrek grabs him, "Fool of barbarian!" he yells, and he pulls him back out of the way.

    Elrae sidesteps to get a better angle, then summons Snowfang's Cone of Cold. He gives Emyn just enough time to back away, before unleashing the biting frost on the creatures. They are frozen utterly, and huge steam comes up from them as they die die.

    As the party heals and prepares to move on, Emyn tosses aside his ruined piece of armor. "Thank Thithereon it was't the codpiece."
    GreySage

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    Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:57 am  

    That was, indeed, some excellent roll-playing by Taki's player. Smile

    I also loved the idea of levitating the xorn out of the ground to prevent it from escaping again.

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    Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:35 am  
    Part 9 - Riu Lotaas

    After a short rest, the party decides to move back north, rather than brave the mines and a possible basilisk. They move back beyond the trog tunnels, and take the right-hand passage which ends in a stout door. It is locked, and Noot cannot pick it. "It must be barred from the other side," he says.

    Hepla casts knock. You hear the sound of a large bolt sliding. Emyn grabs the door and pulls it open, revealing a large room, about 40' square. There is a door in the right wall. An open chest, small but filled with sparkling gemstones, sits in the middle of the room. Against the far wall rests a bed almost 20' long and 8' wide with a huge straw mattress. A large, fairly fresh haunch of meat, probably a whole side of beef, hangs from a hook on the left wall. Sitting opposite the chest is a huge giant, which slams the chest closed as it stands up, it's head nearly hitting the ceiling 20' above!

    The giant has a malformed body most notable for the third arm growing from the center of its chest. Topping its roughly-muscled body, its hideous head boasts irregular and outsized features, including bloodshot eyes and lopsided ears (one huge, one tiny). It also has a set of huge, gnarled tusks protruding upward from its slobbering mouth.



    Spittle flies from Gotrek's mouth, dousing his beard, as he sees the Giant in front of him. These scum killed his family. His clan. He starts to sing, and charges the Giant. DRAS," he yells. Goreblade appears in his hands, and the axe seems to vibrate excitedly, with the scent of Giant in the air. And for the first time, Goreblade wails in glorious anticipation...... "For Clangeddin!"

    Noot, Isilme, and Berenn all hold their actions. Thorgrim moves up, around the chest. The giant takes a swing at him as he closes, but misses. Thorgrim slips behind it, then misses with his pick. Gotrek moves up, leaps atop the chest, ducks an swing as he closes, though it still clips him [16]. He then swings at the giant, slashing it across the belly [28]. It bellows in pain, loud enough to rattle the walls, as Goreblood drinks its fill!

    The giant then attacks in a flurry of swings. One arm swipes at Thorgrim, bashing him for [14] and sending him flying across the room. The other two arms swing at Gotrek, one hitting him in the chest [16]. It also bites him, its tusks just scratching him for [5] but even so, Gotrek feels the sting of poison. He shrugs it off, as he is intent on slaying this brutish thing!

    Taki moves up, taking Thorgrim's place, and slashes the giant [26].

    The rest of the party moves up warily, amazed at the titanic struggle going on!

    Hepla sends a barrage of magic missiles [13] at it, one after another hitting it in the face! Berenn moves up, firing two arrows at the giant and hitting it once [6].

    Gotrek and Taki both hit the thing again, Gotrek hitting for [24] and Taki hitting for [16]. The thing cries out in pain at the double blows, and falls backwards, crashing onto and breaking the bed.

    Thorgrim gets up, straightening his armor, as he looks at the fallen giant. "Damn but that thing can hit!"

    Gotrek looks disappointed, as he spits at the fallen giant. He then feels the burning, and Hepla comes up to check him out. She takes out her backpack, looking for medicinal herbs, but Gotrek then shrugs her off. "Bah," he says. "It's nothing."

    "The gods made dwarves tough," says Thorgrim, taking a look at the big brute. "Never seen anything like that though," he says.

    Emyn comes in and checks out the rack, relieved that it is some kind of animal. Berenn holds his position by the doorway, while Noot slips and moves over to the chest. "If you get off it," he says to Gotrek, "we can see what's inside."

    Gotrek jumps down as everyone else moves into the room. Isilme remains outside, keeping an eye out behind them.

    The chest if full of gemstones, maybe a couple hundred, of all types and sizes. Noot whistles, just as the north door opens up.

    "Agarhk," says a human warrior in banded mail. "What...." his voice trails off as he sees the dead giant.

    Berenn fires an arrow, taking him in the throat before he can utter another word.

    "Intruders!" yells another voice from further down the hallway. Looking through the door, Taki sees another human in banded mail drawing a bastard sword. There is another door beyond him, which opens to a corridor.

    "Get him before he raises the alarm," says Berenn quickly.

    "I think the 18' roaring giant already did that," remarks Thorgrim, as Gotrek heads for the guard.

    Berenn steps up and lets fly an arrow, hitting the guard in the chest and dropping him [7].

    As the others move up into the hallway, they see two more guards further down. The guards charge Gotrek and Emyn, but both miss. Gotrek and Emyn both hit and kill guards. There are four more guards in a room to Gotrek and Emyn's right [214], and four more guards ahead, along with a bunch of dogs, their loud barking echoing through the halls. The dogs rush down the corridor and leap at Gotrek and Emyn. The two lead dogs miss, ending up on the warrior's rears, while four more come up and attack their front. They are surrounded by 6 visciously attacking dogs.

    "Leave the dogs alone," says Beren, as he casts Calm Animals. The six dogs all sit down, tails wagging slowly as they put their heads down. Elrae then casts sleep on the dogs, putthing three of them to sleep.

    Emyn goes right, into the guardroom, and cuts down a guard. Gotrek rushes forward, taking one guard's head with a swing of Goreblade. Taki moves up beside Gotrek while Thorgrim backs up Emyn in the right guardroom.

    These guards are all wearing black armor with a necklace of an inverted Y.


    They recognize it as the symbol of the Elder Elemental God. That was the symbol on the tentacle rod and ring that Isilme found, as well as in a few other places. Tenser revealed what it was.

    Isilme flies up and takes a position in the corner of the chamber. [This is area 206-7.] This chamber is about 60' long and 20' wide, with a few passages heading off from it. There is a large opening at the far end leading outside to a stone bridge. A long table, with a wheel of cheese and a long dagger sticking out of it, and benches is along the west wall.

    One of the guards moves to the wall and pulls a lever, and out from the alcove comes a huge three-headed beast. It has the hindquarters of a large, black goat and the forequarters of a huge, tawny lion. Its body has large white wings like those of a dragon. The monster has three heads, those of a goat, a lion, and a fierce dragon. The goat head is pitch black, with glowing amber eyes and long ochre horns. The lion head is framed by a brown mane and has green eyes. The dragon head is covered with white scales and has large red eyes.



    Emyn and Thorgrim each kill a warrior, and as they step up towards the last one, he throws his sword down and surrenders.

    Berenn moves up the hallway, casting Speak With Animals as he kneels next to the dogs, petting them and talking to them. He seems to be speaking, but all anyone hears is barking! As everyone moves forward, Noot shuts and bars the door, then stays back and goes through the gems and such.

    Isilme sings her Charm Monster, and the chimera seems to calm down.

    Gotrek moves across the hall, hacking down another guard while Taki kills the one attacking him before stepping up to the next one. That guard swings and misses.

    Another group of guards moves into the room with the chimera, coming from the passage to the north, followed by a 9' tall goblinoid creature with bluish-red skin, large horns, and glowing orange eyes.


    Berenn tells the dogs to stay and moves up, joined by Emyn who just knocks out the surrendering guard. Noot makes his way up to where the dogs are, then sneaks down to the left, to check that hallway. At the end it turns north for 20' and has a door at the far end. He sees that both door are barred on this side. [doors to 201 and 199]

    Taki attacks and kills one of the guard, as Isilme casts Tongues and tells the chimera to attack the goblinoid and protect her friends. The chimera moves forward and attacks the large goblinoid, and it's heads just go right through it. Isilme makes her spellcheck, and recognizes it as an illusory image.

    "Ignore the big goblin," she yells to everyone. "It's not there! And stay away from the chimeria, I've charmed it!"

    The guards hear and glance back fearfully, and as they do Gotrek kills one with Goreblade. The furthest guard turns and flees up the hallway from which they had come.

    The big goblinoid swears in some very dark sounding language, and disappears.

    Berenn comes around the corner, standing next to the table, but has no clear shot as everyone's in melee combat.

    The men attack Gotrek and Taki, but all miss. Thorgrim then comes around the corner and joins the fight. Taki kills two more and Gotrek kills the third. There's just one left.

    Isilme flies up to the chimera and speaks with it. Apparently, it has very rudimentary language skills, speaking some strange form of draconic. She finds that it HATES its captors and wants to eat them, except Riu Lotaas, he smells bad. You ask who that is, and it answers, "Big blue goblin-thing."

    The last guard runs away, back up the hallway from where they came [to area 211]. [Meanwhile, this takes place among the badguys, in the hall when he gets there. I usually don't reveal things that happen "off camera" so to speak, but I couldn't resist this time.]

    The guard runs up the hallway to the main hall where he reports to the same bluish-red goblinoid. "Sir, the halls are taken. We fought the intruders to the last man!"

    The big goblin reaches out and grabs him by the throat, picking him 3' from the floor. "Apparently not," it replies, then with a squeeze of his powerful grip it snaps the guard's neck.

    Before anyone can do anything, the chimera takes off into the great hall! Berenn follows discreetly, and sees the big goblin fighting the chimera. The dead body of the guard is tossed to the side.

    Isilme casts Detect Invisibility, then starts scanning the room for invisible opponents. She doesn't see any.

    Gotrek kills the last guard, as Taki and Emyn follow Berenn. Thorgrim takes stock of the situation, as Noot approaches and informs them the rear is clear. Together, they go check the NW area. It's the kennels for the dogs, and is otherwise empty.

    Hepla stops Emyn and casts Stoneskin on him. Then she gives him a kiss, "for luck!"

    Elrae heads to the far exit and looks out. The hall opens onto a stone bridge, 20' wide, spanning the gray, stagnant water of a lake. The briny water barely so much as moves. The bridge extends about 1000', to a mountain spur with black cliffs running right down to the water. Two metallic blue towers about 70' high with very narrow, needlelike tops jut from the cliffsides about 50' above and to either side of the bridge.



    Back in the hall [211], the big goblin grabs the chimera's dragon head, just as it's about to breath, and twists it savagely. You hear the crack of neckbones, and the dragon head falls limp. The other two heads attack Riu Lotaas [that's the goblinoid] with a combination of bites and butts. It also racks him with its claws. You can't tell if it's even hurting the thing!

    Berenn fires 4 arrows, two of which hit, but the thing doesn't seem the least phases. It glances up at Berenn with an evil grin, as it just plucks out the arrows and tosses them aside. Taki moves over to the side, as Gotrek comes in. Hepla and Emyn move up behind them. Nobody is willing to move out into the room to get in the middle of this titanic fight. Hepla casts Stoneskin and then Invisibility on Emyn.

    The two combatants continue their struggle, with the chimera clearly getting the worst of things.

    Thorgrim and Noot come back into the room, and move over to Elrae. They are careful not to go outside. Noot says he will keep watch with Elrae, while Thorgrim goes up to the main hall.

    Isilme too flies up there, coming up behind the rest of the parry, "What's going on?"

    Everyone watches for another minute, and Isilme flies over everyone's head to get into the room. Meanwhile, Hepla Magic Missile's the goblinoid, but the missiles just seem to fizzle out when they hit.

    "Hmm," says Berenn. "Seems like a demon of some sort."

    Berenn's comment reminds Isilme of something she read, and she whispers...."Barghest."

    "It will be sad to see this strange beast die," says Thorgrim. "It would be nice to have a friendly chimera guarding Warder's Station, eh, Berenn?" Thorgrim wants to attack the goblinoid, but is hesitant....

    Isilme, who had cast Detect Invisible earlier, notices another humanoid in the room. She flies over to it, she being invisible herself, and casts Glitterdust in the corner, revealing a deurgar (deep dwarf) which had been watching the combat, and you all, invisibly. It swears when it is revealed!

    The fight continues, and with a mighty seires of blows, chimera is also slain this round.

    Taki and Gotrek meanwhile circle around the far right side of the room and approach the duergar, which attacks them when they near. It hits each of them once with its dwarven waraxe, doing [17] to Taki and [15] to Gotrek.

    Berenn moves around the left side, ready to take his bow out again, but then changes his mind based on what happened. He and Thorgrim are ready to advance next round, now that the chimera is dead. They do notice a bunch of wounds on the barghest, so the chimera at least did "some" damage.

    Emyn takes a position in front of Hepla, as Elrae moves up, leaving Noot to watch their backs. He calls upon Trithereon, and summons monsters, two ettercaps materializing and attacking the barghest, which immediately rips the head off one!

    Noot moves over to the hallway and calls out, "Everything alright in there?"

    "Just fighting a demon!" replies Hepla with a giggle.

    "Women," says Noot, shaking his head.

    Seeing that the duergar is likely toast now with both Gotrek and Taki attacking it, she turns her attention to the demogoblin. [nice name that.]

    Isilme casts ventriloquism, speaking drow right behind the creature's ear. "Back to the Abyss for you, Riu Lotaas."

    The demons spins around, searching for the dark elf threat behind it, and misses out on the attacks of opportunity as Thorgrim and Berenn charge it. They both miss.

    The demon spins around, as the second ettercap jumps on its face. It doesn't seem to hurt the thing, which grabs the ettercap and rends it in two, tossing the pieces aside like trash.

    The duergar swings its axe at Gotrek. He would have hit him again but Taki parry's the blow. Both Gotrek and Taki then take their attacks, with Taki hitting for [16]. Elrae fires Magic Missiles along with Hepla, but they all fizzle out!

    The duergar attacks again, this time hitting Taki [16]. Gotrek and Taki both swing again, and both miss.

    [Berenn OOC: For those who can, throw some magic the dwarf's way, we need our heavy hitters free. A wall of force around the creature might be useful. I really don't want to go splat. Damnit Gotrek! I am doctor, not a battlerager!]

    [Gotrek OOC: Except the duergar is pretty damned tough too!]

    Isilme casts heat metal on the dwarf's plate armor. Noot goes back out to keep a watch outside, not really wanting any part of this fight! Thorgrim misses, but Berenn hits again [6]. Taki and Gotrek both miss the dwarf again.

    The barghest hits both Berenn [14] and Thorgrim [18].

    Elrae calls upon Snowfang to encircle the demogoblin with a globe of ice! Emyn was going to move up behind the demogoblin, but now stops, as he can't reach it. Hepla fires magic missiles at the dwarf, hitting him for [20]. The dwarf curses as he attack Gotrek, hitting for [15]. Taki then attacks again, hitting for [16] and Gotrek misses again. The dwarf then hits Taki, but Taki parries this blow.

    "Thank you Icar," he whispers.

    "This duergar is a pain in my ****!" shouts Gotrek.

    [DM OOC: The look he's giving you shows he's thinking the same thing!]

    Isilme wizard locks the door behind the duergar. There is a very loud crashing on the ice sphere, which immediately starts to show cracks!

    Berenn and Thorgrim both fall back, Berenn using his rod on himself [10] while Thorgrim drinks a potion of Ex-Healing [16].

    The duergar hits Gotrek again [15], then takes his first [3] from his armor heating up. He quickly looks around, seeking an exit. Gotrek and Taki both miss.

    Hepla and Elrae both send magic missiles crashing into the dwarf, who reals from the blows [20] and [15]. Emyn stands guard, just in case.

    The duergar tries to flee through the door, but it won't budge. Gotrek and Taki step up and both hit this time [20] and [22]. Their twin blows cave in the dwarf's armor and cleave his skull, and he falls to the ground with a confused look on his face!

    Berenn heals Gotrek, who also drinks a potion of Ex-Healing. [+10] for Berenn's rod and [+14] for the potion. Emyn is also praying fervently and loudly to Trithereon for aid against this most foul of foes. Isilme casts Striking, as Berenn moves over and uses his rod on Gotrek. Everyone else basically holds their positions and the demogoblin continues to bang on the ice. Hepla casts Stoneskin on Emyn.

    The next round, Berenn casts his scroll spell of Cure Serious Wounds on Gotrek, healing [+20]. Thorgrim cast CLW on himself. Isilme casts Haste, catching Berenn, Taki, Gotrek, and herself. Hepla then casts Invisibility on Emyn, whle the party does some more quick healing.

    Then the ice shield shatters as the barghest breaks free. Nobody takes any damage from flying ice, as everyone was pretty much waiting for this. The thing levitates up about 15' in the air as it scans the room.

    "With your souls," it says in its abyssal voice, "I shall complete my time on this wretched plane and return to Gehenna."

    "You are returning to Gehenna empty handed dark creature!" says Berenn, standing forth. "Go back to the abyss! Fall to the nothingness which awaits you! Go back to the shadow!"

    It laughs. "You cannot hope to win," it rasps. "Surrender now, and I shall make your deaths...less horrible."

    "If so powerful you are... why levitate?" mocks Berenn.

    It looks at Berenn evilly, "I'll feast upon your soul!" [sorry, gotta use it!]

    "If you want my soul," replies Berenn, "come down here and get it!"

    His eyes bore into Berenn. "Why, when you shall give yourself to me willingly!" Berenn feels the thing attempting to charm him, the evil power behind its eyes boring into his soul. He fights off the effects, shaking his head. He knows he was very close to accepting the creature's will.

    "You will have to do better than that foul spawn!" replies Berenn. "My will and my faith is stronger than yours! At an end your time in this plane is and not short enough it was!"

    While that's all going on, Thorgrim casts Prayer and Hepla casts Fly on Emyn. Elrae then casts Melf's Acid Arrow, sending an arrow streaking at the thing. It blasts into its back [3]. The barghest roars in pain, and is then struck by Emyn, who had snuck around behind it invisibily. Of course, he then becomes visible. Emyn hits it for [10]. The thing recoils from the blow and from Emyn.

    Gotrek swigs the Superheroism potion, but it fails. That's the first time his dwarven 20% has failed! Gotrek thus moves back to the front of room. Elrae fires another Acid Arrow, which hits the barghest for [6] while the thing takes another [5] from his previous one. Isilme casts Solvent of Corrosion on it, but it fails. Emyn is hit twice, both blows bouncing harmless off his stoneskin!

    Emyn swings twice, hitting the thing once [12]. Taki move back around towards Thorgrim, who casts CLW on him [8]. Berenn casts Spiritual Hammer, calling upon St. Cuthbert as he slams his ephemeral cudgel into the back of barghest's head [6].

    Riu Lotaas [that's the barghest's name!] glances back at Berenn. "You'll pay for that, meat sack!" It also seems very upset that it cannot hit Emyn.

    Emyn continues his attacks invoking the name of his god as he strikes. "Back to Gehenna foul Demon! Return to your cess pit of a plane! By Trithereon, you will be driven back!"

    Riu Lotaas attacks Emyn again, it's blows coming to naught against the Stoneskin. Elrae fires another arrow, but this one misses wildly. Isilme casts another Solvent of Corrosion, but fails again! Thorgrim joins Berenn, calling upon Clanggedin and Casting his own Spiritual Hammer, and the two both pound at Riu Lotaas, but miss. Emyn misses twice. Gotrek flies up, singing his war song. He takes a blow as he approaches [20]. Gotrek then hits it with Goreblade [16]. Riu Lotaas also takes [5] and [8] from Elrae's acid. Taki moves around to take a position between and ahead of Elrae and Hepla.

    Riu Lotaas curses in some foul abyssal language, and suddenly disappears! Gotrek and Emyn swing in vain, until Isilme, still with Detect Invisibility working, shouts, "He's gone. Not invisible, just gone!" While Thorgrim and Berenn add some more healing, the rest look around, Hepla casting Detect Magic. Just then, they hear a shout from Noot. Rushing back into the outer hall, they find him standing there all smug. Beyond him, in the center of the hall, they see Riu Lotaas. He is very heavily burnt, and the smoke rising from his burning hair you notice only goes about 15' up and is collecting there against some unseen barrier.

    "I used my ring!" says Noot with a sheepish grin.

    "Great work Noot," Hepla says,"Now we must do something with him before he gets out when the spell runs out."

    "You aren't so tough now are you!" says Berenn, walking up to the wall.

    "Release me now, mortals!" he screams. Riu Lotaas bangs on the inside of the force dome, venting his helpless frustrations.

    "First it is 'Your souls are mine!' and now it is 'Let me out!" Berenn laughs.

    The fiend pounds on the wall of force continuously for about two minutes, testing it all around as well as above. It keeps it orange eyes on the party though, glaring at them with impotent rage.

    Isilme will take these moments to observe the demon. She considers summoning her Leomund's Labile Locker to get her demonogly book. Then she shakes her head, not wanting to open any kind of gate to the ethereal with this thing around.

    Isilme whispers to Berenn "If we wait too long, all these other spells helping us will end, and we will have to cast them again."

    As she speaks, Riu Lotaas shifts his form into some king of canine hybrid. He then starts to tear at the ground, ripping large chunks out of the floor.

    "Come cowardly demon," says Emyn. "Taste the righteous vengeance of an Avenger of Trithereon."

    It takes a few rounds to tear through the stone, then it starts to dig dirt.

    "Wall of force doesn't stop Dimension Door, Teleport, and such spells," says Isilme. "It has not jumped away, so it must not be able to do so." She turns to Thorgrim, "summon your earth elemental. If the demon can dig out, your elemental can go in."

    Thorgrim will cast Protection from Evil on himself, and then use his mighty Stone of Earth Elemental Control to summon an earth elemental. He has other uses for him after this, but first: "Destroy that beast before it escapes its confines! Meet him in the earth!"

    The elemental disappears back down into the earth, and then reappears, first large rocky fists, then arms, then its entire body. The barghest backs off, but the elemental makes short work of it. [It only had a few hps left!] When the thing dies, it is cowering and crying like a baby, not wanting to be sent back to Gehenna. It promises its never-ending hatred on you and all your kin throughout the ages.

    "Even if I fail against you," it screams, "I will eventually destroy your children, or their children, or theirs...." The last thing your hear as it dies and dissipates in dark vapors is a cry for vengeance.

    "Till we meet again," says Thorgrim, grimly.
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    Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:56 am  
    Part 10 - Fish Dreams

    After a short rest, the party looks around a bit, with Noot keeping an eye out across the bridge for any unwelcome company. They don't find much in the other rooms, as all the guards were involved in the fight earlier. Here's a quick summary:

    208 is the guard barracks. Twenty bunks, a long table, chairs, and ten small chests of drawers fill this crowded room. On the table are a lute, a harp, and a small statue of a wolf. The walls have racks of 10 bastard swords, 20 spears, and 6shortbows, along with 6 quivers of arrows. There's no money or other valuables in here.

    209 is a storage room, with boxes, barrels, sacks, and bundles filling it. It is mostly foodstuffs (flour, vegetables, dried meat, etc.) as well as some dry goods (200' of rope on a large spool, 30 feet of chain, blankets, torches, etc.)

    211 was the latrine.

    212 was a kitchen.

    213, these doors were locked, but you have the key. This room has a lavish bed covered in blue blankets and white pillows. The other contents of the bedchamber include a chest, bureau, wardrobe, bookcase, two tables, and a large padded chair. Etched into the plaster of the walls are frescoes of figures dancing in long ocrhe rombes around bonfires. The small table next to the bed has an oil lamp on it. The large table appears to have a piece of paper and writing tools.

    Inside one room [215], they do find a chained up gnome prisoner.



    "Greetings," the Gnome replies hesitantly in Common. He rattles his chains hopefully.

    "I am Elrae of Woodstock, friend of the gnomes." He flashes his Greenway ring. "We shall set you free."

    Emyn says, "Who are you and how did you come to be here?" He will detect evil in case this happens to be another one of those demons in disguise. He doesn't detect anything though.

    "Your assistance is gratefully received, Gnome friend. My name is Filbin Vermaalen of the Lortmils and I was grabbed by the denizens of this foul place whilst scouting the area. You are arrayed against them, then?"

    "Indeed," says Emyn, still a bit suspicious. "We just killed a demon and a duergar, along with a bevy of men."

    Hepla uses the master key they found on the dwarf, and opens the chains.

    "Well," says Elrae, "we are the Heroes of Hommlet who destroyed the original Temple of Elemental Evil. I would say that we are arrayed against them. What can you tell us about this foul place?"

    "You have my grateful thanks friends, Elrae and Emyn." Filbin massages his wrists carefully. "I am a scout and warrior for my clan. I work alone and few will be coming to my rescue, thinking me following a trail. A dark trail it has proven to be."

    "Are you injured, Filbin?" asks Emyn.

    "Only my pride is wounded," replies Filbin with a sour look. "I will admit to feigning interest in allying to their cause in order to gain more information. I managed to fool a few lesser leaders, one called Mereclar suspected little, but clearly someone unseen unravelled my guise. I know little other than they are allied behind some elemental god; possibly this is connected to the Temple you speak of, Elrae. I confess that Homlett is not well known to me; my clan keeps to its hills and vales."

    Emyn escorts the gnome out of the cell and brings him to the bodies of the leaders we killed plus the soldier that I knocked out. "Do you recognize any of these men?"

    Isilme casts Detect Lie, and quickly learns that Filbin is who he says he is. In fact, he's a new player for the game, the first in quite some time! Welcom Ragr!

    He recognizes the dead guards, as well as the leader, the deep dwarf was named Oamarrthis. They also took Filbin's gear (which he will certainly be looking for). It's eventually found in the leader's room which is beyond the great hall. He can also tell you that beyond the two doors down the hallway are more tunnels, which connect back to the tunnel at 204.

    "There are creatures in there that the men fought with, which is why they have the doors barred on this side," he says.

    The party recognizes them as the trogs they fought, from Filbin's description. Also, you should note that directions are different now. You entered from the west, but the bridge from this third map goes nearly directly south. So, you've traveled gradually around an arc, basically making a quarter circle. These three maps have basically bent around to the right. Judging from what you could see at the bridge, you are in a mountain ridge, going roughly around in a circle around a central lake. Within that lake is an island.

    "Greetings, Filbin," says Gotrek. "And welcome to our group! Any information you can give us in aiding of the clearing of this evil wouyld be of great assistance to us."

    "Well met, Gotrek," replies Filbin. "To be honest, I was taken before I could glean much information, but it would be logical to assume that there are various factions at work within here. I can assist you by accompanying you in order to pay off my debt of freedom. Should you wish, of course."

    After finding Filbin's equipment, the party also a letter, very recently written in a fluid script (in common), sitting on a table.

    Masters,

    It has been a month since anyone has wanted to use our bridge, but that is probably for the best. We have been under siege. Not only do the forces of the Earth and Water Temples occasionally extort and bully my men, but now a group of umber hulks have moved into the tunnels to the north too. I cannot send a party of armed warriors from among my troops without risking the security of this access to the Fane, so I request assistance in this matter from you. Also, we have recently captured a gnome scout, likely from Dullonna. What would you have us do with him?

    Your faithful servant,
    Oamarthis, Commander of the Northern Bridge

    Emyn will ask Filbin, "Do you know what this Fane might be?"

    " I have heard them talk of it, and believes it to be the headquarters of cult leaders. It is beyond the bridge."

    "From the context of the letter," says Thorgrim, "it appears these creatures were at war with the Temple. The Fane may be an entrance to the Underdark that these creatures were tasked to defend. Time may tell the tale. There will be others who can provide us more information, assuming we need it."

    While the party finishes their introductions with Filbin, Thorgrim recovers the chimera, mopping its spilled blood and wringing and funneling it into a fancy glass jar. He then places the chimera, bodily, into the Portable Hole.

    "Let's cast Preserve on that," he says to Isilme. "Those quills were made for penning scrolls."

    Isilme does as asked, and then Thorgrim digs out his old warhammer, and keeps that strapped to him.

    "Could've been useful at a few points already, paltry though its damage may be."

    Filbin will, as long as the party has no reservations, don his liberated equipment.

    "Friends, if you are in agreement I would like to destroy the letter as it mentions my burrowhome. It would seem we have intercepted it before it was sent and I would hate to draw the temple's eye to my home. I don't know if you have had dealings with Umber Hulks before but they are fearsome opponents that have, on occasion, plagued both my home and the lower caverns of my Dwur cousins. It occurs to me that it seems that the elements are in conflict and that the "Fane" is where the temple masters dwell. Would it be beneficial to us to use this conflict in some way? An enemy divided is an easier one to defeat. And, what of this Fane? Should we strike at it, cut off the head of the beast as it were, knowing that our rear still contains enemies? Or do we secure our rear before striking? I shall be guided by you, friends, as you are experienced fighters of evil.

    Will you accept me as an honourary companion, at least until the threat to the areas about is removed?"

    "Join us Filbin," says Taki, "and we shall deal with this threat once and for all."

    In addition, the party also found some strange keys which radiated dim magic. Emyn says, "We found keys from the earth area of this temple. Would we not need keys from the other elemental areas as well in order to enter the Fane or perhaps some other inportant central area? I think our entrance into the Fane is premature."

    "When I arrive here and was invited in I travelled from the entrance through the area of the Earth Temple to here, where I was seized by Oarmarthis and this band. If what I heard is to be believed I would place the Water Temple nearby. Of course, I do not know how far you have travelled or from which direction but it would be logical to assume a Fire and Air temple hereabouts. From what you have all said I would be in agreeance with Emyn's counsel to strike around this area and garner more accurate information. These slain fellows seemed tough enough but they were in much fear of those across the bridge, if that is this "Fane"."

    Filbin gazes across the bridge and lake. "Those sentinel towers command an excellent view if occupied," he indicates the constructions on the opposite side of the bridge.

    After a short discussion, everyone agrees and they decide to search the rest of these mines for the other keys. The party also finds a handwritten tome, within which they learn the following:

    "The Elder Gods once ruled the universe and have little to do with humanity. Humans meddling with these entities usually end up mad or dead. Few race even remember the Elder Gods, though all the greater and lesser deities of all Mythos acknowledge them. The aboleth are one of the last known that still may worship them. The aboleth race recognizes a class of powerful alien entities who predate the gods. Collectively known as the "Elder Evils," these beings generally care nothing for any mortal race, offering only madness and destruction. Whether or not they are the same is unknown.

    Generally, the Elder Gods are thought to be unrestricted in their range and powers, and more likely to embody cosmic principles; they are god-like and terrible. Humans and other races are much more likely to worship their lesser servants, who are comparatively near at hand and who occasionally participate in mortal affairs or contact individuals, than they are to worship Elder Gods. These are servitor species who help their masters by frightening of humans or by acting as assassins, messengers, spies or agents. These are much lesser species than their masters, but most of them are still too terrible to even be seen by pitiful humans. Beings serving them frequently inhabit the remote vastness of the Oearth.

    Each Great Old One is independent of the rest, and many seem to be temporarily imprisoned in some way. But it is said that "When the Stars Are Right" the Elder Gods will be freed from their imprisonment and they will rule the world once again. When the stars are not right, they cannot live. "Cannot live" need not mean dead, as the famous couplet from the Necronomicon suggests...

    "That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die."

    The reason for their imprisonment is lost to myth, but what has been learned from those few who know they even exist is that the Elder Gods were thrown down and imprisoned, before the mortal beings of the cosmos were even created. All of the current Gods, good, neutral, and evil, had a hand in their imprisonment, for it was only their combined might which could effect such.

    The Elder Elemental God is one such being, which was thought to have been imprisoned. Only his servants, the Princes of Elemental Evil, remained. These four Princes are Imix, Ogremoch, Olhydra, and Yan-C-Bin. They are, respectively, the Princes of Elemental Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. It was through them that Zuggtmoy created the Temple of Elemental Evil, using their power to create her own version of Elemental worship. What Zuggtmoy failed to understand, however, was that if these beings were Princes, the Elder Elemental God must be their King and their ultimate master. While she dallied with them, they worked towards their own ends, the freeing of their dread master. That is, of course, if he was ever imprisoned in the first place.

    There are ancient records which point to the Elder Elemental God having been active amongst the Suel at the time of the Twin Cataclysms. It may have even been the force behind them. There are other even more ancient texts which would imply that the Elder Elemental God was the original deity of the Drow, before they were driven underground. There is reference to He Who Shall Not Be Named and The Great One of All Evil, but any attempts to dealve deeper into this mystery has been met with silence, even from the elves. The great wars with the Drow threw down the ancient elven civilizations, and the Grey Elves were nearly exterminated. Whatever happened, if the elves even remember, is unknown, perhaps even to the elves themselves. All that survives, other than a few scattered references, are a handful of images scrawled in nearly faded pages of ancient texts, copied from even more ancient sources long forgotten."

    The book shows some of these symbols, which match the symbols the party has found, both here as well as back at Warer's Station. Thus, it would seem they have stumbled upon something truly primordial and should proceed with the utmost caution.

    Once they have prepared, the party heads out. Isilme checks out the tunnel ahead (to 199). Three humans dressed in the black clothing and armor of the guards at the bridge area with the black triangle symbols of the temple lie dead in the eastern portion of this cavern, their bodies torn and rent. Some extra body parts lying about reveal what happened to the other three members of the patrol. Smeared, bloody trails lead from this area out the cave to the west (towards 198 which is an unworked natural cave that descends rather sharply.) When she starts down towards 200, Isilme runs into an umber hulk, and wisely backs away. Somewhere in the other caves (202 or 203) is the other one.

    She goes back and heads up the other cave to the north (actually east!) and it eventually ends in a huge cavern with a vast pool of still water. A wooden rowboat sits on the rock at the edge of the pool. At about the edge of Isilme's infravision, she sees a column of dark rock rising up out of the water. Everything here is very damp and slick.

    She reports back, and the party decides to simply avoid the umber hulks. Isilme casts Fly and Invisibility, then takes off over the lake to scout. The cave continues on out of sight. The column is bare, with a ledge on the right side, about 1' above the water and barely large enough for a person. Other than that, she doesn't see anything. She casts Detect Traps and Detect Invisibility, but finds nothing. She flies to the other side. The pool goes over 100' that way before ending at a small rocky section with another boat. There are two passages leading on. She hears men talking from the left passage, and light coming from a cavern up ahead. The right passage is dark and quiet, leading away into the distance. She investigates the left chamber and finds a group of ten men lounging around some tables. There is one keeping a loookout towards the pool area. They are armed with longswords, spears, and leather armor.

    "I have a bad feeling about that pool," mutters Filbin quietly.

    "I think the pool is likely to be the Water Temple," says Emyn. "We found what I suspect are the beginnings of the Fire Temple earlier as well, given the creatures we fought there used intense heat as a weapon. I am unsure if we can explore teh water temple given our lack of magic."

    "Did you defeat the Earth temple?" asks Filbin.

    "Yes, the Earth Temple has fallen and we possess their special keys," replies Emyn.

    "Okay, it occurs to me that the Umber Hulks are likely allied to, or servants of the Earth Temple, so venturing in their direction will probably bring you in a circle. Which leaves the way forward across, or under, the pool." Filbin looks out at the still, dark water. "Have you any magical method of underwater survival? If not, we should cross the pool swiftly and press on to the other temples. My senses warn me to mistrust the boat, however."

    While waiting for Isilme, who is taking a very long time, the party decides to go deal with the umberhulks anyway. Without going into useless detail, they easily defeat them while Isilme keeps scouting.

    Here's the next maps, so you can follow the party's progress:


    She passes through 189 and reaches 191. That chamber has a 10' blue-green square, symbol of elemental water, made of polished stone in the center of the floor. On either side of the cavern, a golden brazier hangs from the ceiling on a chain. The smoke that comes from the braziers smells stonly of fish and salt. Another tunnel leads out in the opposite direction, as shown on the map.

    "More priests" Isilme mutters. She follows the tunnel into that back cavern, basically trying to link around and return to the room with 10 troops. The passage goes for a bit, gradually descending down a couple of sets of stone steps. Evenutally it opens into a large cavern, maybe 50'x100'. The walls are still somewhat rough, but they have been carved to resemble waves (and the occasional fish) and painted a dark green-blue color. Flickering torchlight, under blue-green glass hoods, gives the waves the semblance of motion.

    The center of the cave sports a huge green marble statue depicting three kuo-toans clutching squirming, terrified human prisoners as they ride atop a long eel-like serpent. The massive statue is 25' long and, coupled with the walls, seems to be swimming deep underwater. A strange, heady smell hangs in the chamber, like old incense or heavy perfume.

    There are two tunnels leading out from the large cavern. Both are on the far side; one continues straight while the other goes off to the left. As she goes across the room, intent on taking the left tunnel to loop back around, she notices the incense smell is much stronger and coming from behind a seaweed curtain in the opposite (right-hand) corner of the chamber. She casts Wraithform and goes beyond the curtain. When she forms up on the far side, she finds a small cave with a bed of seaweed and straw and decorated walls like the large cavern. There is a kuo-toa there, lying down and seemingly in a trance, one hand on the end of a tube attached to a crystal hookah.

    She ends her Wraithform, the casts Detect Magic, noticing a Glyph of Warding on a rock, and some potions. She then sings a Charm Person, charming the zoned-out kuo-toa. She slaps it away, and tries to question it, but it's pretty much lost in la la land right now, thanks to whatever it was smoking. She can't really communicate meaningfully right now.

    Frustrated, and also realizing that the others are likely getting into trouble without her, she heads back. She finds them after their confusing battle with the umber hulks, and shakes her head. "Impatient..." she mutters something, her voice trailing off.

    After reporting what she found, Emyn says they should go defeat the Water Temple.

    Filbin agrees. "Assuming there are also temples to water, fire and air outside of the Fane which we have yet to strike, destruction of the fane would likely cause the denizens of those temples to flee into the hills outside and what havoc could they wreak as they flee. There may also yet be important information to uncover before striking at the heart of evil. Knowledge may be as powerful as Taki and Gotrek; combine the two, however......."

    "Yes," says Isilme. "Remember the Temple of Elemental Evil. If these temples fight amongst themselves, we can let the Water Temple be the current "victors" over Earth and keep from raising suspicion over why they are missing."

    "So be it," Thorgrim says.

    "Now we just need to cross the lake," says Hepla.

    Nobody wants to use the boat, but Noot comes up with a good idea. "If we don't want to take the boats," says Noot, "then let's all just walk across with my slippers?"

    The solution is simple, and Thorgrim slaps him on the back. "Good job, Noot!" Thus, the party easily crosses the water uneventfully and in darkness so as to not alert anyone. Isilme then leads the party to the kuo-toa, which is still unconscious.

    "It must have been some good stuff in his hookah," says Elrae. "Wake up the Phish head."

    Berenn casts Neutralize Poison on the kuo-toa. Isilme becomes visible for this introduction, and welcomes the kuo-toa back to the world of the sober (in his language). Further, she introduces the party as the group she has gathered to bring the Water Temple to greatness.

    She learns that the kuo-toa is called Oomkaan, and he is second in command of the Water Temple. Well, he would be if it weren't for that damned Nilbool. Nilbool is a half-kuo toa/half demon that has taken the roll of second from Oomkaan. Oomkaan has been escaping into the lotus for weeks out of depression. With his mind suddenly cleared (except for the charm!) and his drow friend bringing him such news, he seems quite invigorated.

    Isilme asks about his magic, and he gives her his Potions of Ex-Healing. His Scroll is Stop Bleeding, Cure Serious Wounds x2, and after bypassing the glyph of warding, he
    takes out his leather bag (35pp, 100gp) and Oil of Timelessness. Isilme promises to keep them safe. He then tells the party that the head of the Water Temple is a human priestess, Kelashein. The "new" second in command is Nilbool, the kuo-toa wizard. He's not like other kuo-toa, and Oomkaan believes he is a half-breed of some kind. He doesn't look right. The Water Temple is, naturally, not friendly with any other temple, but they have extra enmity with the Fire Temple. Oomkaan knows that Kelashein has a plan to bring down the Fire Temple with a strike against the Fire Temple itself. He believes it is too risky, and is upset with Kelashein, who doesn't really care about the kuo-toa who may die in the attempt. He believes that all she desires is a victory great enough to be noticed and promoted to the Fane.

    They also learn the general layout of the Water Temple. Rather than give you perfect breakdowns of each room, which is a pain, I'll give you basic areas. 184-188 is the living quarters for the leaders, Nilbool and Kelashein. 177-183 are the barracks for Kelashein's human guards. The rest of the kuo-toa live in the underwater caves by the temple. To the far top of the map, 173-176 are storage rooms and beyond them mines which eventually lead to the Eastern Bridge and the Fire Temple.

    I should add a Kuo-toa description:

    A kuo-toan presents a cold and horrible appearance. A typical specimen looks much like a human body, albeit a paunchy one, covered in scales and topped with a fish’s head. The huge fish eyes tend to swivel in different directions when observing an area or creature. The hands and feet are very long, with three fingers and an opposing digit, partially webbed. The legs and arms are short for the body size. Its coloration is pale grey, with undertones of tan or yellow in males only. The skin has a sheen from its slimy covering. The color darkens when the kuo-toan is angry and pales when it is badly frightened. A strong odor of dead fish follows it around.

    It wears no clothing, only leather harnesses for its weapons and gear.



    Also, I believe I forgot to mention, he also has a key, similar to those you found before, but this one is inscribed with the water symbol.

    Emyn says, "We should learn what he thinks of the other temples and the central temple, plus what those keys open."

    Oomkaan says that it is only a lesser key. Each key weighs about a pound, and are about 5" across and made of iron. There are keys for each element, as the party has already surmised. The lesser keys are separated, that the power of the keys cannot be abused. Only by bringing keys together can a greater key be made. The greater key opens the corresponding bridge door, or can be used to bless and individual and allow him or her passage through the doors.

    "If we are keen to reach the Fane," says Filbin to the others, "we could remove Keleshein and Nilbool, install Oomkaan as leader and instruct him to hold position until we have scouted the Fire Temple. Taking on the Water Temple in a fight could deplete resources best held in reserve for the Fire Temple which will be a tougher nut to crack. We could always return to the Water Temple at a later time if we think them likely to be troublesome. From my perspective the denizens of this temple are unlikely to cause my cousins any long term trouble should they flee this place following the fall of the Fane."

    Isilme tells Oomkaan that she is here to help him elevate himself in the eyes of his people with the knowledge he just defeated the earth temple. "Perhaps it is time we removed the half breed, even elevate you to the leader of this temple if the only thing your current leader wants is to be invited to fane, no matter how many of your people he kills."

    Yes, he would love to remove the half-breed, and Kelashein as well. "Neither cares for the Kuo-toa," he says. "The Kuo-Toa were brought forth from the depths of the Underdark years ago, before Oomkaan was born, lured by promises of glory for their Goddess, Blibdoolpoolp. However, the elder priests have all disappeared, replaced by Kelashein and the fiend Nilbool. They say the elders have joined the Fane, but I doesn't believe this. They have never returned, and the two current leaders of the Water Temple pay no homage to Blibdoolpoolp. They acknowledge only the Eldar Elemental God. Oomkaan would leave this place, and return his people to the depths where they belong, but to do so he would have to remove Nilbool first."

    Filbin nods appreciatively as Oomkaan's words are translated, making it obvious that he is a creature of great wisdom and deep thinking.

    "You show great wisdom," says Isilme. "But you can never free your people from this place until we have removed those two from power and the forces of air and fire are defeated. Once this is done we can enter the fane and ensure they will trouble you no more while your people return to the underdark unhindered."

    Thorgrim whispers to Gotrek, "As for me, I am tired of making friends with the enemy. I can no longer tell which is which, Clanggedin guide us." He inspects his warhammer, oxidized from long-disuse, and grunts. He picks small remnants of brains and bone from the detailing on Souldrinker, his killing weapon, then oils it.

    "So where does that half-fiend reside?" asks Elrae. "Anything else we should know about it, any weakness we can exploit?"

    They find that 187 is Kelashein's quarters and 188 is Nilbool's. Kelashein's throne room is 185. Most of the other chambers are guard rooms, except for the following:

    183: Pool of the Oracle.
    195: Water Temple
    196-197: underwater caverns of the Kuo-toans

    They also learn that Kelashein has a bunch of human warriors too, maybe 30 total. Their leader is Kadiss, a half-elven warrior/mage. The kuo-toa, about 20 total, all live in underwater caves near the Water Temple.

    While the party plans, Isilme goes ahead to scout. She floats along with her flying, invisible, wraithform and sees everything in those rooms. Unless she gets killed or something, she will be about 5 minutes before returning at which time she will report the following:

    185 has a massive throne made of white and pink shells and bones, sitting atop a platform of green marble with blue streaks. Two silver platters, covred in cooked fish and vegetables, sit on a small stand in front of hte throne. Flanking the throne on either side stands a 4' gray marble statue of a fish-headed humanoid. They are NOT statues of Kuo-toa.

    186 is a large empty antechamber, with curtains at each entrance. A small shrine in an alcove to the north shows symbols of Elemental Water; however, these differ in that it also incorporates the triangular symbol of the Elder Elemental God.

    187 is clearly Kelashein's quarters. This dead-end cave has a net-hammock strung up in the western corner. Next to it is a wooden table covered in dishes made of large shells, a lit lantern, and a censer. Against the south wall rests a wooden chest of drawers, a wardrobe, a marble font filled with water backed by a mirror, and a long harpoon in the corner. A square blue-green rug covers the floor, and a huge tapestry depicting an underwater scene covers the north wall.

    Sitting in front of the water, combing her hair in the mirror, is a stern-faced woman with dyed-green hair. A crown of coral rests on the edge of the water basin. Her robes are ochre, and she has a blue-green sash as well. Sitting atop the chest is a fine mace, engraved with water symbols. On a stand beside her is a suit of fine Full Plate Mail armor, decorated with the symbols of Elemental Water.

    188 is clearly Nilbool's quarters. Three wooden chairs, a table with a large seashell censer, and a square blue-green rug furnish this room. A small stone bookcase and a wooden chest are also here, against the north wall. The eastern corner of the room is cut off by a wooden and paper screen, painted with the image of a tidal wave crashing down upon a city. The place stinks of rotting fish. From behind the screen, Isilme hears the voice of a kuo-toa chanting, and determine that it is an augury spell.

    With Detect Magic and Detect Traps, she learned that there is something magical with the floor of the antechamber, while Detect traps revealed a large pit, filling the antechamber except for a 5' ledge around both sides. As she inspects it, she realizes the floor is an illusion. It's 50' deep with a carrion crawler at the bottom. Detect Magic also reveals it to be charmed.

    She then reports back to the party. They quickly decide that it's best to just go kill the leaders, then let the rest work itself out.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:20 pm  
    Part 11 - Lords of the Water Temple

    With Oomkaan as their ally, charmed though he may be, the party heads out to slay the two leaders of the Water Temple and put Oomkaan in charge. They have to first go back through the area of the boats and pass the ten guards in area 189. They are warned by Oomkaan to not disturb the water. "You will attract Guogoug, the hag," he tells Isilme. Then in broken common he looks at the others, "This bery bad."

    Thorgrim casts silence on a stone, then uses it to keep the party silent as they slip around the pool. Once passed the water, it is an easy matter for Hepla, Elrae, and Isilme to take care of all of the guards with a trio of sleep spells. Thorgrim will drop a silence stone in the throne room, sealing any noise within the two far chambers. Filbin and Noot will stay back, just on the near side of the pit, keeping an eye on the rear. Noot will take a position in the intersection of the three chambers, where he can react to any of the three and use his Wall of Force if necessary. Meanwhile, the rest of the party heads in.

    They take care crossing around the floor in the pit trap, prodding with weapons to assure themselves of exactly where the pit begins. Once passed the pit, they move on to the two sleeping chambers.

    Taki and Gotrek charge into the half-breed's chamber. A very startled and strange-looking kuo-toa leans around the paper screen, just in time to see Gotrek and Taki rush into the chamber.

    [DM OOC: If its eyes weren't already so large, you'd think it was surprised!]

    Behind them are Emyn and Hepla. Elrae stays in intersection with Thorgrim where they can see Filbin as well.

    In the other room Isilme flies into the chamber, which is only about 10' high, so it's not really possible to do her "item" strategy there. [She cast Item on a heavy wardrobe earlier.] She flies in and makes her way to the far side of the room. Berenn and Noot rush in, and Noot throws the bands by surprise, but the human priestess avoids them and they crash off the far wall, bouncing away somewhere.

    Gotrek starts to sing as he drinks his potion of Superheroism. He then moves up while Taki moves around the far side of the partition. The kuo-toa snaps out a wand, and Taki, Gotrek, and Hepla are all slowed.

    Hepla points her fingers and fires off a burst of magic missiles at the Kuo-Toa, which strike it [14]. Emyn moves around Taki and Gotrek, and attacks the kuo-toa, missing.
    Thorgrim casts a silence 15'r on the wall behind the kuo-toa.

    [DM Sit-rep: Gotrek, Taki, and Emyn are in melee combat with Nilbool, the half-elemental kuo-toa. It seems even more fishlike, and water drips from it. Gotrek, Taki, and Hepla are under the effects of a slow spell. Hepla and Thorgrim are about 5' out of the silence area.]

    In the other room:

    Berenn casts a silence spell, which neutralizes the spell that Kelashein was casting. He then moves up to melee with Bonefire, which springs to life with deadly flames.

    Kelashein curses, or tries to but there's no sound, as Isilme hacks at her, hitting her [8] and appearing right before her. Noot then walks up onto the ceiling.

    [DM Sit-rep: Berenn and Isilme are in melee combat with Kelashein, while Noot's on the ceiling. Elrae is in the intersection of the two rooms, where he can assist anyone who needs help. Filbin is guarding the rear, where the pit trap is located.]

    Hepla casts Haste, which counters the slow effect while Hasting Thorgrim and Emyn!

    Thorgrim casts Dimensional Anchor, as Nilbool attempts a spell. It foils his casting.

    [DM OOC: It was wraithform, which is NOT mentioned specifically under Dimensional Anchor. However, it does say Ethereal creatures can attack one in Wraithform, implying a connection to the Ethereal which is NOT possible under Dimensional Anchor. So, I ruled that Dimensional Anchor stops Wraithform as well. Just wanted to share my reasoning. ]

    Emyn, Gotrek, and Taki all hit Nilbool. It takes a total of [42] and is slain on the spot! Elrae was casting a Dispel Magic, but holds off now that the threat is neutralized.

    In the other room, Isilme and Berenn both hit the priestess for [4] and [8]. The priestess backs away, grabbing up her mace, as Berenn and Isilme move up again. Noot moves along the ceiling, looking for the bands, which he spots. He goes over to them and picks them up.

    Elrae casts magic missiles which sing unerringly (only to be silenced when they reach her) and pound her for [17]. She reels back and is hit by Isilme again [4] and Berenn twice [12] and [13]. She's falls back dead, her robes buring from Bonefire's flames. Elrae come in and uses Snowfang to put out the flames.

    Gotrek looks around, disappointed.

    "There's always the kuo-toa guards," says Elrae. I am sure there's some water elemental around the temple."

    Oomkaan, who was hanging back out of the way (sorry, I actually forgot about him!) seems a bit hurt by the comments. He looks at Elrae, sneering, as he DOES understand common, pretty much. He turns to Isilme, "I will take heads of Kelashein and Nilbool to Water Temple. Then my people and me go home."

    "Was that out loud?" says Elrae with a sheepish look.

    After they collect whatever magic items there are, and any other usefull items (a spellbook?) Isilme suggests "once we get the troops on the path preparing for war we should rest, as we really did use a lot of spells for what turned out to be a lesser encounter."

    Isilme tells her Koa-Toa minion that he will be second in charge to her until the threat of the Fire and Air temples are nullified. Then the party can destroy the Fane while he leads his people back to their homes. She then tells him, "Now take the head of this wretched half-breed to his people and tell them of your return to status, that he attempted to betray us to the combined forces of the earth and fire temple and have us all killed. My new guards have already decimated the earth temple for this affront. It is time to arm ourselves for war and attack the fire temple and eliminate them once and for all!"

    Isilme then Casts Polymorph Self and takes the Kelashein's form. She addresses the guard once roused from their sleep, telling them they have failed in her test as guards, leaving her open to attack. "You must redeem themselves by preparing to strike down the Fire Temple with the rest of my troops and bring us glory."

    The garrison buys her every word. She IS Kelashein after all. The guards, once roused, are ashamed of their poor performance, and they are very anxious to redeem themselves. The rest of the warriors assemble, and there are 30 all together. Isilme also learns that the leader of the guards, Kadiss, and his scouts have not yet returned from their excursion against the Fire Temple.

    Meanwhile, Oomkaan has taken the head of Nilbool to the kuo-toans at the temple, to show that he is once again in favor and second in command.

    "Hail Kelashein!" shouts Elrae. "We can't let the Fire temple get away with this. They must be destroyed." Elrae shouts from the crowd, using his bardic skills to get the guards all fired up!

    [Thorgrim OOC: No pun intended, haha. They are about to get "all fired up" indeed, methinks.]

    Oomkaan returns through the pool in 182. He reports to Isilme/Kelashein that all is in readiness. The kuo-toa will do their part. "Shall we cross the Stalagos?" he asks Isilme. "Use the rear entrances to the Fire Temple?"

    "That would certainly surprise them," says Filbin. "I'm ready for the fire temple if the rest of you are."

    "Let's prepare for battle," Thorgrim says.

    "Let the Water Temple rain vengeance upon these hot headed Fire Templars," cries Emyn. "It is a shame we could not use the lake itself to drown the Fire Temple."

    Gotrek shrugs, just wanting to get to killing something.

    "The human guards shall attack the fire temples main entrance and hold as a diversion," says Isilme, "Oomkaan's koa-Toa troops shall wreak havoc from the rear entrance. If thee is a third way to get in I suggest my guardians (the party) enter from this way to cause even more confusion. Is there another entrance into the fire area?" asks Isilme.

    Oomkaan replies, "Yes, there are two secret entrances, caves opening above the waterline outside. We sometimes scout that way." He then continues, with a sudden burst of inspiration. "Speaking of which, Kidress has a map of the Fire Temple. She took it from a slain acolyte last week. That was the basis for Kelashein's planned strike against them."

    "So," says Isilme, "A front and rear assault by the forces with us slipping through a secret entrance and perhaps the scout group slipping through the other. Should be devastating! Shall we rest and await the return of the scouts?"

    "He is a half-elf with some small ability with magic," replies Oomkaan. Looking around he adds. "Not so much as yourselves," he says quickly, "but he's an excellent scout. His men are all half-elves, and though new to the temple, they have already proven skilled in the ways of stealthy combat."

    "What about the hag?" asks Isilme. "Will she follow me?"

    "The hag," says Oomkaan, "is named Gouquog, and nobody commands her. She dwells within a cave somewhere below the pool, and she was feared even by Kelashein. She was here before the kuo-toa, just like Zeityan. She has aligned herself with the Water Priests, for they keep her well-fed with humans, and in return she keeps temple prisoners too weak to resist or escape."

    "Maybe the Sea hag is worth a visit after all," says Berenn. "We will have to wait for Kadiss to return, so I suggest we get some Water Breathing spells going and kill the hag. She might have a prisoner or two worth rescuing."

    "You kill Quoquag?" says Oomkaan incredulously.

    Gotrek smiles grimly, and taps Goreblade.

    "Unless this will somehow offend you Oomkaan," says Berenn.

    He shrugs. "Eh! She ugly."


    "Gotrek seems impatient for blood," says Isilme. "Screw waiting for the scouts; let's just hit the fire temple right now while everyone is "fired up". In fact we just should just say the scouts betrayed us to the fire temple and should be killed on sight. I nominate "guardian" Gotrek for the honor! We can leave the hag for later."

    As everyone wonders if she's serious, she continues. "So humans attack the front, koa-Toa to the rear, and we slip in the secret passage. Let the rain of our vengeance snuff out the fire temple!"

    "I'm ready," answers Filbin. "Place me where you will friends. I am willing to accompany the human guards to ensure they hold up their part of the plan if required or I will follow with the main party."

    "You had better stay with us my little friend," says Taki, looking down at the gnome.

    "Waiting for the map would give us an advantage," says Berenn, "but if everyone wants to push forward, so be it."

    The party moves forward, and learns what the next few chambers are as they prepare to assault the Fire Temple. Again, I'll just summarize:

    173: Three mine passages, each with an iron ore cart track running down its center, head generally southeast from this chamber. Six ore carts, one horribly damaged, lie about this room, near the beginning of the tracks. One of them appears to still have some raw ore in it, but the others are dirty, rusted, and empty. A few tools lay around or in the carts, such as shovels, picks, and hammers.

    174: Iron bins of ore, covered with dust and rust, line the walls of this dwarven-built chamber. A huge machine of some type occupies the middle of the room, with a chute leading into a pair of massive stone cylinders with a wooden trough underneath. The cylinders appear to be connected by gears to a single, huge crank sized for a giant to turn. Small bits of stone lie scattered around the machine. This machine seems identical to the one you found earlier, at the other mine entrance.

    175: This room holds huge iron bins filled with chunks of rock.

    176: An ore cart sits upside-down, with one of its wheels removed. The walls are lined with picks and shovels hanging on hooks, as well as a few wooden cabinets. Everything is covereed in dust and grime.

    "So," asks Isilme to Oomkaan. "Where's this secret way?"

    Oomkaan explains. "Between Water and Fire Temples is the East Bridge. You cannot just walk to the Fire Temple. The Bridge Complex is commanded by Eeridik, a powerful wererat sorcerer who answers only to the Fane. That is why we go through the Stalagos, to the secret way. It is beyond the East Bridge, a small ledge about 50' above the water. We sneak in and spy on the Fire Temple that way. There are a few other entrances in other places, but they do not lead to the Fire Temple."

    "Can we just go through the Stalagos?" asks Emyn.

    "No," says Oomkaan. "The Stalagos is not exactly safe. There are bad things that live it in. We kuo-toa don't worry too much, but you?" He shakes his big fishhead. "Also is VERY deep, with holes going far beyond into the bowls of Oerth. You may encounter all manner of creatures in its still, dark waters."

    "I think we should have Isilme check it out first and report back," says Berenn. "The first thing is to have Isilme scout ahead and give us a layout of the Fire Temple since we don't have a map. I am not for rushing into an unknown situation even with numbers at our back. Anyone remember the dwarven fortress full of kobalds?"

    [Elrae OOC: It seems that there is one of each from the monster manual in this dungeon.]

    [DM OOC: No there's not! As far as I know, there's no dinosaurs nor a catoblepas.]

    The kuo-toans offer to show the cave to Isilme, or she can fly outside and go scout it out herself. They give her the directions, and the approximate height above the water, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. She finds a cave which opens to a ledge about 30' above the lake; however, it is NOT after the bridge but before it. Beyond are some caves, occupied by bugbears. She doesn't try to move through them, so she returns outside, especialy since the kuo-toa said the rear entrance to the Fire Temple was on the other side of the next bridge.

    She flies further, eventually getting to the next bridge, the East Bridge. It is exactly like the North Bridge, which the party already found and cleared. The only difference is the existence of large double-doors that close the bridge off from the bridge complex. The North Bridge had no doors, the hall opening right to the bridge.

    She continues on, and finds the next cave, just where the kuo-toa said it would be. The ledge is about 50' above the water. She enters and finds a small cavern screeened by a large curtain. There is light beyond the curtain, and peeking out she sees tunnels that are lit with burning wall sconces. She hears human voices down a tunnel to the left, while there is another tunnel to the right. She heads to the left and sees about 8 human warriors, their leaders bearing the symbols of elemental fire. This is certainly the way into the Fire Temple.


    Here's a map. She entered in area 107A.

    She backs out, and heads down the other tunnel. Shortly, she comes across a large cave with a huge red marble plate, 40' across, in the shape of a diamond set into its center. This plate is flush with the floor. Floating over the center of this symbol, 7' off the floor, is a glowing orb, intensely red, swriling with flickering fire. Four obelisks, black with red flecks and streaks, surround the diamond shape along its edges. Rather than push her luck by herself, she decides it is better to return to the party with what she has found.



    [OOC: Also, here's an overview of the area. The party came into the mountain from the West, started to go into the southern mines, then changed their minds and went the other way, north. You can sort of follow their path. They went through the troglodyte warrens, and you can see the Earth Temple. Then there was the North Bridge Complex, where they fought the Barghest and found the first bridge, labeled Air. Then they found the underground lake where the hag is, but avoided her, and found the Water Temple. Again, you should be able to barely make it out. Further on you see the mine tunnels with tracks where they are about to go, and continueing around, you can see the next bridge, and beyond that there is another section which is the Fire Temple that Isilme just explored.

    In essence, this entire area is in and around a mountain lake, surrounded on all sides by mountains. There is a central island, as I've previously noted, and which you can now clearly see. There are three bridges which connect to it, and the entire island is surrounded by granite cliffs with those tall towers built into the sides.

    I'll still show more individual maps as we go, but I wanted to throw up an overhead, just to lay out the place better in you minds. ]

    Meanwhile, the party being the impatient types they are, decides to investigate the mine tunnels while Isilme is scouting.

    "I am happy to scout the mines as far as is practicable," says Filbin. "Having been locked up I find myself with a surplus of energy and a desire to inflict a bloody nose upon this dark god. I will not engage with any I find but report back. It is as you wish though, friends."

    Hepla looks up from her spellbook and offers to back him up. She will stand near the entrance to the mines and be ready if she hears a call for help.

    "Thanks, Hepla," he replies. Filbin sneaks down the tunnels, moving silently and using his infravision.


    Map of the next section.

    There are three mine tunnels, and Filbin takes the left one. After a few hundred feet, it meets up with another tunnel, the tracks tieing to together in a 4-way intersection. It appears that switching tracks is possible here. He follows the right-hand tunnel back towards the Water Temple and comes to what seems to be an ore storage area [172]. Just off the west of the track, another ore cart, half full of ore, sits next to the wall. The cave beyond has six large wooden and iron bins filled with unprocessed ore in large chunks. Near the entrance to the cave is a wooden barrel full of shovels. On the ground next to the barrel are three picks, a pile of iron spikes, and three hammers.

    He backtracks to the intersection, and then heads to the right, following the tracks another 80' or so where they emerge into a large chamber. Two tracks exist in this room. The track he is following crosses over another on the floor level, 25' below, by means of a creaky wooden bridge. The ceiling is another 15' above the level of the upper track.

    He continues across the upper track, and follows the tunnel beyond, which begins to descend sharpely around a turn before leveling off on a long straight portion. A chamber opens up to the left [168] He spots three bodies within the chamber, cold and dead at least a few days. They were bugbears. Two charred ash areas near them seem to be the remains of a couple of other creatures which were completely incinerated. A small necklace and a dagger amidst the ash is all that remains.

    After that discovery, he leaves everything alone and returns to report to the rest of the party what he has found. Since I revealed it on the map...area 169 is where the other two tracks come together, though on different levels. The left track is now about 30' below the right track there, and then both continue on into darkness.

    Anyway, Filbin returns to report what he has found.

    "I may be stating the bleedin' obvious," he tells the others, "but two piles of ash that were once creatures suggests a foray from the Fire Temple into the mines at some point recently. My friends, I am willing to push further on down the tracks if you desire it, though perhaps Hepla could advance to the crossover chamber in case of trouble."

    Hepla agrees, but Emyn won't let Hepla go alone. Of course, once he goes, Gotrek and Taki go as well.

    "You aren't having all the fun," says Gotrek.

    With a sigh, Berenn leads the rest of the party to the crossover chamber.

    Filbin advances down the upper tunnel from [169]. After about 75' the tunnel opens into another chamber. The tracks continue straight on through, while off to the left there is another passage (without tracks) which leads further into the darkness. [areas 165 and 166]

    Filbin listens intently at the opening to the cavern. He hears heavy breathing and then a whisper in some tongue that he can't recognize, mostly because it is too hard to hear. It comes from the small tunnel beyond this chamber. He sneaks across the empty chamber, moving silently through the darkness to the small tunnel. There he waits, and listens. After about 10 minutes, he learns the creatures talking are bugbears. They also seem to be scared. He slowly makes his way back to the party to let them know what he's found.

    "Gotrek," says Taki. "He said bugbears, something we can really whack hard for a change."

    "How many?" asks Hepla.

    Filben says he doesn't know. He definitely heard two. They were not using any light, and seemed to be hiding. It would not have been wise to attempt to sneak any closer.

    Hepla looks at the others and says, "Bugbear hunting while we await a plan?"

    "We need to go back to the water temple and wait for Isilme to return," says Berenn. "It is a bad idea wandering off without her."

    If Hepla is still agreeable and as the question has been asked about why the Bugbears are scared, Filbin will return to the mines and push on beyond the cavern of the skulking Bugbears to further explore and identify the threat.

    "If Isilme is still scouting and gathering information," he says, "I see this as an opportunity to learn more about our foes and those of our new temple allies. I very much doubt that the human guards of the Water Temple will strike fear into the hearts of the Bugbears and it may mean that they don't make it as far as the Fire Temple should they encounter such creatures en route to the attack. If the Water Temple forces don't attack as planned the Fire Temple can divert more resources into responding to our incursion. It may be neccessary to remove any threat unallied to the Fire Temple to ensure our allies can progress but let's see the full extent before committing."

    "The bugbears are scared about something," says Gotrek, "and it is not us! We need to capture one of them."

    "Agreed," says Thorgrim.

    "I'm going back," says Hepla. "Somebody should tell Isilme where we went."

    As she turns and starts to return, Emyn stares after her, dumbfounded. Thorgrim moves over and pats Emyn on the back, then gives him some fatherly advice. "Don't to try to figure them out, my boy."

    Berenn is going to go back and wait for Isilme. He will guide her to where the bugbears are when she returns. "Don't move forward without us," he says. Hepla hears footsteps behind her and turns to look. She sees Berenn and waits and walks with him. Emyn follows Hepla. Noot, who didn't like going off like this, likes it even less with half the party leaving, so he runs to catch up. Frustrated, but clearly outvoted, the others follow along as well.

    Soon the entire party is back in the Water Temple, awaiting Isilme's return. Taki and Gotrek look mighty unpleased. Isilme then returns, sharing what she learned. The party is now all back together. As it's now getting close to midnight, and the party has been up all "day", they decide to rest and tackle the next step in the morning.
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    Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:33 pm  
    Part 12 - Jeepers Creepers, or "F@$% Faeries! redux&quo

    Discusisons about how to proceed were all in a difffernt forum, so I'll just summarize what the party figured out. They wanted to do a "pincer attack" plan, but Isilme showed that the Fire Temple is on the OTHER SIDE of the next Bridge Complex. The large overview map shows this, and though it wasn't obvious, they also get this confirmed from the kuo-toa too. In essence there are three areas between the Water Temple and the Fire Temple. First is this area of mines, where the bugbears are. Next is another Bridge Complex. After that is the Fire Temple. So, if they attack up through the mines while simultaneously attacking the Fire Temple from the rear, their groups will be widely separated, moving into completely different areas.

    When asked about the bugbears, they learn the following from Oomkaan. The bugbears have recently moved up into the mines from the Underdark, and they have no allegiance to any temple. Kelashein had often talked of getting them to join the Water Temple, but he doesn't know if this came to anything. Oomkaan certainly doesn't know what happened over the last few weeks, as he was pretty well zoned out on whatever he was smoking!

    Emyn says, "If they can be used as shock troops against the Fire Temple, then we should try to take advantage of that. The more kuotoans we can save the better."

    This time Oomkaan smiles, though it's not really clear what emotions lurk in his fishy head.

    "If we are going to use Isilme's plan," says Berenn, "we need a way to coordinate the attacks, which will be complicated by the Fire Temple being far away. I think the first thing we should do is see if the bugbears are willing to side with the Water Temple. If they are not, we need to clear them out!"

    "I will polymorph into Kelashein and go speak with the bugbears in the mines," says Isilme. "Then we shall know."

    The entire party thus returns to the mines, to give Isilme close support as needed. When they reach the area with the bridge [area 171], they hear a load clackety sound coming from above and to the right, from down the tunnel. Isilme is out front by herself when this happens. Behind her, maybe 50' or so, are Noot and Filbin. All are using infravision. Behind them are the rest of the party, using their mild light sources (quartz crystals and Snowfang). Anyway, Isilme, is about 10' from the bridge (walking on the bottom level) and she and Noot and Filbin all hear the noise.....

    Isilme is using a Fly spell, so she goes up to the ceiling, invisibile as usual, and waits to see what happens. Soon a half-elf warrior in leather armor and carrying a longbow and longsword comes running out of the tunnel towards the bridge. His arm is bloody, and he has a bad cut on his face. He pauses at the edge of the bridge, looking carefully around the chamber with an arrow nocked, ready to fire. You still hear the clakety sound behind him, coming down the tunnel.

    While this is happening, Noot and Filbin approach to the edge of the bridge, within range of infravision. They quickly back into the tunnel, Filbin hiding in shadows while Noot moves back to warn the rest of the party, which is carrying light sources.

    The half-elf starts to make its way across the bridge, and soon you see a light appearing down the tunnel behind him. Soon one of the ore carts comes around the bend, making for the bridge, but this one has three more half-elves are inside it. Two are pumping on a handle to make it move, while the third keeps an eye out behind them with a bow.

    Isilme flies down to the near side of the brdige, polymorphs into the preistess, and drops invisibilty, calling out to the elvish scout leader by name and demanding a report.

    The half-elves stop, one pulling a handle on the cart making it screach to a halt about midway across the bridge. They all glance Isilme's way, and the one in the cart calls back, "Kelashein?" As this happens, another half-elf comes running out of the tunnel, "They're coming!" it yells!

    Remember, there's no light except what small sources the party possesses.

    Isilme/Kelshanin says, "Kadiss come here immediately and give me a report!" She then turns to the the party as they rush up behind her. The elves are momentarily taken aback, until Isilme commands them to "slay those who follow my scouts!" As the party moves up to the bridge, she adds, looking at Kadiss, "It is time the fire temple pays for its recent affronts in a rain of vengeance!"

    "Kelashein," he yells, "what are you doing out here?" He approaches, but cautiously, glancing behind him constantly. As soon as the others move up, infravision is useless. However, a Elrae casts a Continual Light on the ceiling above the bridge, illuminating the entire area, it's not a big deal.

    "We are being chased," says Kadiss when he gets up to Isilme/Kelashein. "Two of my scouts are dead. Whatever these things are, they cause darkness seemingly at will."

    "Shall I send a Lightning Bolt down the shaft or do we want to catch them by surprise?" Hepla asks Isilme.

    "It could be the same thing that had the bugbears so scared," says Thorgrim.

    Isilme waves them silent, then asks Kadiss, "Describe these things that chase you."

    "I don't know what they are," he says. "They looked like gnomes," he continues, "but they are faster and more crafty. They can cause darkness, in some unknown way, but it's not normal darkness. Only my light spells could counter it, and we have all lost our darkvision."

    "Svirfneblin" she mutters. Suddenly, the lights go out! Everyone is in darkness, and infravision doesn't work!

    In the darkness, Isilme immediately flies up and saying in Deep Gnome calls out, "Hold Friend, we are not your enemy!" using her musical skill to allow her voice to echo boldly throughout the chamber. Thorgrim flips his eyepatch around, the 60' beam illuminating the darkness like a lanter, and looks to Silence enemy spellcasters. Hepla casts Fly on herself. Berenn casts Continual Light on his sword, which brightens up immediately.

    The party has decent light, for a moment, from both Thorgrim's eyepatch and Berenn's sword; however, it's only for a momen. They see a bunch of short humanoids, mostly with daggers, moving around the half-elves. They cringe back from the light, then everything goes dark again. None respond to Isilme's call.

    Isilme casts Invisibility on herself, as Emyn calls out in common, "I don't know who you are but we mean no harm."

    Thorgrim feels hands on him, as something grabs his quartz crystal eyepatch, ripping it from his head. Something tries to take Noot's glowing dagger (though it's not currently glowing!), but fails. Noot stabs out with his own dagger, hitting nothing. Emyn also senses something around him, and swings with his sword. He feels it bite, and hears a cry of pain in the darkness. Elrae feels his necklace taken. Gotrek swings around wildly, not hitting anything, but he hears something moving away. Thorgrim and Berenn both cast Continual Light, and in the brief glimpse (before everyone is momentarily blinded by the light) you see dozens of the little creatures swarming around you. The light spells are nearly instantly countered by more darkness.

    Islme says in drow, "Two can play this game. You will regret the day you interfered in the affairs of the Fane." She then casts Darkzone.

    Hepla, now flying, casts Magic Missile during the brief moments of light. They streak into one of the humanoids next to Gotrek. It explodes in a blinding flash of light. Gotrek can feel the heat even through his armor. The light is so intense that Gotrek and Thorgrim are both blinded.

    In the brief flash of light, you get a good look at the things. They look kind of like gnomes, but are not gnomes. They are about 4' tall and wrapped in dark cloaks and cloth over much of their faces as well. They carry daggers in their hands; you didn't see anything larger than that, and you caught flashes of jewelry when the light shined briefly.

    Isilme cries out to the party "CREEPERS! They see you by detecting magic! They will do anything to take it from you!"

    Since nobody else knows what she's talking about, not having the same Underdark knowledge, they just take her word for it. Isilme casts Detect Enemy. She can detect any enemy within about 15' now. Of course, floating up at the ceiling, she can only detect those along the top of the bridge.

    About three creepers rush towards Berenn, who can still see with his infravision since he was not close enough to have it taken away by their darkness powers. He takes a swing at one, hitting it. It suddenly explodes in an immolating pyre. He is blinded by the flash, and the others are able to rush on by him.

    Elrae fumbles for his ebony fly, and finds his entire belt pouch is missing!

    Noot stabs twice with his dagger, hitting nothing. He then runs up the wall to the ceiling somewhere. It's hard to tell, as he can't see, but he's glad for his slippers. Hepla casts a sleep spell, though you can't tell what effect it has. She hears screams from the direction of the bridge. Filbin is also attacked, as something tries to lift his pouch. He stabs out with his short sword, missing.

    Thorgrim and Gotrek both fail to hit anything, swinging wildly in the darkness. Taki kills something, with the familiar pyre erupting in his face and blinding him!

    The party swings at their attackers, but pretty much to no avail. There are no more hits, and you hear the things running away. Isilme finds she cannot see inside the darkness created by the things, despite her own spell. Isilme then casts Detect Evil, to hopefully be able to sense them like they sense her. However, she doesn't sense anything.

    Berenn uses another light spell to illuminate the area, and you find that all the creatures are gone. Only the charred ash piles of a handful of them remain. Kadiss is holding his hand, blood dripping from a cut-off finger. Two of the other half-elves are dead atop the bridge, but the two in the ore cart are still alive, swinging swords wildly, even after the light returns. They are clearly blind as well.

    Everyone checks their gear quickly. Gotrek and Thorgrim had their continual light crystals taken. Elrae had his necklace taken. He also lost his belt pouch with his ebony fly, potions of EX-Healing, and his three pearls. Gotrek had his pouch lifted, losing his potions as well as his jeweled goblet. Taki had his pouch lifted, with his Murlynd's Spoon, 1 PP, 10 EP, and the broken jeweled ring.

    The creatures that took Gotrek and Taki's pouches were killed, and they self-immolated. All their stuff burned up with them, except Gotrek's continual light crystal and goblet. Taki's money and broken ring are ok, but the spoon is gone. The others made it away with their gains.

    "F@$%ing faeries!" says Elrae, referencing their previous encounter in the Gnarley Forest over a year ago. "I am really sick of them stealing my ****."

    Isilme will gently land back to the far rear of the party, still in the polymorphed form of Kelashein, and then walks forward. "Kadiss, you had better explain what you did to draw these creatures to our gates! Report what you found in the Fire Temple, and give me the map immediately. I would safeguard it against any more of these accidents! We shall rain our vengeance down upon those of the fire temple!"

    [DM OOC: Infravision still doesn't work for anyone except Berenn, though he's blinded. A cure blindness takes care of him! Gotrek and Thorgrim are also blinded. These things don't make much noise, and with everyone fighting or trying to, there was virtually no chance to do anything about them fleeing. It's not an unsolvable problem, just not one that was easily solved.]

    Kadiss, still holding her bleeding hands, replies. "We did nothing. We found evidence of a fight between bugbears and what seemed to be something from the Fire Temple, from the charred ashes. We now know it was these creatures, but we didn't before. We tracked the bugbears, and found them holed up with whatever those things were attacking them."

    She fumbles into a pouch, pulling out a mapcase which she hands to Isilme/Kelashein. "Since you had sent us to gain the trust of the bugbears, we decided to aid them. We attacked, but had no idea what we were getting into. When all went dark, we fled, using an ore cart for defense. Only my light spells kept them at bay, until we reached the bridge. You know the rest."

    Thorgrim will open his Portable Hole and put his belt pouch and potions utility belt in there for safekeeping, retaining a Potion of Heroism and a Potion of Extra-Healing in his backpack. Thorgrim will also get out his flask of brandy and take a swig.

    "Well, they didn't take this," he says, offering a swig to Gotrek. "It's not as good as the Gutshaker, but it will do for now, and looks like you need it."

    "I may be able to track them if we are careful," says Berenn. He will attempt to pick up their trail.

    "Let's track those evil buggers," Thorgrim says. "No doubt they have much magic in their stinking cave-homes, swift as they were to lift our possessions. Anything you don't want stolen you can put in the Hole."

    Noot, poking about the ash of the other Dark Creepers, finds the following: a 2000gp Oriental Topaz and a Silver Medallion set with various gemstones (4000gp value)

    Berenn spots the trail, or should I say trails. The creepers fled in both directions on the bottom level. They also seem to have fled in both directions on the top level, and they've thrown up darkness along all their routes.

    Thorgrim growls. "We'll need more light sources if we are to pursue. With sufficient exploration we may be able to corner them in their home. A sneak-attack may be better, as they will likely set up ambushes. And what of the planned destruction of the Fire Temple?"

    Kadiss stands there, holding his bleeding hand, "Perhaps I should return and have this...tended to Mistress?"

    She looks at him with disdain, the disappointment clear on her face. "Get it tended to Kadiss. Let the missing finger be forever a reminder of how you failed me here today. It seems I will have to handle these bugbears myself. You and what is left of your scouts will now take orders from Filbin (she points to him), whom I appoint to replace you in your position of leadership until such time as you have pleased me again."

    She hands Berenn the map "Master at Arms, make preparations for my troops and the invasion using this map. I must return to my sanctuary and commune. I will have to deal with these Bugbear vermin personally."

    "As you command Mistress," and Berenn takes the map. "However, what of the Creepers?"

    "Yes," she replies. "Let us first dea with them."

    Emyn says, "Mistress, perhaps Kadiss might know what lies in each of these rooms on teh map and of hidden dangers?"

    "Kadiss will report all he knows to filbin," she replies. Then, leveling her best evil drow stare on Kadiss, she adds, "I am greatly vexed by his recent failures."

    Meanwhile, Hepla casts Invisibility on Berenn, who also casts Find Traps and starts tracking the Creepers. He will take the trail which seems the most used first.

    "We can't let those Creepers return deep into the Underdark with our valuables," says Thorgrim. Before Berenn leaves, he says, "Bring me back my eyepatch, if'n you find it." Thorgrim looks disconcertingly Cyclopean with his empty eye socket exposed.

    "Some Humanfolk are known to say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," says Filbin. "The Creepers got some of our belongings but we still have more besides. The Temple seems to me to be a goodly prize if we strike it, both in terms of plunder and more ephemeral rewards. Are we letting a loss become a distraction?"

    "A fair point," admits Taki.

    "When dealing with these petty creatures of fire," says Isilme, "I think numbers will be in order. A number of men with a light spell on their blades will be a tall order for these filth to overcome."

    "I agree," says Hepla. "but the multiple light sources need to be used sequentially, as they seem to need to react to each new light source but are fine with putting out multiple lights at once. Perhaps a basket of stones can have light cast on them then cover the basket and, once we find them only take one out each turn. One of our non fighters could do that."

    Filbin, surprised at his elevation to Elven Squad Leader although careful to conceal this, will ask Kadiss "What can you reveal of the terrain ahead and its denizens?"

    Kadiss, preparing to retire back to the Water Temple, stares daggers of hatred at Filbin. "The bugbears are hunkered down in the central tunnel. We never made it to their caves down the right tunnels." He then spins around and marches back into the darkness towards the Water Temple.

    "How disrespectful," grins Filbin.

    The other two half-elves look none too happy about Kadiss being sent away, but they aren't going to argue the point either. They recognize they are lucky to be alive. Filbin calls them and then gets the "lay of the land" from them. Areas 165 and 166 are where Filbin found the bugbears earlier, and 162 and 163 is the bugbear lair, found by the scouts. It is the same cave Isilme found from the outside, when flying along the Stalagos. The scouts also reveal what it looks like at other places, but don't know what's there now. In 161 is another cave that leads deeper into the Underdark.

    Berenn still has his infravision, so he can see fine. Hepla, on the other hand, cannot. She tries to follow Berenn, and flies into a wall. Hepla returns to the bridge, knowing that anything she does to see will just cause more difficulties for Berenn. Berenn continues down the central corridor on the bottom level [towards area 169], which he determines was the path of MOST of the retreating Creepers (about 12). Once there, he sees that they scaled the side down to the lower tracks and continued down that way [towards area 161].

    Berenn uses his rope of climbing, and when he gets down to the lower level, he sees four Dark Creepers across the chamber. All are looking in his direction. Berenn quicklys reverses direction, scrambling back up when his infravision ends!

    [DM OOC: Did you so quickly forget? They sense MAGIC!]

    Berenn gets back to the top, and pauses, listening carefully but he hears nothing. He packs up his rope, essentially blind now, and then slowly backs away, hoping to get out of the area of the darkness. When the darkness doesn't end, Berenn casts Locate Object, seeking Thorgrim's eyepatch. He picks up the location; it is up the lower, left-hand tunnel towards area 161, where the half-elves said is an entrance to the Underdark.

    Frowning, Berenn returns to the party to report what he learned.

    Meanwhile, back at the bridge, Thorgrim mutters, "How long do you suppose we should wait for their return?" He curses that he left his pipe in his Portable Hole. He looks around with a baleful eye, searching for Creepers, before opening his Hole and retrieving his belt pouch. He leaves the Fortress and the Stone in the Hole, taking out his pipe.
    "Harrumph!" he says and lights his pipe, clearing his mind for battle.

    While waiting, Emyn asks the two half-elves how they ended up here.

    One of the elves replies, "We followed Kadiss from our village on the border between Celene and the Lortmills, looking for adventure. We had thought we'd found such, and the next thing we know we are living underground, acting as scouts for a bunch of degenerates. Kadiss had his eyes on gaining greater position and power with something called The Fane, and he seems to have forgotten us."

    "Ah," he says. "Our group once had a noble from Celene among them. A Vestron Orcburner. Quite a hothead, as I understand. Filbin also hails from the Lortmils. How did this change in Kadiss come about?"

    He shrugs. "I do not know. Perhaps he doesn't himself. He was always more power-hungry than the rest. Comes from using magic, I suppose." He looks at Hepla, "No offense." He then continues, "I think he's simply gotten in over head, and now doesn't see the forest through the trees."

    "If things work out here," says Emyn, "I think our friend Berenn might be able to use your services for a better purpose."

    They look back down the dark tunnel then back at Emyn. "I suppose you are right, but I would not want to abandon Kadiss either. He is a good man at heart."

    "All beings may seek redemption," answers Emyn. "If he chooses to do so, I will support his journey back to the light."

    About this time, Berenn returns to report.

    Thorgrim hefts his military pick, Souldrinker. "Any being who would have what is mine would find himself impaled as well. So I'll give him what he wants. They fled in multiple directions, though. Any clue as to their numbers, Berenn? We should Locate Object on something else that was taken, such as Gotrek's potions, to locate where others may have gone. Hopefully we can track down these troglodytes to their burrows."

    Thorgrim spits on the earth, stamps it out with his foot.

    "I am already tracking your patch Thorgrim," he replies. "It was by far the easiest item to track in my mind. I encountered four of them when I headed down an incline, but I was tracking a dozen. I am hoping the loot is centrally located, but when we get close if you want to try to locate something else and see if it is close, it should help."

    Berenn will lead the party back close to where he encountered the four creepers. Gotrek starts to sing. He is pissed. He does not care if "they" hear him. He will keep a tight grip on Goreblade....

    [Thorgrim OOC: haha upon review, we really got lucky and didn't lose much to the Creepers. Perhaps this is a bad idea? Nah...exterminate!]

    "These little bastards are going to get smashed," says Gotrek. I hope.., he thinks to himself.

    "F@$%ing faeries," mutters Elrae.

    Gotrek smiles. "Sing of me, Elrae, and my demise at the hands of the munchkins!"

    Elrae starts to sing:

    It doesn't matter what I pick,
    F@$%ing faeries will be stealing all my ****.
    They come in hordes, wave after wave,
    Take every item, before I get a save.
    When I try act, the DM says 'too late.'
    I guess not having magic is going to be my fate.
    It doesn't matter who we kill or overcome.
    Any treasure we get, will soon be gone.
    F@$%ing faeries.

    [DM OOC: I gotta admit, that was my favorite of all Elrae's songs!]

    Meanwhile, Isilme went off to deal with the bugbears...
    Bugbears
    Isilme follows the right-hand tunnel to where the bugbear lair is located [area 162]. When she reaches the cave, she finds the area is lit by a torch from a further recessed chamber. Inside are three bugbears. Two are guards and the other is talking to them hurriedly. She can see this third bugbear is more lightly armored and seems suffering from a few wounds, likely caused by an encounter with the Creepers. She has tongues working, so she can understand them. He's a scout from the group stuck at area 165. The creepers were attacked by some other force, and took off after them, leaving the bugbears alone. He was able to sneak back to report the situation.

    Isilme casts Protection from Normal Missiles, then turns back into her normal drow form. However, she remains invisible.

    She then casts Faerie Fire, lighting up the whole area they are in with a eerie red glow.
    She uses her skill so her voice echoes in the chamber "Yes, they were attacked by my forces to aid you. I an agent of the water temple, sent to offer an alliance that we may band together and rain vengeance upon our enemies."

    The bugbears area shocked and scared by the light show, and they back up defensively. They look around warily, until one barks, "Show yourself then, and we shall see."

    When she appears as a drow, the literally fall over themselves, one even squealing like a baby!

    Isilme curses in drow for effect then says, "Who is your leader? We have much to discuss, and my temper is short."

    "Ur...Ur...Urolax," stammers the bugbear cringing away from Isilme.

    "He is powerful and knows all," says the other guard. He kicks the cringing bugbear, "Keep watch," he says, then waves Isilme forward, "Come, you come. I take you to Urolax."

    The bugbear takes Isilme into the next chamber, where there are piles of furs, straw, etc arranged around the perimeter. Two large drums and a large pile of bones and skulls sit in the center around a large fire pit. There are four bugbear females within the chamber.
    The bugbear goes to a large crack in the rear of the chamber and calls for Urolax. Isilme can see that there is a large boulder blocking the way to another chamber.

    She hears a deep voice from beyond, "Who disturbs Urolax sleep?"

    Isilme just enters the chamber. There's a big hairy bugbear there. It falls back in surprise as she enters, stumbling backwards.

    With her best evil drow sneer on her face, Isilme demands, "Who dares to make ME wait?"

    The bugbear chief cowers back, very, very scared of the drow elf floating before it. It falls to the ground, virtually prostrating itself, and pleads for its life.

    Isilme looks down on the Bugbear with utter contempt. "Urolax, The creatures terrorizing your people are servants of the Fire Temple. My mistress is gathering her army to assault the temple of fire and take her vengeance upon them. I have been sent to offer an alliance and to request you join us in the attack. You will be given your fair share of the booty collected, and we will recognize your right to live in our caves and give mutual assistance. Gather your troops and join us in the temple of water immediately. Of course, you could always refuse my mistress's most generous offer....." She grins wickedly and draws her blade.

    Urolax bows low, "Your mistress is wise," he stammers, "We shall join you."

    "She expects your presence NOW," says Isilme. "For your sake I hope you do not disappoint her." Isilme then flies away, polymorphing once again into Kelashein's form before returning to the bridge.

    Berenn and Isilme are now back, and the party's together again, still at the bridge cavern.

    They track the Dark Creepers, which have retreated down their rabbit hole into the Underdark, the way blocked with a series of deadly traps and pits. Rather than take such a serious digression to go after them, the party decides that it's better to give up their lost items and continue with their current mission. Disappointed, they decide to return to the Water Temple to gather their forces. Before they go, they collapse the entrance to the Underdark, which apparently was also what the final trap was designed to do. The entire area collapses in on itself. Once that is done, they begin the trek back to the area of the Water Temple, there to rest and recooperate. They find that an hour later all their infravision has returned. Also, all the blinded characters recover within an hour as well.

    "F@$%ing Faeries," mutters Elrae one last time!
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:40 pm  
    Part 13 - The Render

    Before retiring, Thorgrim prays to Clanggedin for guidance as to how to handle the Kuo-
    Toa. He then gets out his pipe and smokes some of what Oomkaan was smoking. He feels very good and strong after smoking the stuff, and actually has a hard time concentrating on his prayers. Eventually he falls asleep, and the party finds him so sound asleep in the morning that they have a hard time waking him. When he finally comes out of his slumber, Thorgrim finds that he's only regained half of his spells overnight.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Haha sweet. I've been waiting for a resting point to try the stuff Oomkaan was so gracious to provide. Thorgrim was seeking guidance as to the wisdom of buddying up with evil cannon fodder. Guess his prayer was answered!]

    "Clanggedin be praised," says Thorgrim. "He has shown us the way again. We shall destroy the Fire Temple with our own strength, and without Magic. Well, no more than we need, actually." Thorgrim sharpens his pick and prepares for battle.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Thorgrim will be extra-tight with his spell points, as usual. Maybe a Stone of Silence but not too much more (maybe a Silence spell on any apparent spellcasters out of throwing range), until someone is in extremis. He will battle foes in melee combat, not using spells unless it is absolutely necessary. Just before combat, he will down a potion of Heroism, leaving only Extra-Healing in his backpack.]

    Godsday, 4 Richfest (CY581)
    The party awakes the next morning, only to find the kuo-toa are all gone. Nobody has seen them since the night before. Also gone is Kadiss, once leader of the scouts. Nobody knows where he went either.

    Emyn says, "I suspect they may have started their assault."

    "Our failure to strike while the iron was hot," says Thorgrim, "is what caused these creatures to leave here. Unless they are, in fact, attacking the Fire Temple as we speak. I am as much to blame as any. My desire for retribution was too great. Those creepers will pay later, if'n we should find them again. And we should quit sealing these entrances to the Underdark, methinks, lest we shut our own point of entry in chasing Evil to its home."

    Isilme tells the party "The Koa Toa expressed a desire to return home in peace. I mulled it over, and it weighed heavily on my conscience. Using them for our ends, when they simply wanted to go home and trouble the surface no more, did not seem right. So I asked Oomkaan to take his people and return home. I can't expect my brethren of the Underdark to change, if I am not an example of that change myself."

    "Let us make all haste to destroy the Fire Temple," says Thorgrim. "We are lucky so far that they are at odds with each other, and not unified in purpose, as we are. I feel invigorated by this strange herb we found Oomkaan smoking. I feel...incensed. The time to strike is now."

    Hepla asks to see the herb, and Thorgrim shows her.

    "I suggest we get the water temple troops to make their frontal assault," says Emyn,
    "while we come in through the other entrance with teh half-elven scouts." He adds, "I feel this would help draw troops away from the secret passage."

    "I think there is a bridge complex prior to the Fire Temple," says Filbin, "and, if the organization is similar to elsewhere, they will be independent of each other. I doubt we'll find much organised resistence before the bridge so my instinct is to push on through as a group and deal with scattered foes as we need to; IF, we need to. Greater evils should be our priority, which is the bridge, the temple and then The Fane."

    "So what you are saying is we need to wipe out the bridge guards," says Emyn. "No problem. Send in the bugbears...they did show up, right?"

    "Yes," says Isilme. "There are a dozen of them, ready to throw their support behind the forces of the Water Temple."

    "Since we seem to be losing more magic then gaining," says Hepla, "I am in favor of attacking the Fane now. Staying in the outer ring just might cost too meny lives for little gain."

    "Oh, I don't know about that," says Thorgrim. "That's always the case to start, and we haven't lost anybody, yet. Now someone tell me why we need bugbears to clear the path for us to the Fire Temple? They should be put to some better use, though one use is always best."

    "Iwould prefer to destroy the enemies here first," says Emyn. "If one temple becomes dominant, it will just regrow. We need to lop all the heads off of this hydra."

    "Tough call," says Berenn thoughtfully. "I thought we were here to bring the whole temple down, not just the Fane. We once allowed pieces of the Temple of Elemental Evil to escape and now we are having to clean up our own mess. I don't think we should make the same mistake twice."

    Isilme agrees with Berenn, and the party agrees to continue with the plan. However, they decide that they will leave the remaining Water Temple forces here, as well as the bugbears, until the Bridge Complex in between has been cleared. Only after that will they launch their assault on the Fire Temple.

    Hepla casts Stoneskin upon herself and Isilme, who also casts Polymorph Self again, taking the form of Kelashein. Emyn stays close to Hepla, pledging to protect her. She gives him a kiss, and casts Stoneskin upon him as well. She then giggles afterwards.
    Then everyone moves into the mines.

    They check the passage to the underdark on the way, making sure that it is still sealed, which it is, then eventually reach 159. The bugbears are sent back to their lair, for now, but are entrusted with guarding these passages, especially the entrance to the underdark. The party then continues.

    The right mine goes to a large vertical shaft, about 50' high. The tracks wind around the outside before continueing. If you check the map to the Bridge complex, you see a two-tiered cavern with destroyed tracks on the right. They never really explored that area, as they said everything was melted, like from dragon fire.

    The left mine reaches the upper level of the two-tiered cavern where the tracks end. They have explored all the way to 148, where there are troll guards. The reason they had the map was they found it on a dead body in the mines (area 158). So, though you have the map, you don't know what's in any of those areas.

    Hepla looks at the two ways and says,"I don't like the down way as we are more likely to run into those dark creepers."

    Noot walks up on the ceiling and moves ahead to scout. While he does so, Hepla examines the tracks to see if they have been used recently. Excess rust would indicate they have not been used. Noot returns, saying there's nothing ahead, though he did find the body of a dwarf guard. The party makes its way up through areas 158 and 157. In 158 the find the body of the dwarf guard. It was from this guard that Kadiss and the scouts found their map of the bridge complex. There's nothing of value on the corpse. The tunnel widens slightly in area 157, and there they find tracks of Dark Creepers. Berenn checks them and finds that about 6 went north here, but only a couple returned. It could be this was just about as far as they ranged.


    Crater Ridge Mines, Map H

    The party continues on to a the split-level cave. The dark walls there rise high up to the ceiling, maybe 50' high. A ledge near the middle bisects this long cave, and the lower portion [to the right leading down to the broken tracks and beyond to area 155] lies about 50' below the level of the uppper section. The track ends here, and a rusty ore cart, half full of rock, sits at the end of the track, butted up against an old timber block. There is a rusty iron bin next to it, also about half full of ore. A pick and an old lantern lie next to them as well. You can't quite make out details in the lower section, beyond the fact that the track is all destroyed there.

    Hepla examines the pick and lantern, finding that they are both useable, though the lantern would need oil. Hepla has no lantern so she takes it. Emyn offer to supply the oil for it, but she says she does not need oil at this point. "Maybe later," she says, putting it into her backpack.

    Noot and Filbin scount silently down the left passage. After a short bit, they reach another chamber [153]. It is a smallish chamber, with only about a 10' ceiling. In the center, munching on something, is some kind of big dog-like thing with tentacles. Filbin maintains position, Arrow of Paralyzation nocked, while Noot rushes back along the ceiling and reports to the rest of the party what he saw.

    Emyn charges forward alone. Thorgrim casts Light on one of his stones, and throws it down the passage. Emyn sees what seems a large bluish-hued cat with two long tentacles coming from the shoulders. He attacks with his sword, missing twice. He's hit by the tentacles, which just bounce off his Stoneskin. Taki and Gotrek rush after him, with Taki in the lead. He also misses the beast, though he seemed to hit it dead on through a tentacle. Gotrek is hit from the rear by two other tentacles, and sees another beast, previously hidden to the left. He takes [8] and [5].

    Filbin fires his arrow, which sails through the air hitting nothing though it seems to go right through the creature. He then moves to a flanking position as the rest of the party moves up.

    "Close your eyes!" yells Elrae as he casts glitterdust at the displacer beasts.

    "Great," says Isilme. "Now we have glittering, and still displaced, beasts!" And truly, that's what happened. The displacer beasts are now covered in glittering dust, but still displaced.

    The displacer beasts both hit once. Emyn's Stoneskin saves him, but Gotrek takes [4]. Gotrek hits one [18], and it shrieks in pain. Nobody else hits.

    Isilme pulls her Wand of Wonder from her belt and waves it at the things, hoping for the best. One of the Displacer Beasts, the one fighting Emyn, disappears.

    Gotrek is hit by another tentacle [2] and he and Taki both hit the beast, killing it. With the displacer Beast's death, the "illusion" disappears and you see it as it is, lying dead on its side with three large chunks taken out from the attacks of Gotrek and Taki. There are no more attacks from the other one.

    Hepla gets up, happy that the wand did not do anything worse. She looks around the room to see if anything else is here. Then she will harvest some of the beast's parts, especially its eyes.

    "What happened to the other Beast?" asks Thorgrim.

    Isilme looks at the wand, then puts it away. "With the wand of Wonder, you never know," isilme laughs.

    Isilme then casts preserve on the beast, and Thorgrim puts it in his portable hole. "Good thing I have a mop," he mutters. "Still, Lyseios may find use for this, and if we can get it stuffed, what a cool piece it would be."

    Meanwhile, Filbin and Noot move on. Noot has to come down from the ceiling because it starts to seem unstable. In fact, Filbin gets rather uneasy in the next chamber, as the ceiling looks like it can come down at any moment. From this otherwise empty area, they see flickering light up ahead, as from torches or wall sconces. They move far enough to see what's up, but stay in the shadows.

    This wide chamber (area 148) is a guard outpost, with six human guards and one large troll. The troll sits in the center of the chamber, munching on something. The men are mostly beyond it, towards the door to the bridge complex. The men are armed with crossbows and swords, and all wear heavy armor. They can't really see any more without exposing themselves.

    Noot slinks back to inform the others, while Filbin waits in the shadows with shortbow aimed at the Troll and a Paralysation Arrow nocked. When they hear Noot's report, Isilme casts Invisibility on herself and Hepla casts Protection from Normal Missiles.

    "Berenn, what's the basic plan?" asks Thorgrim. "I am ready to use the Stone of Silence Stratagem to help surprise our opponents and keep the sounds of battle muffled. But it may hinder our mages in such tight quarters."

    Isilme flies forward, invisible, and sings her siren song to charm the troll. Unfortunately, it fails and the men come to a more alert status. They point crossbows at the exits, while the troll just looks around curiously.

    The area where the men and troll are is lit by burning wall-sconces, which illuminates the entire room. However, the light actually ends around Isilme and Noot, just down the passage. So, everyone else is back in the next room, standing in the dark, as they did not walk up there with lights burning. Of course, they can see into the room perfectly well, but nobody can see any of the party.

    Hepla casts Detect Magic, but senses nothing from the room. Isilme flies by the guards and sees a set of double-doors down the rear hallway. She casts Phantasmal Force, creating the illusion of a wall instead of the three doors. She then waits....

    Filbin starts things by firing a normal arrow at one of the guards, hitting him in the chest [5]. Elrae has sheathed Snowfang, and he casts Melf's Acid Arrow, missing the troll.

    "Charge!" yells Berenn, pointing, and Emyn rushes into the room, singing Gotrek's song. As the troll stands, growling, Emyn hits it across the chest [16].

    The troll attacks Emyn, hitting him twice but the blows are blocked by Stoneskin. The men then fire their crossbows. Three fire at Emyn, one hitting him for [8]. [Stoneskin is done!] One fires at Hepla, but her spells protect her [though SS still loses 1]. One fires at Filbin, missing, while the last one turns and runs back down the hall to the doors. He turns and runs to the end, then stops and looks around. He pounds on the illusory wall where the left door should be, then stands back a moment, "What in the Nine Hells?" Isilme has a hard time not laughing, then moves back to where she can see into the guardroom again.

    Berenn rushes into the room and attacks the men. He kills the one that Filbin had already hit with an arrow. Taki moves up beside Thorgrim, ready to move into the room with him when he says so. Noot stays back with Gotrek, looking at him strangely and wondering why he isn't leading the charge, especially against a troll.

    The battlerager shrugs, "Eh," he says, "figerin' I'd let the kids play fer once."

    Noot keeps an eye out in the rear, while Gotrek leans on Goreblade, watching the fight.

    Isilme casts Fireflow, and directs a line of fire from one of the wall sconces over to the troll. It begins to burn and immediately roars in pain and fear. [4] It spins around and tries to run away from the flames, but Emyn hits it with a well-aimed blow [15] knocking it to the ground. The troll continues to scramble away from the flames, which Isilme keeps pushing over it, and Emyn is right there, hacking away, hitting it twice more [14] [8].

    The men drop their crossbows and draw longswords. Three attack Berenn, but all miss. The other turns back to run and sees the wall too. He reaches out carefully, touching it, then turns to say something, but everything is suddenly silenced. Thorgrim has moved into the room, and he tossed his handful of stones, which includes one with the Silence 15' Radius spell upon it down the hallway, amongst the warriors there. They bounce along the floor behind them, and the hallway is suddenly completely silenced.

    Elrae unleashes another arrow, this one striking the troll [5]. Hepla moves into the room, and she casts a Magic Missile at the troll [15]. It is nearly dead, and with fire and acid should hopefully stay that way!

    Taki takes his post next to Thorgrim, watching down the passage to his right. Filbin moves up to the left corner entrance, covering the room, but has no shots with the men engaged with Berenn. Berenn then is a whirlwind of action. He strikes twice, killing one of the men with both blades thrust into his neck and groin. As he drops, Berenn hits another with a slash that cuts off his arm. He reels away in pain, stumbling to the ground.

    Filbin then moves to the first of the two other passages to the right (north) and covers it with shortbow, while Taki moves to the far one and watches there. Isilme keeps the flames around the troll to make sure it stays dead. It burns and pops, as the fire and acid do their work. Berenn then rushes into the hallway, intent on finishing the two guards there. He calls to them to surrender, but of course there's no sound!

    They turn around, blades bared, when Hepla casts Sleep. They all drop to the ground.

    Suddenly there is a roar to the north. Taki, looking down the passage, sees a very large bipedal creature come rushing up the tunnel. It is grey and stands about 9 feet tall in spite of its hunched posture and is about 4 feet wide. It looks like it weighs about 4,000 pounds. A huge black triangle symbol is tattooed onto its chest, and surrounding the symbol are six other glyphs. Along the rest of its body are more glyphs, elemental symbols, all glowing with arcane power.


    Grey Render

    [DM OOC: The cool thing is this, as well as many other things I pull into my mostly 2nd ed game, was totally new to the players. It makes certain encounters much more interesting and challenging when they don't automatically know what to expect!]

    The beast rushes straight at Taki, moving faster than he'd have thought possible for such a beast. It simply bull rushes him, driving Taki back clear across the large chamber, despite his best efforts to hold his spot. Taki is slammed into the far wall [10] and is stunned for a round!

    Isilme begins to sing her charm, but there seems to be no effect. Filbin fires an Arrow of Paralyzation into the beasts back but misses. Berenn whirls around, attacking with his swords. He strikes it once [13] with Bonefire, but misses with his other attacks.
    Thorgrim attacks the thing as well, hitting it with Souldrinker for [13].

    Elrae runs west towards Gotrek and informs him backwards day is over and we need his services. Gotrek smiles, and starts to sing.White froth is thrown in all directions, as his intensity magnifies. Gotrek starts to run, singing his tune of Honor for Clangeddin. He also swigs a superheroism potion before going into his rage. He gains 3 new temp levels and [+13] hit points.

    When Gotrek closes on the creature, he is hit by a swift backhanded blow [11]. He getss up, laughing and singing. Then he prepares to charge again.

    Emyn makes sure the troll is dead, or at least not a danger, then turns around to survey the scene. He moves over to grab Hepla and pull her away. Hepla notices a couple of glowing glyphs on the thing's chest, and surmise that they protect it from magic. She sees no point in casting a spell, so she moves away from the thing with Emyn. Finally,
    Filbin fires another arrow, hitting the beast in the back [2].

    Isilme casts Dispel Magic on the creature, and one of the runes fades out. It seems to lose some of its strength. Growling, it turns its head in her direction. Its 6 dead eyes seem to look right at her before it turns its attention to the others. It claws at Berenn and Thorgrim, racking each one; Berenn takes [10], while Thorgrim takes [20]. Thorgrim is knocked down. It then bites Berenn for [16]. Berenn feels its jaws seem to lock tight on his shoulder, and it shakes its head back and forth, rending Berenn's shoulder for another [13]. [He's essentially grappled, and will take automatic damage each round if the thing desires to continue. Berenn cannot use a weapon greater than small, unless he can break free.]

    Hepla also casts Enlarge on Taki. He grows to 190% his normal size. He grows to approximately 13 1/2' tall (though he's still prone). [His size is now large and his damage will now be adjusted up by 190%.] Meanwhile, Berenn drops his blades and with a herculean effort wrenches the beast's neck around so that he can get his free hand on its lower jaw. The beast growls, but Berenn growls back even louder as he pulls and twists, freeing his shoulder. He whips his hands out and rolls away, free of the thing's grip.

    Emyn circles around Thorgrim, narrowly missing a swipe of the beast's claws. He then stabs it in gut [10]. Gotrek swings at it, but misses. Thorgrim stands up, and takes a swing at the thing, barely missing with Souldrinker. Filbin moves over and fires an arrow at it, hitting it in the arm [5]. Elrae also moves up, and casts a Magic Missile. The missiles strike unerringly [14]. Noot moves up the hallway, staying along the right-hand wall and keeping an eye behind them.

    The beast then continues its attacks, turning fully upon Emyn. It rakes him across the face [21] then [9]. It then bites him for [10]. It latches onto Emyn, shaking him back and forth violently for another [16]. [Emyn in grappled the same way as Berenn was earlier!]

    Gotrek takes another swing, missing again! Filbin fires another arrow, hitting again [2].

    Noot enters the room along the walls and ceiling, moving to a point near the center. There he takes out his Iron Bands. The monster continues to shake Emyn back and forth doing [13]. Emyn goes limp, his sword dropping from his hand. The thing then tosses him aside as it turns on Thorgrim.

    Berenn crawls back out of the way, taking out his rod and healing himself [10]. Isilme casts Enlarge on Gotrek, who grows to nearly 8' tall. [170% size] Thorgrim swings at the thing, hitting it in the head [13]. Elrae casts another magic missile, hitting it for [17].
    Hepla flies down to Emyn and casts CSW, healing [14]. He wakes up, but seems pretty shaken.

    Filbin fires another arrow, hitting the thing in the chest [4]. Gotrek hits it with Goreblade, a wicked blow which does [26]. Taki picks up his sword and stands up, ready to finish off the foul beast.

    The creature spins back on Gotrek, hitting him with one claw [7] and bites him [12]. It then starts its trademark twisting and wrenching, doing another [13].

    Thorgrim swings again, hitting it in side of the head again [16]. Filbin fires another arrow, hitting Gotrek in the back [4]. [oops, good thing he's not berserk!] Unfortunately, the arrow disrupts Gotrek's swing, and he hits Thorgrim [20]. Thorgrim is knocked back and to the ground by the unexpected blow.

    Isilme notices the runes on the beast's skin seem to be glowing brighter.

    The beast reels from its injuries, but just as quickly, it seems to begin to heal. In fact, the runes grow so brightly that everyone is forced to look away, shielding themselves from their power. When they fade, only two runes still glow; the rest are dark. You also see that all the creatures wounds have healed.

    Berenn, realizing that he is in the area of effect of Thorgrim's silence stone, has to crawl away to get clear before he can cast Dispel Magic. While he does this, Taki hits the thing from the rear with his two-handed sword [33] while Gotrek slams Goreblade into its belly [20].

    Hepla and Elrae both cast magic missiles, which hammer the beast for another [14] and [15]. Thorgrim backs away, standing, and drinks a potion of Ex-Healing [healing 20].
    Filbin drinks his potion as well, then draws his sword, ready to enter melee if possible.
    Noot takes out his Rod of Smiting, and maneuvers behind the creature, walking on the ceiling.

    Clear of the area, Berenn finally casts Dispel Magic, unfortunately not fast enough to stop the creature's healing power, but the other runes suddenly stop glowing. The beast immediately seems to move more slowly.

    Taki and Gotrek both miss their second attacks.

    Emyn lies on the ground, stunned for a few more rounds and watched over by Hepla who stands between him and the creature. He weakly reaches out for his sword, which lies at the thing's feet. Berenn's swords lie there too, actually beneath Taki's feet.

    Finally, Gotrek goes into a rage!

    The beast rushes forward, attempting to bull rush its way passed Gotrek. Taki takes a swing at it and misses, but Gotrek stands firm and refuses to be budged, actually shoving the creature back towards Taki who then hits it with another blow of his two-handed sword [29]. Gotrek then hits it again with Goreblade [14].

    Hepla casts another cure spell on Emyn, healing another [12], while Berenn uses his rod and heals [10] from Emyn.

    Noot suddenly moves behind the thing, upside down, and smashes it in the back of the head with his Rod of Smiting [10]. There is a loud "CRACK" and the things wavers for a moment, it's legs seeming to go out, before it crashes to the ground.

    Everyone else holds, while Gotrek continues to hack the downed creature mercilously with Goreblade, which presently earns its grim name.

    "Good work Noot," says Hepla as she administers to Emyn.

    Isilme goes to check on the remains of the troll and see if it is regenerating. "We should do something about the sleeping guards," she says.

    "And maybe heal Gotrek," says Taki.

    "There's no healing Gotrek while he's Enraged," says Thorgrim. "Better to stand clear until he pulls out of it."

    Thorgrim goes to carve off some troll flesh, maybe get some blood for Lyseios, but none remains. Everything burned up with the acid and fire. He then will open his Portable Hole and retrieve his Potions Utility Belt, leaving behind the potions of hill giant control and vitality, leaving potions of heroism, super-heroism, and extra-healing in the belt. If there is no time, he will put the flesh in his empty potion flask at hand.

    "Let's clear these tunnels and take out the bridge complex," he says. No way should we attempt the Fire Temple without a good night's rest. Clanggedin guide us."

    It actually takes a couple of minutes for Gotrek to come out of his rage, but he vents it on the dead beast at his feet. Everyone is forced to move away, for blood and gore splatter over the entire chamber. By the time he stops, there's hardly a square foot of wall, floor, or ceiling not dripping grey blood, and Gotrek himself seems the very vision of death.

    The end of the corridor is under silence from Thorgrim's stone. He retrieves it and places it in his pocket, so Noot can listen. He hears nothing through the double doors, but hears something he can't quite make out through the smaller door. Isilme charms the two guards, while Hepla charms the third. They then question them.

    About this time Thorgrim's Kuo-toa herb wears off, and he falls into a down, somewhat irritable state. "The Kuo-Toa herb has worn off!" shouts Thorgrim. "We've wasted the entire morning!"

    He glances around anxiously, then quickly packs his pipe with more of the Kuo-Toa drug and smokes it. "Ah...I feel better already," he says.

    Once the girls are done questioning the guards, Thorgrim will have a side-conference where he proposes summoning an Earth Elemental to clear the southern tunnels and to bash in the main doors of the Bridge Complex for a full frontal assault. Or we could clear the tunnels and the side-room first. "An Earth Elemental would still make a grand entrance," he says. "It doesn't even have to bash the doors in, since they aren't barred and we will likely be using the Bridge Complex for a campsite, once we take it."

    The guards reveal that the single door leads to the Bridge Complex. Beyond are guards, including trolls. Through the double-doors lies Eeridik's Hall, but none are allowed in there. The door is magically barred. They sketch out the area, pointing our Eeridek's chamber [area 139], and Tac's chamber, [area 140]. The upper rooms are more guards, human and troll.

    "My friend," asks Hepla. "tell me more about Eeridik and Tac, please. Also what was that thing that attacked us?"

    They really don't know about the beast; it was a creature summoned from some other plane. It was given to Eeridik by the leaders of the Fane. Because it was so violent, it was sent here, away from everyone else but where it could be a useful guard. Eeridik is a wererat sorcerer. He is very powerful, a favorite of the Fane, thus the powerful minion he was given. Telek Sehn, whom they just call Tac, is a strange, bald man from the south. He is nearly an albino. He is always with Eeridik, though he never speaks. He is a mystery.

    Noot and Filbin check out the two passages to the north, where the beast was. They lead to a series of caves, though there really doesn't seem to be anything valuable there. They come back after the party has finished healing.

    Isilme turns to the two men she charmed. "Good friends, the time has come to leave this place and reflect on your choices. There is nothing left for you here but woe and despair. You should start traveling immediately and return to where you were born, and along the way, help all those you see in need. You need to take this time to your homecoming for considering another path."

    Hepla says the same, and the guards follow their advice and leave. The party then agrees that they should rest, though this doesn't sit well with Thorgrim, hopped up on the kuo-toa herb.

    "We are NOT waiting until evening," says Thorgrim. "Not with the party at full strength, and both Taki and Gotrek Enlarged. As for myself, I am feeling incensed! We shall kick in their front door, and take them by surprise, with an earth elemental leading the vanguard." He takes out his Stone of Earth Elemental Control.

    "I don't think there is a need to blow this door off the hinges," says Isilme. "Not if we can just cast knock and open it."

    "Let us crush these miscreants," says Emyn.

    "Aye," says Taki, enjoying his enlarged form. Gotrek just nods, dripping head to toe in blood and gore and grinning.

    "I think the dwarves want to take this battle to the leaders," says Isilme. "So lets do it. We are already pumped up on magic." The party then prepares to go through the double doors.....
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    Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:01 pm  
    Part 14 - (Breaking the circle)

    Isilme changes form to a pudding [she still has a Polymorph Self running, and has seen a pudding.] goes through the doors, then reforms into "herself?" on the other side. Wooden tables and benches lie tumbled in the corners of this large room, the floor obviously cleared to make room for the huge magic circle, traced in glowing red lines and surrounded by sparkling green and silver runes. The circle touches the east and west walls, and reaches to about 10' from the north door or the south stairs. [remember, the map is in essence upside down, with North being the bottom side. The stairs aren't actually marked on it, and I think that's a printing error.]

    Tapestries that once hung on the walls have since been torn down and lie in heaps, but three remain in their rightful places, depicting an army of hobgoblins charging a dwarven shield wall along a ridge. A burning city can be seen in the background, as well as a dragon flying overhead.

    She then returns to share her findings, then she turns into a pudding again and flows under the left door to check out the other room. [room 144] Turning back into herself, she notes that three tables, a number of chairs and stools, and a pair of couches fill much of this room. One of the tables has playing cards and dice on it, while another has a small keg and at least a dozen mugs. The walls have small niches 3' above the floor and just large enough to place small idols (twelve total). The idols all have elemental themes, three each for each element. The southeast corner has a small fireplace for cooking, its chimney rising up into the stone. Next to it is a short, rough wooden cabinet with a chopping block on top of it. On the other side of the fireplace is a tall cabinet. The room is dirty, and the furniture is ill-treated and stained. There is one door on the left-hand wall, and opposite is a hallway going to the right, leading to another chamber.

    Sleeping on some mats in the far corner of the room is a large troll. She successfully charms the sleeping troll with a sweet lullaby. She then wakes the troll, telling it be quiet and listen.

    "First, I have a group of friends outside the door (she describes the one she slid under) who are not to be harmed. Understood? Tell me what you know of the wererat and the albino. Where are their quarters?"

    The troll doesn't know much, except that the wererat is in charge. He doesn't know what an albino is, "all people looks same," it says. He's happy to remain there, yawning and lying back down.

    "Good," says Isilme. "Now, Stay here quietly, while I go get my friends."

    She then opens the door and lets the party inside. The troll has already gone back to sleep, so the party keeps a wary eye on it while Isilme moves through to the next room [area 146]. This room is sumptuously furnished and decorated. Velvet-lined overstuffed chairs and pillow-covered couches sit atop cranberry-colored, gold-embroidered rugs. The walls are covered in black and white draperies with golden hems except for a spot in the east wall that has a fireplace. An ebony table near the northwest corner is covered in a silver service. A wooden cabinet sits on the floor next tot he table. There is another door leading from this room.

    She continues on, going to the next room [area 147], changing form to go check that room out. There she finds a sleeping trogolodyte. Meanwhile, the party hears a growl from down the right-hand corridor. Berenn quickly recognizes it as a bear's growl. He moves down the corridor, reaching another chamber. This chamber is empty except for some brownish red splatters on the walls and floor. A chain extends out of a small hole in the east wall, attached to a thick collar around the neck of a towering cave bear. It looks up at Berenn and lets out a large hostile growl. Its claws and teeth seem even larger than they should be, and its bulk is massive and apparently all muscle. It leaps to its feet and charges, snapping back at the last second as the chain pulls tight! Berenn backs away as it swipes at him with massive paws.

    Berenn makes everyone go back, then turns to the bear, attempting to placate it. "This could take a while," he says. "Go back, and don't return unless I call." After that, he watches for a few minutes, realizing the animal has been severely mistreated and starved, and is quite mean. "This calls for something more," he mutters, as he begins a prayer. Casting Charm Mammal, he successfully charms the bear. He then follows that up with a Speak with Animals. He learns in vivid detail, which I'll skip, how they captured it months ago, torturing it and using it as a guard. It allows Berenn to come closer, and he lays his hands on the bear, casting Animal Healing to repair any damage they have done. It's still mad (not rabid!) but at least it is now physically healthy.

    While Berenn is working with the bear, the rest of the party is hanging out in the center of the barracks room with the troll, keeping their distance from the charmed creature with Isilme gone. Meanwhile, Isilme is in the second guest room, 147, where she has found a trogolodyte priest, obviously of the destroyed Earth Temple by the symbols on its robes. It is sleeping on the floor, not using the room's bed. Isilme puts the evil priest to sleep permanently, then returns to the party. There she finds the party keeping their distance from the troll. Gotrek eyes it with bloodlust, while it seems Thorgrim lusts for blood in a different fashion. Meanwhile, Berenn has done what he can for the bear, healing it and freeing it from its chains.

    Berenn asks the bear to wait him to return to this room. He will create food and water it (whatever a bear would find appealing) and upon his return Berenn will ensure his return to the wild. Being charmed, it will wait here. You can find food for it in the next room, which has a storage area containing lots of good stuff!

    Isilme also finds a secret door into area 145. The door slides open to the right, revealing a chamber about 20' or so (see map). A dragon made of stone, about the size of a horse, stands with wings unfurled in this room, facing the door. One claw is raised menacingly, and its mouth is slightly open. The craftmanship is very good and clearly dwarven in nature. The walls are bare stone but have been carved in such a way that they look like rows of scalloped columns about 4' apart. The floor is smooth, but covered in dust. Clearly, nobody has been here in a very long time.

    Isilme casts Detect Magic within the room, but finds nothing. She investigates the Dragon statue carefully to see if it has any hidden words, but finds nothing. "Throgrim, Gotrek, is this indeed Dwarvish work, and if so what reason would they have to place it in a hidden room? any ideas?"

    Thorgrim inspects the statue carefully, looking for any sort of lever or trigger or button, pushing, prodding, attempting to move the arms and ears and whatnot. Thorgrim quickly finds that the outstretched claw can be pushed up or down. Thorgrim moves it up. The secret door closes and the seiling slides into the rear wall with a heavy stone grating sound. Isilme, Filbin, Thorgrim, and Taki are in the room. The floor then beings moving upwards, and looking up you see a shaft disappearing into the darkness above. There's no light in the room, now that the door has closed, but you can see with infravision. Isilme can see the shaft is about 100' high.

    Isilme flies up the empty shaft, and at the top she sees that there is a secret door on the rear wall. She cannot open it. The floor below is still rising, and she can make out that it will rise to this level. [It's an elevator!] When it reaches the top, the rear wall slides open to reveal an unlit 20' square room. The walls are ornately carved with images of dwarves battling orcs, goblins, even a dragon. There is a table on in the center of the room, upon which is a wooden keg and a small wooden box. There are weapon racks along one wall, with 10 masterwork dwarven waraxes, 10 warhammers, 10 picks, 10 dwarven helms, and 10 small shields with the emblem of a dwarven clan (unfamiliar to anyone here). There are also two racks of armor, with a suit of dwarven-sized plate mail on each. There are 10 rolled up sleeping mats, mostly rotted away. Bronze oil lamps hang from the four corners. With her Detect Magic she notes that the Keg and the Box are both magical.

    "A magic keg!" says Gotrek looking at it longingly. "My preeecciiooouuuss!"

    "So, what do you think happened, here?," asks Thorgrim aloud. "Last stand of the Dwarven defenders of these catacombs? This place is highly defensible. We might want to think before bringing it down in flames. Perhaps it would make a nice home for Gotrek, once we've cleared it? Yes, I can see it now...Gotrek residing here, myself on the throne of Dorob Kilthduum, laying waste to evil humanoids everywhere! Perhaps this would make a good staging ground for an invasion of my birthplace, if'n we could find enough dwarves to follow us..."

    Thorgrim thinks for a minute. "I think this place might be a bolt-hole, based on what I see. A place of refuge from danger...there may be an escape route here, as well, if we search for it," he says. "Haha we may need it, as we've lost the element of surprise, methinks. The magical keg and box likely provided sustenance for the refugees, a la Myrlynd's Spoon. Here, let's see..."

    He opens the box, and finds six large biscuits inside. He takes a bite. "Fresh and delicious!"

    [DM OOC: You have found an Everful Keg which makes up to 10 gallons of water per day as well as a Box of Endless Biscuits. The box will make 6 fresh biscuits each time it is opened, up to 10 times/day. They are dwarven in manufacture, so Gotrek and Thorgrim can freely use them.]

    The party also finds a secret panel which opens to a small tunnel, only about 3x5' high. It leads out to a secluded part of the mountainside. Nearly invisible steps, cleverly designed to mesh into the side of the cliffs, lead down to the ground. The are only visible from the steps, not from below or above.

    Thorgrim takes the magic items and puts them into his Portable Hole, along with the masterwork waraxes. "I hope we don't get too much more treasure," says Thorgrim. "The Portable Hole is filling, rapidly.

    With the rest of the party still below, Thorgrim pushes the claw down. This lowers the elevator back to their level. When the elevator reaches the ground floor, the secret door opens again while the ceiling closes back up. Hepla was just about to cast wraithform when she heard the faint rumble, and she breathes a sigh of relief to see her friends again.

    "This secret room may end up being our escape from the horrors that lie beyond," says Thorgrim. "Or our tomb. The element of surprise has been lost with all this racket. It is time to summon a different element...earth. I can still employ the Stone of Silence stratagem to mask its footstomps and throw towards enemy spellcasters...if there's any chance we haven't been found out. I think we shall find those bedchambers abandoned."

    Hepla agrees that it sounds like a great fall back position. "I wonder if there are more," she muses.

    "Plenty," says Thorgrim. "It might take us years to find them all, and even then some may be left undiscovered."

    The party then decides to move on. Noot listens at the next door [to 142], but hears nothing. The door is not locked, and he opens it carefully. Inside the room is full of supplies and other sundry items. Flickering torchlight comes from the hallway leading to 138. He and Filbin scout together, and they find the intersection empty. The don't see anyone in the area, but they faintly hear sounds of men talking from down around the corner [area 134].

    Filbin hears the guards talking. He finds that they are wondering when Eeridek will return. One, says something about him often leaving on the full moon.

    "I hate Midsummer's Day," says one guard.

    "Damn lycans," says another.

    "Just be glad he hasn't turned us!" replies another.

    Isilme, still invisible, goes around the corner. There she sees what's in the room. This large chamber has light gray plaster covering the walls, peeling and chipped in places. A fresco on the southwest wall shows hooded figures with torches riding galloping horses. Another on the northeast wall depicts a grisly scene of human sacrifice, and creatures--possibly bugbears--dancing around a fire. In the western portion of hte room, two heavy wooden gates, bound in iron, stand closed and barred. There is another corridor running south, ending at a single door. Eight human warriors, armed with heavy crossbows and banded mail, stand guard near the gates, though they seem rather bored. Half have their crossbows leaning against the wall and are talking, passing around a wineskin. None look very concerned about anything.

    As she is returning from checking out the room, she hears a further sound coming from the hallway [towards room 135]. She moves down to investigate. This room is dank and fetid, with three straw mats near the west wall. The rest of the room is filled with broken, ganwed bones. The plaster has been scratched off the walls by three trolls. One is sleeping, while two are eating something. As she watches, one hits the other with a leg of some beast, and they grunt and fight before going back to eating. This area is all lit by wall sconces, so she can also see the symbols tattooed on the troll's bodies. They are similar to those on the beast they encountered previously, but cruder somehow.

    Meanwhile, Noot checks out the other hallway and finds nobody there. There's no sound from either room. Thorgrim uses a Silence spell on one of his stones, and waits outside the doors while Noot picks the lock. He then opens the door to Eeridek's chamber [area 139]. Resembling a nest more than a bedchamber, the creature that lives in this room obviously thrives on refuse and garbage. Rotting food, scraps of cloth and wood, and bits of jagged metal cover the floor. Something has created a mound, not unlike a burrow, in the center of this junk. The room seems empty.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek and Taki, still enlarged, charge down the hallway. Taki veers off to the right, towards the human guards, while Gotrek heads for the Trolls. The men find themselves completely surprised, and the crossbowmen do not have time to fire before Taki is upon them, cutting one down with a sweep of his sword. Gotrek starts to sing and turns the corner into the troll's room, ready to hack them to pieces with Goreblade. ilbin, who was watching from the corner, fires a shot from his bow, taking one of the crossbowmen in the chest and dropping him too. Everyone else is heading to the wererat den.

    Taki cuts down another warrior, while Filbin hits another crossbowman. The remaining two crossbowmen drop their weapons and ask quarter, as the other two raise their hands and surrender as well. Meanwhile, Gotrek cuts one of the trolls nearly in half win one swipe. The trolls get up, as the third wakes up groggily, looking around. The two attack Gotrek, hitting him with a couple of claws [8] and [8]. He then attacks the troll again, killing it. Two left.

    Berenn moves down the hall to assist Gotrek, Bonefire springing to life in his hands. Gotrek hits another troll [25] and the trolls both attack. He takes two more claw hits [7] [7] and a bite [11]. He then cuts down the second troll with his second strike.

    Meanwhile, Taki forces the remaining guards to the ground, and Filbin moves up to secure their weapons. They are thoroughly cowed.

    Gotrek hits the third troll [21] and is bit again [8]. Berenn enters the room just as the first troll is beginning to rise. He hits it with Bonefire, and finishes off the troll quite easily. Gotrek then hits the troll again [18]. Gotrek stops singing, throwing an almost bored look at Berenn, who moves over to the second troll corpse and hacks at it with Bonefire, setting it ablaze as well. The last troll tries to run from the two, but Gotrek cuts it down with another stroke. He hacks at it a couple times, waiting for Berenn to come finish it off. As it burns, he lops off a couple of parts. "For Thorgrim," he says.

    Back in Eeridek 's room:

    Hepla still has a Detec Magic working, but she doesn't detect anything. Everyone's in the radius of Thorgrim's silence right now. Hepla takes a pinch of lycanthrop repulsion powder and sprinkles it in the enterance of the borrow. There is no reaction, and she reasons that the wererat is not here. Thorgrim cancels his silence.

    "It is Midsummer Night tonight," says Hepla, "Perhaps that explains the wererat sorcerer's absence?"

    In any event, Noot goes into the room and finds no evidence of anyone there. He searches around, and finds nothing of value. There is the strange rat-burrow to investigate, but it's clear that Eeridek is not here. Noot investigates the mound, and there finds a small wooden box bound in bronze and locked with a padlock. He checks it for traps, finding a needle trap, and disarms it. Then he takes the box out. Picking the lock, he opens it. Inside is a necklace of gold and rubies, a potion, and another of the lesser keys, this one of earth. There is also a book. Only the lesser key is magical, as the others were.

    Hepla takes the book; it is written is some strange script she doesn't recognize. It doesn't seem to be a spellbook. Peeking at it, Elrae realizes that it is actually common tongue, but with strange scrawls and horrible handwriting. It will take some time to figure out what it says, but it has something to do with summoning demons.

    Noot also finds a secret peephole near the ceiling, since he walked on it he noticed it. It spies into the next room. There he sees a bald man sitting cross-legged in contemplation, wearing robes very similar to those worn by The party's friend, Brother Milerjoi.

    About this time, Taki comes back and finds the party outside the two rooms, one already opened. Thorgrim stands in the doorway with his silence stone out, so that the hallway and the room are in silence, while the party is just outside the area talking. Noot comes out, having scoured the room for anything decent, and reveals what he saw through the peephole. Meanwhile, berenn and Gotrek move over to where Filbin and the human guard prisoners are located. They find the doors to the bridge bolted shut, though there is an opening with a small grate for looking out. Berenn slids it open and looks outside, just to judge the time (maybe about 2pm).

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole so the new items can be placed inside. "LET'S PROCEED," he says. He seems crankier than usual ever since he ingested the weird Kuo-Toa herb.

    Taki, large and in charge, kicks the door in. It slams open silently, and he seems a bit disappointed at the lack of noise. The monk looks up, sees the nearly 10' tall man enter, and with incredible grace leaps straight to his feet. He doesn't look familiar, but when he leaps to his feet, the swift and sure movements do seem familiar.

    The monk does a swirling kick which takes Taki square in the face [10]. With a silent growl Taki swings at the monk who ducks under the blow, grabs ahold of Taki's blade, and somehow wrenches it from his grasp.

    Nobody else can get to the monk, as Taki takes up all the room in the doorway. Noot, however, takes out his bands and goes up to the ceiling where he crawls upside-down above Taki's head and into the room. Gotrek, FIlbin, and Berenn are not here yet.

    Taki goes after the monk, who grabs his hands, rolls back, and tosses Taki back against the far wall [14]. He slams into a table which shatters under him and he collapses in a heap, shaking his head. Noot throws his bands at the monk from the ceiling, but the monk slips to the side, and they roll harmlessly into the corner. Thorgrim moves to back up Taki.

    Hepla casts Polymorph and changes into Brother Milerjoi. The monk then tumbles out, passed Thorgrim, and comes up next to Hepla, ready to punch when he sees "Brother Milerjoi." He hesitates, taking no action.

    Hepla/brother says," brother, why are you fighting? You had something to say, say it."

    Taki gets up, retrieves his sword, but is blocked from advancing by Thorgrim and Hepla. Hepla's now in the doorway, so Thorgrim can't advance either. Noot goes and retrieves his bands. So, Noot, Taki, and Thorgrim are in the room. Hepla's in the doorway. The monk's in the hall now, and Elrae is actually next to him too. Isilme is behind the monk, invisible.

    He keeps an eye on Elrae as he replies, "Brother, what is this?"

    "We have come to find out why the heavens shake and the masters no longer can find peace," says Hepla/Brother Milerjoi. "Here you are, near the center of conflict and chaos. I must ask you, are you at peace? These others are affected by the chaos."

    "I have followed your orders," he says, "following these fools and gathering information. How have I failed you?"

    "You have been following orders, but I never told you to attack my friends. I will be going back to report but please aid these as you would me. As you know there are a few more to this party including that witch that got that young monk in trouble. They will join you soon. Be at peace my brother." She Walks away. Out of sight she returns to Hepla, waits a few minutes and comes back.

    He looks confused, then, before Hepla can leave he flies into action. He kicks out, hitting Hepla in the face but the Stoneskin absorbs the blow. He then tumbles back to the other side of Elrae. "You are NOT Brother Milerjoi," he says calmly.

    Taki is about to charge again, when Thorgrim steps up. "Halt!" shouts Thorgrim. "He is our friend, and we are united in the cause against Evil!"

    Emyn calls upon Trithereon, summoning a snail with 6 flail-like appendages to attack the monk.

    The monk tumbles again, this time flipping over the snail, somersaulting over its shell, and landing next to the startled Emyn. Before he can react, the monk's hands shoot out, fingers hitting Emyn in various pressure points. He stands there, numb and unable to move.

    Hepla backs up, allowing the warriors to leave the room. Thorgrim comes out, followed by Taki, but none can get around the huge snail in the hallway.

    The snail turns around, its flails seeking the monk relentlessly.

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Filbin come down the corridor and see what is happening. Berenn shouts for Gotrek, then draws his other sword, ready to attack the monk.

    The monk runs to the north, entering the chamber with the magic circle. He angles towards the side and does a running leap, landing clear of the circle on the far corner. He turns back as Filbin moves up and fires his bow. The monk knocks the arrow away with a backhand.

    Berenn moves up over to Emyn, checking the warrior. He blinks, but can't seem to talk or move, though his eyes look at Berenn confused. Taki pushes his way passed the snail, which flails out at him, interpreting the move as an attack. He takes two hits from the heads [2] and [3]. He ignores the blows and runs after the monk, stopping short of the circle as well. Noot rushes along the ceiling, ending up in the center of the intersection.

    Thorgrim once again rushes forward, trying to stop the others. He shouts, "Everybody, STOP!"

    The monk attempts to open the doors, but Isilme, having moved to the other side of the doors, casts Hold Portal, sealing them fast.

    Thorgrim pushes passed the snail, just like Taki. The snail fails to hit him, but follows after him as if he were an enemy.

    Meanwhile, the snail moves off after Thorgrim, whose movement was interpreted by the beast as an attack in the absence of any commands from Emyn. Gotrek also charges into the room, and seeing the snail move after Thorgrim, he goes right at the snail and hits it with a massive blow from Goreblade which shears right through the shell, killing it with one blow!

    Noot takes off the other way, running along the ceiling and making his way around towards where Isilme is waiting. He reaches the room with the troll, and will continue next round, reaching the other side of the double doors.

    Elrae and Hepla have also moved up beside Emyn, who shakes off the effects of the stunning and may now move again.

    Emyn moves forward, entering the chamber where he calls out, "Surrender now."

    The monk calls back, "You want to surrender to me? In that case I accept!"

    Not catching the remark, Emyn continues, "We helped Brother Miljeroi at Suderham. It seems this has been a misunderstanding and I apoligize for the bloodthirstiness of my colleagues."

    Hepla/brother moves to where she can see and be seen by the monk. She says " I appologise for the deception, but I wanted to get your attention.". She morphs into herself, I am the Mage who got your young novice in trouble, how is he and does he have a name yet? We are indeed friends of Brother Milerjoi, and when I saw your moves I felt you must be from his monastery." She bows low and says,"Please forgive us for our rash actions. As to surrender, I surrender to a friend of a friend, not to an enemy." she says.

    "Then it seems we are at an impasse," he replies. He then turns and hits the doors with a fist. It doesn't open, but you hear the crack of the wood from across the room.

    "Why would you aid this evil?" asks Emyn.

    The monk ignores Emyn and hits the doors again, with an even louder crack. Isilme has now flown around to the other side of the double doors. Noot is there too, standing on the ceiling.

    Isilme asks Noot "What the hell kind of demonic creature you guys cut loose in there."

    Noot shakes his head. "Something worse," he says with a laugh, taking out his bands. "A monk."

    "Prep the bands," says Isilme with a sigh. "I will prepare to drop some furniture on its head."

    She orders the Troll to "grab the first thing that tries to break through that door - hold and squeeze it."

    Emyn charges into the circle, along with Berenn. As they hit the circle, a swirling vapor begins to appear in the center, maybe 30' away from them at first. You almost immediately can smell the noxious nature. Meanwhile, Noot throws a Wall of Force across the doors. The monk hammers them again, and the sound is different. There's no crack, and the doors don't budge. He flexes his hand, which was seemingly hurt by the blow against the now unyielding door. He too then smells the fumes and turns around, his back to the door. In his eyes you see something new, fear.

    Berenn stops, mouthing a curse. He backs out of the circle, saying a quick and fervent prayer to St. Cuthbert. [Protection from Evil 10' radius]. "Get behind me," he says.

    They start to see a shape appear in the swirling clouds, catching glimpses of something oozing into being. A huge tentacle stretches out, almost hitting Emyn who backs off at the last moment and retreats back out of the circle. They see more tentacles writhing around as the thing takes more form. The monk turns back and pounds on the door over and over with abandon, newfound strength and sheer terror feeding his blows. As he blasts a hole through the door, he finds a solid, invisible wall beyond it. He turns back just in time to see the creature fully materialize.

    Describing the thing is near impossible. It's a mass of ooze, tentacles, eyes, mouths, with shapes coming into existence and seemingly disappearing just as quickly. Human minds simply cannot comprehend it, and you feel a very real sense of pure terror. Filbin, Elrae, and Taki stand rooted in place, fear coursing through them. The rest shrug off the effects, though they feel the utter horribleness of what they are witnessing.

    "Get out everyone, while you can!" shouts Hepla. Isilme, looking through the hole in the doors created by the monk, can hardly find words for what she sees.

    The thing seems almost attracted to the noise and fear of the monk, and flows, for the lack a better term, towards the man. He attempts to run for it, dashing around the side of the room, but a suckered pseudopod with covered with eyes and mouths slaps out and grabs him. With a scream of primal horror, he hammers at it with his fists. The thing seems to simply bulge in and out under the ineffectual blows as it pulls the monk towards its center, engulfing him in a mass of gnashing mouths and amorphous chaos.

    Berenn has no clue what this foul thing from the Nether Regions may be, only the sense of pure and utter chaos and evil. The thing "turns" though that's really a misnomer as it has no front or rear. However, it starts to move towards the rest of the party. Thorgrim casts Remove Fear, and frees the others from the effects of the otherworldly horror. Taki also shrinks back down to normal size.

    Meanwhile, everyone moves behind Berenn, who stands in the center of the hallway, blocking the thing's path. It reaches the extent of the protection, and its writhing tentacles recoil from it instantly. Berenn sighs with relief as the thing seems to ooze around to either side, probing for a way through the invisibile field. It seems it cannot get passed or through.

    Thorgrim casts Abjure, and he can feel the intense and primordial nature of the creature. It's alien influence assaults his mind and he is thrown back to floor, dizzy and shaken. The spell has no effect. The party also cannot see the monk, and his screams have long since disappeared. It's as if he has been completely devoured, or worse.

    The thing is now roughly about 25' across, though that is a very rough estimate, as its shape and size are constantly changing as it moves, oozing back and forth with tentacles, mouths, eyes, teeth, etc. all apeparing and seemingly disappearing. It gives off an incredible stench, unlike anything you've ever experienced.

    Gotrek also shrinks back down to normal size again, just to make matters worse!

    Noot shows up a few minutes later. "I have a message from Isilme," he says quickly. You can tell he under the effects of a Haste spell. "Isilme said I must warn you that you are in grave danger and must retreat. She has heard whispers of such things in the under-dark, and its power beyond us. You need to trap it in a wall of force and RUN. She is holding the secret door open to the dwarven elevator." He looks to Hepla, "You must haste everyone, and we must flee, now!"

    Elrae say, "I can do it. Hepla should save her power for more Walls." He then casts Haste on the whole party.

    Thorgrim shouts, "RETREAT! To the BOLT-HOLE!" He grabs Berenn by the shoulder. "You take up the rear!" He then leads the party back through area 138 and around back through the rooms toward the elevator.

    If Hepla hasn't already cast Wall of Force, Thorgrim will halt at the intersection of areas 138 and 142, waving the party through and grabbing Hepla as she passes. "Wall of Force...here!...after everyone's through!"

    The wall of force effectively seals the tunnels behind them, and they retreat in good order to the bolt-hole. Everyone gets into the secret room, and they move the lever to raise it to the top. In the upper level, they seem pretty safe.

    Thorgrim breathes a sigh of relief, as if he's been holding his breath for ten minutes. He downs the last of his brandy. "That was a close one!" he says.

    He opens his Portable Hole, gets out the items we found in this place, as well as his blanket and his half-full keg of Gutshaker. "Dinner is served."

    He takes off his armor, says a brief prayer to Clanggedin, and prepares for sleep. "I am tired. I will speak with YOU TWO in the morning," he says, turning a baleful eye to Taki and Emyn. "Scouts should find us a way out of this place, besides the way we came. BEFORE sleep. I will take last watch. Taki, you, the first. I do not wish my rest disturbed unless we are being attacked."

    With that, he fades out, mug of Gutshaker still in hand, snoring loudly.

    Isilme hesitates for a moment before joining the party in the secret room, saying she has a plan......but when she sees Hepla refuses to leave without her, she gives up and joins the group. When she closes the secret door behind the party Isilme casts "NON-DETECTION" on the door.....she figures it is worth a shot. You hear her mumble something about "leading the demon on a wild goose chase and wrecking the whole damn temple" and "what a "fitting end for evil" it would be.

    Isilme smiles and points to the large green monster lumbering along with the party and says "Look on the bright side....we have our good friend the TROLL!"

    "You should Charm Emyn and Taki into following orders, or polymorph them into creatures that listen to reason," says Thorgrim. He grunts and rolls over.

    While the party does some quick healing, Isilme says to emyn " I am disappointed in you Paladin, it seems you ran off and left dear Hepla defenseless....and because of this she was struck in the face by a monk. Perhaps you should take your guardianship of her more seriously."

    "I have failed to protect you, Hepla," says Emyn, looking glum. "I stand ashamed and submit myself for punishment."

    "You have done a good job of protecting us," says Hepla, "but you do need to listen when someone talks." She puts her hand on his cheek, " You need to listen when I talk." She gives him a pat on the cheek that almost is a light slap, but not quite.

    Without any other thought to going out, the party decides to rest in the bolt-hole and then see what happens. They keep solid watch, but otherwise pass a few hours of somewhat restless sleep, always wondering what is happening below.
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    Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:04 pm  
    Part 15 - Hell hath no fury like a demon loosed

    The party awakens in the morning to the smell of food, the smell of Thorgrim's pipe, and the sound of Thorgrim muttering something: "Un-CARING...un-THINKING...un-REASONING..." He has cast Create Food and Drink, so the party can start the day off with a healthy breakfast. He sits on the floor next to the dragon statue, smoking his Old Toby. He is armored once again, and his pick rests against the statue.

    "Ah! Good! You're all up!" he says. "Taki, Emyn, a word if you please?"

    Thorgrim takes Emyn and Taki aside, as well as he can in such cramped quarters, and says, "I've been meaning to speak with you, both." He empties the ashes from his pipe, and loads another bowl. He lights it, takes a draw, and sits for a long while, thinking, before speaking. "Consider the following, if you will:"

    "Let us say, for the sake of example, that we were traveling through a forest infested with Creatures of Evil. We, as a party, have polymorphed ourselves into bugbears or somesuch subterfuge, in order to pass unmolested and be about our mission. We run into a party of goodly Paladin-types, obvious from their demeanor, their talk, and the holy symbols they sport. The Paladins spot and attack us. How should we, as Agents of Good, respond?"

    "You have both proven, by your actions, that you would undoubtedly attack. Tell me, why is that? The only answer you can provide is, 'They attacked us, first.' Let me be the one to tell you that that is NOT an excuse for murder! You have to use your"--he pokes Emyn viciously in the forehead, twice, for emphasis--"BRAINS to think of a better solution! Speak to them, use magic to render them harmless, withdraw...the solutions are endless!"

    Thorgrim, who had been turning red in his anger, takes a deep breath, and calms himself. He takes another puff from his pipe, and then begins to speak once more:

    "Allow me to provide another example, to help elucidate my point."

    "Say that we were traveling through the same forest, without disguise. We run across a lone orc, who immediately attacks us. As we move to slay it, Hepla shouts, 'STOP! That's my MOTHER! She's been Charmed and Polymorphed by an evil wizard!' Would you then continue to press the attack and slay the orc? You have both proven, repeatedly, that indeed you would. What defense would you provide for your actions? The same? Again, no thinking creature would be convinced by that argument."

    "Now, when a party member shouts for ME to stop what I'm doing, my first reaction would be to STOP. It's really quite simple. I would NOT drive my pickaxe into Hepla's mother's face, to dash her brains across the forest floor, and then excuse my actions with, 'She attacked me, first.' Emyn, do you think Hepla would accept such an excuse? No, she would not. What of Tritheron? Does He condone this sort of behavior? I can't imagine. Your god allowed your soul to return from the Abode of the DEAD to continue serving his purposes here on Oerth. A complete waste!" Thorgrim spits on the ground in disgust. "He must see something in you that I do not."

    "What, pray tell, would those purposes be? To destroy evil wherever you find it? Or anything that might be evil? I could see you twisting the mandates of your order to destroy every city where evil dwells. And, let me tell you, that is EVERY city. I can guess that you would slay every man, woman, and child in every one of those towns in order to stamp out Evil, insisting that 'it's the only way to be certain.' But it is NOT the only way to be certain. And in the process, YOU have become the Evil that must be destroyed!"

    Thorgrim sighs. "Taki, I do not know what more I can say to you, that I haven't said to Emyn. You have been with the party much longer, and your impetuousness and impulsiveness have nearly killed us all on multiple occasions. Tell me, friend, what is to be done about it? Why on Oerth would you not listen to me?"

    "First dwarf," says Taki, "you are not the party leader and you do not order me about. Second the last time we fought a monk he almost did the whole party in. I for one attack who I deem needs it and attack when I think it is in the best interest of the party. Beyond that I neither am obliged to give my reasons nor am I made to. I am not your dog to stay when ordered or to attack when told to do so. Heed your words to me in the future least you find yourself on my bad side." With that said Taki walks away and looks for a place to sit down away from the rest of the party.

    Berenn wakes and calls the party together. "I realize this party is full of different opinions and ways of doing things, but we need to learn to work together or we will die alone. Isilme learned what happens when you play the hero, you end up trapped in another dimension. We have lost party members in the past because they either acted foolishly or in their own interest. I have no problem with self expression within this party, until it undangers the group. I think yesterday was a fine example of what not to do. Aggression is good, but it needs to be mixed with wisdom."

    "I agree," says Emyn. "But I refuse to be preached to like a child by the priest of a heathen god. For all his piety, that cleric has little wisdom."

    Hepla goes to Taki and gives him a hug. She then goes to Thorgrim, "I know I should be more straight forward but too often we need to bluff our way past something until we can figure out what it is. I will try to be better in the future."

    Hepla had spoken to Thorgrim in Dwarf. She now says, in common,"We have all made mistakes, we all can help each other. It is good to talk for the sake of friendship and improvement not for the sake of hurt. We work together well let us learn and move on. There is a major demon we need to put back."

    "I for one have little remorse for the monk," says Elrae. "I still have trouble dealing with the shifting faces of Hung Lo or Brother Milerjoi or whatever his real name is. My trust has never been fully restored. Still we were lucky to contain that other world abomination."

    [Berenn OOC: And the bear was brought with us and let loose outside. A shrink spell from Hepla could do it, but I wouldn't have left it to die.]

    The party is still basically resting at the top of the bolt-hole. Isilme goes outside while they rest and returns to the entrance. There she finds the people and warns them to flee.

    [Thorgrim OOC: THIS is the response I get? Denials and threats? "You don't tell me what to do!" and "You'll be sorry!" Actually, I predicted as much, given their characters, and given my experience with incorrigible teenagers. And I'm actually surprised at their degree of self-control. Would've been nice to see that same level of self-control exercised before they both killed an Agent of Good. Parties are a bit Lawful by nature, as is any social structure. How do Chaotic characters fit in? How do they work in any party?
    So the situation has not been resolved and the question, "What is to be done about this?" has not been answered, unless the answer is "Nothing." And if the answer is nothing, then we are at an impasse. Also, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past. We have now been in the exact same situation, twice, with the exact same responses, if not the same final results. I predict there will be more Bad Times to come, resulting from the chaotic actions of our characters.]

    In the meantime, Thorgrim will suggest that Taki and Emyn always take point, where they like to be, anyway, and he will stand rear guard. Berenn can be where he likes...Thorgrim suggests the front, where he can be better able to "control his children."

    Taki gets up and walks towards the middle of the party and clears his throat and looks at one and all and says, "Are we not heroes? Did we do all we have done and came as far as we have come to run at the first monster we have never seen before? I for one am ashamed of myself and I am going back alone if I have to and dealing with this thing. My forefathers and my people watch me from above and I am the last of my line and I will not dishonor them even if it brings me my death, come if you wish or stay here if that is what you feel you must do but I am going back and I will kill that thing or die trying."

    Gotrek stands in front of Taki, blocking him from returning to the elevator. "Lad," he says, doing his best to stand taller, "ye know I be always looking fer a good fight, and how many times have ye seen me run? This time," and he looks at Taki with sincere pain, "I was scared." He then points at the others. "And so was them, our friends. Yeah, we don't much like it sometimes, but sometimes, fer them too, we can't just fight. So this time we run. Ain't no shame, well, not much." Taki can see the same look in Gotrek that he feels himself. Gotrek holds up Goreblade, "I swear, before this is done, we shall return and deal with that thing. And if you and I fall in the fighting, then we fall with honor, like heroes. If we run off like this, we fall as fools."

    "I can not argue with your reasoning," says Taki, a bit mollified, "but we need to return very soon, as soon as them that use magic are ready, but I ask for the honor of leading the charge?"

    Gotrek leans Goreblade back on his shoulder. "And I'll be right beside ye," he says grimly.

    Thorgrim says, "It is not the first creature in these dungeons that we have never seen before. Please, friend, do not go. Isilme is eldest and wisest of us all...you should listen to her earlier warning." But he grabs his pick and steps aside, off the elevator, so that Taki may employ his free will.

    "Taki there is no use in going off all half cocked and getting yourself killed," says Berenn. "The evil which has been unleashed will be dealt with. We need time to rest and to think this out. With some luck it may grow bored and return to its own plane."

    Emyn says, "Thorgrim, I apologize. I should not have disparaged your god so or you. I know your intentions were noble...it was just your approach that rubbed me the wrong way. I do not take well to orders at times or to discipline. In fact, I actively fight against the blight of lawfulness that restricts our ability to fight evil. But I too must be treated with respect and I would ask that you afford me as much as I afford you."

    "Very well," says Thorgrim.

    Meanwhile, Hepla has been struggling with Eeridek's book. She can't really understand it, but she picks out some stuff. Part reads like a journal, how Eeridek came about this knowledge. Apparently, Eeridek learned much of this through his work with beings called Doomdreamers. He was able to sneak into their sanctum, and there he found some eldritch tomes related to the summoning of an ancient creature. Ma'leliqugoth, a servant of the Elder Elemental God. MOSTLY the book describes how to create that circle, and how to infuse it with the binding powers necessary to hold the creature. It doesn't say anything about what to do if it gets out!

    Isilme says " well, each one of us clerics can attempt to abjure it once in the name of our respective gods, if we fail it can't be done again for some time. With its true name we can attempt this....but our chances of success are slim as most demons are magic resistant and it's power far outstrips ours. Even the Drow live in terror of such things should they ever break free - their power, evil, and hate far outstrip even the worst of the denizens of the underdark, and the only the most powerful of our clerics and mages would dare confront such a thing. I see no wisdom in fighting such a creature. Simply put, we are not strong enough."

    "It sounds as if we should leave it alone," says Thorgrim. "No creature, elemental, demon, or devil, enjoys being summoned. It would likely return to its home plane at first opportunity, if no possibilities exist for it to wreak vengeance. Do you suppose a Wall of Force can even stop it?" When nobody answers, he adds, "We should rest, and check for its continued presence in the morning. Or after a long nap."

    Isilme uses her magic, to scry the creature, using Magic Mirror and Clairvoyance spells, plus Hepla has a crystal ball. The creature is gone. They do notice that the torches in the hallway are out, some ripped from the walls. It looks like it pretty much just destroyed everything in its path, and it headed in the direction of the Fire Temple.

    "I think these doombringers or whatever they are called will notice a demon wrecking their temples," says Emyn. "Maybe if we are lucky, they will be weakened by its rampage and the demon weakened as well."

    "I say we follow the path of destruction towards the Fire temple," replies Berenn. "Maybe it did some damage before it left."

    Scrying it further, Isilme finds it is in a huge cave that seems about 150 feet across. A large pit filled with flames is centered in the room, so it looks like it's in the Fire Temple. There are men and salamanders around it, fighting and dying. Another female priestess is summoning fire elementals from the firepit, and they are battling the demon, with little, if any, success.

    "Things are looking up a bit," says Berenn. "Now if we just get it to enter the Bane, we could be done with this place."

    "Looks like the demon is doing our job for us," says Isilme.

    Watching, she sees the creature just smother the fire elementals, seeming to simply snuff out their flames like they were candles. The priestess turns to flee, ordering her troops with movements of her arms. They look back at the eldar demon (may as well call it that!), destroying the last of the elementals. The Salamanders move back into the fire pit, away from the demon, and the men take off after the priestess. The demon moves over the fire pit, and seems to suck the energy right out of it. Soon there's nothing left but coals, before it begins to move on. It also seems bigger.

    Isilme involuntarily shudders at what this party has just released upon the world. "It is feeding....and it is growing in power....only the insane or ultra powerful summon such things, as their hate and hunger knows no bounds.... they are difficult to control in the extremis."

    It moves on from that chamber, heading south to an intersection. It pretty much thrashes everything in its path. It meets no resistance until it gets to room 106. Isilme has been here. 107a is where she entered from the cave above the lake.

    "This thing is a lot better as cannon fodder than a small group of men, bugbears, and Kuo-Toa," says Thorgrim.

    The floor of the cave where the demon is has a huge red marble plate, 40' across, in the shape of a diamond, set into its center. This plate is flush with the floor. Floating over the center of this symbol, about 10' off the floor, is a glowing orb, intensely red, swirling with flickering fire. Four obelisks, black with red flecks and streaks, surround the diamond shape along its edges.

    The priestess is here in the room, on the far side. Before her are four more fire elementals along with 6 of the fire mephits. Beside the priestess is a very tall warrior in full plate. He wields a flaming greatsword. The demon barely pauses at it advances, tearing through the mephits like butter. The elementals battle the thing, ripping at it, but it seems their flames do nothing. In the end, it simply smothers them and engulfs them like it does everything else. The priestess uses a strange rod, burning red with the power of the Elemental Plane of Fire, and she places it inside the orb before running. The men run as well as the orb glows brighter and brighter. The demon moves over the orb, engulfing it, when there is a terrible explosion. Everyone hears the explosion and feels the ground rumble beneath their feet. Then the "screen" is all darkness.

    Isilme attempts again to scry the demon, but only sees darkness. Scrying the priestess finds her with the tall warrior. His sword lights up a very small cave. They are sitting down, and look very dirty.

    The priestess looks around, saying something. "She has noticed my scrying," says isilme, who then smiles seeing that the priestess is calling for help.

    "That blast was mighty big," says Filbin. "Maybe we should wait and see if anyone comes to investigate." When everyone looks at him, he shrugs. "Just saying. We are what, 1/2 mile away? If we heard and felt it, only makes sense others did too."

    "That massive explosion could have trapped them," says Isilem. "The explosion could have attracted anyone with scrying ability and they are crying out for help when they sense it".

    "Well," says Berenn, "let's go check this out."

    Noot, Filbin, and Isilme head down the elevator. At the bottom the thieves go check out the Bridge Complex. It's empty, so Filbin takes up a position at the doors to the bridge, opening the small peephole to keep an eye on the bridge itself.

    Isilme goes south. She finds the doors burst from their hinges everywhere, but she finds no sign of anything that the demon may have fought. Before she reaches the Fire Temple, in fact as soon as she gets into caverns proper, she finds everything completely collapsed. It seems the explosion brought about a pretty substantial collapse of the cave/mine areas.

    There are only a couple more rooms north of 134, and after them were caves. They are collapsed. She cannot even reach the first cavern of the Fire Temple map.

    "We will have to use our eyes, and our ears," says Thorgrim. "And our brains. A scouting mission is acceptable, but that's all. I don't think a message to this evil priestess is a good idea. We DO still retain some advantage of surprise. As far as anyone will know, this demon is what has caused all the destruction they see."

    Filbin and Noot spot something rise from the two nearest towers at the other end of the bridge. They fly in this direction, and they see they are some kind of spider-like creatures with wings, about a dozen total. Riders guide them as they fly over the area, then disappear off to the left out of site. They are likely checking out what happened.

    "These are definitely the 'spider-bees' the birds spoke of," says Thorgrim. "Lareth must be in The Fane."

    "F#$@ing faeries took my ebony fly," says Elrae, "but the spider bees would probably have ate it for breakfast. That Fane sounds like it's heavily guarded, a dozen flying creatures defending it from the air, foul creatures of the deep swimming in the lake. How do you think we can get across?"

    After about 5 minutes, about half the flying spider things go back to the towers. Two land on the bridge about 10' from the doors.

    [Just so you are all aware. Filbin is presently the only one at the doors, as Noot went back up the elevator to report. The entire party, sans Isilme, is there. Nobody has had much rest yet, though I gave the spellcasters credit for an hour of light rest. Nobody really slept yet, except Throgrim who got credit for that!]

    Filbin returns to the bolt hole. He then exits to the outside, then climbs the mountainside to get a better look from above. He will use his scouting ability along with ountaineering to be hidden and safe. "I'll report back as soon as I see what's going on."

    Isilme returns to the party, and reports that she flew over to cave entrance she used earlier and barely had room to enter, but the Fire Temple collapsed under the rubble completely.
    She also says some mounted Flying Spider bee troops were checking the cave area, about a dozen of them. A couple had flown down and landed on the bridge and were banging on the tower doors below. Two more had flown off towards the towers from which they came (the two at the Fane, flanking that end of the bridge). Ignoring them, she returned to the party via the elevator.

    Hepla scries the priestess with a Magic Mirror spell. She finds the warrior, and this time everyone recognizes the warrior with his helmet off. It is Zert, the warrior in Hommlet who was killed by the Assassin Gremag at the Trader's Post. He is sitting on the ground next to the priestess, who you see is dead, a large bloody stain around her belly.

    "Holy Moley!" shouts Thorgrim. "Now, what do you suppose Zert is doing here?"

    Filbin returns about two hours later. He was able to pick his way carefully to the top of the ridge. From there he could see that it wasn't just a small collapse. A large section of the mountain seems to have just blown up, with the rest collapsing down atop itself. The ridge fell nearly 100', along a line almost a quarter mile long. There are spider-bee riders flying about, some have landed atop the ridge, and some were at the bridge. They then flew back to the Fane. He saw activity on the southwestern bridge as well, clear across the lake. Some spider-bees flew over there as well, evidently conversing with the holders of that bridge. Two also flew to the North Bridge, the one you cleared already and where you fought the duergar and the demon, disappearing inside. Shortly thereafter, they returned, mounted their flying insect steeds, and flew with all haste back to the Fane.

    Further, from the top of the ridge he could see The Fane. There are cliff walls all around it, except for a landing on the SE side of the island where there is a large closed door. There are a total of 8 of the towers surrounding the Fane, built right out of the nearly vertical cliff faces. However, the cliffs are only about 200' thick, in essence forming a natural stone wall. Beyond them is a large courtyard in the center of which is a large black tower, over 100' high and nearly as high as the cliffs themselves.

    "Good report, Filbin," says Noot. "Have a biscuit."

    Since nobody is too anxious to act, the party rests a few more hours, the mages getting all their spells back. The mages wake up; the priests simply sat in quiet prayer most the time. When you get up, the warriors are all ready to go. Filbin has been outside again, this time thanks to an invisibility spell cast by Isilme right before she went to sleep.

    He reports that the moons are both up, or nearly so, and are full. He hears some howling in the distance, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. The flying spider-bees continue to patrol in small groups, while forces from The Fane have marched out across all three bridges. He couldn't see clearly enough, but it looks like maybe 100 men total, along with dozens of ogres, trolls, and even one very large ugly thing that seemed to cause darkness all around it. At least that's kind of how he saw it. Whatever it was, everything stayed away from it. So, it looks like the leaders of The Fane have sent out quite a bit of their forces to investigate what has happened. Exactly what they know is uncertain; however, they are investigating in force.

    Isilme scries Zert, and finds him sitting down, asleep. She then scries a bunch of other places, to keep an eye on what the forces of The Fane are doing. The enemy forces are in constant motion, investigating the cause of the recent disruptions.

    "I want to Dimension Door to Zert," says Isilme, "and find out what he knows."

    "If you think that'll work," says Thorgrim. "We need to move...NOW! We either need to clear the Fire and Air Temples and move on to The Fane in swift order, or, maybe even better, bypass them entirely and enter The Fane immediately. Cuz the jig is up. And it's doubtful we'll find more good hiding spots like this to hole up. It's possible we could come back here after one more excursion, but the place will likely be swarming with troops. And they are already on their guard."

    Isilme decides to go rescue Zert, while Hepla keeps scrying. The wizard and demon leave the summoning circle room moving towards the bridge. Following them, you find 10 men and an officer there. The wizard speaks to them, then takes off south towards the Fire Temple with the demon, the ogres, and 4 men, leaving 6 men and the officer behind.

    Hepla continues to scry the wizard, when the demon turns around, looking this way and that. He seems to sense the scrying, but rather than do anything, it simply smiles and turns back, saying nothing. Soon, the small force reaches the collapsed portions of the caves, where Isilme had scouted the extent of the collapse earlier. The wizard begins casting a spell, and they all stand still for some time. Then the wizards casts again, and you see he has cast Wraithform. He then begins to flow through the cracks and holes of the collapsed caves and disappears from view.

    "Isilme is eldest and wisest of us all, and an excellent strategist," says Thorgrim. "It would behoove us to wait for her return. Did she say when she'd be back?"

    "Does she ever?" replies Gotrek. From his tone, it doesn't sound like a question.

    Meanwhile, Isilme flies as close to Zert as possible, then uses a Dimension Door to reach him. She quite easily gains his cooperation, and then Dimension Doors away with him. Isilme returns to the party with Zert, who is standing there naked as a newborn baby.

    "I made him strip first," she says with a smile. She then tells him to "stay here,harm no one, and answer any questions asked of you truthfully."

    While they are doing that, Isilme will walk away, summon her chest and inventory Zerts items and also strip the priestess body, which she had thrown into her LLL, and inventory her items as well. Casting "detect magic". Zert had a magic sword and a potion. The priestess had two scrolls and two potions. The rest of their stuff is masterwork weapons and armor: two suits of field plate, a mace, and a short sword.

    Isilme asks him about his sword, and Zert says, "It's the Sword of Fire."

    "What does it do?" she asks.

    He shrugs. "The Sword of Fire is an item of the Fire Temple. It can shoot a burst of fire once/day. Potion is a potion of heroism. He doesn't know what the priestess's items are. The party also finds that they now have two fire keys.

    Zert looks around, surprised at some of the faces he sees. "I know you," he says. "Ah, I met you in Hommlet. You left me for dead at the trading post. Now you save me here. Why?"

    "That we can help each other," says Hepla with a laugh. "How did you get here and what is your relationship with these temples?"

    You seem a little dissatisfied with your current situation," says Berenn. "We could remedy this and finish what we started in Hommlet if you prefer."

    He shrugs. "It's been a job, and they paid well."

    Isilme says " I saved you Zert, becuase you served me faithfully once and I thought you dead. I am, or was, Banshee. Please tell me about how you survived and came to be here."

    "Well," he says, "after being stabbed in the back, I dragged myself away and wandered for a bit. I was found by agents of the Temple after its fall, and I joined back up with them, continuing my service here." He looks down at his near-naked body. "Worked out well, didn't it," he says, and not in a questioning manner.

    We are here to help each other. Banshee, now Isilme, helped you. Now you help us, what happened to the demon, then the priestess. Do you know anything about the monk, or the were rat? What about the air temple, can you tell us any thing about it?

    He doesn't know anything about the other temples. The Air Temple was to the south, beyond the caves south of the Fire Temple. They were not on friendly terms with the other temples, and the last he heard the Water Temple had actually taken part of the Air Temple from the water. Tessimon had been considering making a strike at the Air Temple, before that demon thing tore through the Fire Temple and everything collapsed. He's not even sure the Air Temple didn't collapse too.

    "Isilme," Thorgrim asks, "is there a point of access to the rest of the dungeon complex through the Fire Temple? Perhaps we should hit the Air Temple from the rear...it's not a terribly long march."

    "There is no way through the Fire Temple," she says. "The entire area, and pretty much both area on either side of it, are all completely collapsed."

    "Then we hit the Air Temple from the rear!" says Thorgrim. "Opposite the side where the ruckus was."

    "It might be faster to slip out the bolt-hole and travel overland to our original point of entry, but unless someone has Invisibility with a 10-foot radius, I'd say it would be safer to backtrack through the dungeons. A Silence spell in the southern corridor may help muffle sounds from this contraption. I could cast it on a stone, and have Isilme wraithform and take it with her to that area, before we lower the elevator."

    "When we return to the Water Temple, we could finish clearing it and search for more secret passages, before invading Air."

    "We need to find those last keys," says Emyn.

    "You know," says Zert. "You can enter the Fane with just two of the keys."

    "Just stick them together, right?" asks Elrae.

    Hepla asks Zert, "Do we need all four keys? What would that allow us to do?"

    He shrugs. "I have no idea. I've seen Tessimon," and he points to the dead priestess, "put our two keys together to make a greater key. With that she entered the Fane. When she returned, she always gave me my key back. I don't really know how they work."

    "Did you kill the priestess," Hepla adds, almost as an afterthought. "If so why, if not who did."

    Yes," he says. "I killed her. Stupid girl. She would have called a fire elemental to our aid and burned up any air we had left." He shrugs, "left me no choice but seek new employment."

    "Give us a reason we should hire you," asks Hepla.

    "Give me my sword," he says with a grim smile, "and I'll show you."

    Thorgrim takes off his backpack, potions utility belt, and his belt pouch, sets them aside, hefts his pick, and turns to face Zert. "Give him his sword," he requests of Isilme. "And his armor. Zert, we have all we will ever need from you. Prepare now to die."

    "And have your friends cut me down after I take your head, dwarf?" he asks. "No thanks.
    He crosses his arms, and stares back at Thorgrim with an unconcerned look. "I fight for pay," he says. "There's no money in killing you." He then smiles, "perhaps later, when somebody wants you dead."

    "Do not joke at my friend about killing him least I break you in half," says Taki.

    "Seems hardly a fair fight Thorgrim," says Berenn. "A dagger left him for dead back in Hommlet less than a year ago, I doubt his skills have improved much since."

    "You'd be surprised, half-breed," says Zert. "I appreciate you getting me out of that hole, but if you don't want my help, give me leave to go. I've had enough of these elemental fools, who would just as soon stab you in the back, literally."

    Isilme ends the reduce spell on Zert, who suddenly grows almost to Taki's great height.
    "Enough of this bickering," she says. "You people sound as chaotic and evil as those we are here to oppose. Zert is with me for now, please respect that." She then turns to Zert.
    "Zert, I promised I would save you and I have. Tell me the truth, if you could leave now and go anywhere, where would you go and what would you do?"

    "Depends," he says. "May I see you first, before I answer?"

    Isilme casts polymorph self and becomes an albino elf, taking her old form of Banshee. She then ends the invisibilty spell and appears. "It is not as if you have never seen me before. It is because I knew you that I saved you. I could not just allow you to die despite some decisions you have made I would not approve of. Now answer the question truthfully."

    "I would stay by your side," he says, "but if you will not have me, I shall seek my fortune elsewhere. There is always work in the north."

    Thorgrim grunts.

    Isilme reminds everyone of the troops from the Fane wandering around. In case they may have forgotten in their planning. She has Zert pick some regular Armour and Weapons from the Dwarvish stockpile here and will provide him with his clothing. "I accept your service once again. Rest assured, I will also provide you with a share of wealth in return for your services that you will not leave this venture empty handed."

    He nods, then looks at his sword. "And my sword?"

    "You will accept that the Sword and Armour were items of an evil Temple and must be destroyed."

    He glances at Taki, "While he wields the Sword of Earth?"

    "You serve me, not him," she says.

    "Very well," he says, taking up other weapons and armor.

    Meanwhile, Hepla attempts to scry the areas below. She is surprised to find the chamber directly below them [area 144] filled with enemy forces from The Fane. There are about a dozen men, a couple trolls, a couple ogres, the wizard, and the demon. The demon is grotesque in appearance, as all demons are. It has three faces and ten arms, with eyes facing in every direction. It has a spiked helm, or perhaps the spike comes out of its head; it's hard to say. It stands about 10' tall. It's three faces seem to see in all direction at once, and it seems to look right at Hepla, knowing that she is scrying them.

    [DM OOC: Darn scrying, foiled my surprise!]

    "Great!" says Thorgrim. "Now what are we gonna do?"


    ***

    I think I missed something somewhere. I know that the party intentionally messed up the summoning circle by defacing it. This happened before they chased the monk through it. I think it must have been when somebody was scouting, and we communicated privately, which emails I lost. Still, that's why when they activated the summoning by entering the circle, the circle didn't keep the demonic creature within it.

    I totally changed the creature too. In the module, it was a bebilith. I chose to make it some kind of strange, primordial tentacle thing. I found a pic online, which I lost on my old web site. However, it was some kind of lovecraftian monstrosity. I remember the party saw the picture and pretty much all wanted to "run away!"


    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:13 am; edited 3 times in total
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    Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:59 pm  

    Ragnar,

    I just wanted to say that I've really been enjoying this campaign journal. Thanks for all the time you put in to bring it to the rest of us.

    - Therabyd
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    Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:39 pm  

    thanks. I'm glad people enjoy the play.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:15 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:55 pm  
    Part 16 - Taki's fall

    "I am sure the party is all for busting out and fighting everyone," remarks Isilme.

    The wizard begins to cast a spell, though what it is Hepla cannot tell. She then sees his eyes widen!

    Hepla says," Their wizard is casting some spell. We need to get moving NOW. I vote for leaving by the secret passage." She shifts her scry to outside the exit passage. "Unless you want to fight that group."

    The outside passage looks clear. BTW, it is getting towards dusk, maybe in about an hour or so. The troll can't fit through the passage.

    "Time to act!" says Thorgrim.

    "We could circle around and have the troll operate the elevator," says Isilme. "Then open the secret door, when they turn to get whatever it is coming....We hit from the other direction." She then casts invisibilty on herself again.

    "No," says Gotrek. "I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around. Just leave me be, and no enlarge spells. If we're going to do this," says Gotrek, "you all had better leave me room. And don't ye be thinking about no silence," he says, pointing a finger at Thorgrim. "I be singin the warsong of the Delgrim, and won't have it cut short!"

    "Personally, I like sneaking around," mumbles Noot. "Much safer."

    "I can cast Wall of Force across the entry," says Hepla. "Then when the door opens they can hit us with everything they have and it will bounce. Then we drop the wall and we hit them. We thus get surprise." While speaking, Hepla continues to scry the room, and the wizard's gaze rises, looking towards your position at the top of the elevator. As the wizard smiles and points, Hepla adds, "I think they know where we are now."

    Taki looks at Gotrek "I will charge with you."

    Hepla casts Wall of Force across the entry way to the elevator.

    "What the hell?" says Isilme.

    "Gotrek and Taki want a glorius charge. Thorgrim and you want to take out this group before they can report our presence, which they seem to know. Noot wants to stay in shadows. Zert and the hungry troll will follow Isilme. I have given us a wall of protection. If I pull the handle, we can head down. Gotrek can start singing as we descend, to go into his rage as soon as I drop the wall." She then puts the mirror away.

    Noot heads for the ceiling. He has his ring ready in case they need the wall of force again, his rod of smiting in one hand and parrying dagger in the other. "Damn," he says. "I didn't finish my biscuit."

    "This seems like a disaster," says Isilme, looking at the escape to the outside.

    [DM OOC: That's the only other way out. That's the problem with Panic Rooms; there isn't really anywhere else to go!]

    While the party is considering options, they hear a very loud crash below you, followed quickly by another. Elrae draws Snowfang, and prepares to meet his fate. Isilme casts Fly and Protection from Normal Missiles. The party then comes up with the rest of their plan:

    Gotrek: Will start to sing as they head down, and will attack as soon as the wall's down.
    Taki: waits, ready to attack as soon as the wall's down.

    Hepla: will caste Haste on the way down, then remove the wall after the initial attacks from the enemy.
    Elrae: stands ready with Snowfang in hand, Melf's Acid Arrow readied.
    Berenn: Cast Bless before wall goes down, then attack with two blades.
    Noot: Rod of Smiting in one hand, parrying dagger in the other, goes into Thorgrim's portable hole.
    Filbin will into the hole too, arrow of paralyzation readied when he exits.
    Emyn: Gets a Stoneskin from Hepla, and will join Isilme and the others in the hole.
    Thorgrim: Will get in Portable Hole and travel with Isilme as she Dimension Doors to the area BEHIND their opponents. There she will let Thorgrim and Noot out, and the three of them will attack from behind. Thorgrim also Drinks potion of Heroism in hole. Zert and the troll are also getting in the hole.

    Hepla casts Haste as Isilme casts Dimension Door to the other room as they start the elevator down. It will take a few rounds to go down, all the while Gotrek begins to sing!

    Isilme "appears" [in quotes because she's invisibile] and she immediately sets out the portable hole. The others may all climb out next round. The elevator continues down..... [It said in the module it takes 8 rounds to go the 80', but I have shortened that to 4 rounds, as 8 seemed too slow. That was the first round, and it has dropped 20'. It'll be completely down in three more rounds. If Isilme and the others act fast, they can attack the round the elevator reaches the bottom. One round to get out of the hole. One to get through the two broken double doors. Then they could attack the round the elevator reaches the bottom.]

    Thorgrim drank his potion in the hole. Noot climbs out as Thorgrim casts Silence 15'r on a stone, thinking he can use the silence to move up behind the wizard and demon and toss the stones at their feet, to disrupt the wizard and not affect Gotrek and the others. Berenn casts Bless.

    "Thank the gods, Thorgrim took his silence stones with him," says Elrae. "They dampen my style," and he starts to sing....

    "The trumpet is sounding from mountain to shore,
    Your swords and your lances must slumber no more,
    Fling forth to the sunlight your banner on high,
    Inscribed with the watchword: "We conquer or die!"
    Inscribed with the watchword: "We conquer or die!"

    March on to the battlefield, there to do or dare,
    With shoulder to shoulder all danger to share,
    And let your proud watchword ring up to the sky,
    Till the blue arch re-echoes, "We conquer or die!"
    Till the blue arch re-echoes, "We conquer or die!"

    Press forward undaunted, nor think of retreat,
    The enemy's host on the threshold to meet,
    Strike firm, till the foeman before you shall fly,
    Appalled by the watchword, "We conquer or die!"
    Appalled by the watchword, "We conquer or die!"

    Go forth in the pathway our forefathers trod,
    We too fight for Freedom, our Captain is God,
    Their blood in our veins, with their honors we vie,
    Their's too, was the watchword, "We conquer or die!"
    Their's too, was the watchword, "We conquer or die!

    Gotrek looks at Elrae and grins, adding "We conquer or die!" to his own song.

    The next round comes....

    Gotrek will be raging after next round, so he takes out his potion of Super-Heroism, ready to drink it next turn. Noot goes along the ceiling to outflank to the south corridor, coming from the Bear room. He'll be making his way to where the guards shown in the side corridor o the top of the map. Isilme peers through the broken double doors [there's a gap in the middle where the monk smashed them]. She sees that the demon has moved out of the room, and is standing outside the door now, in the area. It is obviously guarding against this outflanking move. The demon's eyes narrow, at least the eyes on the face looking towards the double door, and that face grins an evil grin. It seems to have seen Isilme!

    [DM OOC: Before you bring up your amulet and such, YES, it can see you!]

    The guys in the elevator are still two rounds from the bottom. Noot and Filbin are at the door to the bear room. It's open, and Noot sees the guard there. The guard didn't see him peek under the top of the door. Isilme and the others are behind the semi-broken double-doors. The demon's in the next hall, and there are two guards further down.

    Thorgrim cancels Silence. "Isilme, now is the time for your Wall of Force!" If she fails in that endeavor, Thorgrim will cast Abjure right through the peephole. Before engaging this hideous demon in melee. Thorgrim cancels his silence spell, but Isilme tells him she cannot cast Wall of Force! Isilme backs off, with Emyn and Zert stepping up in front of her. The demons turns and steps up, smashing through the doors like they were paper! The troll steps up and attacks it, clawing and biting. Thorgrim casts his Abjure, but it has no effect on the demon. Isilme casts Protection From Evil 10'r.

    "We're dead," says Thorgrim grimly. [OOC: Thorgrim will attack the demon with his pick. Hopefully Isilme will survive to tell our tale. Well, just another round till our compatriots join us. In Hell!]

    In the elevator room, the bottom of the elevator suddenly turns to mud and falls apart. Hepla, having just cast Fly, is fine. However, everyone else suddenly drops. They all fall one foot, where there were steel bars crisscrossing the floor. They were the support members for the elevator, and now that all the stone has turned to mud, only the steel is left.

    Everyone has a chance to grab hold of them as they drop.... Below them they see the secret door has been smashed in by the ogres and the wizard is standing there on the edge, hand upraised towards the descending elevator. However, the worst part is that there is no floor to the shaft at his level; the elevator shaft continues down out of sight, which makes it over 60' deep!

    [DM OOC: Pause for effect....]

    [Thorgrim OOC: We're double-dead. I knew we should've put the troll on that elevator. The party descending on it...it's absurd! It's like that scene in Aliens where the Alien queen is rising on the elevator to engage Ripley. Except that in this case, instead of an expended flamethrower, she has devastating grenades and a contingent of Marines with nukes to back her up! And we know that queen would then be dead, dead, dead!]

    Berenn and Elrae both grab onto the crossbars; however, Gotrek and Taki plummet down. On the way down, Gotrek grabs hold of the ledge, while Taki falls the rest of the way to the bottom. As he falls, he grabs the wizard's robe and yanks the wizard down with him. Taki and the wizard both slam into the bottom, out of sight of everyone else.

    Oh, and the elevator room lowers 10' further. Next round it will be level with the other room where the bad guys are. Elrae and Berenn are basically prone, holding onto the crossbars, while Gotrek is hanging with one hand on the edge. After Taki and the wizard fall out of sight, he looks back up to see the two trolls advancing on him. Hepla is flying 10' further up, having just cast Fly just in the nick of time!

    While Berenn tries to get his Rope of Climbing, Hepla flys down and grabs Gotrek, hope his singing stopped and he is not berserk when she grabs him and brings him up to the elevator level. She hopes the wizard cushoned Taki's fall.

    ELEVATOR ROOM:
    Elrae uses Snowfang and blasts a Cone of Cold down into the doorway below, right through the mostly open floor. Both trolls go down under the blast. The cone continues, killing two men and also hitting both ogres towards the rear! Berenn takes out his Rope of Climbing, and has it ties itself to the bars and himself.

    Gotrek scrambles up, going completely enraged as he stands, staring ahead madly. The two ogres both rush forward with loud growls, knocking aside the tables and sending the remaining men behind them sprawling. They move forward and swing their clubs at Gotrek, but they miss.

    Hepla flies down beneath the floor as it lowers itself into place, taking out a light crystal to aid her vision. She reaches the bottom of the shaft, 100' below, and there she finds the broken bodies of Taki and the wizard. They are both clearly dead.

    The guard turns back at the sound in the room, allowing Noot to slip forward and stab him in the back, killing him instantly. Filbin follows behind him, and they take a position at the corner of the hallway. They see the two downed guards, shaking their heads after having been knocked over by the ogres.

    Hepla casts the Cure Serious Wounds on Taki, while straitening hie body, hoping there is a spark of life still in him. She remembers getting to others just a little too late and lives in hope. She adds, "Cat god you can give him one of mine if he needs it." Unfortunately, it is too late for Taki. She then makes sure the wizzard is dead, if he has any easily noticed weapons, like a wand, she will grab it and fly back to the rest of the party.

    Berenn makes his way across to the ledge, leaving the rope in place and drawing his swords. Elrae uses his Melf's Acid Arrow and hits one of the downed trolls, setting it a burning. The other troll, lying beneath Gotrek, reaches out, clawing and biting him [?].

    Noot listens to Filbin and runs back the other way, still on ceiling, and stops just short of the summoning circle where he takes in what's happening. He doesn't want to go there either!

    Hepla looks around the bottom of the shaft. She finds a wand lying on the ground and another on the wizard's belt. There is a beltpouch with some broken potions in it. Without Detect Magic, she can't know what else is perhaps valuable. She scoops up the wands, then notices the wizard wearing a ring with a large cats eye stone, and she takes it. She then flies back up to the elevator, passing through the beams and floating next to Elrae.

    "Get up you fools," yells one of the men who were in the back of the room, moving up towards the two knocked over by the southern ogre. As the men get up, their leader adds, "go get help!" as he turns back to the combat. Both have swords drawn, but remain towards the rear, letting the ogres to their work. The men get up and run to the north, towards where Filbin is hiding.

    Filbin attacks them as they go by. He stabs the first as they go by, sticking him with his short sword and killing him. The other stops and attacks him, and they exchange blows, with both taking hits. Filbin takes [6] and he hits the man [9].

    Gotrek hits the troll with a wicked hit in the face, pretty much obliterating its head [20], and then steps up to deal with the ogres. The ogres attack, both swinging at Gotrek. They both hit him with pretty strong blows, but he just laughs as he continues his song. He then takes a swing at the ogre, hitting it twice [18] and [20], chopping off a leg and dropping it before delivering the coup de grace on the back of its head!

    Hepla also senses scrying. She then casts Dispel Magic, winking as the scrying ends!

    Filbin is hit again [8], and he misses the warrior.

    The two in the north (bottom) room pull the table in through the doorway, and then they slam the door shut!

    "Cowards!" yells one of the leaders, as he takes a javelin from his back and throws it at Gotrek.

    The javelin flies over his head and comes down through the floor of the elevator room, impacting the far wall beneath Elrae. It discharges a lightning bolt, which flashes back and forth harmlessly down the shaft. Berenn holds, leaving Gotrek to fight the ogre.
    Elrae uses another Melf's Acid Arrow, striking the other prone troll and setting its body burning with acid.

    The ogre then attacks Gotrek, hitting him with a huge club. Gotrek then attacks the ogre, hitting it twice [20] and [18], dropping it in a pile of broken, bloody gore.


    DEMON BATTLE:
    The demon bashes in the double-doors, which swing easily open. Isilme tells Zert to take her longsword and attack the demon, but he just stares at her. "Are you insane?" he asks.

    The trolls stands there, dumbly facing the demon, as everyone else backs up a step.

    "It was a pleasure and honor to fight by your side," says Isilme to her friends. "It looks as if today we win only by strength of arms. See you on the other side."

    The troll attacks the demon, clawing and scratching it. The demon then attacks the troll, slashing it to ribbons in seconds. It grins evilly at the others. Thorgrim responds by casting Dimensional Anchor. The demon levels its gaze, or one of them on him. "I will take great pleasure in bringing your soul to the Caves of Chaos," it says.

    Emyn cries, "Nay, foul beast. Back to the Abyss with you!" and he attacks the demon. He hits the demon twice [19] and [17]. It roars in pain, surprised at the cut of Emyn's blade.

    "Come on Zert," says Isilme. "Just buy me a few seconds!"

    Zert swallows hard, nods, and steps forward beside Emyn. He swings the longsword at the demon, missing.

    Isilme casts "ENLARGE" on Emyn. She then calls out, "Thorgrim, summon your elemental!"

    Emyn grows to a size even larger than the demon, but the demon seems almost happy at the new threat, and lays to with abandon. It splits its attacks, half on Emyn and half on Zert. Emyn is hit by a flail [14], a khopesh sword [11], an axe [16] and a trident [16] {57 total, but he takes none thanks to the Stoneskin!}. Zert is hit by a morningstar [16], khopesh [30], spear [13], axe [14], and glaive [20]. He is chopped up into little NPC pieces!

    Thorgrim uses his stone to summon an elemental, which begins to appear right up through the floor, directly behind the demon. [It takes 1-4 rounds, and I rolled a 2]. Even the faces towards you seem surprised!

    Emyn then attacks, hitting the demon twice for [17] and [16], drawing great big slashes across the beast which ooze a foul, abyssal ichor.

    Isilme casts slow behind the demon, so that it won’t affect Emyn.

    The demon just laughs. “Your paltry magic is of no use elf!” It then attacks Emyn, with all 10 attacks! [He's lucky he had Stoneskin. Unfortunately, he still takes 5 hits. The demon hits Emyn with a khopesh sword [15], a spear [16], another spear [22: crit to the weapon arm which is stuck on the spear, no attacks!], an axe [9], and the trident [14] [76 total!]. The spear pierces through Emyn’s arm, right through both bones, making him cry in agony. His hand opens and his sword drops to the ground with a resounding clang!

    Thorgrim steps up, swinging Souldrinker with all his might, hitting the demon [14]. Emyn drops his shield, draws his dagger with his off-hand, and stabs the demon in its foul chest [14]. Noot moves up, but sees no way to get behind the creature. Thorgrim then continues to swing, hitting it again [15].

    “Back to the Abyss with you demon,” cries Emyn through tears, though whether from the pain of his wound, or from the likelihood that he will never again look upon fair Hepla, none who witness them could tell. He stabs the demon again, this time hitting it squarely in its foul heart [15].

    The beast cries out in agony, and actually stumbles back. It’s eyes look around, unable to comprehend that it is actually meeting its end as its hellish blood pumps out through the great wound in its breast. It falls back to the ground, crashing on its back and taking Emyn with it. He falls upon it, still stuck to the spear which the demon’s great hand releases as the essence of its unholy life slowly fades from its eyes.

    Isilme immediately flies forward to Emyn and says "Drink this" and puts her potion of Extra-Hhealing to his lips. "Truly you have earned the title of our guardian today," she says. "I stand in awe."

    Noot moves across the ceiling and comes down next to Emyn. He sees a potion bottle appear out of nowhere, as Isilme pours her drought into Emyn's mouth. Emyn coughs a bit, but he starts to instantly feel better. The demon's body slowly begins to fall apart, or more aptly, it seems to come apart, taking the shapes of various individuals, all of whom seem to be, or have been, adventurers.

    Thorgrim kneels down, using healing proficiency on Emyn to heal [3] points, which along with the EX-healing from Isilme [17] nets him 20 back total. Thorgrim then looks to Emyn's arm, still impaled by the spear.

    Elrae climbs into the room, retrieving the Rope of Climbing as he does, and inspects the burning bodies of the two trolls.

    The one guard throws another javelin at Gotrek, hitting him sqarely in the chest. It explodes in a blast of lightning which travels back from Gotrek, also hitting Elrae and Hepla for [10] each.

    The other one reaches over and picks up the stool next to him, hurling it at Gotrek. It smashes into the battlerager, exploding into a shower of wooden splinters and knocking Gotrek backwards. With a shake of his head, Gotrek charges forward, going after the closest foe, the javelin thrower. He swings Goreblade, hitting for [20]. The man staggers backwards, falling to the ground. Before he can anything else, Gotrek splits his skull in two with a downward chop.

    Berenn also moves up to the door, finding it barred from the other side. He smashes into it, but cannot budge it. Filbin also finishes off the last warrior with him.

    As Hepla flys by the door that the two guys ran behind she points to it and says,"Gotrek, smash."

    The elemental arises completely from the earth now. Isilme continues to tend to Emyn, while Thorgrim removes the spear from his arm. Hepla fires Magic Missiles at the warrior [14]. He then steps up and hits Gotrek. Gotrek hits him back, killing him.

    Everyone's dead except the two behind the door. Gotrek then sees the elemental out through the open doors, and charges after it (having failed both a Wisdom check to come out of his rage AND his INT check to see that it's not an enemy!)

    [DM OOC: Love battleragers!]

    Isilme fearing that Gotrek is going to attack her friends including a critically wounded Emyn while enraged, flies towards him. She drops her invisbility while flying up to the ceiling and out towards the caverns - casting the SONG spell TAUNT ........ "HEY DWARF!" she yells, "Come catch me if you can!"

    Isilme draws Gotrek away with the Taunt spell [DM OOC: Nicely done!] and he comes out of his rage in a round or two. Meanwhile, Thorgrim sends the elemental to destroy the door, which it does with ease. The two men inside instantly surrender! Filbin also returns, having dealt with the men running for help. All the badguys are dead, but the party realizes that they have lost one of their own as well.

    "We shouldn't leave Taki at the bottom of the elevator," says Berenn. "He deserves a better resting place."

    "I agree," says Isilme. "Taki deserves a decent burial. We should place him in Thorgrim's hole until we get him home."

    "Aye, lass," says Thorgrim. Thorgrim and Isilme both cast Healing spells upon Emyn's arm. Isilme cures [8] while Thorgrim casts Repair Injury, healing the arm wound [10]. Meanwhile, Hepla flies back over to the shaft, ready to go retrieve Taki. While at the edge, Berenn heals her and Filbin of [10] each.

    Isilme and Hepla then fly down to the bottom of the shaft. While Hepla prepares to retrieve Taki's body, Isilme finds a secret door. They call for Noot, who starts down the shaft. Isilme casts Reduce on Taki, who shrinks down to a lighter size and brings his body up. On the way, she sees Noot just walking down the side of the shaft. He shrugs when Isilme sees him. He reaches Hepla at the bottom, collecting the wizard's gear. He also has four rings and an amulet, not magical, but valuable.

    Noot checks out the door, finding no traps. The "door" seems just like the sliding door up above. It seems that when the elevator reaches the bottom, the entire wall will slide open. He doesn't see any way to make that happen on his own.

    While Isilme brings the elevator down, Thorgrim and Berenn finish healing the others. "Let's not tarry here long," says Thorgrim.

    Berenn questions the guards. The human guards are all based in the towers, which hold 20 guards each, along with 10 of the spider-hunters (least that's what they call them.) They have heard of Lareth. He was brought to the Fane by commander Hedrack some time ago. They do not have free reign through the Outer Fane, and have never been to the Inner Fane.

    "It appears we have lost the element of surprise," Emyn says wryly. "Tell me more of these spider eaters. What do they do and do they have any strange abilities?"

    "A spider eater is about 10 feet long and 4 feet high, and has a wingspan of about 20 feet. It weighs about 4,000 pounds. They generally do not attack, but are used as mounts; however, they do have a poisonous sting, just like a bee. Nobody knows exactly what they are, but they believe they were created in the Fane."

    The elevator reaches the bottom in about 5 minutes, which is how long it takes Berenn and Thorgrim to do all that healing. When it reaches the bottom, Noot shoves the wizard through and avoids the bars himself, though they don't quite reach all the way to the bottom anyway. When it stops, the sliding wall opens. A massive onrush of stale, briny water bursts into the elevator shaft. All three get buffeted by the water and knocked around the elevator. Isilme takes [9], Hepla [6], and Noot [10]. The water is pouring in at a tremendous rate.....

    Hepla tries to reach the arm, but has a hard time reaching the statue. It is just about all she can do to stay above the rushing water which is pouring in through the opening. Noot, being a good swimmer, just stays relaxed and rises with the water. Isilme tries but fail to get to the arm, and the water rises VERY fast. Noot just crawls up the side, out of the way, while Hepla and Isilme fly up out of the water. It has now completely submerging the elevator room and is rising fast.

    Thorgrim shouts, "What's going on down there?"

    Everyone reaches the middle level, Noot just walking up the side while Hepla and Isilme fly. Thorgrim is finishing putting away his Portable Hole and they explain what happened. Hepla pulls out her Manta Ray cloak, flies down, and then pulls up the hood as she enters the water. She fights her way down, but finds the water terribly difficult to maneuver in. The shaft is a swirl of turbulent water with virtually no visibility. She fights her way down, grabs the arm, but finds that it will not budge. The water's about halfway up the shaft now, but it's slowing down.

    Thorgrim stands guard. He will open the peephole to the Fire Temple Bridge and ascertain if reinforcements are on their way, and if there is a noticeable lowering of the water level of the lake. "We'd best take action to deal with this deluge, and quickly!" he shouts. Thorgrim looks out and doesn't see anything.

    Isilme goes and gathers up useful or valuable stuff, along with Filbin and Noot. The demon bodies deteriorate, but two of the weapons are left, the Khopesh swords. They are magical. The water finally stops, about 40' down. Thorgrim goes and looks, noting it's about the same level as the Stalagos outside. He then goes back to watch the bridge. There's no activity out there, but it's dark now, so it's hard to tell. The bridge is lit, and there is light from the towers. Filbin hears a strange howling barking echoing through the tunnels from the direction of the Water Temple, getting closer.

    Gotrek coughs. "They know we're here," he says gruffly, wishing he had some gutshaker. "Now isn't the time fer elf deliberating." He kicks the head of the dead ogre at his feet. "We should move, now!"

    Hepla steps to a place where Isilme can see her but not the guards. She casts Polymorph Self and morphs into the captain.

    Gotrek is anxious to move on. "We've enemies to kill," he says, "and we knows where they be." He points towards the Fane with Goreblade. "Seems to me our route be clear. We've destroyed all but the Air Temple, two of the three bridge complexes, and half the Fane's own troops are in the tunnels cleaning up our mess. There's no better time to strike than now! Let us make the Greater Earth key, cross this bridge to the Earth Door, and enter the Fane before they regroup!"

    "Actually," says Noot, " Makes sense to me, although a little fresh air would be nice . . ."

    "Sides," says Thorgrim. "We've still got me elemental!"

    Everyone then looks to Berenn. "We can cross over to the Fane right now," he says. We can cross the Earth Bridge to the Earth door, and wehave the two keys to create a Greater Earth Key to open it. We can cross the water to the Water Door which Filbin spied out (again, we have the two keys to make the greater Water Key). Hell, we can create a Greater Earth and Water Key and put them together to make a Master Key and open ANY door of ANY element. Just like that!" and he snaps his fingers. "Anyway, that's two entrances right there. We have the means to enter, half the Fane's troops are gone, and we HAVE killed two very powerful denizens of the Fane, the wizard and the demon. I see no reason to delay."

    "Do you know your way to the prison," asks Isilme of the guard. "And do you have the authority to enter? Also, what were the names of the demon and the wizard, and what kind of authority do they hold?"

    The guard has no idea what the demon's name was. He gives you the wizard's name, Vacra. The wizard was once the apprentice to Senshock, High Mage of the Temple of Elemental evil. He was the highest-ranking wizard left after the fall of the temple and the deaths of Senshock and Falrinth. He answered to Commander Hedrack and Mistress Naquent, the two highest Priests of the Fane. They answer only to the Doomdreamers who reside in the Inner Fane. He's never met any of them.

    Meanwhile, Noot makes the keys. The two keys merge into one key. When he places two other keys together, they do the same thing. When he put those two "new" keys together, they too merge into another key. This one radiates even more magic. He now has a Master Key.

    Isilme takes off for one last quick scouting mission, as the party throws the captured men into the flooded elevator shaft. Isilme then returns, having found a trog priest while doing a quick scouting, leading two lions. She has charmed them, and will take them along with her as her new "pets." The party then prepares to cross to the Fane. Isilme and Hepla are in the front, with Hepla being polymorphed into the wizard and Isilme into the Demon. Then the Earth Elemental carrying the two dwarves like they were prisoners. Everyone else is hiding in the portable hole, as they march across the bridge.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:39 pm  

    Awesome, Ragnar! Smile

    You should add Elrae's songs to this thread:
    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4561

    SirXaris
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    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:42 pm  

    I'm not sure if he makes them up or is just copying them!
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:24 pm  
    Part 17 - Into the Fane

    The party heads out onto the bridge. It's dark, but with both moons full they can see quite well, even without the continual light spells that cover the entire bridge. When they are about half-way across, a huge shape flies overhead, it's form momentarily blocking the moon and casting a large shadow on the bridge. They look up and see something unexpected, a dragon! It is not as large as the black dragons they once befriended; however it is a bright red color. It circles around, and they see a rider upon it. It lands about 50' ahead of them on the bridge, massive wings folding back and allowing the lithe female rider to leap spryly to the surface of the bridge. They can't make out any details except that she wears the now-familiar ocre robes of a priestess of the Elder Elemental God. The dragon is clearly going to be a massive beast some day, but they can tell that it is rather on the young side.

    Hepla and Isilme keep walking, acting unconcerned, while Thorgrim will look alarmed and distressed. The priestess addresses them, calling out, "What is going on?"

    "Powerful adventurers, most of us killed," says Hepla, rasping as if tired, but using a cantrip to sound just like the wizard. "Taking these to the prision." She keeps walking to the door.

    The Demon (Isilme) grins up at the two (she copies the demons look earlier) and just looks at the young dragon hungrily, licking his chops.

    The priestess grins. "Good. Take these two to Daagra. He'll find nice cages for them. What of the rest? Are they slain, or did they retreat into the mines?"

    "I believe a drow made it to the mines, but could not be sure," says Hepla/wizard. "Did not want these dwarves to go into mines. How was your hunt?"

    "We were watching the passage to the outside, but they never showed." She smiles evilly, looking at the dwarves, "Hardheaded fools! Anyone with sense would have fled outside, and then we'd have had them!" She turns and remounts the dragon. "Go," she says. "Lock up the prisoners and report to Commander Hedrack. I will gather the rest and chase down this drow." With that she flies off on the dragon, back over the mountain.

    "That was close," whispers Thorgrim. "Best be quick about our business. Good thing we didn't go out the back, eh?"

    Isilme doesn't answer, and everyone continues. The bridge ends at a tall black door bound in a brownish metal. A large brown triangle, its edges gilded, is carved into the door in relief. The door is 15' high and wide. No handle, hinges, or other conventional door trappings are visible.

    Hepla touches the key to the door, and the door begins to slide down into the floor beneath it. This takes a full minute. Beyond they find a 50' square chamber with one passage leading out to the right. The chamber smells of loam. The walls are of a brown and gray stone, covered with images in relief. These depict huge monstrous beasts erupting from the earth like primordial creations that exist only to destroy. The floor and ceiling are made of the same stone, the ceiling reaching 40' above the floor. In the western end of the room, a massive pile of soil and stones lays on the floor, 10' high and 30' long.



    Here's the map of the Outer Fane. I've added a tunnel going around the entire thing, linking all the towers. They connect to the exits via spiral stairs. That's not shown on the map.

    Isilme quickly notices a secret door in the west wall. The passage continues to a guardroom, currently empty. There is a door leading from the guardroom. One of the towers is also shown here. There is an opening in the right wall (right next to the tower but not shown on the map) which opens to a circular stair leading up to the tower.

    "Are the prisions that way?" asks Isilme of the trog priest.

    "Dey are on uder side of Fane," says Ukemil in broken common. He points down the hall, "dat way."

    Isilme takes a moment lay down the Portable Hole and get people some air before picking it back up. They then go up the stairs, and that leads to a long corridor [not shown on the map!]. The corridor curves around the entire length of the Fane. Where each tower stands, there is a further stair leading up from the corridor to the tower, though not another leading down. Not until the party gets to the Air Door area. There they find another stair leading down [to area 33 guard room, currently empty]. From there they go down the stairs to a waiting room [area 31]. A large reddish-purple carpet covers the floor. Couches, chairs, and small tables furnish this hall, with two iron chandeliers holding candles above the whole room, illuminating it. A book likes on one of the chairs. The prison is through the next door on the north wall.

    "When do you want to let them out?" Hepla whispers to Isilme as she looks at the book. Without picking it up, Hepla looks at the title of the book. It says, Dark Juices of the Mind.

    Isilme shrugs. "We still have an earth elemental, Thorgrim, and Gotrek. We should be fine."

    Hepla looks at the Trog and says,"Open the door." she has no idea if its trapped.

    "Lock," he says. "I knock fer Daagra?" he asks, approaching the door?

    "Do it," says Isilme.

    The trog knocks and calls out, "Daagra! We more prisoners!"

    You hear nothing, until there is a scrapping sound of a bolt being drawn back. The door swings open, revealing a very large and deformed giant. Gotrek instantly recognizes it as a formorian, the same type of giant that Urgal once said killed his mother. With a scream of rage beyond anything the party has ever heard, he wrenches free of the Earth Elemental's grip [which was for show anyway] and leaps down. Isilme and Hepla can only back away, as they see in his eyes that familiar bloodlust, only this time his rage is beyond any limitations of control. With one swing of goreblade, he cleaves the trog in two and fling himself at the formorian in blind fury! [The prison is 32 and 32A]

    [OOC: First, there's a change to the map that's not there. Room 32A isn't there. Where that dashed square is, there is an elevator platform similar to the one you found in the secret room. There is a large iron handle next to it, presumably for raising and lowering it. Also, the room itself is a huge mess, obviously the giant isn't, or wasn't, the cleanest thing. Piles of rags and blankets serve as its bed. There IS a bunch of treasure in some sacks and piled in the corner. All tolled they find the following:

    3000 SP
    27 gems (random)]

    Gotrek hits the giant with Goreblade [54], which sends the giant reeling backwards, it's left leg chopped right through. It stumbles down from the blow, dropping to one knee and attempts to fight back but finds itself unable to hit Gotrek. The dwarf steps up and brings Goreblade down between the giant's wide eyes, splitting through its skull as if it were no more than a large melon. Brains and blood spray everywhere, and as the beast falls backwards, Gotrek stands over it chopping again and again. Soon you hear the clear though muted sound of Goreblade slamming into the stone below the beast, as Gotrek has chopped the body into oblivion.

    Hepla/wizzaed, looks around the room as she gets levitation ready, just in case. "That will do Gotrek. Calm down and lets look around." Levitation is still preped.

    Gotrek comes out of his rage, and spits out a bunch of goo. "Tastes even worse than troll," he says.

    "Let's open the Hole here," says Thorgrim.

    They enter the prison, dragging in the dead trog, and then rebar the door. Isilme spreads the hole, and everyone clamors out. Afterwards, Thorgrim folds it back up and stuffs it in his boot.

    Thorgrim checks out the lever. It indeed moves the elevator up and down. Presently, it only goes down, but he can make it go down a foot then back up and see how it works. However, he has to hold the lever, which means somebody must stay behind to work it.

    "Well," says Thorgrim, "the last elevator ride wasn't so fun...but let's go down and free Lareth. He's been at their mercy for weeks. I am assuming, of course, that his 'conversion' was genuine, and that he's not prepared to slit our throats the moment the opportunity presents."

    Emyn and Elrae exchange doubtful glances.

    Thorgrim has the Earth Elemental guard the door, staying behind with Noot while the rest go down. The elevator drops 100' into a large square chamber lined with cells. There are twelve cells, with four being occupied. They are occupied by a halfling, troll, a grey elf, and a very red dwarf. The halfling has been infused with elemental water. His form seems to undulate like it has waves, and he drips water occasionally. The dwarf must have been infused with fire, for he is a very dark red and his hair seems almost on fire itself. The troll flings itself at the bars of its cell, clawing and scratching at you. It is quite mad, even for a troll. The elf is strangely calm. It sits in the center of the cell, legs crossed and palms up. He reminds you of Brother Milerjoi when he would practice meditation.

    Hepla/wizzard says first in common, then elf and dwarf,"And why are you here, what are your crimes?"

    Nobody answers. The halfling cowers, whimpering. The troll just continues to try and grab and anyone who comes close. The dwarf stands, arms crossed, staring indignantly at her, while the elf simply opens his eyes to glance up, watching everyone from the corner of his eyes.

    "I understand that you will not talk with a Fane, I don't blame you," says Hepla/wizard. We are not Fane. " She morphs into herself and asks someone else to talk with the prisioners if they still will not speak to her.

    When she says they are not of the Fane, the halfling get up and slides over to the bars, taking hold of them with wet hands, begging for release. The dwarf and elf just watch; keeping their eyes on the large demon standing next to Hepla!

    "I am Athemal," says the halfling. "From Rastor. I was picking berries when they took me, before they...did things to me."

    The dwarf remains motionless, watching Isilme transform from one form to another, displaying no emotion whatsoever. The elf, however, speaks, seemingly at the halfling, but it's not clear. "Do not bother, my young friend. These fiends live off your fear. Show them nothing, give them no satisfaction."

    "Your crime was picking berries?" Hepla asks incredulouly. "What did they do to you and do you want a chance to get some revenge?" She looks around for keys to the cells.
    She again addresses the elf and dwarf in their own languages, "What about you, what crimes have you committed to be so locked up? Yes I can change form but that does not make me one of them. Oh and what is the story of the troll, anyone know?"

    The halfling starts to cry, though it's hard to tell because he's dripping all the time anyway. "I just want this to end. How can I go on like this?" Then he slumps to the floor sobbing.

    The dwarf looks at Hepla, "I am no dwarf," it says in dwarven. "I am Reunoux, an Azer. Fire-kin of the dwarves."



    Isilme recognizes that species from her reading. They are a race from the Plane of Fire. They are part of an extremely regimented society where every individual has his or her place. The azer civilization in general is heavily stratified, with law taking precedence over individual freedoms and even an individual’s life. Azer construct their outposts and cities as towers built from basalt, granite, or metal. There they dwell in small groups, using their plentiful complexes of flames to shape the stone. They grow strange trees with metallic outer skins or barks, and the leaves of these trees are actually made entirely of metal – in some cases, precious metals. They are greedy, particularly for gems that are a clear purple or red (rubies, amethysts, garnets, etc.) Once given, the word of an azer is a solid bond.

    "I don't know what they did to you," says Hepla. "you are ...drippy, she says to the hobbit, how they can keep an azer in this prision I do not know." She looks down and a few tears fall from her eyes in memory of him.

    Isilme then changes to her form, using the light-skinned elf color. She then looks at the azer and says,"I know your race is a race of honor and I give you my word, we are here to defeat the Fane and bring good to this place if we can. I will take your word that you will not attack or betray us if you give it."

    The Azer nods to Isilme. "Free me and I give you my word I shall aid you in the defeat of this place," he says, crossing his arms and nodding his head. "Until my death or until I find a way to return to my own plane, I shall aid you."

    Thorgrim says to the prisoners, "We are looking for a friend of ours." He describes Lareth. "Have you seen him?"

    "The one you seek was here," he says. "He was taken from the cells two days ago by the one the call Hedrack."

    "Good 'nuf!" says Gotrek, stepping up to the bars. He grasp the iron and wrenches with all his might, but fails to budge the heavy iron. "Dwarf built," he says, grudgingly proud.

    "Anyone know where the keys are?" asks Hepla.

    Filbin pulls them out, "You mean these?" he asks with a smile. "I took liberty to remove them from the giant goo pile upstairs," he adds, stepping up to the cell and opening the lock.

    The Azaer steps out, and as soon as he is free of the bars, his hair ignites into real fire. "Ah, but that feels good," he says. "I am in your debt."

    "Wow, were the bars inhibiting you fire hair?" Hepla asks.

    "Yes," he says. "Somehow." The Azaer then tells you what he knows, while Filbin opens the halfling's cell.

    "The forces of Evil Elementals are stirring," he says. "They have been for some time. The Princes of Elemental Evil once assisted the demoness Zuggtmoy in her bid for power. She attempted to carve out a domain for herself by calling upon the powers of the elemental planes, but she was deceived. The evil elemental forces she summoned answered not to her at all, but to others, the Dread Princes of Elemental Evil: Imix, Ogrémoch, Olhydra and Yan-C-Bin. And if they were princes, the Elder Elemental God was their king. The elemental forces would never follow the Demon Queen of Fungi; for they were in the service of far greater powers, powers using her for their own ends. Years ago, she found that out to her despair. Balance returned when she was defeated and the forces of the Dread Princes returned to their abodes. All was quiet, until recently. Only days ago, the Gate of Fire was reopened, and many foul forces loyal to Imix were drawn back to this plane. I was sent to investigate, and I passed through a gate deep beneath this ancient volcano where magma yet flows. I followed Thoqqua tunnels to these mines, but was caught by minions of the Elder Elemental God. They locked me up here, and have kept me prisoner, vainly hoping to persuade me to join them."

    "Your world is in dire peril, for the forces of the Dread Princes, unleashed upon the prime, would wreak havoc. The worship of the Elder Elemental God, long forgotten on your world, has been revived, and it draws power into the Fire Elemental Node once again. This place, indeed all the Nodes, were opened by Zuggtmoy by means of the Orb of Golden Death, which created these moonlike bodies in isolated regions hovering on the edges of the Elemental Planes. She knew only that the Nodes were a place to draw and hold her elemental minions, unaware of the TRUE power of the Nodes. Through the Nodes, the Dread Princes may be called to your world, not summoned, but drawn freely, entering of their own volition. They would have all of the powers from their own planes, and suffer none of the weaknesses common to summoned beings."

    "Well," says Thorgrim, we destroyed the Orb, without which the nodes collapsed."

    "Though the Orb was destroyed," replies the Azer, "the Power Gems, created by the Dread Princes themselves, were not. The have been recovered, and through them the Gates are being reopened. The Dread Prince Imix himself prepares for his return to the Prime, to unleash the pure power of fire upon your world."

    "What is the best way to defeat this evil?" asks Hepla.

    "There is only one way," says the elf, finally standing as he interrupts the conversation. He pulls a small pin from his hair, reaches through the bars, and opens the lock in seconds. Filbin levels his crossow, as the elf steps out and approaches.



    "The Azer is right," he says, glancing at the fire dwarf. "But he knows only part of the story. The leaders of the cult are the Doomdreamers, devoted followers of the Elder Elemental God who were the true forces behind the rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil. Through them was the knowledge of the orb given to Zuggtmoy and Iuz, though the Orb they created was but a lesser version of that already in the possession of the Cult. While Zuggtmoy's Orb gave limited powers over the elements, the Elder Orb is a direct link to the Elder Elemental God. Through it the Nodes can become conduits from the Elemental Planes to Oerth. They plan to unleash the full power of the Elemental Planes upon the world, and if they summon all the Princes, together they can bring the Elder Elemental God himself back to the Prime. We cannot let this happen."

    "Nice work with that pin," says Hepla. "Why did you not free yourself sooner? And what is the way to defeat the evil, destroy that greater orb?" She glances at the troll. "And what's his story?"

    "It was driven made," says the Azer "by the infusion of Elemental Fire into its very essence. Although it has since expelled the infusion through its regenerative powers, its mind, what little it had to begin with, is now gone."

    The elf nods, then looks back to Hepla. "It was my charge to find the secrets of this place," he says. "What better way than to let them capture me?"

    "What name may we call you?" asks Hepla, "or do you want us to just say Elf? Do we need to destroy this greater Orb if so do you know how and where it is?"

    "I am Taurnil, Windsong to my friends," he says. "And no, just like you I came here to put an end to this evil."

    [Welcome to a new character. Taurnil Windsong is a Shadowdancer, a class I created. They are elves from the Spindrifts, who have trained under Zuoken to combat the Scarlett Brotherhood someday and keep the Theopart of Tharizdun from ever being found. Basically, they are ninja!]

    "Glad to see you are here for common cause," says Emyn.

    "Should we put this troll out of his misery, or leave him to rot?" asks Thorgrim.

    "Leave him," says Gotrek, returning to the elevator. "Let's go."

    Leaving the troll behind, they ride the elevator back to the upper level of the prison. They also find a secret room which holds all of GRIT's character's gear. [DM OOC: yeah, it's just easier that way!]

    "We should try to find Hedrack first," says Berenn. "I would like to know how he is still breathing when he extinguished his life during our last encouter."

    Noot checks out the door, which opens into a hallway heading off to the left and right. Immediately to the left is a flight of stairs going down with the hall continuing on further. To the right it goes about 60' and turns to the right. Immediately across from the door they opened is another door on the opposite side of the hallway.

    "I will scout ahead," says Windsong, who slips thru the door to see what he can see. He hears nothing. The room is locked, but Noot quickly picks it. It opens into a small chamber The room has a sunken area 10' across in the middle filled with pillows and blankets. Three chests and a wardrobe are pushed against the south wall, while other walls are covered in dark violet curtains with the upside-down black triangles of the Elder Elemental God embroidered upon them.

    Hepla begins checking the curtains to see if any thing is behind them. She uses her staff to move them. As she crosses the room, a ghostly being rises from the bedding in the center of the room. Everyone can feel the chill of the negative energy surrounding the thing as it stands, a ghostly figure of a human man, face twisted in pain. Isilme and Berenn call out simultaneously, "Spectre!"

    Hepla stops and starts walking backwards, she has her staff defensively in front of her,"what do you want?" she stammers.

    Berenn steps forward, taking out his holy symbol, and holds it before him. "By Cuthbert, stay back," he shouts. The spectre holds its position, as Hepla backs out of the room.

    The spectre kind of just moans, but stays back. Noot puts a lot of distance between himself and the spectre, mumbling, "I ain't afraid of no ghosts." Isilme casts Wraithform, just after Thorgrim casts Negative Plane Protection upon her.

    "Then the way is clear," says Emyn. He attacks the spectre with his sword invoking the name of Trithereon.

    The specter fades back down into the cusions, disappearing from view, so Emyn starts hacking the cushions apart in the hope of harming it. The specter rises out of the stones behind Emyn. Hepla fires magic missiles at the spectre, which hit it for [22]. The spectre grabs ahold of Emyn from behind, its ghostly touch causing [6] damage as well as draining two levels! Emyn spins around and swings at the thing, but he misses. His sword slams into the stone floor and snaps in two! Berenn casts Negative Plane Protection on Thorgrim, who strides forward and swings Souldrinker at the spectre. He hits it [14].

    Emyn refuses to budge and says, "I am useless to you now with no weapons that can harm sucha creature. Use me as bait and kill this thing when it appears."

    Hepla yells,"Emyn, if you love me get the heck out of there now, we don't need bait we need you. I love you, now move it."

    Thorgrim casts Negative Plane Protection on Emyn as Berenn steps forward, driving the spectre back with his holy symbol. Meanwhile Isilme slips around to the far side of the room in wraithform. The spectre moves back, away from Berenn who drives it towards Isilme. The spectre seems completely unconcerned with Isilme, basically ignoring her as it retreats from before Berenn's righteous power. When it reaches Isilme, she lays into it with her weapons, hitting it twice [6] [6] in quick succession. The spectre screeches in a high voice which seems to pierce your very souls. It turns around and attacks Isilme.

    Hepla rushes up and grabs Emyn, slumping against the ground dejectedly, and she attempts to comfort him.

    Meanwhile, the spectre hits Isilme [5]. There is a tremendous clap like thunder as the negative and positive energies meet and explode. Isilme is knocked backwards a step, but the spectre takes [10] from the backlash of energies. Isilme feels just the barest taste of the undead thing's dark power and thanks the gods for that spell.

    As the spectre wavers, its form seeming to get weaker, whispier, Thorgrim rushes forward and attacks it again from behind. He hits it with souldrinker [15]. A huge cry erupts from it again as Souldrinker blasts a huge chunk of ectoplasmic goo from the things body. It shrieks, though softer, as Isilme hits it twice more, tearing more wispy strands from it as it slowly fades into the either. You could swear, just as it is about to fade away, that the face momentarily changed to that of a pained man, which for a quick second shows a smile and whispers, "thank you," as it finally disappears.

    Windsong slips into the shadows and moves down to the east while Filbin does the same to the left, going west. Gotrek stands guard in outside the door while the rest of the party checks the room.

    Filbin and Windsong reveal that there are no traps, nor anything remarkable about the corridors. To the west, the stairs go up to the other door [from area 33] and the corridor continues about 60' further to the west before ending in an unlocked door. He listened and heard nothing before returning. Windsong finds an empty chamber with two unlocked doors. He also heard nothing behind the doors.

    The chamber where you fought the spectre was a priestess's chamber. Noot finds that the chest and wardrobe are locked and trapped with glyphs of warding. The wardrobe contains two of the ochre priest robes, sized for a thin woman. There are also various other normal clothes hanging within as well.

    After dealing with the glyphs,they find two of the chests contain only clothes, gear, and personal effects (belts, boots, etc.) . The third contains two potions and two flasks of oil. There is also a small jeweled box containing gold bracelets, pearl earings, a necklace of gold and obsidian, and a necklace of gold and amethysts. Finally, another small box contains 250 PPs and another 500 gps. Throwing it all in the Portable Hole, they continue on. Thorgrim also takes out a Masterwork Broadsword and shield before folding the hole back up. He gives them to Emyn. "I thought you might need these," he says.

    Isilme comes back after using her Wraithform to investigate a couple of doors. She reports the following:

    Area 28: A circular plate of glass has been set into the center of the floor. It is 5' across. A red pentagram is painted onto the glass, and all that can be seen through the glass is darkness. Otherwise, this room is empty, with two more doors leading out.

    Area 29: The room is full of crates and a few barrels. A wooden table is covered with tools of all sorts and even a few weapons (three daggers, a mace, and two crates with 200 arrows and 100 crossbow bolts). A large coil of silk rope (200') sits next to the table, and tools and implements hang from hooks on the wall.

    "Let's avoid that pentagram," says Emyn, looking a little sheepish.

    Elrae uses Snowfang to search the room further. "Gots to be some magic here," he whispers. Snowfang detects magic in the priestess room, and it turned out to be an old worn pair of boots in the chest with clothing in it. The party then continues towards the pentagram room.

    Noot and Hepla enter the room to check out the pentagram. The are followed by Thorgrim, Gotrek, and Emyn. After they enter, the door slams shut, cutting them off from the rest of the party. Black and purple tentacles come up through the glass plate, and attack those in the room!

    Hepla fires a barrage of magic missiles at a tentacle. They don't seem to have any effect.
    Two tentacles attack Hepla with one hitting her [3], and she is grappled. Gotrek is attacked by two tentacles and is hit by one [6] and he is grappled. Noot is attacked by two tentacles, and he is hit by one [6] and is grappled. Emyn is attacked by two tentacles, hit by one [5] and is grappled. Thorgrim is attacked by the last two [there are 10 total] and he is missed.

    Thorgrim casts dispel magic on the door, and Isilme then smashes it open, lowering her huge demonic shoulder into it! Gotrek and Emyn both break free of their tentacles, but Hepla and Noot remain grappled. Filbin and Windsong watch the rear, as Isilme and Berenn enter the room. The Azer enters and attacks a tentacle, missing.

    [Noot and Hepla are grappled by one tentacle each. There are 8 other free ones whipping around. Berenn and Isilme are now in the room, with Elrae just outside. Filbin and Windsong are watching the rear.]

    Hepla takes [4] more constriction damage from the tentacle, but she successfully concentrates and casts grease, slipping away from it. Another one misses her. Noot takes another [3] before hacking at the tentacle with his dagger [6]. Isilme is hit by a tentacle [6] and is grappled. She is able to still hack at it with a couple swords, cutting it in half.
    Thorgrim is attacked by two tentacles and is wrapped by one [2] and is grappled. He fails to break free. Gotrek is hit by one [6] and is grappled. He fails to break free. Emyn is missed, and he cuts through the tentacle, destroying it. Berenn is wrapped before he can draw his swords [6] and he is grappled. He fails to get free. Elrae draws Snowfang and advances, hitting the tentacle holding Berenn and cutting him free.

    [Noot, Thorgrim, and Gotrek are grappled. There are 7 tentacles left.]

    Isilme cuts down another tentacle. Hepla retreats back towards the door. Noot takes another [4] before cutting himself free with his dagger. Gotrek takes [3] before breaking free. Thorgrim takes [5] and fails to break free. Elrae is hit by one [1] and is grappled.
    Emyn moves up and cuts through one that was still attacking Hepla, cutting it apart.
    Berenn cuts at the one grappling Elrae, destroying it too.

    Gotrek is missed, and he cuts up the tentacle attacking him. Thorgrim takes [1] and again fails to break free! Isilme and Berenn move up and hack apart the last tentacle holding him! The glass shattered when they destroyed the last tentacle. Beneath the glass was the normal flooring of the fane, a shiny black rock with violet vein-like streaks running through it.

    Beyond the east door is a hallway, going about 50' and ending with another door. Beyond the south door is another room. This chamber seems to be that of a wizard, judging by the wizardly stuff scattered about. There is a nice bed, desk with fine mirror, armoire, dresser, lots of shelves with spell components, flasks, etc. There are also a couple of tables with stuff scattered on them and two chests under the table. There's another door in the south of the east wall.

    "Sneaks, do your thing." Elrae waits outside for any explosive runes or traps to go off.

    Detect Magic reveals glyphs protecting both doorways to the wizard's room. There are also a couple of potions visibile on the shelves as well as a scroll lying on the table. Noot and Filbin again take care of them, and then the scroll and potions are put in with the rest of the treasure. After dealing with more glyphs, they open the chests. They are full of good magic-user stuff. One contains a bunch of books and scrolls. The other contains two coffers full of gemstones, a box of 1000 PP, another with 1000 GP, a very strange arrow (it seems made of pure elemental matter), a small crystal ball, and a small magical eyeglass.

    Windsong find no traps on the unlocked door, nor hears anything beyond. He opens the door, revealing a hallway, the walls of which are made of a dark gray stone. They display images in relief showing horrible scenes of human sacrifice, carnage, rape, bestiality, etc (all with elemental themes, usually elemental or half-elemental beings indulging in these horrible deeds). The hallway continues south around a couple of corners while to the north is a large spiral staircase going down. It is made of black iron arms seemingly made of the various elements. They are linked together, one holding the next, in an intricate yet disturbing pattern.

    Berenn holds the point near the circular stair, while Filbin watches the rear. Gotrek takes a position in the hallway between the wizard's room and the circular stair. While everyone else is still searching the wizard's room, Windsong silently descends the stairs. He returns [probably about the same time you guys get done in the wizard's room!] to report that the stairs descend about 100', into the corner of a large chamber. In the center of the chamber is a large machine of some kind.


    Diabolical Machine

    Noot inspects it, to see if it's magical or mechanical. The machine seems both, though it's impossible to understand much about it. The various tombstone-like things around the circumference are all engraved with symbols, and he quickly recognizes the symbols of the four elements at the cardinal points. He doesn't recognize the other symbols. On a flat surface there are stone panels, each of which has one of those symbols engraved up it. Finally, a set of locked metal doors leads inside the machine.

    The party decides to leave it for now, and heads back out. Windsong will scout the other passage, south from area 27. It goes around that bend, then continues south to a T-intersection from where there is a side passage to the right, connecting up with the chamber you could barely see from the wizard's room. It also continues south, then turns left into another chamber. He feels a very strong cold from the south [towards area 24] and then returns when it gets too much for him.

    "Perhaps that is where they store the ale," says Gotrek, giving a hopeful smile.

    "I doubt it," says Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim casts Resist Cold on Windsong, who then slips around the other passage, approaching from the other direction. He feels an intense cold that nearly goes through his priestly protection. He discovers another 4-way intersection with a 20' wide corridor. To the south it goes about 80' before ending in double doors. To the north it goes about 40'. Down the lenghth of the hallway, about every 10', a purplish stone panel has been set into the walls on both sides. The panels are carved with intricate images of robed and hodded people in procession, each carrying a special torch. Further, the north section ends in three archways 8' high and 4' wide, entirely filled with some kind of thick green goo. To the west (area 24) he sees a small chamber. The only object in the room is a black stone font. Strange runes ring the rounded edge of the font. Each wall has a single purple tapestry with the inverted triangle of the Elder Elemental God in black.

    [DM OOC: Isilme's Polymorph Self spell is finally expiring now.]

    "Let's get everyone back together," says Thorgrim. He then tells the earth elemental to follow and heads through area 24 to the intersection, staying wary of the source of the cold, and regroups the party there. "Let's check out the north passage. That green goo is likely some deadly slime. Our fiery friend should give them the heat treatment."

    Thorgrim invetigates the panels. What is the nature of the "special" torches? Is there anything else he can discover? He checks out the font room and tears down the tapestries. Actually I guess font room first, then the panels in the northern passage.

    [Thorgrim ooc: this place gives me the heebie-jeebies.]

    The colds begins to get really intense. Everyone who is unprotected takes [4] damage from the cold. The azer takes [8] and won't go any further, being a creature of fire.

    Emyn says, "Perhaps a little fire in there might be appropriate? Or something to dispel this foul magic?"

    Isilme puts all the extra swords in her leomands chest and puts on the priestess robes. With her spell ending, she returned to her normal dark elf form, catching Windsong by surprise. "So your a drow," he says.

    "Let me guess," she replies. "You thought I was really a demon too?"

    "Maybe you forgot what your true form really is," says Windsong. "And it wasn't really a question."

    "The monks say form is just another illusion," replies Isilme.

    "If you are ashamed of your true form, then I will not ask you any more," and Windsong walks away.

    "Don't worry, Windsong," says Emyn. "She always gets like this when she gets jealous."

    "Let's not proceed down that passage until we gear up for the cold," says Thorgrim, attempting to quickly change the subject. "Although a Dispel Magic might require less spellpower, we can also cast Resist Cold on everyone if need be. We are getting very near the next bridge-room, methinks. We may be able to simply bypass the Cold Zone, as we could've done earlier."

    [DM OOC: The intense cold covers area 24 as well as the hallway between 20 and the double-doors to the south. The clothes you wear (or being a bear) doesn't help in the least bit. I believe Elrae is fine, holding Snowfang (and having a ring of warmth). Windsong's protected by a spell. Anyone else not similarly protected took that damage. The only other way not through the area of intense cold is the other passage that Windsong spied out going south towards another chamber just a bit to the east.]

    Meanwhile....Windsong continues down the other corridor. It opens into a room [area 18], roughly 40' square with a corridor running out to the south about 80' ending in a dead end and another door in the east side of the north wall. The door is locked. Noot checks out the door and finds that it is locked. Meanwhile, Filbin investigates the corridor. There is a door on the west side at the very end. That door is also locked.

    This room is empty except for a large pillar that stretches from floor to ceiling. Each of the four sides of the pillar has been scuplted into a different form. The first is jet black and depicts a tall, muscular man in plate armor that has unfamiliar flanges and fluting. He wears a cape and holds a wavy-bladed sword. The second side is dark green, appearing like a man swathed in aflowing robe with long sleeves and a high collar and wearing a strange mask. The third side is a deep blood red and depicts a man in high boots, a doublet, and gauntlets of twisting design. A hood drawn tight around the face covers the head. The fourth side is a deep indigo-colored statue of a man clothed in a many-pleated robe with a girdle covered in strange indecipherable sigils. His head is covered in a cowl and he cradles a scepter in his folded arm. This pillar is an exact copy of the one found in the ghoul dens beneath Warden's Station!
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:55 pm  
    Part 18 - Dread Tidings

    Thorgrim orders his elemental to smash the pillar, but the thing recoils away from it when it approaches. It cannot touch it. Meanwhile, Windsong seems quite interested in the pillar, examining its various sides, as well as the strange sigils engraved upon it. The Azer seems to recognize something about it.

    "It is a conduit of sorts to the Elemental Planes," he says. "Not a gate, but I can sense it is somehow linked to the Inner Planes." He looks at the Earth Elemental, "That is likely why it cannot touch it. It must be tied to the Elder Elemental God, the essence of Primordial Elements." He points out a couple of sigils, and you notice for the first time the same upside-down triangle with the inverted Y within it. "Symbol of the Elder Elemental God," he says.

    Noot opens the door [to area 19], revealing a large bedchamber, richly appointed but dire in decor. A wide bed with black linens and a black canopy over it, the ebony wood carved into hideous faces, stands near the north wall. Other dark wood furnishings include an ornate trunk, a nightstand with a lamp, a bookshelf, a desk, and a folding screen that cuts off the southeastern section of the room. In the two northern corners stand a pair of gray stone statues, 6' tall, of creatures made of writhing tentacles. Next to one is a black marble bathing tub, with a dark wooden towel rack next to it. The walls are covered in tapestries depicting normal scenes of daily life--dinner in a cstle, an auction in a village, a party, and so on. A purple robe hangs on a peg near the door. Noot can sense a quite palpable and forbidding essence to the room, and he steps away from the door, not willing to enter. "Your turn," he says to the rest of the party.

    Thorgrim orders the earth elemental to stand guard in the northwest corner of the room, and he enters the wizard's chamber and looks for loot. As he enters, he is assaulted by the forbidding nature of this room. The chaos and evil of it assaults his entire being, causing [15] damage; nonetheless, he forces himself into the room. The place makes him VERY uneasy. As he gathers himself, he looks around. He now sees that the tapestries do not show idyllic lives, but are actually quite disturbing. In each a shadow lurks menacingly, a character has an out-of-place evil grin, or something even more understated gives it a feeling of wrongness.

    "Noot, Filbin, one of you get in here and check this out," Thorgrim says, drinking a Potion of Healing. Pick at the ready, he pulls aside the folding screen to see what's behind. If all is well, he will open his Portable Hole. See what the thieves can get done with the statues and the trunk. Likely the robe and the trunk go in the Hole, disarmed or not.

    Noot looks over the area, as does Windsong [Filbin has gone down the end of the hall to the south]. They cannot find any evidence of traps in the threshold and believe that the room itself must be warded in some way. Elrae steps up and uses Snowfang's second Detect magic. Sure enough, the entire room is ensorcelled with dire magics. He does, however, see what else is magical. The robe is magical. The chest and bookcase both show magic similar to the glyphs you have been encountering. Two books upon the bookshelf are very strong in magic. Behind the screen is a small dining area with a dark wooden table, four chairs, a service table, and an elegant silver service. Noot shakes his head, unsure of entering.

    Berenn will cast Protection from Evil and attempt to enter. He wills himself into the room, though he still takes [10] damage from entering. As he enters, Thorgrim summons the earth elemental to him. Thorgrim throws the robe in the Hole. He orders the elemental to put the chest in the Hole. The elemental moves up and passes into the room, taking [19] in the process. It picks up the chest and activates the glyph of warding placed upon it. There is a purple flash as the elemental grabs the chest. It then roars and turns, throwing the chest at Thorgrim. It narrowly misses, shattering against the far wall [remind me to check saves later]. The elemental then attacks Thorgrim!

    Thorgrim attacks the elemental with his pick. "Gotrek!" he shouts. "A little help, here?"

    Gotrek shrugs, then rushes in. He takes [26] when he rushes through the doorway! The elemental turns on him and hits him with a huge rocky fist [14] as he approaches. Gotrek hits the elemental with Goreblade [20]. Berenn steps up and hits the elemental with Bonefinger [17]. Thorgrim steps up and hits the elemental with Souldrinker [15].

    The elemental then punches Berenn [19], knocking him backwards. He almost falls over the bed, but barely avoids it. Unfortunately, this spoils his chance to take another attack.

    Noot calls for help, summoning Hepla to the doorway [she was still checking out the pillar with Windsong, Emyn just guarding the area.] Hepla fires Magic Missiles, which shatter against the elemental [10]. The elemental then hits Berenn with a tremendous blow, knocking him clear across the room [20]. He falls to the ground stunned. Gotrek and Thorgrim both hit the elemental twice, their combined blows blasting off chunks of rock until the thing collapses into a pile of stones.

    Down the hallway, Filbin picks the lock on the door, when Noot calls for help. He looks at Isilme, who stands there and shrugs, then he turns and sprints back down the hallway to help out with whatever evil has overtaken them now. Isilme watches Filbin go, then turns back to go through the door. She is shocked to find a half-elf standing before her. He wears fine elfin chain mail under an elven cloak, and wields a longsword which he thrusts into Isilme's belly with a wicked smile. However, his evil grin turns to surprise when his blade is suddenly turned aside by Isilme's Stoneskin protection. Then it is Isilme's turn to grin.

    Isilme reflexively casts her god granted magic missles into the assassin her longsword in a defensive posture. She calls back to noot, "we have company!" Then stares into the eyes of the half elf, winks, and says "shall we dance?"

    The assassin leaps back through the doorway, trying to kick it shut behind him. Isilme is faster, using her bond with Ellistrae to launch a barrage of Magic Missiles at the assasin. They flash into the started half-elf's face [13], knocking him backwards and up against the wall.

    He then pulls out a dagger in his left hand and grins back. "We'll see how well you handle that blade, dark elf," he says, though Isilme can sense the fear beneath the surface.

    He attacks her twice, missing both times and drawing off two more Stoneskins. Isilme then tumbles behind him, coming up in front of the open door and blocking his escape. She then begins the steps of the blade dance, longsword weaving in and out in a deadly pattern.

    Isilme and the half-elf trade blows, neither hitting, but Isilme losing three more SS. Noot meanwhile comes back to the corridor, muttering to himself. When he sees Isilme fighting another elf, he proceeds slowly down the hallway, Rod of Smiting in his hand.
    With things seemingly under control in the room, Filbin and Hepla move to the hallway where they too see the combat.

    "Noot," says Hepla, "time for some dagger work."

    The assassin glances back down the hall when Hepla speaks, deftly turning another of Isilme's attacks. Noot looks back at Hepla and frowns, then steps aside as Filbin charges down the corridor.

    The assassin tumbles passed Isilme, ending up behind her in his own room, and kicks the door shut behind him!

    Gotrek lets out a dwarven warcry and comes running down the hallway. Isilme hears Gotrek's yell, and she steps out of the way. Gotrek smashes into the door, sending it flying inward as he barrels into the room. The assassin is nowhere to be seen.

    Back inside the other room, Windsong investigates the pillar, then talks to the Azer as Noot moves back to stand with Elrae, keeping an eye out behind them as he uses Snowfang to scan for magic. He detects magic where the trunk landed. Thorgrim and Berenn take stock of the situation. They see that the trunk smashed to pieces and there are a bunch of things in a scattered heap. Gems, jewelry, dented platinum ewers which have spilled oil all over everything, something wrapped in a silk cloth, and a tube case. The items seem to be covered in a strange material, as if something poured over them and hardened. When they poke at them, they find everything is glued together and nothing they can do can separate them. Elrae detects magic from inside the silk cloth and the tube case, but unfortunately, it's all stuck together now.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim grabs a blanket from the bed, wraps up the two magic books, and place them along with the pile of glued stuff into one of the two empty chests on the top. While he's doing that, Berenn discovers a journal on top of the desk, sitting open. An inkwell with a pen sits next to it. It turns out to be the journal of Commander Hedrack, once high priest of the Temple of Elemental Evil. He begins to read the last entry....

    ***

    EXCERPTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF HEDRACK [last page is the last notation]

    IMAGINE my surprise to discover that Lord Iuz, whom I had so faithfully and skillfully served, was not the true power behind the Temple of Elemental Evil. He and his consort, the demoness Zuggtmoy, were both but pawns. Cannily, I discovered that the true power was the cult of the Elder Elemental Eye. Finally, a cause worthy of my skills and prowess! The Doomdreamers rule over the cult, and the Triad are the masters of the Doomdreamers. When the time is right, I shall join their ranks, and become the ultimate high priest of the Dark God himself. I will become The First.

    I have gained much respect in my time here—they know greatness when they see it. I have been entrusted with the tentacle rod, symbol of my office, and mastery of the GREATER TEMPLE in the OUTER FANE. Soon, I shall advance into the ranks of the Doomdreamers in the Inner Fane.

    IN my time as the supreme commander of the Temple of Elemental Evil, I saw no greater servant of evil than the one called Lareth the Beautiful. Iuz, Zuggtmoy, and even Lolth recognized his power and competed for his attention. Although he supposedly died defending the Moathouse, it was I found him, alive—albeit disfigured. From my divinations, I have learned that he still resides in Nulb. Perhaps he is now insane. What a waste.

    WHEN I was informed that The Doomdreamers spoke the PROPHECY OF THE CHAMPION OF ELEMENTAL EVIL, I of course assumed that I was he. Imagine my surprise to discover that I was not. My destiny becomes clearer, however. I am not the prophesized champion, but the one who will find the Champion and be his or her shepherd.

    TESSIMON of the Fire Temple came to the Outer Fane today. We tested her in the GREATER TEMPLE and found that she was unworthy as Champion. Still, she craved power and sought to seduce me yet again in order to get it. I introduced her to the Elemental Device. Now she shall have the elements to assist her at all times. She got the power she craved, although I suspect she barely survived the process.

    WHEN Zuggtmoy and Iuz created the ORB OF GOLDEN DEATH to help them fashion the ELEMENTAL NODES, I now know that they were given the secrets to do this through agents of the Doomdreamers. Although the ORB OF GOLDEN DEATH was destroyed, the cult of the Dark God has an artifact of which YELLOWSKULL was but a mere copy. The Doomdreamers call it the ORB OF OBLIVION and have taken it to the TEMPLE OF ELEMENTAL EVIL to recover the nodes.

    [This part is the last entry, the rest you can gather from skimming through it quickly.]

    THE ROD OF FORCE and the RINGS OF FORCE ARMOR are kept in the BLACK CYST to await the CHAMPION OF ELEMENTAL EVIL, as gifts of the Dark God and symbols of his acceptance of the Champion. I now believe that the CHAMPION OF ELEMENTAL EVIL is Lareth the Beautiful. Just yesterday, Satau confirmed my suspicions. I will test Lareth immediately, after retrieving him from Nulb.

    LARETH is returned, though he seems less a Champion than even Tessimon once claimed. Yet, he has been confirmed Champion! As instructed by the First himself, I have given Lareth his gifts of the Dark God. With the Orb he may even rival my power.

    THE Triad used Tourbillion this morning to teleport to the Temple, where they have reclaimed the Fire Node. I, without whom none of this would be possible, was left here. Oh, the pain! Now I must languish here while they summon the Dread Prince Imix and... [there is an ink splat and it stops here]

    ***

    Back to the south, in the center of this small chamber, a dark grey life-size statue of man in a cowled robe stands, enough of his face visible to show that he is weeping. Two curved stone benches with cushions flank the statue. A small table sits between them, at the foot of the statue, with a couple of books upon it. There is a closed door on the east wall, and an open door to the south. Through that door you see a corridor going south, to where you entered the Fane.

    Hepla, getting a look at Gotrek says,"Take some healing potions or something, you are hurt bad. The dwarf just grins.

    Isilme then steps up and casts Glitterdust in the room. The assassin is revealed, hiding in the corner. He swears, as Gotrek and Emyn both charge.

    Filbin moves up beside Hepla, glancing into the room. "I wouldn't want to be him!" he says ruefully.

    The assassin starts to tumble away, but Hepla snaps the whip by his head, making him hesitate. With that small window, Gotrek and Emyn both strike. Gotrek hits him with Goreblade [16] while Emyn runs him through with the Longsword of Fire [10]. He strikes back, hitting Gotrek with his sword [8] and Emyn with his dagger [4]. Emyn feels the burn of poison, but he shrugs it off and continues his attack. Gotrek then hits the man again [12]. He is doing quite poorly.

    Isilme slips around the far side of the room and shuts the door, then turns back and does her best "evil drow" grin. The assassin throws down his blades and asks for quarter.

    She casts the *song* spell "charm monster," charming the assassin. She then grills him on the Fane.

    His name is Victor, a male half-elf assassin. He has a Masterwork longsword and dagger. He also has MW elfin chain mail, a cloak of elvenkind, and a potion of Restoration. His poison is type B2--pretty deadly. He has more in his room next door. He works directly for Commander Hedrack, along with his companion Bether who was sent into the mines earlier to find the intruders and deal with them. He knows a lot about the Outer Fane. The Doomdreamers are in the Inner Fane; he's never been there. He knows that most of the troops of the Fane are in the mines dealing with the intruders, which he thought you were until you convince him you are working with Hedrack as well. He doesn't know anything about the pillars, except that they are somehow important to the priests of the Elder Elemental God. He also knows there are four of them in total, though as far as he knows, the priests only know the location of this one. He knows nothing about the cold barrier, though he reasons it's associated with something Hedrack called the Black Cyst. He was warned not to even try to go through there.

    He takes you into the next room over [area 17] which is his chamber which he shares with the other assassin. This room is a spartan bedchamber, with two iron-framed beds, a pair of wooden chairs, and a purple rug on the floor. Next to the south wall stands a wooden chest of drawers with a pair of curved daggers mounted on the wall above it. A small black marble table with a ceramic water basin upon it sits between the beds. The chest contains mostly clothes, though a locked and trapped drawer holds a vial with doses of B2 poison [the one of his blade's used up]. There is also a pouch with 250 GP, 2 gold rings, and two potions of Ex-Healing.

    "Do you know who was sent into the mines?" asks Isilme.

    "Sure," he says. "Commander Hedrack sent out half of the off-duty guards [40] into the tunnels. In addition, half the ogres and trolls. He knows that Mistress Naquent rode Chymon, guardian of the Fire Door, went across the bridge to the Western Complex. Once the interlopers were found in the Eastern Complex, she went to the area beyond the mountain, to cut off any escape, along with all the gnoll warriors and the Invisible Stalkers. Underpriest Varachan commanded the group that went to North Complex, along with Ukemil and his lions as well as the other assassin. To the East Complex was the wizard Taragan, and the hideous Paigol [those are the ones you killed!]."

    "Hedrack lost contact with Taragan after the fight in the Complex, though he was informed by Naquent of the prisoners taken by Taragan. [that was you guys sneaking in!] With the last of the invaders retreating back into to the mines towards the Water Temple, the various forces have converged from both sides to cut them off and finish them."

    He also reveals to you what he knows of the Outer Fane. You've seen everything from areas 14-33. Here's what's in the rest, and indications of what lies in the areas where he has not been. He doesn't know about the secret door between 14 and 15. He also tells you that nobody usually passes through the gates, using instead the passages through the towers and circling the Fane. Anyway, starting at the bottom right and going in a clockwise direction:

    12: guardroom (minotaurs)
    9: guardroom (bugbears)
    7: Shrine of Dark Communion (place for cultists to pray)
    8: Vestry (where priests prepare for rituals)
    6: Study
    5: Library
    3: Guardpost (ogres)
    2: Storeroom (foodstuffs)
    45-48: Guestrooms (Paigol, Magmen, and Drow currently here)
    49: Slave quarters
    50: Lareth's chamber
    44: Great Hall (It is here that Hedrack has assembled forces to either protect the Fane or to support those in the Mines)
    42: Hall of Priests (he hasn't been in here, as it's not allowed. Only priests go there)
    41: Varachan's chambers
    40: Ukemil's chambers
    39: Kennels of Ukemil's lions
    37: Guardroom (ogres)

    Now, he knows generally what's to be found in a few other places, though he hasn't been to any of them.

    South of Area 9 is the Water Door and also the lair of the Nagas.
    North of Area 8 (reachable through the door east of area 3) is the Oracle, Satau the Illithid.
    SW (near the Fire Door) is the lair of the Chymon, the Red Dragon
    South of area 39 (through the door) was off-limits totally.
    South of the Air Door are the air guardians, though he doesn't know what they are.

    The circular corridor which connects all the towers and is not shown, enters the complex only in the following rooms: the hall between 14 and 15 (this is where you entered), area 33 (this is where you descended towards the prison), area 9, and area 37.

    "Let's clear this place out," says Noot, thinking of all the good stuff they may find.

    Reunoux the Azer says, "I am not here to waste time combing this place room-by-room. I must return to my plane, to report what I've found." He looks around at the rest of the party, all back together now after the defeat of the assassin and looting Hedrack's room. "Your enemies have mostly already left to this 'Temple of Elemental Evil' mentioned in the journal. There they plan to bring the Dread Prince Imix to your plane. You have no time to lose! You must seek this teleportation device and follow them. For myself, I must find a way back to the Plane of Fire, through the deep tunnels beneath this old volcano from whence I arrived. I need but to reach the courtyard of this place, and I can follow the lava tubes home. That courtyard surrounds a tower, the Inner Fane. It is most assuredly there you will find this Tourbillion. It is there we must all go."

    "If you know where to go, lead on, please," says Hepla. "We would welcome your help in our battle with the Inner Fane (IF) if you would."

    "Sadly, I do not," he says. "I came up through the magma tubes, but was taken in the courtyard and rendered unconscious. I awoke in the prison where you found me. If we can reach the courtyard, I can return home the same way."

    Isilme asks the assassin " you say this place is lareths room" and points to the rough sketch. "tell me about him. Is he a prisoner here, does he command, etc? "Tell me also about the drow in the guest rooms you mentioned, what do you know of them? Do you know where Hedrack is now?"

    "Lareth is gone," he says. "The Triad took him with them."

    As for the other questions.... I don't think there are any doors you couldn't open or anything, just some places you haven't been. Victor's information fills in quite a void though. The machine is how they infuse creatures (and people) with elemental essence. Unfortunately, it's the "dark side" of elements, the "evil" aspects. So, it's not a nice thing. [incidentally, the module had that as the "Infernal Machine" which would infuse demonic traits. I thought that was rather out of place. I mean, what does "demonic" have to do with elemental? IMO they really dropped the ball here, and I changed things to be "elemental" characteristics instead. Just saying.] Also, you are warned by the assassin against "flying" into the Inner Fane. The towers do not allow it! The drow he doesn't know about, except they are "ambassadors" of some sort. He knows only they are from Erelhei-Cinlu. Isilme starts, as that is the city where she was born. It's also the city from whence the drow priestess with the Slavelords came.

    "In the book it says that "He used Tourbillion to teleport." Isilme ask him what is Tourbillion, and." how did he use it to teleport. Also how do we get to the Gate of Fire? Has he ever seen or know anything about Power Gems, Orb of Obliion, Tenacle Rod, Rod of Force or Rings of Force Armour?"

    He knows nothing about any of that except the following. The Tourbillion is located somewhere in the Inner Fane. The Tentacle Rod was something wicked wielded by Hedrack. "You don't want to be on the receiving end of that," he says. Isilme can attest to that, having witnessed what happened to Taki back in Suderham.

    The party first travels back to the machine where Gotrek and Thorgrim destroy it. Meanwhile, isilme studies hedracks journal intently and says " It appears Lareth has betrayed us. It seems I am the cause of even more evil because I allowed him to live. This will not happen twice. He is the confirmed champion, and hence has the Rings and Rod of Force. [these were located in the cold area] It appears they also have another Orb of Golden Death, and I more then all of you know what power it holds and how twisted and evil it is. The azer is right, we focus on the wrong things. We need to get to the Inner Fane before they summon the elemental prince. I want badly to investigate the library, and find out why my people are here - but that is far less imortant than stopping them from summoning another powerful ally. The only things I can suggest is trying to make our way to the center. Whatever they used to teleport went with them, so I suggest we try the secret door, perhaps that will lead us to the center. Of it turns out to be old and undiscovered, we may be able to rest as well. Last thing, I dont know if this "cyst" is generating the cold, but perhaps we could try and find this item and use it? "

    Emyn declares a Pursuit of Vengeance on Lareth. He does so, and can sense the general direction and distance. Lareth is to the east, and far away. Many leagues away. As for the machine, it's pretty well destroyed now. Finally, the Cyst is certainly the cold area; Victor confirms that. He also confirms that the machine was how they infused things/people with elemental essence, though he had never actually seen it. With the machine destroyed, the party decides to move to the southwest, through the secret doorway in an attempt to make it to the Inner Fane.
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    Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:36 pm  
    Part 19 - Hedrack

    Part 19 - Hedrack

    Filbin opesn the secret door, which slides open with the depression of a small concealed button. It reveals a passage heading SW at an angle, then turns 45* to south, ending in an empty 20x30' chamber. There is a door at the far end.

    Noot moves down the hall, and as he approaches the door, Gotrek, walking behind him, steps on a pressure plate. A concealed portcullis slams down at the opening of the chamber, sealing it off from the passage. Filbin and Elrae manage to avoid it, as well as Isilme who is watching the rear, along with the assassin Victor. Everyone else is stuck in the chamber. The full 40' west wall then begins to push quickly towards the east wall of the now-sealed chamber. Hepla turns around and looks at it and sees that it is made of steel. The wall will push the party halfway across the room in one round!

    Emyn says, "This might be a good time to use a wall of force to stop this wall from crushing us."

    Gotrek mutters a string of profanities under his breath, and draws Stone crusher, preparing to use it as a brace between the walls if quarters get that tight.

    Noot also finds the door solidly locked, and he is all too quickly forced to move away from it as the wall pushes inexorably to the east. Gotrek and Berenn rush to the portcullis, along with Isilme from the other side. Together they succeed in pulling it up, but the wall then forces Gotrek to let go as he's pushed to the right. Berenn successfully rolls underneath it into the passage beyond, as it comes slamming back down. All too quickly, the rest of the party are completely cut off from those on the other side of the portcullis.
    The remaining party members are thus thrust into the eastern side of the room, as sliders suddenly open on the far wall and long blades begin to whip across the remaining section while others cuts a swath from the ceiling.

    Hepla casts enlarge on the wall, which stops, jammed in place. However, the blades, lots of them of various types, spin around relentlessly. Gotrek takes [21]. Thorgrim takes [10]. Emyn and Hepla are protected by Stoneskins. The Azer takes [28], and he is cut in half! The halfling who has been dragged along and Victor the assassin are killed as well. Noot and Windsong dextrously avoid the blades. They continue to keep spinning, and it's everything you can do to try and avoid them.

    Noot reads his scroll of Protection from Non-Magical Traps, and the blades cannot touch him. Hepla casts Wraithform, and she's ok. Emyn is hit a few more times, but his Stoneskin continues to protect him. Thorgrim opens his portable hole and jumps in to grab his bar, so he's ok. Gotrek dives in, landing atop Thorgrim and the two fall in a heap to the bottom of the whole, landing next to the Gutshaker. Windsong is also able to elude the blades again. They continue to spin around, though the wall is no longer moving. It also enlarged enough to break through the portcullis, though the wall still blocks the corridor, keeping the rest of the party stuck out there.

    Hepla moves through the wall, finding herself in an area with lots of machinery which she doesn't understand. Noot somehow simply seems to be completely safe from the blades, as he calmly walks back around the room, checking out the other sides. Thorgrim meanwhile uses the steel bar to attempt to jam some blades. The spinning blades knock the bar right out of his hands, and the sharp end flips back, impaling him through the leg! He stumbles back, and is hit by a couple more blades as he falls back into the hole. [15 damage total!] Gotrek hands him a rag and a mug of Gutshaker for his troubles.

    Windsong also makes it into the hole, though it's now rather cramped, with hardly any room to move. Noot stands above it, impervious to the blades which just never seem to hit him. Isilme casts Stone Shape, creating an exit from the room back through to the corridor.

    "Best wait this out, and leave it to the professionals," says Thorgrim. "Gotrek, let's chase this Gutshaker with Potions of Healing." Thorgrim will then drink his last Potion of Extra-Healing.

    Isilme says to noot, "See if you can open the far door since you are protected, check it for traps and unlock it."

    Noot can't get to the door, because it has been blocked by the moving wall. Hepla ends her Wraithform spell and changes back. She then starts to hack at the machinery, while everyone else waits. There is a working space back there, and there is a ladder up. As the machinery starts to break, the trap seems to reset, with the blades retracting back into the walls and ceiling. Hepla then finds herself stuck in the side chamber with the trap machinery. The wall doesn't slide back, however, as it's all jammed up from the enlarge spell.

    With the trap deactivated Isilme flies in and casts "reduce" on the wall so it can reset itself. She reminds everyone to "Watch out for that pressure switch."

    Reduce brings the wall back to size, but it doesn't move back. It's possible the enlarge broke the mechanism which moves it. Gotrek drank his potion, regaining [27]. You don't seen any other way to get to the door. Isilme stoneshapes the other end to get access to the door, while Hepla finds a passage to the other side from the mechanism space above and drops down on the far side. There she opens the door. The passage continues down to a dead end, with a "secret" door at the far end. Well, it's not secret from the inside!

    "We need to find a way to the interior," says Berenn.

    In a small, wheedling voice Hepla says," What about the library? That's were all the books should be." She is not really trying to chage anyone's mind, she's just a teenage witch who likes books and is petulant she is not getting her way.

    "OH!" says Isilme, her eyes lighting up. "A library? I volunteer."

    "I will back her up," Hepla says, bouncing from foot to foot.

    "Let Isilme and Hepla check out the library first," says Berenn. "If there isn't an entrance there, we can figure out a way through the cold zone or another way."

    "Maybe someone could come with us, just in case," says Hepla with a wink at Emyn. "Someone who can carry our books, if we find any."

    The party moves along the upper corridor, circling the Fane and connecting the towers, and soon finds stairs heading down. This is the way the assassin told them to go. Windsong scouts down the stairs and finds himself in the corridor going from area 9 to 10. There are 4 portcullises blocking off area 10. Inside it you see a large chamber with two round beds occupying the center. Incense burns from a brazier hanging from the ceiling. The west wall has three alcoves with life-sized statues of humans wrapped in the coils of serpents.

    He continues silently north, into area 9. This large chamber is a guardroom. The north wall is made of iron, as is the door there. The iron is painted purple with images of the ocher robed priests chanting. Three huge bugbears with greatswords stand guard here with, watching each exit. Windsong slips back down the hallway, without being seen, and reports what he found.

    Emyn says, "Sounds like a place we could use that Wand of Highfolk."

    Isilme casts Invisibility, then slips downstairs. When she gets close to the guardroom, she uses her wand. Soon, the bugbears begin to argue, which then escalates until they begin to fight amongst themselves. The iron door opens and two more bugbears come out. Only two of the other bugbears are still standing, and they also start to fight the two newcomers. Soon there are only three, and then two minotaurs enter from the right. They quickly bash a couple more bugbears into submission, and the remaining one backs off, showing the minotaurs that he is friendly. They then check out the three down bugbears. The bugbear calls out, and two more bugbears come out through the iron door, to help pick up the others. Isilme snaps off another wand charge. One of the minotaurs barks something at a bugbear, which then attacks the minotaur. Soon, the bugbears are all fighting the two minotaurs.....

    "Giggle, good work" thinks Hepla.

    Thorgrim will wait until the sound of combat dies down, until there are just a few weapons clashing, before moving to engage and slay the minotaurs. Minotaurs first, bugbears second. It doesn't take long. Soon, you hear only the minotaurs speaking in their gruff, grunting language. Thorgrim and Gotrek then charge down the corridor, followed closely by Berenn and Emyn. The minotaurs hear them running and turn to meet them. One is pretty beat up. Isilme is hiding in the hallway, pretty content to just let the warriors rush passed her. Hepla and Elrae are still in the stairs, along with Noot and Filbin. Windsong takes up the rear, near the top of the stairs, keeping watch behind them.

    Gotrek and Thorgrim charge the two minotaurs. Thorgrim takes a hit [7] before finishing off the minotaur with his attack. Gotrek hits the other [17]. As Emyn and Berenn move up, they swing to the flanks of the last minotaur. The minotaur is quickly brought down by the circle of warriors around it. Now that you can look around, you see arrow slits in the iron wall, cleverly disguised as part of the painting. Large longbows in the other room (behind the iron door which the bugbears left open) show that they would have fired at you from behind the wall while the minotaurs attacked from behind [from area 12]. The party gathers up the loot from them and can move on towards the library when ready.

    Soon they enter what Victor called "the Shrine of Dark Communion" [area 7]. There a six wooden benches here arranged around the chamber. Between two archways of purple stone that lead off to the NW and SW, there is a door of glass with a lavender stone in the center. Beyond that door, a ball of swirling black fire with a blood red corona can be seen to float in the center of another small chamber. The door has no obvious way to open it.

    Hepla says," perhaps my wand of Fire Extingusing could put out that black fire. But it will certainly attract a lot of attention I feel. Should we continue to the library or fight the fire and whatever guards it?"

    "Perhaps it's about time for someone to use this scroll I have," says Thorgrim. "Protection from all Elementals."

    "I like your idea Hepla," says Isilme. "That would be interesting to try and use the wand to extinguish the fire."

    Windsong moves down the SW corridor [towards area 6], and there he finds a small balcony/study. The dark line is a railing, which overlooks the library [area 7] below. The stairs actually go down from the balcony to the library [the map is a bit unclear here]. Three velvet couches and six luxurious chairs, a couple small tables, and a desk furnish this room. Hanging lamps glowing with light provide ample illumination for reading. Below, he can see the library. Books line shelves on every wall, the whole area let with Continual Light. Violet-colored rugs cover the floor. There are hundreds of books here.

    Filbin meanwhile checks out the NW corridor [towards area 8], the Vestry. Hanging from hooks on the north and south walls are a bunch of robes, 6 ocher-colored and 4 purple. An ornate box rests on a marble stand in the center of the room. It is 4x2, 2' high. There are two doors on one side, hinged on the outside and locked in the middle. Filbin examines it, not seeing any traps, before retiring and filling in the rest of the party.

    Hepla hears that Windsong has found the library, books, soft couches(maybe a nap), books, secret passageways(what library doesn't have them) and books. "The flame can wait, lead on Windsong."

    Thorgrim stands guard, and hands Hepla his Portable Hole. "Here, child. Take what you wish. If need be, we can disgorge The Hole to make room for some of these tomes. Wait for Noot to check it, and don't blow yourself up."

    Noot finds no traps. There are over 500 books! [I can't come up with that many titles, so if you want to take some, you can, but just know, there are lots.] Isilme casts Detect Magic. None in the library. There is magic on the glass door. Also, the purple robes have a slight magic to them.

    Hepla, while looking for info about this place, grabs 5 books from near the entrance, most lickly reference and most commonly used. Then 5 books from the back, most lickly least used. Then, after kicking all the chairs and sofas, she grabs 5 from around the most used chair. She will also grab what appears as the oldest books. She puts all of them neatly in Thorgrim's portable hole and returns it to him. "Thank you," she says. She then sits in a chair, actually curls up in one very cat like and looks over the library seeing if anything looks out of place. An odd wall or strange picture or item that seems like it's special.

    Meanwhile, Isilme does a quick scan of the books and grabs anything referencing dragons, magic, the planes, or demonology. After finding a few, they all return to the Shrine.

    Hepla says," Elray, does not your sword also extinguish flames? Together with my wand, they might put out that black fire."

    The door seems to have a wizard lock on it, so they can't open it. Hepla tries her wand, but it has no effect. Isilme casts Knock, then opens the door. Inside she finds a small chamber. Floating in the center is a round sphere of absolute blackness. Behind it is a torch, which is creating the flaming corona around it. The torch is magical, as is the ball of blackness.



    The hairs on the back of Isilme's necks rise as she looks at the thing. She takes out a gold coin and tosses it at the spinning darkness. It disappears into the black hole.

    "That sphere is powerfull and dangerous," says Isilme. "Maybe this is why it's suspended in glass. You can't touch it."

    "Levitation might work," says Hepla, "but once unleashed, how do we stop it?"

    Isilme sighs "I still say we ignore this. It just strikes me as too dangerous. Lets check out that stairway in the library. We can have Noot check for traps and Windsong scout ahead".

    The party closes the door, which eventually locks itself up again. Thorgrim looks back at the blackness, wondering if they just left behind their most important find. The party then moves on to the Vestry. The box in the vestry was locked; however, Noot easily picks it. Inside are a small torch, matching those they've seen on some of the murals painted in various places, as well as a black thurible [a small metal censor suspended on chains; I had to look that up!] and 10 pieces of incense (six black cones and four spheres). All are magical.

    Thurible and incense into the Hole. "What's next?" asks Thorgrim.

    "Wait a minute," says Thorgrim, slapping his head. He gets a sheet of paper out of his pocket. "Let me see that axe," he asks Gotrek. Thorgrim then heads back and hacks the horns off the minotaurs, and tosses the bloody things into the Hole as well. Nah, he puts them in a chest. "The best trophies are ones you can use," he says. He ponders a moment. "What we need is a traveling laboratory. That way we could take Lyseios along with us! Perhaps some sort of extradimensional space. Or even a large wagon, should we decide to caravan."

    "Don't forget the magic torch," says Noot.

    "We should go back through the cold," says Isilme. "I believe that is the way, and we know the robes protect us from the cold."

    Gotrek is ready," he says, as his armor will protect him from the cold. Berenn also says that he and Thorgrim can add priestly protection as well.

    "No choice but to take damage," says Thorgrim. "But I felt that chill in my very bones. I feel it may be enough to kill those of lesser constitution, and we've no idea how far the Cold Zone will extend. And yes it would expend ALL of our god-given powers, leaving none for healing.Of course, there is the other choice: to seek another route. We know what lies ahead of us on this level of the fortress. Brute force. It may be as bad of the Cold Zone, or even worse."

    The party takes a quick vote, with everyone wanting to head back to the cold area. They take the stuff from the Vestry, 4 more purple robes (in addition to the two they already have), plus the thurible, incense, and torch. When they get back to the cold area [the intersection below area 20] they do indeed find that the robes protect them from the cold. Thus, they have no need to cast any further spells.

    I will repost the description of this area: It is another 4-way intersection with a 20' wide corridor. To the south it goes about 80' before ending in double doors. To the north it goes about 40'. Down the lenghth of the hallway, about every 10', a purplish stone panel has been set into the walls on both sides. The panels are carved with intricate images of robed and hodded people in procession, each carrying a special torch. Further, the north section ends in three archways 8' high and 4' wide, entirely filled with some kind of thick green goo. To the west (area 24) he sees a small chamber. The only object in the room is a black stone font. Strange runes ring the rounded edge of the font. Each wall has a single purple tapestry with the inverted triangle of the Elder Elemental God in black.

    "Didn't Not retrieve the magic torch?" asks Isilme. "Everyone in the pictures has one, so we probably should too."

    "Yes," says Noot, "I have one." He then moves up to inspect the tapestries. There is nothing behind the tapestries in area 24. They are merely decoration. All that is there is the font in the center of the room.

    Hepla looks to see if there is a fluid source in the font. She hopes that water is used in the font....

    "Good call," says Thorgrim. "Though what we can learn, I cannot say. Did this radiate magic? It's time to destroy all these evil artifacts. I'm glad that infernal machine is well-destroyed."

    There is clear water in the font. Emyn spits into it, but that illicits no response. Gotrek then just walks up and smacks it with Bonecrusher, bashing it into pieces and knocking themm over on the floor.

    "All the magic in this place reeks of evil," says Thorgrim. "We are perhaps better off destroying what we find in this wretched place. The sphere, the obelisk, these are powerful artifacts of evil, and must be dealt with soon. But first, we strike the head!"

    The party moves down to the double doors. When they get there, two large men rush out through the goo-filled archways back to the north. They pass by the invisibile Isilme, who sees that they are Flesh Golems! They move south to attack.

    The warriors step up, taking up a defensive line, while the others slip back behind them. Elrae fires magic missiles at one of the things, which seem completely unaffected by them. The golems rush down the hall to attack. Gotrek and Thorgrim attack, Thorgrim hitting for [15]. Emyn and Berenn both the one to the right for [5] and [10]. The Flesh golems attack. Gotrek is hit [16]. Noot walks up on the ceiling and moves across to attack the golems from behind.

    Windsong backs off, keeping an eye on the double-doors while Hepla moves back over by Elrae though she is loath to attempt any spells after Elrae's didn't work. Noot stands upside down on the ceiling and hits one of the golems in the back of its head with his Rod of Smiting. He smacks the one attacking Gotrek and Thorgrim, hitting it with a large crack! He does [17] damage, and one of the things eyeballs flies right out of its head.

    The golem turns and swings Noot, missing twice. The other golem hits Berenn [14]. Gotrek and Thorgrim both hit the golem a couple of times, cutting it down and chopping it apart! Berenn and Emyn each hit once, doing [20] total. The next round all four fighters attack the remaining golem, which doesn't stand a chance and is easily hacked apart.

    Hepla colledts the eyeballs while Berenn just shakes his head, turning away. Noot returns to the doors. They open quite easily revealing an area of total darkness. None of your light penetrates it. Isilme goes to check it out, and also sees that her infravision is useless. Noot lights the torch they found. It is made of black iron and has a cupped head that is fitted so that the cone-shaped incense can be set into it. When placed in it and lit, it creates a 10' radius of violet light which reveals a room about 60x80 with two more corridors heading out, one west and one south. The ceiling is vaulted, up to 30' high in the center and 20' at the walls. An ebony table with silver inlay dominates the center of the room. Each leg is carved into the form of a tentacle. Upon the tables rests a large iron horn, engraved with images of fire, flood, tornados, and earthquakes. The north wall is an immense bas relief of a man in robes blowing the horn and elemental creatures all bowing in subservience. The hallway to the west is blocked by a series of translucent lilac-colored walls with a grotesque statue depicting some kind of obscene elemental, tentacled creature in the center and before each one. The 40' wide hallway to the south is flanked on either side by a purple-colored railing in the form of writhing tentacles. It continues south out of sight.

    Isilme checks out the horn, which she notes is clearly magical.


    Noot continues to look around, but he is afraid to touch anything. Walking around, he can see that at the end of the western corridor 60' away is a door. Those with underground direction sense can tell that the door likely opens to the Inner Fane [obvious from the map!]. Also, the southern passage with the railing enters a chamber after about 60'; you can't see anything clearly down there as it's rather dark and the stone there is black with purple veins. However, the chamber ends with a raised altar of some kind. Also, there is a distinct sense of "unholiness" here. The entire area is clearly consecrated to "evil". Good beings here feel very uneasy [translates also as a -2 penalty to pretty much everything].

    Cringing slightly, Isilme picks up the horn but nothing happens. It is about 6' long, and weighs about 150lbs.

    "Must be made of gold, and not iron, as it appears," says Thorgrim. "Do you suppose this is the Horn of Iggwilv, that once we sought?"

    Isilme puts it into Thorgrim's portable hole, while Hepla meanwhile checks out the other hallway. She notices that the translucent walls are all Walls of Force. Isilme then move to check out the chamber. The railing of tentacles and serpents extends 40' into a large hexagonal room. It ends in small cressets that are designed to hold small cone-shaped inserts. In the southern portion of the room, six cantilevers on the east and west walls support statues of scowling gargoyles, each subtly different than the other. A square plate of violet stone 20' across is set into the floor at the point where the railing stops. A black circle is circumscribed into the center of the plate. A short flight of steps leads up to a raised platform in the southernmost end of the room. The platform and steps are made of grey stones with black and purple flecks. Atop the platform is a black altar, a lavender altar cloth, two black tallow candles set in fixtures at either end.



    Isilme shudder when she sees the altar. She knows all too well what kind of horrible and evil rites could be performed in here. She starts flying and checking around this room and the other for secret and concealed passages. Isilme finds no secret doors or passages of any kind. As she's flying around invisible, Hepla and Emyn enter the room. Noot comes walking in too, along with Elrae. Isaac starts to go crazy, and Noot, for as much as he tries, can't hold him. The ferret bites Noot on the hand, leaps off him, and runs back out.

    "I wonder if they did animal sacrifices here," says Noot. He then follows Isaac and gently calls to him once clear of the room. Isaac goes through the room where the horn was, down the hallway, and turns right around the corner. Noot follows stealthily.

    When Noot runs off after Isaac, he still has the Torch of Revealing. The areas on the map shaded with a "D" become impenetrable darkness. Isilme, Emyn, and Elrae can still see in the southern room, as can the rest in the room with the horn, but once Noot runs out after Isaac (then followed by Hepla) the shaded "D" areas become pitch black. Those with infravision can see half normal, and the "D" areas are impenetrable darkness.

    Isilme flies off after Noot and Hepla. Elrae finds that he is numbed to the core in the southern room, despite the protection from his Ring of Warmth. He takes [2] damage. Emyn, wearing the robe, is fine. Elrae backs out of the room, and draws Snowfang. The light is sheds is only half-normal, which is enough to illuminate the central portion of the table room [21] barely. Emyn retires with Elrae as he cannot see in the southern room. He then starts after Hepla too.

    Shortly after Emyn disappears through the darkness, he hears a faint scream from Hepla....

    Emyn, coming to the room [18], finds a drow priestess in front of him, standing with her back to him and basically behind Hepla, who is backing away to the left towards Noot. Noot is wrapped in tentacles that have come out of the ground and entangled him. Across the room, just beyond the pillar, stands another priest, Commander Hedrack. Both seem to be ignoring Hepla and Noot, and they are leveling tentacle rods at one another.



    [In the room Noot is entangles, with Hepla backing out of the way, and now Emyn behind the priestess. Everyone else is back in the room where they found the horn [area 21].and can follow after hearing Hepla's scream if they wish.]

    "Favor?" says Hedrack, composing himself. "The Elder Eye is not the Spider Queen," he says. "He shows no favor, and revels in all chaos." He levels the rod at the drow. "We shall see who stands in higher regard." [this is what Emyn hears just as he shows up.]

    "It will be as the chosen has willed," replies the priestess. "Your usefulness is at an end."

    [Berenn OOC: Hedrack? Where is Berenn? Hedrack needs to die ... again.]

    "To our friends!" says Thorgrim. He rushes that way [towards area 18], pick at the ready.
    Once he gets there he will take a moment to assess the situation. If it's still as described, he will attack Hedrack.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Thorgrim's seen him before, so he knows his face. Best to see him dead. Lareth is the one we should be questioning. This guy dies. Thorgrim also has a secondary motivation to kill this other drow chick and I guess tertiary is to save Noot. Gotta have priorities!]

    Emyn makes sure Hepla is ok, then attacks the tentacles on Noot. Hepla casts Whip, and snaps it at Hedrack. It rips the tentacle rod from his hands! "He turns towards her, cursing as Emyn moves to Noot. He tries to pry the tentacles off, but cannot do so. He starts to hack at them, and he is able to free Noot.

    Hedrack turns to Hepla, mid-casting, and utters the words of a strange prayer. She feels a sudden deep pain, cries, and falls to the floor in a heap.

    "Use your feminine wiles in Hell, girl," he says before turning his attention back to the drow priestess.

    The drow priestess points her tentacle rod at Hedrack, and tentacles come from the ground around him, just as he did to Noot. However, they fail to entrap him.

    Emyn checks Hepla, but finds that she is dead.

    When Berenn sees Hedrack he'll shout, "I don't know what foul spell brought you back from the Nine Hells Hedrack, but I will make there is nothing left of you to bring back a second time!" Berenn will cast Heat Metal on Hedrack's armor.

    The drow priestess moves the sphere of annihilation they saw in the glass room across the room where it engulfs Hedrack's tentacle rod, sucking it into its black nothingness. Hedracks snears at the priestess, backing away around the far side of the 4-sided pillar.
    He snarls at the drow priestess. "House Eilserves will pay for this betrayal," he says.

    The drow priestess laughs, and you recognize her voice as Isilme's voice. "Your end is inevitable Hedrack, the chosen has spoken. Prepare to face the wrath of the deepest abyss."

    Before anything else happens, he takes a pepper egg in the face, thrown from Windsong.

    Cursing, Hedrack then turns to flee, but runs into an invisible wall! He looks back to see the crying Noot, one hand holding Isaac, the other hand extended towards him. [He just used his wall of force from his ring to block Hedrack's escape!]

    Meanwhile, Emyn's face goes flat and righteous rage fills his eyes as tears course down his cheeks. "For Hepla and Trithereon!" he bellows as he attacks Hedrack in a semi-insane rage.

    Noot keeps going back and forth between Isaac and Hepla trying to resuscitate either one. He is a basket case mostly because of the loss of Isaac. Since his parents death he doesn't handle losing friends or pets very well.

    Emyn closes on Hedrack. "You have one chance to live. Return Hepla's natural life to her."

    He turns around, wiping his eyes, having a hard time seeing. "She shall return to the elemental oneness from whence she came," he says. Blinking away tears from the pepper.

    Thorgrim moves over to examine Hepla, unfortunately seeing that she is dead. There are no wounds, but she is dead nonetheless. Berenn casts Heat Metal on Hedrack's armor, which doesn't seem to affect it. The drow then makes the sphere head towards Hedrack, who backs away, keeping the pillar between himself and the orb. Meanwhile, Windsong was moving around to the flank. Gotrek is singing his warsong of Clan Delgrim, but when he sees what is happening, he stops singing (with a very great effort of will) and waits, giving the honor of the fight to Emyn.

    Emyn attacks Hedrack with a fury even Gotrek would be shocked by, calling upon his god for aid in exacting his vengeance. Hedrack backs off, drawing a mace from beneath his robes. You see the ocher-colored plate mail beneath, so you know he's well-armored.

    Windsong throws his shuriken, but they bounce harmlessly off Headrack's armor as he turns slightly and blocks them. Elrae moves down so that he can join the fight, drawing Snowfang at the same time.

    Isilme continues to work on the illusion, moving the Sphere towards Hedrack. He moves back, seeing Emyn approach and Windsong throwing stuff at him.

    The illusory drow priestess says, "Feel the cold chill of death yet Hedrack," and a wall of ice appears in front of his door, blocking it.

    He turns back and casts a spell, and suddenly the very air swirls and thickens into a vast noxious cloud. Windsong takes [6] and Emyn takes [7]. Thorgrim takes [10] and his silence spell is ruined. [Nobody can see through it.]

    Emyn charges through the stuff, ignoring the coughing and gagging, and emerges to the side of Hedrack, still getting a swing in and hitting him [13]. Thorgrim immediately moves backwards, bumping his head on Isilme's feet dangling in the air above. Isilme, and everyone else, find themselves on the other side of the vaporous cloud, which extends all the way up to the ceiling. Berenn draws blades and moves up, but doesn't cross the cloud. Nobody does. Filbin hides in the shadows, watching the rear with sword in hand.

    Windsong draws his blades and moves out of the cloud, almost running into Hedrack.
    Hedrack backs up and calls upon Imix, dropping a Flame Strike on top of Emyn and Windsong. Windsong fails his save, taking [16] as he still is able to flatten himself against the wall and avoid most of it. Emyn makes his save, taking only [11]. Emyn then hits Hedrack twice [7] and [11]. Emyn doesn't even feel the blows, in as much a rage as Gotrek ever was!

    The rest of the party is on the other side of the cloud, wondering if they should risk passing through it.....

    Gotrek says, "I'm going," and starts to sing. With a curse, Thorgrim quickly casts a protection spell on him! Isilme goes through the cloud, taking [8] in the process. She comes out on the other side and sees Windsong and Emyn battling Hedrack hand to hand.

    Windsong hits Hedrack [6]. Hedrack casts a spell [see, concentration works!], then backs off from them into the corner.

    Emyn moves up, hitting Hedrack a series of times, but his blows seem to bounce off him.
    Berenn then casts silence beyond the cloud, and the entire area is bathed in silence. Gotrek charges through, and the silence area stops his ability to go into a rage. Of course, this just makes him even more mad! Nevertheless, he moves up on Hedrack.

    Thorgrim will stay behind the cloudkill barrier, protecting the weaker party members from whatever comes next. "They've got a paladin, a shadowdancer, a bladesinger and a battlerager. Should get the job done."

    Elrae goes to check out Noot, who seems inconsolable. Berenn stands, waiting with blades out just in case. Emyn attacks Hedrack, his blades ringing off what seems to be a Stoneskin. [damn elemental priests!] Same goes for Gotrek and Isilme, who flies down closer.

    Windsong sheathed his blades before exiting the cloud, and he now throws a series of spikes at him. Again, none hit, but they use up more Stoneskins. One hits Gotrek in the back [3], but the dwarf doesn't even notice. Isilme flies down and attacks as well, ringing blows on him.

    Hedrack backs even further into the corner and drops his mace, putting his hands up in surrender. Nobody can tell what he tries to say, as they're all in a silence area.

    Isilme will put the point of her longsword to his throat, grinning wickedly, almost daring him to move so she can kill him. She will kick away his mace and motion for Windsong to bind and gag him.

    He looks up at Isilme, resignation and hatred clearly evident in his face. Gotrek grabs Emyn, keeping him from attacking the weaponless priest, as Berenn dispells the cloud, and the silence spell too.

    She says "I see wisdom in keeping you alive as a pawn Hedrack, should the chosen ever decide to turn on ME. Accept my charm and I shall let you shall live to fight another day."

    "Never!" he says. "You may take my life, but you shall never take my free will. [sorry, couldn't resist.] I surrender myself to you, and it is for you to decide what you shall do."

    Isilme sings her charm to him, but he withstands her attempt easily, a contemptuous smile on his face. "You get only one chance to live," says Isilme. "Either you bring our friend back from the dead, or I slay you here and now, and my priestess will feed your remains to the orb....You will join the nothingness, with no chance of returning...a THIRD time."

    Thorgrim moves forward. "Let's slay him while we have the chance," he says. "Or do you intend to squeeze information? Either way, he must needs die."

    Emyn says, "If you want to live, return Hepla's life to her."

    Noot yells, "DON'T FORGET ISAAC!"

    "And the ferret's," adds Thorgrim.

    "That is not in my power," he says. When Emyn goes to cut his head off, he quickly adds, "But I know a way! You may gain anything you desire in the Cist, if you know how to ask. I will show you."

    Emyn will keep his blow from falling but asks, "How does one ask and what is the price to be paid?"

    "He does not need to restore me to life because I am no longer dead," says Hepla from behind everyone as she sits up. Then, looking at Noot she says, "I am sorry, all the time I was gone I was trying to find Issack but no luck." She then goes to Henrack and says, "I should materialize a hungry rat in your stomach and let it gnaw it's way out. Do not make me any angrier." While she says this, first her cat pin then her clothes turn dark orange. She then goes to pick up her whip and looks around the room.
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    Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:30 am  
    Part 20 - The Inner Fane

    So, Hepla is alive again, much to everyone's surprise, including Hedrack. He stares at her, mouth agape. "Impossible!" he says.

    "Glad to see you back, Hepla!" says Isilme, who runs over and gives her a big hug! The illusion of the dark elf priestess and sphere now disappear, the rod reappears, and then Isilme walks over and picks it up. She notices that his tentacle ring is different than the one she took from the Drow priestess in the Pomarj. Whereas the one she was obsidian, this one is jade and set with a diamond. The Rod is the same strange dark material as the one she once destroyed, but the tentacles are a jade color, not black.

    Emyn looks at Hepla, incredulous. "How can this be?"

    Hepla goes to Emyn, kisses him and says, "later."

    Emyn simply weeps for joy and holds onto her for some time to make sure things are real. "Whatever it was that brought you back, I owe a debt to them that I doubt I can ever adequately repay. I was ready to offer my life in exchange for the return of yours, had it been needed."

    Berenn then pressures him further. "I also want to know how to safely remove one of these monoliths from my keep."

    "There is a monolith at the Black Keep?" he asks, incredulous.

    "Warden's Station", Berenn corrects. "And yes, it is in area beyond the crypts. Ghouls were digging at it, and I want it out. Show me a way to remove it and I might find a way for to keep your head."

    "The pillar can only be moved with the Horn of the Eye," he says. "I can show you."

    "Hedrack," says Isilme, "what is this black cist you spoke of, where is it, and what is there that had the power to bring our friend back from the dead?"

    Hedrack stares at Hepla, then a glare from Isilme brings him back. "It is nowhere. A realm of the Elder Eye reached through the altar. You must use the items from its pillar to access it, where you can sacrifice to the Eye for whatever you desire."

    "Perhaps we should sacrifice you, Hedrack," says Emyn.

    "Each pillar is attuned to its altar," says Hedrack. "The items necessary to perform the ritual are found in the pillar's compartments." He tells you where, and checking the four sides of the pillar you find secret compartments. They are all empty. "If you have found the second pillar, the items must be there as well," he adds. He then stops, as if he suddenly thought of something important. "Lareth was sent to the old keep because we knew it to be a place of power. I didn't understand how or why," he says. "Now it is all clear."

    Isilme involuntarily shudders, then recovers. In a subtle way she seems somehow stronger or more confident. She casually walks over to Hedrack with the tentacle rod and shares a knowing glance with him then grins wickedly. "Hedrack you will tell us all we want to know or the life we allow you to keep will be one of suffering. Why is drow house eliserves here, and what aid have they been providing the temple, now and in the past?"

    "House Eilservs worships the Eye as well," he says. "I only learned that here, from their ambassador, Maracla. The drow who once visited the Temple were all followers of Lolth, but these, they know the truth."

    "And what of the Horn?" asks Isilme. She retrieves it (I think it's in Thorgrim's Portable Hole?) and shows it to him. His eyes widen in surprise. "The Horn of the Eye," he says. "Blasphemer! You shall suffer the wrath of the Eye."

    "Will this allow us to move the monolith at Warden's Station?" asks Berenn.

    "The horn will only move this one," he says, pointing to the pillar in the room. "Or to access the Cist or the Inner Fane. You will need the devices attuned to the other pillar and altar to access their powers."

    Isilme says "Berenn, it seems logical these items are hidden in the same compartments of the monolith at the keep." She then turns back to Hedrack. "Hedrack, how do we use these items to enter the cist?"

    She looks at Noot "Perhaps there is hope for Isaac yet, if you would wish this kind of dark magic to return him to you?"

    "Noot, I am sorry but I fear Isaac may be lost," says Emyn. "He was a good ferrett."

    Noot, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, gives Hepla a hug. 'Hepla,thanks for searching for Isaac. He must be in a better place than this evil temple. I must let him go or I will be no better than this foul slime." He then picks up Isaac's little body and puts it in his pack for the time being. He will bury it when they get out in the clean air.

    "Do we really want to use this cist to bring back a ferrett?" asks Berenn. "No offense Noot, but I see no good coming from this. The cist an instrument of evil. It is your choice, but I would advise against using it. I would destroy it!"

    "I intend to go investigate the cist," says Isilme. "I would see this great and powerful thing that can grant you hearts desire. That and I am interested in studying alternate planes. Hedrack, tell me how to get there, and what I need to do once there to have this granted. If I don't return shortly, kill him for betraying us and feed his body to the dark orb."

    Hedrack tells you that there is a book, Tome of the Elder Eye, which describes everything you need to know.

    Hepla's ears perk up. "Where is this book?" she asks.

    Isilme pulls Throgrim, Berenn, and Hepla aside and whispers, "If we get that spinning orb (the Sphere of Annihilation) and quickly before people get back, we can use it to permanently destroy all these evil artifacts. I am sure you realize stating this outright will get us far less help from Hedrack."

    Berenn agrees, and Hepla adds, "If someone comes back with me, I'll try Telekinesis on the orb."

    Islme will then go back and ask Hedrack "Why is the ring important with the tentacle rod? What does it do?"

    "The ring ONLY allows you to hold the tentacle rod," he says. "Otherwise it attacks any who pick it up."

    Anyway, she will take the book and follow the directions to get to the cist.

    [DM OOC: The Tome of the Elder Eye was one of the books taken from Hedrack's room; there were about a dozen and you guys just took them all. You have to understand, you can't grab dozens of books and then find something in them in 10 minutes when there is no table of contents, index, etc. You would have to spend time READING the dang things! So, you have this book from Hedrack's, and it goes into exact detail about the Rituals of the Elder Elemental God. It "probably" tells you about the Sphere too.... You can look at it whenever, but he can show you where the pertinent parts are right now and/or go with you.]

    Hedrack apparently heard the first comment about the orb, though not about using it to destroy the items. "Do not deign to play with the Vessel of the Eye," he warns. "Unless you seek your own utter annhilation, it is best left alone."

    As for the procedure for the altar, he shows you that. You have to light the torch, burn the incense in the thurible, then you blow the horn. Depending upon how many times you blow it, different things happen. With a bound Hedrack showing the way, the party then heads for this "Black Cist."

    Scouting ahead, Windsong reaches the Vestibule with Isilme. There is nobody around, so the party reaches them too. They spot Hedrack looking at the Flesh Golems as they pass their dead bodies and smile at him grimly. As soon as they reach the 4-way intersection before the cold section, Hedrack requests his robe back....

    [DM OOC: Quick descriptions again, to refresh everyone's memory.]
    [AREA 21] The torch reveals a room about 60x80 with two more corridors heading out, one west and one south. The ceiling is vaulted, up to 30' high in the center and 20' at the walls. An ebony table with silver inlay dominates the center of the room. Each leg is carved into the form of a tentacle. Upon the tables rests a large iron horn, engraved with images of fire, flood, tornados, and earthquakes (already taken). The north wall is an immense bar relief of a man in robes blowing the horn and elemental creatures all bowing in subservience. The hallway to the west is blocked by a series of translucent lilac-colored walls with a grotesque statue depicting some kind of obscene elemental/tentacled creature in the center and before each one. The 40' wide hallway to the south is flanked on either side by a purple-colored railing in the form of writhing tentacles. It continues south out of sight.

    Emyn throws Hedrack's robe back on him so he can pass through the cold area but will remove it from him once they are clear of it.

    Hepla starts up her Ioun Stone. "Do we want into the Fane or what is our goal?"

    Isilme will ask Hedrack to show her the right section of the book on how to get to the Black Cist and also back, and insists on reading it BEFORE anyone enters. She learns that twirling an incense-laden Black Thurible will "transport" anyone in the Cist back to the Black Circle in the floor of the Greater Temple (area 23).

    Hedrack also informs the party that the Orb of Oblivion and the other items are no longer in the Cist. According to Hedrack, when Lareth was found to be the Champion, he was given the Rod and Rings of Force, and then the Doomdreamers transported themselves (and Lareth) back to the Temple of Elemental Evil in order to summon the Dread Prince of Fire, Imix, to Oerth. There actually is nothing to be found in the Cist. It's sort of like an extra-dimensional space, nobody knows exactly where it is or what its true nature is. It is ONLY accessible this way, and the noted way out is the ONLY way out. Otherwise, it is 100% sealed off from the rest of the universe.

    "Then why are we going there, Hedrack?" asks Emyn suspiciously.

    "I thought we destroyed the Orb," says Elrae, a bit confused.

    "This is the Orb of Oblivion," says Isilme, who has perused the Tome of the Elder Eye a bit now. "The Orb of Golden Death was a weak copy of this one. Zuggtmoy and Iuz were shown how to create and use theirs, but only to serve the ends of the Elder Elemental God, not their own ends. In that, they were totally deceived. However, they laid the groundwork for what the Temple of the Elder Eye is doing now. Though we destroyed that "lesser" orb, the Doomdreamers are now using the real artifact, the Orb of Oblivion, to further do their evil deeds now."

    "Then what is that orb we found in the chapel near the library?" asks Hepla.

    "That is a Sphere of Annihation," he says. "The Orb of Oblivion is a totally different thing, an artifact of ancient primordial evil."

    "Let's just kill him now and get it over with," says Emyn, stepping forward and drawing his sword.

    "Shouldn't we be more worried about Imix and preventing the summoning if possible?" asks Berenn. "If Hedrack knows where they are in the Temple that information would be very useful and we should also warn Hommlet and Verbobonc the threat from the Temple isn't over."

    "How close are they to being able to summon Imix?" asks Hepla.

    He shrugs. "With the Champion, the necessary artifacts, and the recovered temple, probably very close, if they haven't succeeded already."

    Emyn slays Hedrack, then and there. He then chops off his head, handing it to Windsong. "Toss this in the sphere we found," he says. Windsong takes off to dispose of Hedrack's head. "Let's see him come back from that!" says Emyn smugly.

    While he's gone, Isilme takes the Horn while Elrae takes out the Master Key. He touches it to the horn. Then Isilme blows it. [Isilme loses -1 point of Con when she blows it.] The Horn makes no sound, but everyone notices the walls of force to the west all disappear. The way is clear to the door. Windsong returns about that time, having disposed of Hedrack's head.

    "Now we can pass into the Inner Fane," says Isilme.

    Emyn says, "We must go. I feel Lareth pulling on me. Vengeance is nigh! Use the Heal scrolls on those who are badly wounded and let's move." Emyn tells Hepla, "Stay close to me. I could not bear to lose you a second time. I almost went mad with grief and rage."

    Hepla smiles and says, "Have faith my love."

    "I will kitten," he replies. "I only hope you truly have nine lives."

    The party makes use of some Healing potions, saving the scrolls, and use their last spells as well. Only Hepla, somehow fully recovered after her return from death, can cast any spells. With grim determination, the party moves down the hall to enter the Inner Fane.
    They pass through the hallway and the door to the Inner Fane, emergin in the courtyard, called the Blasted Yard by denizens here.

    Like a scene from the hells itself, the interior courtyard is a dry, cracked yard of uneven black volcanic rock, concealed by a low sulfurous mist. A hot dry stench fills the air, chocking your nostrils. In the center of the area, pounded down into this wound in the earth like a giant spike, stands a black tower glistening with the dull sheen of iron. The earth itself seems to recoil from the touch of this strange structure, so it is surrounded by a gaping trench, its black walls disappearing down out of sight. Cracks exposing red, hellish light from below start at the wound and cross the yard, expanding outwards from the tower as if it blasted out of the earth like a lightning bolt through human flesh. No windows exist on the tower, which rises over 100' high, and it has but a single door accessible via a narrow causeway over the gaping tears in the earth. The inner walls rise nearly 200' on all sides, being otherwise completely inaccessible.



    Elrae begins to sing:

    It's all from the heart I say
    Back down but we've come a long way
    walk the path to an early grave
    see so much hate and so much heartache
    when we thought we've passed the 25
    others left, but one more still alive
    the injustice tears my eyes years of hate or life of heartache

    If you ever need me I'm here
    I'll follow you into anything
    if you ever need me I'll be there
    I'll follow you into hell again

    In this world that we fight each day
    it's kinda' hard to find a brother that's one in the same
    heavy heart weighing on my soul
    but I keep my head up bracing for the unknown
    bullets fly we're no longer taking cover
    we'll never die
    findin' strengh in one another
    as long as we stick together for life
    we'll pass that hate and crush that heartache

    If you ever need me I'm here
    I'll follow you into anything
    if you ever need me I'll be there
    I'll follow you into hell again

    we stand up proud and tall
    refuse to take the fall
    the flames are burning bright
    spread fire to the fight

    You can take our lives
    but you can't take our pride
    we'd rather die on our feet
    then live on our knees
    from wrong to right
    a right to run our lives
    it's who we care
    it's the family we have started

    If you ever need me I'm here
    I'll follow you into anything
    if you ever need me I'll be there
    I'll follow you into hell again

    yeah, you'll always be my brother
    yeah, you'll always be my friend
    yeah you'll always be my brother
    my brother

    Hepla puts her fear wand and staff on the ground, casts Polymorph Self and morphs into Hedrack and picks up the wand and slips it into her clothes, up her sleeve, picks upper staff and is ready to walk into the temple.

    Isilme summons her LLL (Leomund's Labile Locker, just to remind you all!) and retrieves an extra Potion of Healing. She also writes on the communication scroll, half of which she left with Burne back in Hommlet:

    "Use my mirror to scry Hepla and open a portal for us. The Temple of Elemental Evil has been reborn. They are at the old temple site NOW attempting to summon IMIX. If nothing else, gather who and what help you can to stop them."

    As she then goes to close the chest, she has a thought. "If Hepla can cast diminuation on me, I can return to the Etheral with the chest and rest up. The time difference is very great, what seems an hour here, is much more there. Do you think it wise at this point though?"

    "Then why not let Isilme head to the Ethereal?" says Thorgrim. "In a little more than an hour Hepla can recall the chest and get her back, all rested up. Sounds good to me!"

    With a diminution from Hepla, Isilme then gets in the chest. Hepla then sends it to the Ethereal. She will recall it in an hour, and hopefully Isilme will have rested enough to regain spells. In the mean time, the rest of the party is in the Blasted Yard, heading for the Black Spike.

    They cross the Blasted Lands. It is still dark out, and likely a few hours after midnight now. Everyone feels a definite unease, and the priests can explain this is an unholy area.
    [DM OOC: Basically, you suffer effects of protection from Good (if you are good at least!) as well as Prayer. This gives your enemies a +2 and a -4 to you (-2 if you are NOT of good alignment).]

    As the party approaches the Black Spike, they notice dark shapes seeming to leap up from the ground to the right and left, about 4 of them. They look like wights, but are...worse.

    Hepla/Hedrack keeps walking but says,"Delay us not spirits, we are on a mission for the Fane."

    They come on regardless. One attacks Windsong, one Berenn, one Emyn, and one Thorgrim.

    Emyn says, "Can't you priests turn these?" He then enters into his defensive stance, putting all bonuses to defense.

    Thorgrim holds them back with his holy symbol, and they hiss and spit at him as they back away. On attacks Windsong, missing, and the elf slashes at the thing's legs [8] before tumbling away. One attacks Emyn, who works defensively and avoids the thing.

    Hepla and Elrae both simultaneously hit the wight attacking Emyn with magic missiles for [21] and [20]. It is blasted backwards, stumbles to the ground, and dies (again).

    "Stay close to Thorgrim," says Hepla.

    Berenn stands forth with Bonefire, and Windsong tumbles back behind him. The wight approaches, but then shies away from attacking Berenn with his blade, so obviously deadly to its kind. It hisses and spits at him, much as its evil companions do to Thorgrim.

    Gotrek charges the wight, just as Hepla blasts it with another magic missile [15]. Gotrek hits the wight [10]. The wight turns and attacks Gotrek, its wicked claws raking the sturdy dwarf. Gotrek feels the cold of death as the black power of the wight seems to literally rip his life from him. [-1 Negative level for Gotrek as well as 4 damage]

    Thorgrim's holding back two, a third is now fighting Gotrek, and the forth is dead. Emyn and Berenn move up to help, as Hepla blasts the wight again, killing it. Unfortunately, nobody noticed the four other wights moving up behind the party in the darkness. [Yep, rolled for everyone who "may" have seen them!] Two attacked Filbin by surprise, while two went passed him attacking Elrae and Noot. Filbin was struck twice [-2 negative levels and 6 damage]. Elrae was also hit [-1 negative level and 4 damage]. Noot was missed.

    Elrae carefully backs off, as Thorgrim moves up. Now that the other wights have fled out of his sight, he attempts to turn the new ones. Holding forth the symbol of Clangeddin, he commands them to begone. However, they just hiss at him and continue their attacks. The one attacking Noot actually going after Thorgrim now!

    Windsong takes out his Tiger Hooks, hooking them together to gain reach, and moves beyond the wights where he can attack them from further away.

    The wight attacking Noot ignores him and goes after Thorgrim. Noot gets a free shot as it moves away, stabbing it in the back [5]. The wight ignores it, closes on Thorgrim, and claws him [-1 negative level and 2 damage]. Filbin is also clawed twice more! [-2 negative levels and 4 damage]

    The one which had been attacking Elrae rushes at Hepla, but just scratches on her Stoneskin. Hepla blasts the wight with another Magic Missile [16]. Emyn moves up and attacks the wight, hitting it with the Sword of Fire [11]. Gotrek moves over to assist Thorgrim, hitting the wight [13]. Noot attacks the one that just attacked Thorgrim, moving up behind it and hitting it with both daggers [7] and [3]. Berenn moves up and attempts to turn the remaining wights, but fails. One of the wights attacking Filbin looks over at him hungrily! Filbin then tumbles backwards, between Gotrek and Hepla, but ends up slumped weakly on his knees.

    Hepla says,"Filban, be our eyes and see if any more are attacking." He groans, but nods.

    Windsong swings his tiger hooks, which slice through the wight nearest him but don't seem to affect it. That wight was about to attack Berenn, but now turns and rushes Windsong, who barely avoids its attacks. The one attacks Hepla again but misses. Frustrated at its inability to get to her, it makes eerie screaming cries right in her face which throw bits of dead flesh at her. The one misses Thorgrim, but the last one charges right through the party, still intent on Filbin. It literally lands on the poor gnome, clawing and biting him again [-1 negative level and -4 damage].

    Hepla steps back and blasts that wight with magic missiles [20]. Elrae hits its as well [16]. The thing has nearly a dozen holes blown clear through it by the magic missile barrage, and flies back off the battered gnome. Thorgrim and Gotrek destroy the wight attacking Thorgrim. Emyn hits the wight attacking Hepla twice [6] and [8]. Berenn then steps up and finishes it off with Bonefire [16]. Filbin slowly rises, visibly shaken by the experience and seems in a daze. Noot moves over to see to him.

    [there is just one wight left, fighting Windsong.]

    The wight charges forward, hitting Berenn. There is a great flash as his Negative Plane Protection protects him. He still takes [1] from the blow, but the wight takes [10]. Berenn and Emyn then both hit the wight twice, finishing it off easily enough. Looking around, there seem to be no more, except the two that ran off, wherever they went.

    Hepla gives first aid to those who need it, healing potions to this who need more. She has no ability to restore levels. "Let's keep moving, before anything else shows up."

    The party then moves off towards the tower, those with infravision on the flanks, though Filbin doesn't stray too far away now in his weakened state. They approach the northern side of the black spike tower. From there they now see that the tower does not actually touch the ground, at least for the 60' down the cracks that they can see. The cracks themselves seem to average about 30-60 feet, but at some points they seem deeper, with the glow of magma far below though obscured by the sulfurous smoke. When they get closer, they see that the bridge is 10' wide and made of 6" iron plates. The door is made of adamantine.

    [DM OOC: You find yourselves all repulsed by the tower which puts off such forceful emanations of evil that you can feel them without magic. In fact, every except Berenn and Emyn suffer such fearful feelings of dread that they, in essence, suffer the effects of a negative level. They don't actually HAVE one, but for the time being will suffer as if they did. Basically, a further -1 to just about everything!]

    Waterday, 5 Richfest (581 CY)
    [DM OOC: OK, it's actually about 3am, so I should probably have done this a few hours ago. Still, it's another day! Berenn's rod is again useful, as well as Snowfang.]

    At the door, the party finds that the master key opens the door. It opens into a round chamber, lit by ambient light the source of which is not obvious. The light plays off multi-colored stones set in the ceiling, 10' across and extending 5' down into the room. The ceiling if 30' high. The stone above is a weird mineral, unknown even to the dwarves. Long metal supports radiate like spokes of a wheel across the ceiling, with the rock as the hub. The supports connect to even thicker supports on the walls, and they all appear to be solid adamantine. Nobody has ever seen so much! An iron staircase winds up the west wall, up to a level above. The floor of the room has some old, reddish-brown stains on black and purple tiles.

    In the center of the room stands a huge iron statue of a strange warrior with a sword and shield.

    Windsong enters, his feet making nary a sound as he glides into the room. As soon as he crosses the threshold, the iron statue begins to move. Its head ominously turns and dark eyes seem to bore into Windsong.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2013
    Posts: 328
    From: Minnesota

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    Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:00 am  

    I am enjoying your campaign. I started at the beginning and am still back on the interlude at Hommlet/Verbobonc but I will hopefully catch up one of these days. Good stuff.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:56 pm  

    Thanks! I'm way behind in posting campaign journals, but hopefully I will catch up some day too!
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:02 am  
    Part 20 - The Black Spike

    "Noot! The Bands!" shouts Thorgrim.

    Emyn says, "Use your wall of force to pen that thing in!"

    Noot uses his ring, making a wall of force to completely surround the statue. It begins pounding futilely on the inside. Hepla recharges the ring with a spell of her own as the thieves check out the room. Everyone keeps an eye on the Iron Golem, but it seems well-contained, for now.

    "Thanks for the charge, Hepla," says Noot. He gives the statue a look through the wall of force and then proceeds to check out the room. There's nothing else there, so he and Windsong procede to check the stairs going up. They lead to another full chamber, about 100' across. A multi-colored stone rises from floor to ceiling, widening as it does so that it is 12' across at the floor but nearly 30' at the ceiling. Light from an unknown source, perhaps the rock itself, plays along its facets. It seems the stone is translucent enough that the other side of the tower is barely visible, in the form of dark shapes through it. The iron staircase twists back on itself, rising up to the next level above. Six doorways of ochre light stand around the strange stone pillar. An ebony cabinet is in the Eastern portion of the room near the wall. A single unlit candle sits atop it.

    "Let's climb those stairs once we know they are safe," says Emyn. "I don't want to fight that statue."

    The rest of the party join Noot and Windson, and once upstairs, Hepla casts Detect Magic. Each of the doorways is magical, or at least there is magic coming from beyond them. Looking into the first one, she sees a room, maybe about 20' square, with dark wood paneling, bed, wardrobe, etc. Of course, all that's in the main room are free-standing doorways spaced around the strange stone. Looking behind them there's nothing, so they clearly open into some kind of extra-dimensional spaces which are furnished as bedrooms.

    Noot says there are no traps on any of the doors that he can find, nor on the cabinet. It opens freely, and inside is a black crystal carafe full of strange purple fluid. A set of 4 crystal glasses also rests within. The liquid is magical, though of uncertain type. Of all the doorways, one shows nothing and is seemingly just an empty doorway.

    Emyn concentrates and detects evil all around, as if in the very air itself. Although he senses no particular evil on the fluid, he does detect evil, VERY STRONG EVIL, emanating from the strange stone which takes up the center of the room. It seems to overwhelm his ability, and he cannot focus on anything else. As for the stone, its bottom goes through the floor, and must be the stone the party saw in the ceiling on the floor below. It continues up through the ceiling above.

    Every room has virtually the same furniture: wood paneling, dark woodframe bed, wardrobe, chest, marble bath, two tables (one small one by the bed) three chairs, a couch, and a hanging chandelier filled with candles. There is no light in any of them except for what enters through the doorway.

    Emyn enters the first room and finds it empty. A search of the wardrobe reveals various priestly clothes, including the purple robes of the Elder Elemental God, as well as more "normal" traveling clothes. The chest is locked, but Noot enters and picks it after determining that there are no traps. Inside are various other priestly items. A small coffer with 250PP. A belt pouch with 20 assorted gems. There is a jar of magical golden-colored ointment, a beautiful (and magical) suit of Field Plate Mail of odd design, and a potion.

    Elrae glances back down the stairs and sees that the Iron Golem has returned to its previous state and position.

    The party enters the next room, and though it is furnished similarly, the clothes are different. Clearly, this was a woman's room. There are extra feminine items here, including a spectacularly beautiful set of comb/brush/stuff. It's just sitting out on a stand next to the wardrobe. In the wardrobe are fine noble clothes, though of a strange style. The chest is locked, but Noot picks it. Inside are a small coffer with 20 gemstones, a jeweled medallion, a magic scroll, and a potion.

    The next room has a plate of food on the table, that has all gone rotten. It's as if somebody was about to sit down to a meal, then left and never returned. Judging by the decay, it's been sitting out a few weeks. This is the room of a man, very tall and thin. Inside his chest are 20 gems, a jeweled crown, and a jeweled decanter. There's also a set of magical plate mail, a magical large shield, and a magical mace.

    "Plenty of treasure, but no enemies," says Thorgrim. "It may be that The Inner Fane was empty before we began this adventure. Perhaps they are all now at the Temple of Elemental Evil. Still, be wary." Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole (outside of the Extra-Dimensional rooms!) for the new items.

    They go into the next room and find the same kind of priestly stuff. They also find a journal within this one, written in a tongue nobody understands. There is also a magical robe, mace, and potion, as well as 20 more gems, 2 pieces of jewelry, and some PPs. When the party comes out, Hepla realizes Emyn is missing. Berenn was standing near the stairs, and he knows Emyn didn't go up or down them. He must have entered one of the other two doorways, probably the one that is now empty. When she looks around for him, she finds that the next door is now empty, just like the other one. He must have moved into the next room on his own, and now it has been "closed."

    "Time for the Doomdreamers," Thorgrim says. "Should we follow? Emyn likely now faces them alone. But this archway could also be a magical trap. There's no time to waste pondering." Thorgrim ponders for a moment. "The two doorways present us with a dilemma."

    "We need to figure out how to open one of these arch ways," says Berenn.

    "It's likely these archways are controlled by magic, rather than mechanics," says Thorgrim. "Since Emyn has been transported and cannot be followed through the arch, we must continue up the stairs. Let's go!" Thorgrim moves toward the stairs, waiting for the party to fall in line in modified standard marching order.

    The archway next to Thorgrim [not the one that Emyn seems to have entered] suddenly shifts, revealing a room, and a tall man dressed in ochre robes and holding a mace. He wears a strange helmet with large horns protruding out at weird angles. He is also surrounded by strange swirling violet mists which eddy and flow around him making him difficult to see.

    Hepla was looking at the doorway they thought Emyn must have entered. Elrae and Noot are pretty much right behind her. Filbin and Berenn are at the base of the stairs going up, while Windson's halfway up the stairs already, on his way to scout out the next level.

    The man casts a spell (only Thorgrim and Gotrek can see him). Actually, nobody really knows anything is happening right now except those two. Anyway, Thorgrim lets out a shout as he turns to meet the new threat. Suddenly waves of confusion wash over everyone. Elrae, Gotrek, and Filbin just stand there, dumbfounded. Noot wanders off to the right and walks into the next doorway down.

    Hepla casts a Dispel Magic, recognizing the effects of Confusion, but it has no effect. Thorgrim casts Silence 15'r on the robed figured, then takes Souldrinker in hand. Berenn checks Filbin quickly, and sees that he just is standing there, staring into space. He then draws Bonefire and approaches Thorgrim. Windsong leaps down from the stairs, then moves up to behind the door. Still seeing nothing from the backside, he waits cautiously.

    "You've done well to come so far," says the man in strangely accented common. "Unfortunately for you, your time is at an end. Imix shall walk free, soon followed by the rest of the Dread Princes, and there is nothing you can do about it."

    "Windsong, through the arch!" shouts Thorgrim, wondering how he can still speak since he just cast Silence within. Then he charges through to slay the silenced priest.

    Berenn charges passed Thorgrim through the doorway, and attacks the priest. Windsong moves through the doorway from the opposite side, spins around, and enters too, flanking the priest with both swords out.

    The priest reaches out and touches Windsong, casting a spell. You can't hear anything in the silence, but it looks like the priest is laughing as he casts. Windsong stands there, dazed and unable to concentrate.

    Thorgrim then enters as well, and the three have him surrounded. He realizes that the area IS under the effects of his Silence spell, yet somehow the priest doesn't seem affected. Thorgrim swings Souldrinker and hits the priest [10].

    Hepla pulls Gotrek out of the way, then moves to the opening of the doorway, ready to cast another spell.

    Inside the room are the priest, fighting Berenn and Thorgrim. Windsong's in there too, but he seems dazed and is just standing there. Hepla is just outside the doorway. Everyone else is suffering from Confusion.

    Noot comes out of his daze, finding himself back outside. He wonders what happened, then curses as he takes out his Iron Bands and returns back through the doorway and into the tower. Hepla rushes in and grabs Windsong, pulling him back out of the room and away from the priest. Thorgrim attacks the priest, missing.

    The priest reaches out and touches Thorgrim, saying something that Thorgrim cannot hear due to the silence. He sees confusing visions in his mind. He isn't stunned, but he can't seem to collect his thoughts.

    Berenn then steps up and attacks the priest relentlessly, pressing him back with his two swords. He misses with each blow and is amazed at the priest's defenses. Meanwhile, Gotrek regains his senses as well, turns around, and with a silent shout charges passed Hepla and into the room, singing. As soon as he enters, his words are silenced, but he still slams into the priest, hitting him a solid blow with Goreblade [17] and knocking the priest back over his bed.

    The priest rises, then takes up a shield that was sitting next to the bed. He says something again which nobody can hear.

    Gotrek then attacks Berenn, hitting him [16]. Berenn backs off from Gotrek, trying to get around to the priest, but Gotrek is all over him and doesn't give him the chance.

    Hepla cannot see anything inside from where she is standing, so she moves to the doorway. The priest then steps forward, grabbing Gotrek by the back of the head and saying something silently again. The battlerager freezes in place, a look of intense agony on his face, and he falls to the ground.

    Hepla casts Magic Missile at the priest, but they fail to hit him. She realizes that somehow his swirling mist spell stops her from hitting him as the spell doesn't "lock on". [incidentally, that's how this spell is described.]

    Berenn leaps Gotrek and attacks the priest, hitting him finally [10]. Outside, everyone stands still except Filbin, who wanders down the stairs.

    "No Filbin, come here." yells Hepla as she goes into the room using the whip to snap it in the face of the priest. This will hopefully distract him from spell casting and maybe hurt him. She has the Ioun stone still working.

    Filbin ignores Hepla and wanders downstairs. Hepla uses her whip, snapping it at the priest. It has no effect, as she misses and he doesn't if notice as it's small and makes no sound in the area of the silence spell. Of course, entering the room, Hepla too is within the area of the spell.....

    Everyone senses the difficulty here. Between the energy drained by the wights and the inherent evil of this place, evil emanating from the strange stone, the party seems at a severe disadvantage. Yet, Berenn shakes off the despair and continues his attack.

    The priest attacks Berenn, hitting him with his mace [14].

    Berenn misses with his off-hand, while the priest smacks him with another blow from his mace [15]. Berenn then misses again with Bonefire.

    [Berenn and the priest are squaring off inside the ED room, and Hepla just entered as well. Everyone else is incapacitated somehow or confused.]

    Berenn misses just as Hepla casts Grease. The priest doesn't slip, and he pushes out of the area by shoving the immobilized Gotrek out of the way. Gotrek tumbles to the floor, smacking his head on the marble table as he goes down. [5]

    The priest then turns around, ignoring Hepla, as he smacks Berenn in the head with his mace [10]. Berenn strikes back with both swords, missing twice more.

    Hepla moves over to her left, to get an angle at the priest, and she uses her staff to cast Continual Light in the priest's eyes. He cries out in pain, and stumbles backwards, making a futile swing at Berenn who also backs off towards Hepla, just in front of the wardrobe, and tries to cast Cure Serious Wounds upon himself. However, the silence spell pervades the entire room, leaving him no way to cast spells. He takes out his last Ex-Healing potion and drinks it instead, regaining [25: timely, because he was down to 8!]

    Berenn gives Hepla a shove towards the door, then moves around the priest who is casting a spell. They exit the room, and the effects of the silence spell, just as he turns around, seemingly cured of the light spell. He tries to say something, but then frowns at the silence spell. He then walks forward out of the room, to stand before Berenn and Hepla.

    "Fools," he says. You know NOT the power of the Elder Eye. I have laid low all of you, and when I am done, I shall take my place as Third." He grins wickedly, "and I have you to thank."

    Hepla casts her Wall of Force, but he is able to break its plane as it is materializing, cancelling the spell.

    [DM OOC: I will refer you to the spell description, which says "The wizard can, if desired, form the wall into a spherical shape with a radius of up to 1 foot per level or an open hemispherical shape with a radius of 1.5 feet per caster level. The wall of force must be continuous and unbroken when formed; if its surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails." I said a long time ago, when you first used a Wall of Force like this, that opponents would get a save. A successful save would mean they broke the plane before the wall was complete, negating the spell. This is actually the first time it has happened. Anyway, just wanted to bring this to your attention, again.]

    He laughs as he hits Berenn with his mace [10]. Berenn swings with both blades, hitting with his off-hand longsword for [10]. The priest then smashes Berenn in the face with his shield [9], knocking him back to the wall. He stumbles against it, surprised at the strength of the man and certain it has been magically increased. The priest then steps up and swings his mace again, hitting Hepla but only taking away another Stoneskin.

    Berenn strikes back, missing with both swords. The priest attacks, missing and getting his shield tangled with Berenn's cloak. Hepla reaches out to Berenn, casting Stoneskin upon him. Berenn then strikes again, scoring a hit [12]. The fire from Bonefire doesn't seem to affect the man.

    The priest strikes Berenn again, glancing off the Stoneskin. Angry, he takes a step back, letting go of his shield. "Two can play at that game girl," and he says a prayer granting himself the same protection.

    Berenn then moves to the left, tossing the shield aside, towards the stairs, pushing Hepla along with him. As the move, they both cast Dispel Magic behind the priest, covering the entire area. Windsong and Elrae are freed from the effects of the priest's spells.

    "I have had enough of you," he says, raising his hand. Berenn freezes, held motionless by the raw power of the Elder Eye. Hepla feels the Ioun stone absorb the spell, and giggles.

    "I can say the same, ugly," she says.

    Elrae casts Magic Missile, but sees that it has no effect on the priest as the spell cannot target him. Windsong also attacks simultaneously, hitting him in the back with a double back-stab. Unfortunately, his Stoneskin blocks both attacks.

    Seeing magic missiles don't work, Elrae calls to Windsong to get away.

    "I can help you with that," says the priest. He then raises his hand and a blast of air shoots forth, hitting both Windsong and Elrae. Windsong takes only [4] but is knocked back 10'. Elrae takes [10] and is knocked back as well, falling hard to the ground.

    Meanwhile, Hepla casts grease below the priest, who again avoids it, stepping out of the area carefully.

    "You are trying my patience, dear," he says. "Now you shall face the power of the Elder Eye."

    He casts a spell and his left eye begins to glow with an amber-violet glow. Hepla cries, shielding her eyes. When she blinks, she finds she cannot see.

    Windsong leaps back at him, slashing three times in quick succession, but failing to get through his Stoneskin. "You only have so many," he says with grim determination.

    Elrae yells, "Get clear!" as he stands up, pointing Snowfang at the priest.

    The priest turns his baleful stare on Windsong, who avoids the gaze as he attacks relentlessly with his sword, slashing at the Stoneskins. The priest hits Windsong with his mace twice [10] and [13].

    Hepla casts Dispel Magic upon herself, curing herself of the strange blindness, while Elrae moves up along the wall and casts a Lightning Bolt, hitting the priest for [17]. It blasts beyond him and rebounds off the opposite side, then rebounds again off to the right before fading out. The priest is blasted backwards 10', bounces off the edge of the doorway, and lands on the ground in the center of the threshold shaking his head. The strange mists around him fade away.

    The priest rolls inside, and the doorway closes behind him! [what that means is, the doorway now is empty, not showing any room at all.] Hepla rushes up, but she doesn't see a room. She just looks helplessly through the empty archway at the strange stone in the center of the tower. Windsong and Elrae join her, flanked to either side, then they look at her. "Now what?" asks Elrae.

    Hepla pulls out her two extra healing potions and one healing potion,"The extras are for Berenn and Windsong, the other is for whomever most needs it."

    Just then Emyn charges out of the other door screaming, "For Hepla!" Beyond him, a somewhat short woman, barely taller than Hepla, walks out, though she seems almost to glide. None of the men could take their eyes off her, and even Hepla felt a strange attraction. She wasn't incredibly beautiful, though certainly not unattractive. Her slight frame, open round face, and long curly locks which shone a brilliant red even in the strange light of the chamber. Yet, the innocence of her smile, the warmth of her laugh, they made everyone at ease as if reclining into a comfortable chair after a long day. Simple and wholesome, she was, quite obviously, not human, as attested by feathered wings sprouting from her back.



    Hepla turns and reacts with a small gasp then says,"Where have you been, how did you get there and who is she? Is she a new ally? We need to save our friends."

    "She is an erinyes and really nice," says Emyn. "She said we might have fun together some day. What do you think? She's pretty hot. She wants to defeat the Doomdreamers too because the Dukes of Hell oppose them."

    Emyn then starts to tell you his story, but he is cut off by the seductive, angelic vision behind him.

    "There is no time, love," she says as she walks forward. She runs a hand along Elrae's cheek, and he actually drops Snowfang. It lands on the tiles with a clang, snapping him back. He blushes and quickly picks up Snowfang, as the beautiful devil approaches with a disarming smile and a giggle not unlike Hepla's.

    Windsong appears up the stairs with Filbin in tow, and the Erinyes smiles. She speaks in a strange, darkly melodic language and waves her hand. Suddenly Berenn and Filbin are both shaking their heads, wondering what happened.

    "Now," she says, pointing to the empty doorway. "Whenever you are ready?"

    [Isilme OOC: Yeah....the paladin working with a devil. Nice.]

    [DM OOC: Yes, strange times make for strange bedfellows.]

    Emyn activates his protection from devils ability than then says, "Kelasha, let's get this over with. Trucking with your kids is somethng I am loath to do. I only spare you because it is for the greater good."

    She steps back quickly, frowning which makes everyone feels just a bit sad for some reason. "And here I though we were becoming so close...." she says with a coy wink.

    Hepla comes up to her and gives her a kiss and says,"We shall see about the future but for now I seem to have a problem calling something back from the Ethereal Plane. Any idea why and how I can get back what I have lost?" She turns to Emyn and just smiles.

    She smiles at Hepla, even offering up a giggle like hers. "The Spike inhibits all kinds of travel such as that. Extra-dimensional items still work, but only through the Tourbillion may you travel magically from here."

    With everyone ready, the red-headed woman waves her hand and the room "materializes" through the doorway again. Beyond it, you see the priest, just finished casting and again surrounded in the same amber/violet mists. There is a large chair, just inside the doorway, slightly blocking the way. Gotrek lies face-down on the far side of the room, and Thorgrim lies on the floor to the right. He just comes out of his stupor, shakes his head, and looks up with a very angry look on his face.


    He casts another spell, just as Thorgrim gets up and moves between the priest and Gotrek, ready to attack. Berenn uses his rod one last time, then puts it away and draws swords.

    Emyn charges into the room, "For Trithereon! Embrace death!" He kicks the chair out of the way but setts off a Glyph of Warding drawn on the floor. He feels the magic of the rune as it begins to take effect, but whatever the effect, he is able to fight it off. With a yell, he rushes the priest, hitting him but just hitting another Stoneskin.

    Hepla moves up towards the entrance, but holds off on her grease spell now that Thorgrim and Emyn are fighting him hand-to-hand. Windsong moves up and enters the room, crosses it, leaps atop the marble table, does a flip, and lands behind the priest.

    Emyn goes full offense on the doomdreamer, yelling, "Your doom is at hand, pawn of evil!"

    Windsong attempts his paralyzing touch on him, but due to the Stoneskins he cannot hit him. Thorgrim also hits him, but with the same result.

    The priest hits Thorgrim in the arm with his mace, [20 damage and breaks Thorgrim's arm. He drops his pick and falls back to the ground.]

    Hepla moves in to see to Gotrek, but then goes to the seriously wounded Thorgrim and heals [2 hp] with Healing proficiency. Berenn moves up and takes Thorgrim's place, making a few swings at the priest himself, followed by Emyn. Meanwhile, Elrae goes off in search of Noot, finding him in another extra-dimensional rooms where he is just coming to himself.

    Then Gotrek wakes up, stands, and growls.

    Windsong leaps onto the table, does a flip, and then lands in the center of the room, tossing a throwing spike at the priest which bounces off his Stoneskin. Thorgrim finds he cannot move his arm, as it was broken. He takes up Souldrinker in his off-hand, backing off as he sees Gotrek getting up. Thorgrim smiles through his pain. Berenn backs off and takes a look at Thorgrim. He then casts a heals spell to repair the injury.

    The evil priest reaches out and grabs Emyn, sending streams of burning pain through his body [14]. Emyn withstands the majority of the damage, and hacks back at the priest twice more.

    Gotrek then moves up, throwing aside the tables and chairs. "By Clanggedin, DIE NOW!" he shouts as he starts to sing a Delgrim battlesong.

    Thorgrim was so incensed he failed to notice his arm until he tried to attack. "Thanks, Berenn," he says. "Healing myself would've expended the last of my power, I fear." Thorgrim hefts his pick and moves to take the position Berenn vacated. "Don't let him go near that weird stone or the portal!" he shouts.

    Hepla picks up her whip and loks around for the devil to see what she is doing. She's standing behind Elrae, with one arm draped around him, her hand running through his dirty locks. She kisses his ear, and Elrae looks like he's about to swoon. While smiling, her eyes glance up at Hepla with piercing, logical clarity.

    "I see you are ofering Moral support," says Hepla.

    "Oh, I think they have matters well in hand, my dear," she replies, blowing in Elrae's ear. "Tychon will never be Third now," she laughs.

    Elrae just stands there in near bliss. Meanwhile, Windsong hits the priest with a pepper egg. It distracts him from whatever spell he was about to cast, and he instantly starts to frantically wipe his eyes clean. Thorgrim gets up, steps forward, and swings his pick at the priest. It goes right through the elbow joint of his right arm and gets stuck. However, it does [22] and the priest drops his mace as he cries in surprise and pain. Thorgrim grins, seeing that the Stoneskin has finally been breached!

    Emyn follows up with a series of blows, hitting once for [13]. Finally, Gotrek hits him twice with Goreblade, the first taking off the priest's other arm [38] and the second splitting his skull with a viscous overhand chop [18].

    The mists suddenly clear around the priest, his eye goes back to normal, and he stands there mute for a moment, his eyes even wider than normal with his head cleaved nearly in two. He then topples over backwards, very much dead.

    "See?" says Kelasha. "Told you."

    Berenn will turn his attention toward the demon, "What is your game? I refuse it is simple as wanting this priest dead and the Doomdreamers stopped, you can also release my friend from whatever spell you have him under."

    Windsong attempts to move around behind the devil, throwing spikes ready, but Kelasha backs up, keeping Elrae near and not letting anyone behind her. She's clearly not stupid.

    Hepla goes to the priest and casts Detect Magic, while watching what is happening. "We appeciate your help so far but what we want to know is your reason for helping."

    [DM OOC: He has the following magic items: Mace, Full Plate Mail, Large Shield
    On the desk are two potions, which he got out but didn't have a chance to drink. There's also a scroll.]

    Kelasha smiles, and tells Hepla what she told Emyn when they were alone. [DM OOC: I'll just repost that entire conversation, so you all get the gist of it.]

    [KELASHA interlude. This is what happened when Emyn actually went into the doorway on his own. However, since what was revealed there is also what the party wants to know now, I may as well just repost it.
    Kelasha
    Emyns sees a most beautiful woman in one of the rooms. The most beautiful he's ever seen. Way more beautiful than Hepla. While the others are checking out the next room, he slips into this one, as the woman beckons him.

    Emyn is instantly 100% in love with her. He'd do anything for her. She runs a hand along his face, and Emyn feels he would happily die right there if asked.

    "Oh but what a fine catch you would be for Kelasha," she says. “I would so love to play with you.”

    [DM OOC: She charmed him and had him come to her room. She then plays with Emyn for a few minutes, teasing him with the hellish delights which she would oh so enjoy with him.]

    Emyn starts reciting his bad poetry to her and asks her if she would like to meet his betrothed.

    [DM OOC: LOL! that's good. Actually, it's not as bad as you probably think, though she certainly would enjoy bringing you back to the Nine Hells.]

    "Don't catch me a paladin every day, you know," she says with a mischievous wink. “Alas, I cannot do so at the present.” She blows a kiss in Emyn’s ear, whispering seductively. “Well, I could, but my masters would, in the long run, be quite displeased.”

    She then places her smooth palm under Emyn’s chin and looks into his eyes. “And for them, the long run is very, very, very long.”

    She then sits back on her bed, stretching out and spreading her legs for a moment as she squirms comfortably atop a bunch of pillows. She then explains that the Dukes of Hell do NOT have any desire to see the Doomdreamers succeed in their plans. Though Kelasha was sent here as an ambassador, she is far more. Being the only type of Devil able to come and go on the Prime without being summoned, coupled with her innate ability to get others to see things her way, she was uniquely suited to play the spy. That mission complete, she intends to return forthwith to her Master. However, having seen what the party has accomplished so far, she believes they may be the only ones who can actually stop the Doomdreamers. Thus, she is prepared to help them.

    “How can you help us, my love?” asks Emyn, sitting down in a chair, thoroughly enraptured by her.

    She smiles, knowingly. “Why, I will tell you where the Tourbillon is, that you may transport to the Temple and stop them.”

    “What do you want in return,” asks Emyn, surprised at his own question. “These things never come free.”

    “Actually my dear,” she says, sitting back up. “I want nothing. Does that surprise you?”

    Emyn shakes his head, then turns back to her with a most confused look. She giggles, sounding eerily like Hepla.

    “Very well my love,” says Emyn. “Tell me how and where we need to go to chase after these Doomdreamers. Then let's go back to the others. Let me do the talking so we don't have problems. I would not want them to harm you."

    She tells Emyn that the summoning of the Princes of Elemental Evil is only the first step in their plan, that what the Doomdreams seek is nothing less than the awakening of He Who Must Sleep For Eternity. That is something her Master will not abide. Thus, she will aid in destroying them.

    "There were many more Doomdreamers," she explains "but they have drunk the Dreamstep, using it to enter the Dreaming Stone. Little did they understand that those who enter the stone seldom return. Currently, all but one of them, Lord Lychon, have entered the stone and are lost in dreams of madness. Lord Tychon resides in the next mansion, and is aware of your group's progress. He has prepared for your coming, as he knows this is his chance. He would slay the lot of you and then slay the Third. Blaming you, he would take his place as part of the Triad."

    "Triad?" asks Emyn. "What's a Triad?"

    She smiles at Emyn's simplicity as she continues. “They are the three most powerful of the Doomdreamers. Hedrack was as nothing compared to the Doomdreamers, and theY are as nothing compared to the Triad. Oh...Hedrack did wield the power of a tentacle rod; yet, that was as much a badge of station as anything else. No, the Doomdreamers are much more powerful, with abilities beyond that of the priests of the Elder Elemental God. They are more powerful for they serve His master."

    Before Emyn can further interrupt, she adds. "Of the Triad, The Third lies at the top of the tower, lost in the incense-induced dreams. You must slay him and take his key to work the Tourbillion. The Second, a half-air elemental, has yet to return from the Plane of Air where she meets directly with the Dread Prince Yan-C-Bin. The First has gone to the Recovered Temple, to rededicate it to the Elder Elemental God in preparation for the summoning of Imix to this world. Once they are finished, the Champion will open the portal to the Fire Node and free him.”

    She lies back on her bed, pulling pillows under her for comfort as she smiles. “The Triad will never be weaker than it is now, with all three apart. You have no time to lose.”

    As Emyn is about to ask a further question, he realizes that he are no longer charmed. In fact, he knows that she released you from her charms some time ago. As he comes to the realization, she smiles, almost warmly. "There is a saying in Baator," she says. "The enemy of my enemy is not my enemy today." With a serious look, she adds, "There is much you do not know mortal, but know this. Today, we are not enemies."

    “Then let us go and fight this being together,” says Emyn. He then says a prayer to Trithereon, attempting to summon aid before leaving. [i.e. casts MS3]

    Unfortunately, his attempt fails, and the Erinyes shakes her head. "Mortals," she says. "There is no access to this place," she says. "Trithereon cannot answer you here."

    With a wave of her hand, she opens the doorway to her room. Hearing the sound of battle, she adds, "Sounds like your friends need you," and she waves towards the open doorway.

    ***

    [So, that was what transpired when Emyn disappeared, and it pretty much answers all the party's current questions too!]

    Hepla is busy removing all magic from the priest. She keeps one eye on Kelasha. "So your masters want these beings stopped and demand nothing from us but that we fight for them," she says flatly. "Sounds still one sided. Already we have lost power just getting here. This piece of trash priest nearly beat us, and you tell us the rest are more powerful then him. Even when we try our best what hope have we? Know this: we will do our best to defeat these beings, but not for your masters, but for us and our world. You want to help us? Great! but no deals."

    She nods. "You are much wiser than your years, little one," she says. "No, I make no deals. My Masters would like as not slay you themselves. But I have watched you and, believe it or not, I have faith in you."

    She then laughs, "Oh, how ironic. No, I demand nothing from you, and you offer nothing but that which you would do regardless. But I shall aid you nonetheless. I shall tell you what you need to know to find and use the Tourbillion. You can leave this place this very hour."

    She then smiles, giving Elrae a sweet kiss. "I have faith you shall then succeed."

    "In league with devils now..." says Thorgrim, spitting blood from his mouth. He then helps Hepla bind Windsong's wounds, and the others who are injured.

    "Great," he mumbles.

    Hepla should have everything off the priest by now. She giggles, "So our deal is no deal , I like that. Tell us what we need to know and we will do what we came to do."

    Berenn will use the potion of extra healing. "If this third is in some incense induced sleep as you say, he or she should be easy to slay. We can gain the key to operate this Tourbillon, get to the temple and stop the summoning."

    Kelasha smiles at Berenn. "No, leave the Third to me. He will get the reward for his service to the Elder Eye. Believe me. Besides, the Tourbillon is in the basement. You must use the golem to gain access, and only one with a master key can do so."

    She takes out the Master Key which Elrae was carrying. "I need this one," she says. But you may have Tychon's," and she indicates the dead priest. A quick search reveals another Master Key in a pocket of the priest's purple robe.

    "You must wear the robe and present the key to control the golem. You can then order it to open the secret passage to the sublevels."

    "By the way," adds Hepla. "When we get to where I can summon something from the Ethereal Plane?"

    "As soon as you leave this place, you can summon your friend again," she says with a knowing smile, releasing Elrae who stumbles away a bit, trying to compose himself.

    "I don't see where we have much choice for now, but any sign of treachery and we will send you back to the Nine Hells," says Berenn. He then takes the key and the robes off the dead priest and lead the party back downstairs.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:19 am  

    As you can tell from the story, if you know the actual module that is, I've made some changes. First, I dropped the whole Half-Dragon/Half-Tyrannosaurus thing. IMHO 3rd ed just went way ridiculously too far with all that kind of stuff. Anyway, this isn't the place to debate editiions, and hey!, I bring in all kinds of 3rd ed stuff, like this entire adventure!

    So, I dropped them and replaced them with an Iron Golem. Now, that's something beyond this party's ability to fight. Fortunately for them, they figured that out quickly and used a Wall of Force on it. With the key they got now, they can still avoid it, so it worked out. Actually, stay tuned a bit as you learn what they end up doing!

    Also, I dropped the Vrock and replaced it with the Erineyes, Kelasha. Personally, and this wasn't lost on the players as noted from a couple OOC posts, the idea of a devil charming and then making a deal with an Avenger of Trithereon (a CG paladin which is diametrically opposed to LE Devils!) was fun.

    Finally, I honestly felt there was a lot of stuff in the Black Spike that wasn't central to the basic flow of the adventure, and the party's mission, so bringing in Kelasha gave me a way to basically skip some and get the party to move on. Plus, they had no way to heal, didn't really have time to do it anyway, and were finally about out of magic. So, this all worked out.

    Stay tuned for the final episodes....
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:21 am  
    Part 21 - The Tourbillion

    Berenn will don the robes and point the key at the golem and command it to stop. It stops, and Berenn tells Noot to take down the Wall of Force. He does so, the rest of the party bracing for the inevitable. However, the golem just stands there, and Berenn then steps forth, commanding it to open the way to the Tourbillion. It goes to the wall and pulls out two large rungs, disguised in the top of the wall. This drops open a portion of floor, which reveals a stairway going down.

    Berenn orders the golem down the stairs. The golem follows his orders and heads down, it's heavy treads creating resounding echoes downstairs. The entire floor is the same size as the tower diameter, and certainly there must be no greater collection of torture devices in the world than what everyone sees. Every type of device meant to inflict pain is in this room, from the rack and iron maiden to strange esoteric devices you can only imagine. These machines have strange tubes running into the walls, and they throb and pulse with the moans and sobs of the prisoners.

    There are currently four prisoners here, a male elf, a female orc, and a male and female human couple. All are hooked up to the strange machines and look pretty bad. There is a man here, with rock skin akin to an earth elemental, hard at work on the machines. He turns and sees the golem, followed by the rest of you, and looks quite confused.

    Emyn says, "Remove the prisoners from the torture devices."

    "You're not the boss of me," he replies uneasily.

    "Smash him," says Berenn. The golem steps and grabs him, while checks the prisoners. They are unconscious, very drained of energy. It's as if the structure was somehow feeding off them.

    "They are being drained of their life essence. Perhaps that machine feeds off their pain or despair. It's not inconceivable," says Thorgrim. "Berenn, use your Rod on these," Thorgrim suggests.

    "This isn't right," the half-elemental man cries.

    Berenn commands the golem to strap him to the device. He writhes and cries, but as soon as he's hooked up, he goes all limp and docile. He closes his eyes and almost seems to fall asleep. You see the tubes leading from him throbbing, almost happily, as they carry away his life force.

    "Such a thing is abhorrent," says Emyn. "What were they powering with such a terrible machine?"

    "Perhaps we are giving the evil more power," says Hepla. "Lets turn off the machine and see if he is more willing to talk."

    Even Gotrek seems to not like what is happening, but Emyn steps up. "It is a just vengeance for his crimes. But, perhaps, if he could tell us what the life force is powering, we could show mercy."

    Berenn releases him, though the golem continues to hold him. Amazingly, he seems already greatly weakened and talks happily. He only knows that the tower itself actually feeds off life energy. He doesn't want to be hooked back up under any circumstances. He then sings like a canary. He shows you the spot on the wall where you place a Master Key. That opens a secret door going down to the next level. He's never been down there and doesn't know anything else. All he knows is that the Third is human, the Second is half-air elemental, and the First is an aboleth. He just wants to be let go, and not hooked back up to the machines.

    "Even one such as this doesn't deserve such a fate," says Gotrek.

    "I agree with Gotrek," says Thorgrim. "Ask him what else he knows, and let him go free."

    It turns out that he doesn't know anything else, except for who else has used the Tourbillion to travel to the Temple. Other than the First, Second, and the Champion (Lareth), the following "people" also passed through going to the Recovered Temple:

    Bethe, the assassin, a bunch of ogres and Stone Giants, Dein Darkearth (Half-Earth Elemental Stone Giant), Kex the Eye Tyant, Dugart, the half-orc Doomdreamer, Rilfainth the Wizard, Estalion, the elven Doomdreamer, Thuchos Nalred (Half-fire Elemental Doomdreamer), and Susain Carun (human Doomdreamer).

    He doesn't really know anything about them [so don't ask!] but he saw them come through. So, the party now has an idea of what to expect there.

    [Hepla OOC: We need to recharge and get Isilme back.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: We're expected to engage the Doomdreamers within the hour?]

    [Isilme OOC: Why doesn't the DM just kill us all now!]

    [DM OOC: You don't necessarily have to engage them immediately. It will likely take them a day or so more, according to both Hedrack and Kelasha, to finish what they are doing. You can probably use the Tourbillion, then rest up before entering the Recovered Temple once more.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Ah, blessed rest!]

    [DM OOC: Hey, I've gotta let you rest up before entering the Temple of Evil again. What kind of sadist would I be otherwise?]

    "Let's go downstairs and get ourselves home," Thorgrim says.

    "Squash him," says Berenn, and the golem smashes the half-man into pulp, tossing his mushed body aside. "Now," says Berenn. "Let's go."

    Going downstairs,the party find themselves in another large circular room. A huge map is on the ground, carved and painted onto the floor. It seems to depict most of this portion of the continent, marking each natural feature as well as each city and town, labeled in Common. Above the map are two iron poles that sit on round bases on the floor and end, at the top, with what looks to be a claw. Behind each of these claw-poles is an even taller pole topped with an iron loop about 2 inches wide. On the oppostie side of the room from the poles stands a strange statue of black and purple stone. Relatively formless, it appears to be a 9' tall mass of tentacles.

    Kelasha told the party how to use the Tourbillion. If Torches of Revealing are placed in the iron loops atop the taller poles, the claw poles cast shadows upon the map. If the two shadows meet on the map, the room is filled with a swirling vortex of energy and an image of that exact spot appears above the map in three dimensions, much like scrying. Stepping into the image transports one to that spot.

    Thorgrim and Noot take out torches, while Emyn sets up the claws to intersect on Hommlet.

    "Could we not cross the shadows near the temple," asks Thorgrim. "That should do."

    "We had a problem killing Tychon," says Berenn. "Perhaps we should be thinking about summoning some assistance. Rufus and Burne ... even as far away as Verbobonc. There was a long list of villains ready to summon this creature and I doubt the element of surprise will aid us for very long."

    [DM OOC: That's true, but it's also the difference between you guys getting to swarm one villain whom you take unawares, and that same villain KNOWING you are coming and preparing. The guy was a 12th level priest; that should count for something! You do not need to go run off for help, and you aren't going to get it anyway as nobody else around can help quickly enough anyway. You know, I tweeked many aspects of this big module, in order to make it challenging. I'm not going to throw you up against a situation you cannot handle. I would think that's obvious, despite all the cries to the contrary.]

    "I long to leave this place," says Thorgrim. He studies the map. "This landmark, here," he says, pointing out a formation near the Temple of Elemental Evil. "It's only a few miles from the Temple. Far enough to rest, but close enough to be upon them at first light. Well, first rest. I've no idea the time of day or night."

    "Very well," says Berenn. "We shall leave and use the formation Thorgrim selected as a point of reference for the Tourbillion. Lets start the machine and leave this place."

    The party uses the Tourbillion as stated. It creates a shimmering vortex which everyone has but to walk through to appear at the indicated place...., well, according to Kelasha....

    muahahahahaha....................

    Just kidding! Or am I?

    muahahahahaha

    Hepla walks through, still not fully trusting the devil.

    Thorgrim says "Let's go," and steps through the vortex.

    Emyn quickly follows her, and everyone else follows him, with the Iron Golem leading the way! The party finds yourselves at the landmark that Thorgrim recognized, the creek that runs north from Nulb. They are about a couple miles to the north of the temple. It's dark, and nobody is around. Hepla finds that she can now recall the chest. She does so and wakes Isilme.
    GreySage

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    Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:13 pm  

    "She is an erinyes and really nice," says Emyn. "She said we might have fun together some day. What do you think? She's pretty hot..."

    I love what you did there, Ragnar! Happy

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    Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:22 pm  

    Yes, I play Emyn and can tell you that it was fun, though for some reason he dropped the line where Emyn suggested a threesome and then asked Hepla what a threesome was.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:29 am  

    Goldie wrote:
    Yes, I play Emyn and can tell you that it was fun, though for some reason he dropped the line where Emyn suggested a threesome and then asked Hepla what a threesome was.


    I've made a LOT of such edits. I want things to be more...kid friendly. :)
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    Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:08 am  
    Part 22 - The Recovered Temple

    Filbin, suffering terribly from the dark wights, will stay behind with the four people the party rescued. With 5 negative levels himself, he's of no use to anyone. It's dark, so the party can rest. Berenn will go scout out Nulb and the temple. There is no activity in and around Nulb, nor is there any at the temple, as far as he can tell. It was only a few months ago that he was here, when he discovered Lareth and slayed the hobgoblins that had taken up residence in the upper story. As he scouts around the temple, he finds a bunch of tracks, some very large ones indicative of ogres and even giants. They seem to simply appear in the large open area north of the temple, about halfway between it and Nulb. They all lead off towards the farmhouse with the secret entrance to the temple that the party used when they infiltrated the temple's lower levels.

    Approaching the temple, Berenn also finds no evidence of anyone moving to and from the main builiding nor the now-collapsed tower. He proceeds into the trees and approaches the abandoned farmhouse, and the tracks definitely go inside. He sees movement in the farmhouse, so there is apparently a guard of some sorts there. Berenn returns, without venturing into the old farmhouse, to report what he found. It's about an hour before dawn now (he was gone about two hours). By the time he gets back, Isilme will have recalled the LLL from the Ethereal. The party sleeps a couple more hours, regaining all their spells and using healing magics taken from the temple to get fully restored (except for negative levels).

    Thorgrim yawns and stretches. "That was the deepest sleep I ever had. Strange dreams."

    Noot walked out into the woods, dug a hole and buried the body of Isaac. At least he can rest in peace. Noot then walks slowly back to join the party.

    Hepla points Filbin in the dirrection of the nearest settlement and makes sure he has his gold and tells him to get the ex- prisioners back there and take it easy on the way, rest often. He is still a thief so he should be able to get them back. She casts Stoneskin on Isilme, and herself. She is ready. Unfortunately, Filbin cannot bring them back, because they are not fit to travel. You pretty much have to darn near carry them. So, he'll wait here until the party returns. Thorgrim teaches Filbin the command word for the Fortress and tells him to remain holed up but alert.

    In the mean time, Isilme too can scout. After casting invisibility, she went inside the main temple building. There she finds that the place is still all collapsed, with the stairs going down completely blocked by rubble just as before. She casts Item on a particularly large boulder, tucking the fabric ribbon into her pocket before returning.

    "The farmhouse seems the best bet for entrance into the lower levels since there is obviously a guard there," says Berenn. "One guard should be easy eliminate, but it might be difficult to get the golem down to the lower level. I think we should start heading for the farm house."

    "I suggest we leave the golem behind to help defend Filbin and the others," says Isilme.

    "They would need a pair of robes and a ke," says Berenn. "I am willing to bet they don't so the golem is coming with us. It will be useful to squish a mage or two."

    "Let's get moving," says Emyn. "The longer wait, the closer Imix comes to this plane."

    Emyn can sense that Lareth is close. As the party approaches the farmhouse/temple area, he can feel that he is getting closer. "The betrayer is near," says Emyn. "We must make haste." Emyn points in the direction to where we must go to find him, ahead and down.

    Approaching the old ruined farmhouse, the party quickly finds that the Iron Golem is extremely loud. It'll be impossible to surprise anyone with it walking around....

    Hepla casts a shrink spell on it, but it has no effect.

    "I will give him my Elven Boots for now," says Berenn. "That should keep him quiet."

    It works, and the Iron Golem is now walking completely quietly. When they get near the farmhouse, Hepla puts down her staff and wand of fear, casts Polymorph Self and becomes the priest, Tychon. She then picks up her stuff, puts the wand away in her new robes, and is ready to walk right in.

    Hepla/Tychon walks into the farmhouse. "Stupid machine put me a mile from here," she says as she enters.

    A woman emerges from the shadows, short sword in hand. She wears a dark cloak, and you catch a hint of hard leather underneath it. "Lord Tychon," she says, greeting you and giving a slight head bow.

    "Stupid Machine malfunctioned," she says, "dropped me a mile away. Be on the lookout for a drow too," she adds. "So, how meny guards are presently on duty and is there anything I need to know?"

    "None have come or left since I took my place," she says. She points to the unlit fireplace, "And the entrance is secure."

    Helpa questions the guard, "Why are you pointing at an empty fireplace when the temple entrance is outside in the well? Ah you wish to test me. I assume this satisfies your curiosity, or perhaps I should touch your mind and have you wander around this farm aimlessly for hours on end?"

    The woman nods. "Just doing my job," she says, putting away her sword. "You never can tell these days."

    Hepla says, "I am going down into the temple to witness the summoning and to see you are relieved, walk me out to the well."

    The woman walks out to the well with Hepla. The party quickly emerges from the trees and surrounds them.

    "Drop your arms and surrender," orders Berenn. He reveals his crest and informs her she is trespassing on his lands and things will go easier if she just gives up! "You are hopelessly outnumbered."

    "Soon none of that will matter," she says, backing away. She tumbles away as Emyn charges, just staying out of reach.

    "We are here to prevent the summoning," answers Berenn, "I won't give the order again ... drop your weapons and surrender!" Berenn draws his blades and orders the golem forward.

    She goes to flee from the golem, and runs into Windsong. A quick double-tap to selected pressure points, using his Touch of the Phantom maneuver, and the woman falls limp in his arms. He quickly disarms her, then brings her out to the rest of the party. Isilme then charms the woman.

    As she comes around, Isilme questions her. She learns that this is the assassin, Bethe. She tells you that the tunnel goes a long way, ending in the old secret rooms of some wizard, Falrinth. Ogres guard those rooms, and there's an earth elemental guarding the secret room beyond which connects to the rest of the temple. She hasn't been passed that point, so she doesn't know anything else beyond there.

    "Dearest friend," says Isilme, "I have uncovered a plot against the life of the Chosen by one of the leaders of our greater temple. I need you to assist me in finding this traitor by telling me what you know of the forces here, where they are, and any traps so that I may verify everything is in working order and secretly question those here, and if found loyal raise the alert while maintaining the pretense that's all is well so this vile fiend shows their hand. I know you would have nothing to do with such a plot, but the others are in question! I am also in dire need of your items to help with the coming battle against the traitor, so I will borrow them for a day or so and return them!"

    Isilme will also ask what items she has, what they do, ect, and her name, job, position,
    and verify who she has seen enter the temple and not yet leave. She has a magic short sword and dagger. Also, two potions of Ex-Healing and one of poison. Rest is just MW items. All the other people on that list are inside somewhere.

    "Bethe," says Isilme, "you should return to stand guard as you were, while we go to ensure the Chosen's safety. It would be best if you allowed no one to pass this entrance alive once we enter, as they are most assuredly a part of the evil plot. Use this...." she hands her back her weapons, before turning back to the party. "Group, let us be off to Stop the plot against our Chosen's life!"

    Emyn grumbles, "Why are we leaving an assassin who murdered our friends to live? What possible advantage could there be to doing so?"

    "To be made an example of at a later date," says Berenn, "and so my men can witness first hand justice served. This woman wronged my person and my men more than any other, and I will decide her fate."

    The tunnel goes for like 600 yards, or maybe double that. Remember, it's a long way to the tower. At the half-way point there is a secret door which opens to a side tunnel. That led to Falrinth's rooms.


    Map of Recovered Temple

    Isilme scouts ahead, invisible and flying. She finds nobody in the tunnel and the way clear to the Entry. The entry must have been collapsed completely, as the ceiling is rough and jagged, its massive stone arches destroyed. It's now relatively clear of debris, and the ceiling has been supported by makeshift beams. Two wooden doors and two passages lead out of the room. The doors are damaged, and do not hang entirely right as the bottom hinges are both broken.

    Four ogres stand guard in this area (room 1). They are armed with large weapons and plate mail armor. The passage continues on to a steep stairway through a trapdoor which leads above [to area 5]. From area 1 there are two broken doors which lead to other rooms [areas 2 and 3]. Area 2 was the assassin Smigmal Redhand's quarters. Area 3 was the wizard Falrinth's quarters. Isilme also hear ogre voices coming from area 2.

    The passage continues to the steep stairs leading up through an opened trap door [to area 5] and into the rest of the temple. If she recalls correctly, after going through there, you loop around to the right, eventually down some stairs, and pass into area of the Greater Temple. There was a grand stair that led down, like a processional. The party fought their big battle with all the temple badguys there, before ending up in the nodes. She goes back and reports.

    "Might the wand of Highfolk be useful here?" asks Emyn.

    Gotrek looks around. "Ye gots two dwarfs, an avenging warrior, and big iron guy and you wanna use Isilme's little stick? Just block the exits, make sure they don't run. I'll take care of 'em."

    With that, Gotrek charges down the hallway. The ogres turn as he rounds the corner, but they are unprepared for the ferocity of Gotrek's attack. He has one ogre nearly cut in half before they can even respond. The other three move to surround him, growling anxiously at the thought of fresh dwarf.

    Isilme slips down the passage, flying above the heads of the ogres. The door at area 2 bursts open, actually flying off its one good hinge. There are four more ogres in there trying to push their way out. Isilme snaps off a shot of her wand.

    Meanwhile, Emyn rushes down the hallway to stand beside Gotrek, who grits his teeth in an effort to not start singing. The two both hit one ogre, killing it. The other two ogres attack, one hitting Emyn [12].

    Thorgrim moves down the hallway, slipping passed Gotrek and Emyn and down the other hallway, casting silence on some stones which he tosses towards the end of the hallway by the stairs, blocking the sound of the fight. Berenn moves down around the corner as well, with the IG walking behind him. Once in this area it is able to stand upright again. Behind them are the rest of the party. Windsong makes his way towards Thorgrim as well.

    "Windsong! Watch my back!" Thorgrim says. He then turns to attack the ogres where he may, taking care not to harm party members.

    Berenn is hit by one ogre [taking away another SS] while Gotrek is also hit [10].

    Berenn misses with Bonefire, but hits with his off-hand, his blow slicing clean through the ogre's arm [30]. It drops its spike-studded mace and falls to one knee as it grabs its stump with its other hand. It is then dead before it even knows that Thorgrim was there, never even feeling the head of Souldrinker as it plowed through its skull.

    Emyn and Gotrek both combine on the second ogre, landing a series of blows that drives it back and kills it too. The ogre behind it kicks its companion's body out of the way as it steps up, joined by more ogres from the other other room, coming in through the broken door.

    Berenn hits another ogre [14] while Emyn and Gotrek both score hits that brings down another. Berenn is missed while one attacks Thorgrim but stumbles over the bodies of the dead ogres. As it falls to the ground, he buries Souldrinker in the back of its neck, cleanly severing the spinal column and killing it.

    Another moves up and hits Thorgrim [9] while one moves up and attacks Emyn.

    [DM OOC: there are four ogres left. One wounded one fighting Berenn and Thorgrim, one fighting Emyn and Gotrek, and two more waiting to move into action.]

    Isilme looks into the room where the ogres were [Room 2], which was the assassin's room. It still has a bunch of weapons in it, including odd things she has never seen before. Of course, it's a pretty big mess now, with some ogres having moved in. There doesn't seem to be much of value in there.

    Berenn kills the ogre he wounded earlier. The other ogre overbears Emyn and Gotrek, knocking both aside as it pushes its way out into the hallway. Gotrek rolls out of the way, then finds his feet and hits the ogre with Goreblade [12]. Berenn also stabs the ogre in the side [10]. Two more move up and attack, both attacking Berenn whose SS spells continue to block their blows.

    Emyn finishes off the ogre while Thorgrim takes out the new one. There's only one ogre left. As Isilme is about to slip through the other door, it bursts outwards. She flies away, barely avoiding being hit by the door. A huge ogre comes out wielding a massive two-handed mace. Noot is back in the hallway with Hepla, behind the Iron Golem, so they can't do anything.

    Isilme flies by the large ogre, going into what was once Falrinth's room. The ogre leader has made this his room. Any of Falrinth's old stuff (that they didn't already loot last year) is now smashed and broken. The door to the south closet is open, revealing a bunch of junk. The secret door is also left open, and doesn't seem to have much of obvious value.

    Berenn and Gotrek attack the last ogre, which strikes back at Gotrek [12] before Emyn puts it down. The large one steps up, roaring in a rage, and attacks Thogrim, hitting him [20]. He sees flames leaking out from the beneath the ogre's plate mail. Thorgrim is knocked back across the hallway where he slams into the far wall and falls to the ground stunned.

    Hepla rushes up to Thorgrim and gives him some first aid while he is getting back to the battle. She then starts preping magic missle.

    Berenn orders the Iron Golem to attack the ogre, and it moves forward and engages the creature. The ogre leader roars and turns to the iron golem, hitting it with its huge mace but doing no apparent damage. The IG bashes the ogre, sending it flying back across the room. As the ogre rises, it blasts the IG with waves of fire which make all the rest of the party dive out of the way. The IG just ignores the licking flames, moves up and starts pounding its fists onto the ogre's skull. Over and over it continues until there is nothing but a pulpy mess oozing out of the nearly flattened helm where the ogre's head once was.

    Berenn uses his rod on those who need it and checks the golem for damage. It is completely unharmed.

    "The ogre was infused with Elemental Fire," says Elrae. "No doubt by means of the machine you destroyed. Probably a good thing you had that Iron Golem."

    There's a stairway going up through an open trap door at the far end of the hallway. It goes up into area 5, a circular chamber. Windsong checked it out and didn't see anything there. Windsong goes up the stairs and investigates the passage. The area is all lit with continual light spells. He goes up into the circular area, which seems to be the bottom of a shaft now clogged with debris. It seems a couple of wall of stones were cast here to hold up the ceiling after some of the debris was cleared. He follows a corridor 10' wide by 15' high going out to the left. There's a door, and beyond it he can hear the sound of hammers and picks and gruff, goblinoid voices. The other way [towards area 11] he sees and hears nothing. That area [11] seems to be full of stones, though they are mostly cleared out and heaped along the walls. It looks like a circular chamber, but he goes back to report before going any further.

    "There was no mention of goblins or goblinoids in the remaining forces," says Berenn, "so I am curious as to what is here."

    "Hepla," says Isilme, "perhaps you can take the form of the priest or ogre leader and barge in on the goblins?"

    Hepla changes to the giant ogre. She has a vile of his blood so she can sound like him. She will follow Isilme to where she heard the voices. She also took out her fear wand and put it down and picked it up after morphing and hid it in her clothes. She will open the door when the others are ready, she has been sent by the priest to inspect their work. Thorgrim will have picked up his Stone of Silence and tossed it down the corridor towards room 11.

    Hepla opens the door which reveals a short hallway opening into another chamber. The plastered walls of this triangular room are covered with paintings of eyes and the symbol of the Eye of Fire — an equilateral triangle with a "Y" shape within, the branches at the base corners and the stem meeting the apex. The eyes are of all sorts — human and monstrous, blind-looking, multi-faceted, and of various colors— and all seem to stare in hatred, hunger, or fright. There are doors to left and right, and ahead there are two other rooms, the doors of which are gone. Most of the rubble is cleaned up, though there is still a pile in the center of the fall wall. There are about a dozen hobgoblins in each of the far rooms [labeled 7 on the map]. Another few are working on the rubble pile in the center of the room, filling up a couple of wheel barrows.

    Hepla (ogre) grumbles at the hobgoblins in broken common, and they all sullenly stop what they are doing. They continue to mumble in their own language, which she doesn't understand. Hepla/ogre lumbers toward the southern 7 group of hobgoblins. "visitors comig, work faster,"she says in bad common. She gets down to where the 7 is on the map and looks around, like she's inspecting.

    Windsong and Noot guard the rear, each moving to the end of their respective hallways to watch around the corners. Emyn charges in, goes around Hepla, and cuts down a surprised hobgoblin as it is letting go of its wheelbarrow. Gotrek moves up next to him, slipping by Hepla, and nearly chops on in half. The others drops what they're doing and flee back into the far rooms, away from you. The hobgoblins in the far rooms grab weapons and form up in shield walls in each room.

    Gotrek says, "Don't waste spells," and then charges the nearest hobgoblins. A few hobgoblins rush out, overpowered by their compulsion to attack their hated dwarven foes. They all miss, and Gotrek kills two while Thorgrim kills another. Emyn charges into the left-hand room, and the guarding hobgoblins attack him, their blows ringing harmlessly off his armor. One falls down, nearly dropping its mace. Emyn steps on it, and as the hobgoblin looks up, Emyn stabs it through the eye with the Sword of Fire. Berenn moves up to assist Emyn, killing two hobgoblins with his longswords as Hepla does her best ogre roar imitation. Isilme laughs silently, prepared to block the exits with an illusion. Elrae moves up behind her, nearly bumping into her. "Watch out," she whispers, flying up to the ceiling and out of the way. A last hobgoblin moves up and hits Berenn with a broadsword [4].

    Emyn and Berenn each kill two more, while avoiding being hit. Gotrek moves over to the right-hand room, where he engages the hobgoblins there. They all miss him, and he takes out one with a single swing of Goreblade. Thorgrim takes out the last hobgoblin attacking him, and turns to consider his next move when the door next to him flies open. It strikes him, knocking him off-balance, as four ogres charge out. They knock him over as they rush into the room.

    Hepla blasts the lead one with Magic Missiles [16], which just makes it angry. It and the next one both attack her [they think she's an ogre too!] Good thing she's got Stoneskin! One moves over to Thorgrim, trying to slam him while he's down but misses as he rolls away. The other sees Gotrek and turns down the hall after him, coming up behind him and attacking, but missing as well. The other door also opens up, and there are four more ogres in there, all ready to move into the room themselves. They issue their own roar, answering Hepla's with much more ferocity.

    Elrae blasts the ogre standing over Thorgrim with a series of Magic Missiles [15]. Thorgrim the stands and strikes with Souldrinker, blasting through the ogre's hide and piercing its chest with a deadly blow to its heart. It looks surprised for a moment, then falls over backwards. Hepla steps back, hitting the same ogre again with another burst of Magic Missiles [18]. It roars in rage as it is nearly killed by the successive blows. Emyn rushes back, ignoring the ogres coming out of the room which try and hit him as he runs by, and he takes up a defensive position in front of Hepla. Gotrek kills another hobgoblin, then steps towards the wall so he can turn around and keep his back to it. He starts to sing.....

    The ogre steps up to Gotrek and swings a massive mace. Gotrek ducks, and the mace takes the head clean off the nearest hobgoblin. The other hobgoblins all back away. Berenn moves back into the room, trying to call the Iron Golem but having no luck. [It's beyond the far doorway back in the hallway, and it doesn't respond to his calls.] With a frustrated curse, he steps up to the nearest ogre and attack it, missing.

    One steps up to attack Hepla, but it is met by Emyn first and the two lock into a fierce melee. The other ogre turns and attacks Thorgrim, slamming him in the side [9] with its club. Another ogre comes out, attempting to hit Thorgrim from behind. Thorgrim, no stranger to battling these foes, easily avoids the blow and sets the ogre up so it hits its companion! The other ogres then move out, spreading out to attack Emyn, Thorgrim, and Berenn. They all miss though Berenn finds himself surrounded by 4 ogres.

    At the sound of more intense fighting, Noot comes down and peeks through the hallway door. He doesn't like what he sees. He calls to Windsong, who doesn't hear him as he's gone through the silence spell and is guarding the fall area with all the broken statues.

    Thorgrim turns his back to Berenn, then continues to battle the ogres as the two fight back-to-back. Elrae blasts the two ogres in front of him with a color spray, knocking them both to the ground and unconscious. [wow, color spray's actually pretty cool!]

    The hobgoblins rush forward, and actually attack the ogre! It kills two before the others swarm it, dragging it down and holding its arms and legs. Gotrek slams Goreblade into its face, ending its struggles.

    The hobgoblins look at Gotrek, and one puts up a hand, palm out. "Friend?" it says, hesitantly.

    Gotrek tells the hobgoblins to either stay put or help attack the ogres and we will not kill them. Then he charges the remaining ogres. Yelling to the others not to attack the hobgoblins, they may be useful.

    The ogres continue to attack. Berenn still is saved from any blows by the SS spell. Thorgrim continues his fight, while Emyn engages the other ogre. Berenn hits one twice [10] [12] and Bonefire ignites the ogre's clothes [2]. It jumps back, swatting at the flames, and trips over the wheelbarrow behind it, falling to the ground. Seeing the two ogres go down, Hepla fires her Magic Missiles at the one fighting Emyn, hitting it for [15].

    Gotrek yells, then rushes up and kills one of the prone ogres. Elrae then kills the other. The ogres all attack, but they miss. The one that fell over the wheelbarrow gets up, makes a wild swing, and then seems off-balance. Berenn moves away from Thorgrim, hits his ogre twice, killing it and setting it further ablaze, then turns towards the last one. horgrim and Emyn both continue to miss. The hobgoblins don't follow Gotrek, but they don't attack him either. They just stay put.

    Hepla morphs back into the priest, Tychon. Too much "KILL THE OGRE" going around for her to stay one.

    Thorgrim hits an ogre [13]. Elrae moves down towards the hobgoblins, peeking into the side room on the way. He then starts to speak to them. Their leader speaks halting common, so they begin talking. The ogres all miss except for the one attacking Emyn, who is hit for [12]. Noot walks along the ceiling and gets behind the ogres. They don't notice. He then stabs the center one in the back of the head upside down [15]. The ogre roars, turning around, and Thorgrim kills it with his second blow! Emyn hits his twice [12] and [11]. Berenn misses with all his attacks, but Gotrek moves up and chops down his ogre [40!]. Nice critical! Not bothering with the next round, as you all go first and will certainly kill the last ogre. So, fight's over!

    Emyn mutters, "Why are we bothing with this hobgoblin scum? Where are Noot and Windsong?"

    Hepla says, "Look up, love, for one of them." Emyn looks up and sees Noot on the ceiling. The thief waves to him.

    The ogres have nothing of value on them. They are just workers, strong arms to assist in the cleanup. You also find that the hobgoblins are the remnants of the clan which Berenn discovered above a few months ago. The priests and their minions took them captive to use as slave labor in their work to clear these areas. They would be only too happy to help you against them and to regain their freedom.

    Thorgrim picks bits of ogre flesh from his beard. He notices a few bone shards in the metalwork of his pick, and tosses them aside, as well. "Berenn, didn't you tell these guys to clear out of your lands?" he asks. "What did you tell them? I really can't remember."

    "I didn't tell them anything," he replies. "It was their leader. If they wish to leave, they are welcome to leave and never return."

    Isilme slips off to spy, while the party does some quick healing. She returns, saying to them that the far room is the area where 9 stone giants live led by a Giant infused with earth. "I have one guard charmed. I used him to fool the rest of the giants into thinking the ogres were fighting amongst themselves and he would deal with it - so you didn't get rushed from behind in combat. He also told me the Dedication is going on today, so we need to hurry."

    Emyn says, "If we can bypass the giants, then that might be best. Besides, I have heard stone giants are not usually evil. Maybe they are being influenced against their will."

    "Agreed," says Berenn. "Although once we are done with the major threat, the stone giants will have to leave here or be forced to leave."

    Elrae talks to the hobgoblins. The hobgoblins, leaderless after Berenn dealt with them earlier, scattered to the winds. The temple forces found them and dragged them back here as slaves. They can corroborate the same basic info you already received on what to expect, with the following additional details:

    9-10: This is the barracks of the Stone giants who have joined the temple forces.
    11: just noted, this is the statue room where you once fought WoWs and found the LLL
    12: Evil looking fountain with nasty water, though nothing else of interest.
    13: lair of Kex, the Eye Tyrant
    14: Empty room (once was the lair of the leucrotta)
    15-16: Dugart's rooms
    17: hobgoblin workers and an ogre clearing rubble

    The hobgoblins then sketch out the lower level of the Greater Temple, and since the party has been here before, here's a map:



    They can give you further info about anything you see here, as they did help clear the places out. Here's what they say:

    18: entrance
    19: entrances to various living quarters (guarded by strange creatures. They are like columns with a single large eye and mouth and lots of tentacles)
    20: priests (they don't know them apart)
    21: supplies
    22: large room, still being cleared
    23: elite ogre barracks (they are all armed with plate mail and large weapons, and led by a fire-enhanced ogre)
    24: old storerooms being used to hold prisoners. They've seen an elf woman being held here.
    25: empty (secret door is off-limits)
    26: ? (hobgoblins and ogres that were working there were killed, and the area sealed off again)
    27: old living quarters, also being cleared out still
    28: living quarters, still being cleared out and used by priests
    29: Greater Temple (obviously, this is where the big fight will likely be...! There's a big strange curtain behind the altar, and they've never been behind it.)
    32: Gate to the Fire Node

    [The party also never went behind the altar/curtain, so they don't really know what's there. In the map I gave the originally, I left that dark. I show it here, so you can follow the action.]

    "Might we get the stone giants to join our side?" Thorgrim asks. "Or would it be better just to avoid them altogether? And what to do with these hobgoblins?"

    Windsong then returns, after having checked out the far area [area 11], and he tells you that he found the remains of all kinds of statues in room 11. He starts to describe them, and you realize this is the room where you fought the Will-O-the-Wisps and found the Leomund's Labile Locker. There are hallways going left and right. The hall to the right leads downstairs to the Greater Temple, which is where you guys fought that big battle on the long processional stairway.

    Also, the hobgoblins say that the rest of their group, maybe another 10 hobgoblins, are to the right, working under another ogre to finish cleaning the chamber before the stairs going down. They would like to rescue their fellow slaves, and then they would like to leave. They give Berenn their word. [Remember, basically LE, the hobgoblins would generally follow their word. They certainly fear and respect strength, which you've shown!]

    Isilme goes to checks out the area by the stairs, and yes, indeed, it is just one ogre overseeing the work of about a dozen hobgoblins. She returns and tells the party what she found. "I say we let the hobgoblins swarm and liberate their friends," she says. "Then we should most assuredly check the room of the eye tyrant next."

    "You assume the Eye Tyrant is even there," says Berenn. "I am thinking he is not. He is probably involved in the summoning. We did say we would help the hobgoblins, and it is one ogre so kill it and be done. Throw the stone in and rush it, it should be dead in a massive rush."

    "Let's go with Isilme's plan," Thorgrim says. "Speak with our stone giant friend, then scout the beholder's room. As a child, in Dorob Kilthduum," Thorgrim begins, "I heard a few tales of the Eye Tyrants. I remember only that they have many eyes with sorcerous powers, and that they cannot withstand strong winds. Wizards and great heroes alike are easily defeated by these fell beasts. That is all I know."

    While the party deals with the ogre, and frees the hobgoblins at the stairs, Isilme goes to speak with the giant she charmed. She learns from the giant that they really are not that thrilled to be here. Their leader, Dein, had worked with the original leaders of the Temple of Elemental Evil. After the deaths of a handful of giants, it seemed they were done with this place. Dein was actually exiled from the clan. He showed up a year later, "altered" in some strange way. His skin was no longer just stone-giant tough, it was actually stone! He easily killed the new leader and took charge again. Everyone else was too shocked to do anything. He then led this group of giants back, to help clearing this place. They really aren't happy about it, and would welcome his removal.

    Isilme promises to the stone giant, Bronk, that she will take care of Dein for them. He in turn pledges to lead the giants away from here and back to their home in the mountains. With that, Hepla changes back into the priest's form, and goes to bring Dein to the ritual. He is quite pleased, and follows Hepla/priest out.

    Hepla/priest tells the giant to lead the way, and as it goes to open the door she slips back around the corner, whistling. The giant looks back, wondering where she went, not seeing the Iron Golem standing there. As it turns back, the golem punches it in the chest [32]. The giant stumbles backwards a step, shocked and surprised.

    The unarmed giant turns fully and grapples with the Iron Golem. While the two are locked together, Gotrek rushes up behind the giant and hits it with Giant Goreblade [38]. The giant roars in pain and as it tries to let go, Berenn orders the Iron Golem to hold it tight. It struggles, but cannot free itself from the Iron Golem's grasp.

    Hepla and Elrae both cast Magic Missiles which fly straight into the giant's back [16] and [13]. It fails to break free, and Gotrek hits it twice with Goreblade [35] and [25], chopping out both of its legs. It drops to its knees, and the Iron Golem continues its relentless hold. As it feebly struggles, Elrae and Hepla fire another round of Magic Missiles, again doing [18] and [16].

    It starts to go limp, and Gotrek hacks at the back of its neck, chopping through it as if he were splitting wood! As the giant dies, Berenn orders the Iron Golem to let it go and it falls to the ground as Gotrek gets out of the way.

    [DM OOC: Well, Gotrek sure does a lot of damage to true giants!]

    "Ah, Giant Goreblade is worthy of its name, after all," Thorgrim says.

    With the death of the giant leader, ythey have the Iron Golem take the body back to the hobgoblin room. Gotrek brings the head! They bring it to Bronk, who will go show it to the other Stone Giants. There they find the rest of them, and Bronk says that you have slain Dein. They are shocked, but quickly come around showing much relief. They thank you for what you've done. Bronk now has Dein's magical greatclub, and he assumes control of the giants. He plans to lead them home. Before they go, they give you Dein's treasure. It's a large sack, with gems and stuff in it.

    Isilme tells Bronk to explain to the giants that the priests here are trying to summon a great evil, and the creature they worship is so old and evil it intends to ultimately devour the world, destroying the earth and stone they cherish. She wants him to convince the giants to aid us.

    Emyn says, "We should destroy this eye tyrant. It sounds like a terrible beast and it would be unwise to leave it at our backs. Perhaps the giants could help us with it too?"

    The giants discuss, in their own tongue, Bronk trying to convince them. In the end, all but one other stone giant, Granitethews decides to leave. Bronk gives the club of leadership to the giants, that they may return it to their hold in the mountains. They collect their stuff and leave, while Bronk and Granitethews stay with you.

    "Hoho now THIS is a party!" exclaims Thorgrim. "All sizes welcome."
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    Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:56 am  
    Part 23 - The Eye Tyrant

    The party welcomes Bronk and Granitethews, and together they set out for the Eye Tyrant. The giants don't know anything much about it either, except that they don't like it.

    Emyn says, "Let's have someone scout that eye tyrant room and see what we are up against." He then asks, "DO we have a way to simply drop the ceiling on the creature?"

    [Berenn OOC: Berenn quickly tucks the scroll with earthquake on it under his clothing. Nothing to see here ... move along ...]

    Isilme will scout out the room. She will cast mirror image before she enters just in case.
    She will also be patient and listen before going inside the pit. No need to expose herself to such a monster. "Funny how the thieves are not stepping up," she mutters.

    "Sorry," says Noot, "but I don't have the tools or ability to handle magic eyes. I'll keep guarding the door."

    The party waits in the hallway by the strange fountain. Horrid faces, carved from the same rock as the passage, snarl and vomit forth thin streams of water which are caught in a multi-tiered basin. The liquid has an evil smell, and the basin has become lined with some sort of aquatic growth. While they wait there, Isilme sneaks into the dark passage to scout.

    After a few minutes, Isilme comes back to report:

    The corridor, thus far unremarkable, suddenly drops off. You stand at the brinkof an area of 16 foot depth, its sides and floor sheathed in smooth, highly polished bronze. The corridor continues east 20 feet, opening into a chamber likewise adorned. Further progress is possible by using narrow ledges along the north and south walls of this corridor, each being a mere six inches wide — or, of course, you may climb down in or traverse the depression by magical means. It looks like there may have been some type of mechanism in the ceiling, but whatever what there is now gone and all that remains are some strange metal brackets which hold nothing.

    Continuing on, the corridor leads to an octagonal chamber, its sides and floor still sheathed in polished bronze. The six-inch wide ledge extends around it at the height of the entry corridor, 16 feet above the floor. wo arched portals near the floor are visible in the north and south walls, each being six feet wide and nine feet tall. The area is completely bare of any debris, and seem unnaturally clean compared to the rest of the area. Standing in the center of the room are two hobgoblins.

    " Seems odd the hobgoblins did not mention two of their friends in here," says Isilme.

    Emyn says, "Maybe they have a lifting device in that hole much like people use to lift goods over castle walls intimes of seige?"

    The hobgoblins don't know where all the rest of their clan have gone. [i.e neither does the DM! ] There are more unaccounted for, so they could be anywhere. Certainly some or working in the lower level, but the rest of the hobgoblins are not going to go down there. They have left now, off to find their women and children who were hiding in caves in the hills. So, all the hobgoblins the party "rescued" have left already. The giants have too, except for the two mentioned.

    "What's with all the polished bronze?" asks Thorgrim. "What were the hobgoblins doing in the center of the room?"

    "Polished bronze would be reflective," says Berenn. "It could be some sort of a trap. I don't suggest walking down this corridor en mass."

    Isilme will go fly back and investigate the arched portals.

    "This area looks and feels wrong," says Berenn. "We should wait for Isilme to report."

    Thorgrim will cast CLW once on Gotrek, once on himself, then suggest that the party move together into the beholder's lair, if Isilme doesn't return within a few minutes.

    "The narrow ledge suggests that the bronze pit is some sort of trap...perhaps to reflect the beholder's gaze so that its sorcery can hurt us multiple times, like a lightning bolt bouncing around a small room," he says. "Speaking of which, perhaps that is the spell that is needed here, although if Isilme's there and invisible, she would certainly die from the onslaught. Windsong, take point!"

    Hepla peeks her head into the room to see what the hobgoblins are doing. She sees the hobgoblins, standing there in the center of the room 40' away (and 16' lower!). They don't seem to notice her. Meanwhile, Thorgrim casts the aforementioned spells. Then Windsong moves silently down the corridor, stopping just behind Hepla. Behind him is Emyn and Berenn, followed by Gotrek and Thorgrim. Elrae and Noot bring up the rear, Noot staying at the corner to watch their backs. Bronk, Granitethews, and the Iron Golem are out in the main hallway

    For a moment, Hepla sees another figure which she can only assume is Isilme, appear near the entrance to the southern archway. She falls to floor, and then gets up. She seems to be talking to someone to the south, beyond Hepla's sight, and then Isilme disappears again.

    "It's her mirror image!" yells Thorgrim. "She's fighting the beholder alone! To Isilme! Let's go ahead and charge."

    Berenn will cautiously follow his companions into the room.

    As the party moves forward, they hear Isilme's voice behind them, back by the fountain. "The beholder's coming out!" she cries.

    [DM OOC: Isilme's scouting turned into a very scary encounter with the beholder, Kex. It all happened in PMs, and I don't have them anymore. However, here's the gist of what happened. She flew down, passed the hobgoblins, and into the archways. To the south, she ran into the beholder, which happened to be looking her way. All her magic, including her spells, failed her. She bluffed her way for a bit, using the knowledge of the Temple as well as the fact that she is a dark elf to keep the beholder off-balance. In the end, the beholder saw through her charade, but by then Isilme had angled herself to the exit, where she could take off and run. Her magic returned, and she fled as fast as she could. This happened about the same time the party decided to move to her aid.]

    Everyone pulls back after Isilme's warning. "Let's just have the Iron Golem deal with this Kex," says Berenn.

    Emyn mutters, " A man should meet his fate with eye wide open, not cowering like a child."

    "I am betting the beholder doesn't have an answer for the Iron Golem," says Berenn. "If I am right, no need to risk anyone else. If I am wrong, we are going to need a plan B in a hurry."

    Meanwhile, Noot hears something walking down the hallway. Noot glances down (peeking from the top right corner as he's on the wall/ceiling) and he sees a hobgoblin walking towards him.

    Berenn sends the Iron Golem up to the corner, staying close behind it to control it. The IG steps out around the corner, and the hobgoblin stops dead in it's tracks. It then turns and runs away.

    [Isilme OOC: We actually fell for setting off the trap when he sends the pawn hobgoblin forward! Where is the acme blanket and anvil for this cartoon?!]

    Hepla morphs into a bat and flys up to land near, but not too near, Noot so she can see. As she is there she says to herself, "Stupid bat senses doe not work right. I wonder how real bats do it." [DM OOC: She forgot that she didn't gain bat senses!] Hepla flies up to the ceiling near to Noot, where she can look down the hallway. All she sees is the hobgoblin at the far end, going around the corner to the right.

    She flys to the next corner to look around it. She is ready to fly back at the first sign of a beholder. She will be up high. She flies back about 30 seconds later, just passed the IG and lands back around the corner next to Berenn where she changes back into her normal form. She then tells Berenn that the Beholder is floating in the center of the octagonal chamber [area 13], looking this way.

    Thorgrim says, "Berenn! Send your metal friend to annihilate the beast!"

    "Someone should consider shadowing the golem so it can act as their body shield," says Isilme, as she prepares to Dimension Door behind the beholder.

    The Iron Golem walks down the hallway, with Berenn right behind it. The corridor is dark, and the IG stops at the end, not being able to "see" anything. Of course, it's also on the edge of the 16' drop-off. Berenn stays just behind the corner of the wall, peeking out, and he sees the beholder floating in the air about edge of the room, maybe 20' from the IG. A grey ray shoots forth from the beholder, striking the IG. It spreads over its entire body, then just fades away having no effect at all.

    [DM OOC: The Iron Golem is standing on the edge of the drop-off in the corridor. It is 16' deep (the IG is 13' tall). There is a 1' ledge along each wall, which it cannot use. The beholder is floating about 20' above the lower level (or 4' above the level where the party is), 40' away from the IG which puts it roughly in the center of that other chamber. There is no room for anyone to do anything while the IG is standing there. It basically takes up the entire corridor. The party can stand in the rear spaces, basically in close order, but cannot fire melee weapons or throw objects around the IG. It's totally in the way right now. Berenn is actually around the corner, just peeking his head around to quickly see what's up. At this point, a long OOC discussion occured, with the party trying to figure out what to do. They seemed to be in a Mexican Stand-off, and nobody had any good ideas regarding what to do next. As soon as they came up with a plan, they then moved forward.]

    "I will attempt to get behind the beholder," says Isilme. "If anyone sees my Glitterdust spell go off you should probably act." Isilme then casts her Dimension Door, jumping behind the beholder.

    Thorgrim speaks. To Gotrek, he says, "If this doesn't work, it's all on you. If the iron golem is subdued, read the scroll and be our battering ram." To Hepla, he says, "Be prepared to cast Fly on Gotrek if you see him reading the scroll. He may be our last best bet."

    Hepla changes form to a pixie, and she flies up to the IG, landing on it's right shoulder where she has a good view.

    Emyn taunts the Eye Tyrant with a handful of lines from Montey Python! As he does so, Hepla suddenly and involuntarily changes back into human form. She falls to the ground, a 10' fall which causes [2 dam]. She makes her concentration check, so she can still cast a Light spell. However, she finds that her spell fails to cast at all. Suddenly, the top and rear half of the beholder is covered in Glitterdust, cast by Isilme who is inside somewhere and not in the anti-magic area.. The beholder reacts quite unwell to the situation! Especially considering the anti-magic had no effect on the IG.

    Hepla looks at Noot, and finds his slippers are still working. Of course, he's kind of crouching on the wall, with only his head "peeking" around the corner. [BTW, I should have added that, while there's no light down the hallway and in the chamber, the Beholder is now illuminated by the Glitterdust!]

    Hepla crawls out of the way, and finds that she has only to get around the corner to be able to use magic again. Berenn starts to get his Rope of Climbing out as he tells the IG to move back down the hallway. He quickly realizes that the rope of climbing will not function in the anti-magic area, so he drops his pack and takes up his bow.

    The beholder begins to turn around, when it is hit by a gust of wind from behind. It begins to move towards the golem, going about halfway there [it's still 15' away from the ledge] when it completes a 180* turn. At that point Isilme is revealed in the rear of the room. She has gone down towards the floor, and there her fly is cancelled and she drops the last foot or so to the ground. Being somewhat prepared for that, she lands lightly on the floor. The gust of wind ends as well, and the beholder's big eye seems to widen in surprise and recognition, then narrows ominously.

    IG has moved back, and Hepla has crawled back out of the way. Berenn's halfway around the corner, ready to fire his bow. He has tied his silk rope to an arrow.

    "Next time," says Isilme, "you will think twice about using a Drow as your body sheild."
    Isilme then takes off running, heading off to the right and out of sight. Elrae waits back in the hallway, considering what he could do to possibly help.

    Berenn fires his bow, hitting the beholder square in the back of hits "head?" for [10: good shot!].

    The grey beam streaks out from one of it's smaller eyes, just missing Berenn. A large section of the wall beside him simply disintegrates. Unfortunately, it reveals him fully and Noot, no longer standing on anything, falls to the ground. He tumbles back easily, avoiding any damage and coming up on his feet. He then backs off.

    Simultaneously, another beam comes out of another eye, this one picking up the hobgoblin and lifting it in the air. It cries out, but is silenced as another beam lashes out from another eye, turning the hobgoblin to stone. It is then "hurled" towards Berenn just as Hepla and Emyn come out around the corner. Hepla is slammed by the stone hogboblin, and takes [15]. She is knocked backwards against the wall and loses her spell.

    The beholder turns around, trying to follow Isilme but she is too fast. It makes a very upset screeching sound, which you can only assume means that Isilme got away!

    Emyn steps out with his javelin, throwing it at the beholder. It hits the small eyestalk which just used Telekinesis and discharges its lightning, blasting away the stalk and eye! [now it's REALLY mad!] It completes its turn, the large eye again focusing in your direction. With the beholder turning back towards the party, all their magic once again ends.

    Gotrek, who was holding the other end of Berenn's rope, starts to pull the Beholder closer. Since Berenn's arrow is stuck in the other side of the beholder, it spins the thing around so the eye is no longer focused on the party. Everyone else runs away, as Gotrek pulls the beholder closer. The IG moves back out on the ledge as the beholder is drawn to it. The beholder focuses one of its eyes on the rope, disintegrating it, but not before it reaches the IG. Another beam hits the IG, but it has no effect. The IG reaches out and grabs it. The IG, with a 24 strength, begins to squeeze the beholder. It struggles in vain, screaming an unearthly scream and its eyes fire off a bunch of bolts of magic ineffectually as it is popped like a ripe pimple!

    The party takes some time to search the area, though they find nothing of interest or value. The center part of Berenn's rope was disintegrated, and he now has two ropes, one 30' and one 10'.

    As the party searches the lower areas, Elrae takes out some paper and his quill from his pack, making some notes. "The iron golem crushing the beholder was a sight to see. I will incorporate the deed into my next song. Onward and destroy evil."

    Emyn suggests, "Round and round te dungeon the golem chased the tyrant, it grabbed old Kex in a sec, POP went the evil." as lyrics to Elrae.

    Elrae puts his head in his hands.
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    Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:52 am  
    Part 24 - The Greater Temple

    "We got lucky with that beholder," Thorgrim says. He spits. "The Doomdreamers won't be quite so easy. By the way, our old friend Lareth is with them as well, and greatly empowered. Redemption, pshaw! There is no such thing. Tigers don't change their stripes, and beholders don't change their eyestalks."

    As for himself, Thorgrim will quaff his Potion of Super-Heroism before engaging. He will use his standard "Stone of Silence" stratagem with Gotrek singing behind the zone. "We have room for a few pre-combat spells. Perhaps Bless, Strength of Stone, Strength of One, and Axe Storm of Clanggedin," he adds. "Both Emyn and Gotrek will be beyond healing if we do it this way. Gotrek would be the best one to be anti-magicked, of course, since he will be unhealable regardless . But 4 in 5...those aren't the sort of odds I like to play. Of course, our odds of making it out alive are even less. Perhaps I should expend either a Potion or Ointment of Regeneration on Hepla, so she doesn't get herself killed again this time."

    Thorgrim then looks at Noot and Windsong, "Now, who wants to scout?"

    With a sigh, as both seem to prefer guarding the rear, Isilme flies ahead. She has to go back around, to where the hobgoblins were working with the ogre [area 17]. From there Isilme can check out the long corridor. It goes to the stairs, then proceeds down to the Greater Temple. This is where the party fought the big battle on the stairs, vs giants, ettins, flying gargoyles, etc. Gotrek came pretty close to dying here, along with a few others. The stairs descend onto a wide landing only partially cleared of rubble. The walls of the landing are covered in mosaic murals depicting a nauseating scene of frolicking demons, vile slimes and fungi, and giant humanoids, all dancing amid a field of their fallen, torn, and tortured victims. The large 20' wide processional corridor continues on. Isilme also notes that the two landings [areas 19] are guarded by very large ropers.

    "The ropers are in a direct line of sight to the participants of the ritual," says Thorgrim. The priests may be preoccupied, but maybe not. We need to strike fast and press our advantage, which is surprise."

    Thorgrim will cast Bless on the party, and drink his potion of Super-Heroism, and cast Silence on a stone and toss a handful of mixed stones down to the ropers. Before engaging the Doomdreamers, he will cast Axe Storm of Clanggedin on Gotrek (using his +1 spell per day in the Combat sphere), assuming everyone's not hasted or something. If everyone is hasted, he will not cast Axe Storm of Clanggedin.

    "The lower level is an ideal place for Lightning Bolt or Fireball," Thorgrim says, "and I believe we should use those spells. The Iron Golem should lead the charge against the Doomdreamers, with instructions to destroy anyone not of the party, spellcasters first."

    Thorgrim gets out his scroll of Protection from All Elementals and hands it to Hepla. "Here, this may save your life. Speaking of which..." he gives Gotrek his Ointment of Regeneration. "I need you to live through this, if Clanggedin's holy vision is to be realized."

    "The ropers are not within sight of the Greater Temple," says Isilme. There's another set of stairs going down, and no line of sight until one goes down them."

    Thorgrim casts his silence spell on a small stone, and tosses it down the hallway. With sound deadened, the two stone giants, Bronk on the left and Granitethews on the right, come down the hallway, with the iron golem behind them. The rest of the party comes next, standard order. The giants carry a couple of stones in their off-hands, with their great clubs on their belts. When they come to the landing, they instantly launch their boulders at the ropers. Each roper is hit [24 to the left one and 12 to the right one]. The ropers roar silently, as their tentacles reach out towards the stone giants. They fail to score any hits, and the giants launch their second boulders. Each roper is hit again, this time taking [11 to the left one and 21 to the right one]. The right roper successfully grabs Granitethews, but the giants seems completely unaffected by the tentacle. [ooc: a typical stone giant weighs 9000 lbs, while a roper tentacle can only pull about 1000. So, they don't have the strength to pull the giants to them!]

    The giants each throw their last boulders, hitting each roper again [14 to the left and 19 to the right: that's 49 to the left one and 52 to the right one]. They both look pretty pulpy where they've been pummeled. The ropers try to move away, but with a move of "3", they don't get far. The giants walk up, taking out their clubs, and pound the ropers with them. It doesn't take long before the ropers are smashed into piles of broken, gooey lumps.

    The large triangular rooms to either side of the landing are both cleared entirely of rubble. Old wall paintings have been completely removed, and a few scraps of what might have been tapestries lie about. The doors going beyond are shut, but they do not shut correctly. You can see that locks don't really work, as they are somewhat sundered. They are shoved closed, but they seem like they would swing open easily enough. Noot moves up and looks around for makeshift traps, but he finds none.

    Thorgrim picks up his stones, then places them a bit down the landing, blocking sound from traveling down the processional before returning.

    "I would like to rescue the elf before fighting the priesthood," says Isilme. "These evil places have a tendency to collapse."

    Hepla, going through her spell stuff, looks up and says,"I'm sorry, where is this elf?"

    "Not sure if it's a good idea to clear this whole damn dungeon first," he grumbles. "We already defeated the beholder. Only the Doomdreamers and Lareth remain. And some damnable elf we have to save."

    Emyn says, "Time is wasting, we need to get to Lareth and dispense vengeance." Speaking of whom....Suddenly Emyn loses all sense of connection to Lareth. He can no longer sense where he is.

    Emyn says, "I think Lareth just died. I can no longer feel him. I fear the summoning of Imix may have begun."

    "Or he just left our plane. Or perhaps Imix is already summoned and his great power prevents it. Or we have been discovered and he cast Non-Detection. Either way this elf may have to wait for later. Isilme?"

    Emyn says, "I know what I feel." He proceeds downward regardless of any party intervention, invoking his protection from devils, just in case, since he is not sure what Imix is apart from coming from another plane.

    "Emyn, wait! We'll go with you!" Thorgrim says, then realizes Emyn has passed beyond his hearing into the Zone of Silence. "Let's follow," he says to the party. He will collect his stones and attempt to catch up to Emyn before he alerts the Doomdreamers to our presence with his clankety-clank.

    [Isilme OOC: oh look emyn is rushing down the stairs.....its like deja vu, thats what almost got us all killed last time. Who played that character again? Isilme refuses to repeat the same mistake here twice, rushing headlong down those stairs and into the temple without thinking. Instead, she heads off looking for the elf.]

    The cell was room 24, or one of them. It is now empty. Isilme finds some more hobgoblins, who tell her that the elf was taken to the temple an hour ago by the rest of the ochre-robed priests. It was to be sacrificed to the Eye in some kind of ceremony. They wish to go free the rest of their clan, working across the stairs clearing other tunnels. There are weapons collected in the outer room, and they quickly arm themselves. They will see to freeing their kin on their own, then flee the temple. Isilme returns to the party, disheartened for being late.

    Thorgrim and Gotrek rush to grab Emyn. "Just wait for Isilme to scout it out first," says Thorgrim.

    "Then you'll get your chance to fight," says Gotrek.

    Isilme flies off through the butresses above the processional, scouts out the Greater Temple, then returns to report. Basically, it's the same temple from before. A new altar, like the ones the party has seen under the moathouse and at the Fane but bigger, is there. An ogre is beating a drum (which everyone now starts to hear!) off to the side. Behind the altar stands one of the ochre priests with a tentacle rod, while four more kneel around the base of the altar. Two large pillars also still stand, flanking the approach to the altar. There is still rubble in some areas, and the passages to all but the Fire Node are completely blocked. Upon the altar lies the elf woman.



    "Well, looks like Fireball is out, as are certain other area-of-effect spells. Even the giants' boulders may pose a risk to the elf sacrifice," says Thorgrim. "The question remains of whether or not we ourselves should kill the sacrifice before the completion of the ritual, as that may be what completes it. It's a sticky situation, and we are just as likely to allow the return of Imix as prevent it. Best to save the elf if we can. Now, as to tactics: I think it would be best to have a few of us infiltrate their position, if possible...perhaps Isilme, Noot, and Windsong?...before sending the iron golem lumbering into them with the stone giants taking up rear flanking positions. It would be good for all the living members of our party to maintain a fair distance behind it, as spells which it can ignore might certainly affect us...it's an ideal place to get Lightning Bolt cast in our faces."

    "I think the Iron Golem should go for the priest with tenacle rod," says Berenn. "I doubt the tenacle rod will be able to hold it and the rest of us can kill the rest of the priests with the help of Thorgrim's stone. If the stone giants concentrate their rocks on the two priests on the flanks, the elf should be safe and the party can attack two priests in front of the altar."

    Noot takes a swig from Gotrek's Potion of Invisibility. Noot's now invisible, and he will walk silently along the ceiling, to a position up above the altar in the flying butresses.

    Hepla morphs into the priest, Tychon, then walks down to interrupt the ceremony. The priest at the altar looks up, annoyed. Hepla kneels and waits.

    "What are you doing here?" he demands, coming around the altar. The drum keeps beating, and he says, "Stop it you idiot!" making the ogre stop. The other four priests all turn their heads and see Hepla, wondering what is happening.

    "My Lords," she replies. "After much loss, we have accounted for all the enemy."

    The priest steps around the altar and stands in front of it. The other priests all stand and turn their full attention to Hepla, as the Iron Golem walks up behind her.

    "The what are you doing here?" he demands, "And why would your bring that?" he asks, pointing at the IG with his rod.

    Hepla notices that the ogre beating the drum has its eyes sewn shut. At this point, Isilme flies down, grabs ahold of the elf, and opens a dimension door straight up to the surface. Hepla sees this happen, but nobody else sees it, as their attentions are all focused upon Hepla. Elrae casts Haste on the rest of the party, then using the silence stone, they start moving up the hallway, unnoticed as of yet.....

    Hepla/ priest says,"To finish off the enemy, of course." She stands and bows to them then starts walking backward to the back left corner. She then turns and starts things with a quick Magic Missile at the priest to the right. They flash out of Hepla's [she actually still looks like the priest] fingers, blasting into the nearest priest's face [19]. He is blown backwards to the ground, landing with a thud! Hepla then takes off running to the right.

    Thorgrim, having just drunk his Super-heroism potion, moves forward and throws his stones up against the curtain behind the altar. Meanwhile, Gotrek reads his scroll of protection from magic.

    The priest sees the stones come flying, and for a moment is in silence, before they pass beyond him. He steps away from the altar. "You are NOT Tychon, he says," watching Hepla run. He pulls a key from his pocket, and looks at the Iron Golem. "Destroy the interlopers!"

    As it begins to turn around, Berenn yells at the Golem, holding up his key. "No!" he cries. The golem stands, torn between the conflicting commands.

    Meanwhile, Emyn summons avengers. Two gargoyles appear, rising up from the rubble in the room.

    The priestess on the far left pulls a purple-colored tentacle rod from her robes, and casts a spell, her body becoming surrounded by the familiar swirling purple clouds as the priest Tychon had used. The priest at the far right does the same.

    The one that Hepla shot gets up, shaking his head. "You'll pay dearly for that," he says, as his hood falls away. You see he is a half-orc, and he licks his small upper fangs. He takes out a morning star, swinging it around deftly. Finally, the last priest, the one who was just ahead and to the left of Hepla, simply disappears.

    The stone giants then move up, throwing their rocks. They both miss! Noot stays up on the ceiling, considering his options and liking none of them. Finally, Emyn moved into the room, angling to the right to stand by Hepla.

    The priest grimaces at what is obviously a very serious incursion. "Your resourcefulness is impressive," he says, "but it shall avail you naught. For disrupting our ceremony, I shall sacrifice YOU to the Elder Eye!" He then glances back towards the altar, when he sees the elf girls is gone. "What!" He looks back, very angry now. "You shall indeed pay!" For the first time, everyone notices that his face seems to almost drip water. He must be partly infused with Water.

    Windsong remains guarding the rear. Elrae cannot see, but he draws Snowfang and prepares to use its abilities as needed. Noot throws his dagger at the priest, hitting him squarely in the back of the neck [24!]. Of course, he becomes visible.

    The priest stumbles under the unexpected blow, falling to one knee, losing his concentration! He looks back and then up, when he sees Noot. “Backstabber!” [sorry, gotta use Army of Darkness quotes whenever possible!]

    Tentacles start reaching out from the curtain, some moving towards Noot. [he’ll have to deal with them next round, as they only start emerging once he becomes visible.]

    The priestess to the left [Susan Carun, I’ll start using names as it’s easier!] begins casting, pointing with her rod at Bronk. He suddenly grabs at his great giant heart, the rock in his hand falling to the ground. He grunts, and falls forward with a great thud! When Bronk falls to the ground, Granitethews starts to go into a rage! Speaking of rages, Gotrek starts to sing as well!

    Gotrek rushes up, but stumbles as he attempts to leap over Bronk’s body. He sprawls to the ground, rolls, then comes up, but cannot attack. [Nice fumble!] Berenn casts Heat Metal on the Second’s key.

    The priest to the far right casts a spell, and a column of flame erupts around the two gargoyles, completely incinerating both!

    Hepla replies with a blast of Magic Missiles at the other priest, the one she hit before. He takes another [17], and is blasted to the floor once again! He curses as his spell casting is ruined. Emyn then uses his sword of fire to launch a fireball at the same priest. It's not a huge fireball, only barely singing him [6]. Thorgrim moves all the up to the priest, and attacks. He is a couple steps down, so the priest has a slight advantage. Thorgrim misses.

    The priest Hepla hit stands up and looks at her with a look of pure hatred.

    ***

    Elrae casts a Melf’s Acid Arrow at the high priest, but it misses. It strikes into the purple tentacle curtain, where the acid doesn’t seem to have any effect.

    Four tentacles [many more are emerging across its length, as well as two great beaks which snap eagerly] reach out towards Noot. He is hit by two tentacles [3,8] which grab him snugly, wrapping around him and pulling him down towards one of the beaks.

    The priest smiles as Noot is grabbed by the tentacles, then turns his attention to Thorgrim. The writhing tentacles from his amber rod reach forth, and all six strike the dour dwarf. He takes [6 damage from each; 36 total!], and he feels as if his very soul burns and fire erupts from his pores. [16 more damage, 6 points of which is a PERMANENT hit point loss!]. [That’s 52 hit points total, though the first 23 are from his Potion of Super-heroism which he drank, but worse, 6 hit points of the damage are, indeed, permanent. Further, the flames burn many of his items. Everything he carries/wears must save vs. Magical Fire. I shall go down the list of his items, and here is what burns/melts:

    Eyepatch
    [you are VERY lucky, as your portable hole barely saved!]
    Ring of Spell-Storing
    Belt pouch: kuo-toa herb [Daern’s fortress and Stone of Earth Elementals fall to the ground, but they are ok.]
    Backpack: all three scroll cases and their scrolls (pro: elementals, undead, magic--though I think this was already used by Gotrek) burn, 4 wooden spikes [2 left], 2 torches [1 left].
    Silver holy symbol
    Girdle, Breeches, and Tunic [he’s left just wearing his boots! Of course, he still wears his full plate armor; that didn't burn.]
    Pouch of Old Toby and pipe
    Flask of Brandy
    Potion utility belt:

    Anything NOT listed there is ok. Everything in his pockets, pouches, or pack that survived has tumbled to the ground. That soul burn is brutal!]

    Windsong decides the rear is fine, rushes passed Elrae and tells him to keep an eye out, and then enters the room. He draws his two longswords, and prepares to engage the most opportune opponent.

    The priest Hepla has now hit twice stands, casting a spell and surrounding himself with those familiar purple mists. The priestess to the left, Susan Carun, casts a spell upon Gotrek, who is protected by the anti-magic scroll. A ray of amber/violet light erupts from her hand, but when it reaches towards Gotrek it just ends short. Her eyes open wide, disbelievingly, as Gotrek charges her!

    When he reaches her, the mists suddenly disappear. Even the tentacles of her rod hang limply, and she reaches out to fend off Gotrek’s blows as he slams her arm [10]. Before she can react, he hits her across the chest with the now-normal Goreblade [17]. She is knocked backwards into the pillar [5], and then falls awkwardly backwards to the ground. With a bit more distance from Gotrek, the mists surrounding her reappear and the tentacles start writhing once more. Still, she is quite shaken!

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim strikes the Second atop the stairs, hitting him with Souldrinker [11]. Hepla then moves to the right and casts a Lightning Bolt, which she is able to aim above Thorgrim, being that he’s a couple steps below the Second. She catches both, the priest she already has hit twice [14] who is blown back to the ground, as well as the Second [11] who is only grazed. Emyn then moves up to the foot of the stairs, engaging the two priests in melee. He hits the downed one [12].

    Berenn concentrates on the IG, keeping his control from lapsing. Granitethews strides forward, and smashes his rock down into the face of the knocked over priest that Hepla just lightning bolted down [22]. There is a sickening “crack, and when the giant lifts the rock, the priest’s face looks like a smashed in bowl.

    The last priest stands up and retreats back up to the top of the stairs. The tentacles writhe around him, but do not grab him. Also, four tentacles wrap around the ogre and pull it up towards the other beak.

    ***

    Elrae steps into the room, and simultaneously with Hepla they both blast the tentacles with Magic Missiles. They have no effect, dissipating harmlessly. Noot is attacked by two more tentacles with one more hitting him [1], and he is drawn to the beak, which snaps at him visciously [17].

    The priestess on the floor at Gotrek's feet casts a spell, and crawls INTO the stone pillar. Gotrek growls, and hacks at the pillar where she entered. The anti-magic shield actually cancels her Meld Into Stone when he steps up to it, and she is violently expelled [24], landing back on the ground at Gotrek’s feet. With a grim smile, he crashes Goreblade down onto her head [16]. She looks nearly dead, and is stunned.

    Windsong looks around for the “invisible” priest that Hepla cries out about, sees nothing, and moves up to help Noot, flipping up and landing atop the altar. Tentacles reach out towards him, but miss, and he cuts one in half with his blades.

    The Second casts a spell. Thorgrim then hits him, but his three blows just bounce off his Stoneskin!

    Emyn moves up to attack the priest that retreated up to the top of the dais. He slashes him for [11]. The priest was casting a spell, which is ruined after he fails his concentration check! Suddenly, Berenn just turns and walks away, back down the hallway!

    Granitethews throws his bloody stone at Thuchos (the priest Emyn’s fighting), hitting him square in the chest [29]. His mace is shattered by the blow, pieces of it flying in all directions. Further, he is knocked backwards, and tumbles down the stairs to the right [4] ending up prone at the foot of them. He shakes off the effects of the blow, looks at his broken mace with disgust, and tosses it aside.

    Gotrek will make sure the Priestess is dead then attack the priest with the priest who is trying to control the Iron Golem. She drops her tentacle rod and puts her hands up before her face, asking for quarter. Unfortunately, Gotrek goes into his rage this round, so, he will be ignoring that....

    ***

    Isilme meets Berenn at the foot of the stairs and casts Dispel Magic. Berenn shakes his head, “What happened?”

    "I dont know," says Isilme, "but as I was returning from saving the elf I caught you wandering here with a dazed look in your eyes! You had better get back in there and control the Golem quickly!"

    Meanwhile, the Second commands the golem. “Kill that giant,” he says, then continues to melee with Thorgrim.

    Windsong cuts one of the tentacles off Noot. The beak bites Noot again [7]. Windsong is also attacked by four tentacles, and hit once [7]. It fails to grab him though.

    Elrae charges straight ahead at Hepla, hitting her with Snowfang though to no effect, as she has a Stoneskin spell active.

    She backs off, and changes back into her normal form so she can cast more spells. Thorgrim fails to hit the Second, his blows not piercing his magical defenses. Spellcraft reveals it to be Stoneskin, as he suspected. [each round he takes off 3, so that’s a plus!]

    The fallen priestess attempts to surrender to Gotrek; however, she didn’t consider that he was a battlerager. In fact, she’s never before seen one. As she raises her arms, a strange look crosses Gotrek’s face. It twists all up and his eyes take on an intense, though almost glazed, look. She realizes her mistake only too late, as Gotrek’s axe comes down into her face, chopping it cleanly in two. He continues chopping, hacking her head from her body, and then chopping the body until it is a bloody, bloody mess.

    The Second attacks Thorgrim again with his tentacle rod, hitting him with three tentacles. Thorgrim takes [18] and his entire body seems to go numb [-4 to all actions for awhile].

    Emyn steps down and attacks the fallen priest [8]. He still succeeds in casting this time, as he rolls back, away from Emyn, and a faint violet ray shoots from his hand. It strikes Emyn, and quickly spreads over his body, then fades away. To others, Emyn seems stunned.

    The Iron Golem, meanwhile, steps forward and bashes Granitethews in the back with its fists [30]. The great giant is actually knocked forward, sprawling out on the steps, but not for long. It turn around and swings a massive fist at the Iron Golem, hitting it [20]. The two blows of the golem and giant resound so loudly, that all the other combatants momentarily freeze, locking their gazes on the staggering conflict.

    Isilme and Berenn return to the room finally. They too both stop, almost hypnotized by the titanic blows of the Golem and the Giant. Finally, Berenn commands the Iron Golem again. “Stop!” he yells, and the Golem stops. Then the Second's key gets so hot that he drops it. As it bounds down the stairs, Berenn gets full control of the IG.

    “Whew,” whispers Isilme, as she continues to fly across the room. She flies above the priest, keeping herself out of reach of any tentacles which are flipping around pretty wildly.

    ***

    Elrae stops attacking, and just stands there. Hepla steps back, yells at the giant, "Save Noot.". She casts Dispell Magic at Elrae, and breaks the spell. Elrae looks around, confused, but no longer under the effects of a Confusion spell!

    The Second surveys the room, seeing all his underlings down and the Golem once more out of his control. With a curse, he slowly backs away from Thorgrim. The tentacle curtain parts around him as he backs up, then closes up again as soon as he’s through it.

    “Go get Noot!” yells Berenn, commanding not just the Iron Golem, but anyone who will listen!

    The Iron Golem steps up onto the dais, reaches out its great arms, and takes ahold of Noot. It rips him right out of the tentacles [he takes 4]. The tentacles attack the Iron Golem, but cannot hurt it. They try to wrap around him, but it just pulls free, tearing out two tentacles in the process.

    Isilme casts Detect Invisibility, and then starts to scan the room. She doesn’t see anything. Seeing Noot is now safe, Windsong leaps away from the tentacles. He is hit twice [5 and 7] but they fail to grab him. He ends up at the foot of the stairs. Elrae moves over next to Hepla, taking up a defensive position in front of her. Thorgrim backs away from the tentacles, which can’t seem to reach him anyway, and cast Cure Critical Wounds on himself [+24hp]. Emyn just stands there, doing nothing.

    The priest on the floor takes out a scroll and reads it. Shimmering lights surround him briefly, then he disappears again.

    Granitethews looks around, unsure of what just happened. Luckily, he picked up on Berenn’s newfound control of the Iron Golem, and didn’t attack it again. Rather, he turns and attacks the tentacle curtain, ripping out a chunk of it [15]! The curtain attacks it back with four tentacles, three of which hit [9, 4, 7].

    Gotrek turns and sees the fight with the tentacle curtain, and charges up there himself. When he gets there, the tentacles just retreat away from him. He keeps going, and they just seem to disappear as he approaches. The next thing anyone knows, the curtain itself just parts away before him and he’s gone!

    [DM OOC: Interesting turn of events with the anti-magic!]

    ***

    Hepla says, "Berenn, get to Noot, he looks bad, use your rod." Hepla will head to him also to cast Cure Serious Wounds, if Berenn is delayed. If Berenn gets there first she will check our other giant to see if she can save him. She keeps a lookout for the invisible priest.

    “There is still a priest in the room!” cries Isilme’s voice from above. The priest gets up and sprints off to the right, down the corridor.

    Hepla says, "Berenn, get to Noot, he looks bad, use your rod." Hepla will head to him also to cast Cure Serious Wounds, if Berenn is delayed.

    Berenn moves up to the Iron Golem. “Put him down,” he says, and the golem does so. “Good, now go tear down that wall,” he adds, pointing to the tentacle wall.

    The golem turns, steps up to the wall, and starts pounding away with its fists. Huge chucks of the wall, tentacles, even the beak are gradually ripped away. Still, it will take a while.

    Berenn kneels down and checks on Noot. He sheaths Bonefire, and checks on Noot. He sees that Noot's wounds seem to be infected and casts Neutralize Poison, which clears that up. That lets Hepla's Cure Serious Wounds work. The still badly wounded thief opens his eyes and looks around groggily. “Ouch.”

    Granitethews sees the priest get up and run away, so he moves over, calmly picking up the stone with which he had hit him earlier. He then skips it down the narrow hallway, and it bounces into the back of the running priest [24]. With a loud SMACK! he is knocked forward where he slams into the wall [6] and drops to the ground, again.

    Windsong takes off after the priest, catching up to him with an incredible burst of speed. They are all the way down at the end of the hallway, where it turns north into another strange chamber, the gateway to the Fire Node.

    Thorgrim shouts, "Berenn! Clear the tentacles!" He checks for his dagger and waits for a moment to see if the Iron Golem will clear a path through them. It looks like it will take a few rounds, but the Iron Golem is making quick progress.

    ***

    Berenn takes out his rod, curing Noot of [10], while Hepla casts Cure Serioius Wounds upon him [17]. He seems to be feeling much better now. With Berenn and Hepla taking care of Noot, Thorgrim turns and waits. Thorgrim casts Dispel Magic on the wall, but it doesn't have any effect. Windsong takes both swords in one hand, then snaps out his free hand. Using the Touch of the Phantom, he hits the priest in a series of vital areas, paralyzing him. The giant goes over to the tentacle wall and joins the Iron Golem in smashing at it. Between the two, it is nearly destroyed. You still can’t see beyond it, but it’s clearly weakening. Before anyone knows what's happening, Emyn takes off down the hallway too! He reaches a point about 10' behind Windsong when the elf becomes aware of him. Emyn stops next to them, takes off his backpack, and takes out his rope. "Tie him up," he says, tossing the rope to Windsong.

    Nodding, Windsong quickly trusses up the hapless priest. Then Emyn throws him over his shoulder and carries him back to the party. By the time he gets back, the stun has worn off. Emyn drops the guy on the floor, and Granitethews puts a size 30 (or whatever!) foot on the guys chest.

    "Give me a reason," he says, his voice grating with anger.

    Meanwhile, Windsong checks out the chamber. The red hallway leading out of the temple brightens from blood-colored to orange-red as it opens to an eight-pointed, diamond-shaped room. Paintings resembling flames and creatures of fire leap and covort on the walls. On the floor in the center of the chamber is the symbol of the Fire Temple, set in blazing red stones on the floor and inscribed within a magic circle, 20' across. There is nobody here. Windsong then returns to the party as well.

    Thorgrim shouts, "GOTREK--RESPOND!" He hears nothing.

    After all the healing and such is done, the Golem and Granitethews destroy the wall. There just beyond it, you find Gotrek, sitting on the floor, leaning back against the wall exhausted. In the middle of the floor of a short passage is a pile of broken bones, spilled blood, and splattered guts. Tattered clothes here, a boot there, an eyeball stuck to the wall, and a tentacle rod lying on the cold stones floor, all testify that this had once been the Second.

    "What took you so long, bub," says Gotrek, glancing up at Thorgrim.

    ****

    This stark area behind the altar curtain of the Greater Temple is marked only by three lesser altars, each a 10' long stone ovoid standing 4 feet tall. These are currently unadorned, but are draped for ceremonial occasions. The room is dimly lit by a pearly glow from the north (435).

    After some quick healing, the party can continue searching the area.

    Isilme will quickly collect the ring and tentacle rod of the second, her detect magic is still running so she will also point out anything glowing to the party. She also keeps checking around until her detect invisible wears off.

    Thorgrim ungags the priest and smacks him up. "Tell us where to find Lareth!" he says.

    "Lareth has already gone into the Fire Node with The First to summon Imix," he responds. "You are too late!"

    "We will have to go into the fire node to stop them," says Berenn. "There is a slight complication. We needed the rod of golden death to escape the nodes last time which is now destroyed. Which begs the question: Once we are in ... how are we getting back out?"

    "Surely the first would not have travelled there unless he had a way to return," says Emyn. "We must simply learn what that is and use it." Emyn tells the priest, "Tell us the first plans and how he will get out of the fire node and you may yet live to succeed him."

    The captive priest has never been into the Fire Node, so he cannot tell you. In fact, you know more of what's there, having been in there yourselves the year before. He can tell you that these two inner chambers were the sanctums of the priests of Iuz (outer chamber that is shaped like the symbol of Iuz) and the priests of Zuggtmoy (inner chamber with the light-enshrouded dais. The chests were the monetary treasure of the Temple, which was left here when the Temple was destroyed last year. You guys never found it, as you never went back here. They never attempted to penetrate the circle of light, so he does not know what it is. It does radiate strong magic, alternating randomly between all the various schools.

    Noot finds no traps. He even pries a few gems loose, just to make sure. They are very large and precious stones. The priest isn't really sure about this area, as only the First and Second came here. Of course, Hedrack would be the one to ask, as he was commander here and a follower of the Wicked One (that's a name for Iuz) at the time. The first chamber was the inner sanctum for his priests, of which there was only Hedrack. The rest of the Temple priests were either loyal to one elemental faction or another, or they were loyal to Zuggtmoy. Anyway, the first chamber, which is constructed to resemble the symbol of the Old One (another name for Iuz; he just doesnt' want to say His name in this chamber!), was originally protected by another curtain, one resembling the Tentacle Wall, but based upon Zuggtmoy's fungal affiliations. Rededicating this chamber was going to be the NEXT step, after they finished rededicating the outer altar. As for the chamber of light, he just doesn't know. As he said, perhaps the Triad or Hedrack would know.



    Meanwhile Isilme searches the area along with Noot. Black curtains block two side rooms. Each side room contains a wardrobe and two huge chests. Each wardrobe contains six vestments used by the Temple clerics in their ceremonies; those in room b are brown or red (3 of each, for Earth and Fire respectively), and those in room c are green or grey. With the vestments are four neatly folded silk altar pieces of the same colors, each bearing the embroidered symbols of luz, the elements, and the golden skull. One altar piece of each color is 10' square, used in this area; the other is 25' x 13', used on the main altar.

    EACH side room held two chests, so that's four total. The chests are neither locked nor magiked. You can open them up as you will. These chests contain coins, some scraps of parchment, and a few magic items. Each chest contains 2,000 ep, 4,000 gp, and 1,000 pp, plus 2-20 pieces of parchment. Each parchment is a letter of credit from the Temple to some individual; each note promises to pay an amount from 10 to 1,000 gp. The borrowers include most of the Temple troops, guards, and leaders, since these provide additional means of forcing obedience. You recognize some of the names from your first foray into the temple, so these chests must have been buried with the collapse of the temple last year. The Doomdreamers likely found them, but had not yet taken them out. With two empty chests in the portable hole, you can place these there instead. The portable hole will now be basically full.

    As Hepla goes over the Second's items, she finds two interesting things. While the others had amber robes, his is purple. Further, his holy symbol is different. Rather than the symbols carried by the other Doomdreamers, that of the triangle with an inscribed Y, his is a black, angular, inverted two-step pyramid. None of the party recognize it.

    Broad stairs lead down from the inner chamber into a round room 60 feet in diameter. A soft glow from the destination lights the stairway in an odd pearly glow mixed with occasional flashes of other colors. Strong magic radiates from that direction.

    Thorgrim inspects his singed beard and scowls. "They will all pay. Let us now rid our world of its present evil."

    Isilme then goes to check out the wierd glow. The broad stairs lead down from the inner chamber into a round room, 60' in diameter. A soft glow lights the stairway in an odd pearly glow mixed with occasional flashes of other colors. The walls of the round chamber are vertical, 20' tall, capped by a dome reaching a further 10'. In the center of the room is a round dais about 2' tall, which is precisely encircled by a column of shimmering light, the source of the radiant colors, which extend to the ceiling. The walls and ceiling are ornately decorated by a mosaic mural, apparently made entirely of precious stones -- emeralds, rubies, onyx, and the like. Not a square inch is uncovered. The scene on the walls is one of glory and conquest, showing the lands around as seen from the parapets of the Temple itself. The countryside is somewhat warped (in an undefinable way) but easily recognizable, and is filled with beings -- human, humanoid, and monstrous mixed together -- all facing and paying homage to the Temple. Details of the area within the light are not discernable.

    With a prayer to her goddess, Isilme steps into the light. She is followed closely by Emyn. When Emyn steps through, for a moment he sees a silvery throne, with images of demonic faces. However, there is a tremendous thunderclap, coupled by a blast of electricity which throws him back out of the light. He takes [20] damage and suffers a Negative Level. He ends up back outside the light, lying stunned upon the floor, shocked and drained by the trauma. Isilme is nowhere to be seen.

    Emyn describes what he saw to the group and says, it is an evil place to be certain. He did not see Isilme.

    Hepla says,"It might be designed to only let the first one in. But in to where or what? There must be something here to tell us where she is."

    "Maybe it is because she is drow," says Emyn. "It might have sensed her inner darkness."

    "She has conquered that inner darkness," says Hepla with conviction.

    "What do we do?" asks Thorgrim.

    Seeing the parties concern, Isilme says from beyond the light, " I am fine, just a little drained. This appears to be some sort throne surrounded by strong magic that allows True Sight and ESP. I think this is where the leader of the temple would sit and rule from here with advantage. I wonder if I take the throne I will have some control over the nodes, this could give us an advantage. Though I am not sure using something evil like this is wise. Thoughts?"

    Emyn says, "Unless there is some way to defeat this barrier I don't see how we might destroy this evil thing. We should continue onward to find where the First went."

    "I don't think we should use it unless it was absolutely necessary," warns Berenn.

    Isilme comes out of the light and says "I don't see how we can destroy or use the throne but we should address it after we deal with the current crisis. Shall we enter the nodes and destroy this evil?"

    Gotrek walks through. The light actually bends away from him as he walks in, and he suffers no ill effects. For a moment, he stands too close to Isilme, who suddenly has all her magic ended and she appears. Luckily, she was flying just inches off the floor! With a curse about headstrong dwarves, she moves away and quickly disappears again.

    Gotrek then finds that he can actually stand at the edge of the light and keep it away from that spot (it's 5'radius area of effect), so if anyone wants to pass inside, now's their chance. Of course, there's no guarantee that they will not be affected themselves. All you know for certain is the anti-magic definitely still works. As he stands at the edge of the light, everyone can look inside. In the center of the circle sits a silver throne, adorned by hundreds of precious gems. These are set to form leering demon faces, skulls, fungi, and like patterns; they are of all colors, sizes, and shapes.

    Noot slips inside, while Gotrek's spell is in effect, and uses a successful Appraising check to find the most valuable gemstones. Knowing there is limited time, he pries out a half-dozen gemstones, before they get out. He estimates their value at about 5000 gp each!

    Gotrek then leaves, before his protection ends, which is in a couple minutes.

    "We should execute this priest," says Isilme. "These followers are beyond evil, they are insane."

    Berenn has the IG rips the priests head off.

    "That works," says Gotrek.

    The party makes its way to the Fire Gate, and there Berenn and Thorgrim provide protective spells as needed to deal with the heat of the Fire Node.

    "Remember that every node had dragons in it," says Isilme. "Yet we did not explore enough to find any here. Lets keep it that way! I wonder if we can still access the other nodes using the portals. Well, it should be easy to go directly to Lareth and company once Emyn is on the same plane with him again.

    When all their preparations are in order, the party will enter the gate to the Fire Node.
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    Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:10 pm  
    Part 25 - The Fire Node


    Fire Node Map

    Their previous time here, the party entered in area 1. They battled salamanders in the fire pits of area 5, and then found the Fire Gem in one of the pits. Then they left. They followed the long passage up to the Air Gate, which Vestron's sister Tillahi remembered, and then left. So, they have a little idea about what's around, but not much. A lot of corridors, the fire pit rooms in 3 and 5, and the long hall with the firepits near the Air Gate. That's it. Still, it's something!

    The party enters the fire symbol and waits. They hear Star Trek transporter music, and appear in the diamond-shaped room. Four salamanders stand guard here, in each of the corner niches. They wield their long, wavy-bladed spears.

    Isilme smiles when she sees the salamanders, a wave of nostalgia passing over her. "They make such pretty boots" she giggles quietly. "You sense Lareth again?" she whispers to Emyn. [Isilme OOC: Isilme will fly to the ceiling and just behind whatever guard seems most likely in charge. If they all seem exactly the same then behind the north guard.]

    Hepla/second, wearing his clothes says, in his voice, "You, salamander," whichever one is closest, "you may take us to the first, I don't care if he said not to disturbe him, I have what he needs for the ceramony. Or do you want to be the one responsible for holding up the coming of THE OLD ONE( Iuz). Now be quick about it."

    Yes, Emyn can clearly sense Lareth to the north (well, what seems north, as there are no true directions here. The top of the map!) The salamanders do fall for Hepla's bluff, and one of them opens a door heading north, the right-hand one which you've been through before. The party goes that direction, towards the Gate to the Air Node, and as you pass about the midway-point of the hallway, Emyn can sense Lareth to the left. So, he's definitely down that hallway south of the Air Gate.

    Isilme scouts ahead to the chamber with the gate to the air node to see if it is still active and rushes back with this report:

    "It seems just as it did before," she begins. "However, to the south she saw a long hall with a row of four circular flaming pits. The hall was about 50' tall, with an arched roof another 20' higher. The flames in the pit rose a full 20', and seemed almost alive. At the far end rested a massive throne, filling the southern alcove. It seemed constructed of solid flame. Two huge rubies glistened from the top of the throne's back, huge even at that distance. Above the throne, fiery runes blazed with a message in an unknown tongue.

    There were three figures at the far end, roughly 70' away. One was a man in strange plate mail, similar to that depicted on the column we found under Warder's Station. The second was hard to make out, but it seemed to be a large floating creature with a long tubular body, like that of an eel, but a fish-like tail at the end and two fins near the head and a dorsal fin near the back." She tells you its an aboleth, a creature out of even drow nightmares. "These ancient aberrations are known as very powerful psions, even beyond the dreaded illithids, but are so rarely seen that some consider them merely myths, stories to scare young drow children."

    But, as much as that sight unnerved her, it was nothing compared to the third being. "Standing at the far end, facing up the hallway, stood a 50' tall creature of red, flaming mass, humanoid-shaped but almost featureless except for eyes that burn white-hot. It wielded a colossal flaming greatsword, studded with rubies. It could only be Imix, Dread Prince of Evil Fire Elementals."



    "Do we battle them, or find Lareth first?" she asks. "I did not see him there! Emyn do you sense him in that direction or another? I detected the priest had a great magic on him, I suspect he holds an orb like the orb of golden death we destroyed the first time."

    After sending the salamander back to the entrance, Hepla losses confidence that her diguse will fool this trio so she morphs to herself and takes out the scroll of Protection from all Elementals. "This seems a great time to use this", and she gets as meny as possible to get close to her since she does not know how meny this will effect. Maybe some others will also get protection.

    Isilme attempts to summon her LLL, but doesn't work. It seems the nodes are still sealed off from other planes...mostly.

    Noot gets close, "I wil try to sneak around the back and get one trapped with the wall of force or the bands, depending on opportunity."

    Isilme says to Noot "if we do attack Imix you might seal off the entry to the passage with the wall of force at some point, the last thing we need is reinforcements joining the fight."

    Thorgrim will cast Bless on the party, and Strength of Stone on himself.

    Berenn will drink his potion of Heroism. "The Iron Golem is immune to poison and psionics, so it might be a good match for the drow nightmare creature."

    "I want to kill Lareth first," says Emyn. "The other three will still be there when the time comes, and Lareth might have something we can use to defeat them."

    Hepla says,"That floating thing is POISIONOUS, our clerics better be ready with neutralize. Emyn, where is Lareth? Would that strangly armored being be him?"

    "No, Lareth is over this way..." he says as he heads off. Gotrek follows Emyn, muttering under his breath.

    "Indeed, Imix has already arrived," says Thorgrim. "Our friend Lareth may indeed be able to help...help kill us! Or do you suppose this has all been a clever ploy on his part to infiltrate the forces of the Temple of Elemental Evil and defeat the Princes thereof? You would think he would've done something to prevent their arrival in the first place. Nay, I believe his heart has returned to the blackness that spawned it. And I believe it is a bad idea to let Emyn lead us...anywhere."

    Nevertheless, Thorgrim will go where the party goes.


    [Thorgrim OOC: I know that Goldie is just having Emyn act in character. However...he was also doing that when he attempted to kill the monk from the Dragon Temple who had kicked Hepla but was on our side (and Hung Lo before that (though then we knew less than we did the second occurrence)), and in killing him summoned a demon from hell that was only destroyed through pure luck, and then wanted to jump into deep water with his armor on to...not sure what his motivation was, there. To help Hepla check on Taki's corpse, I think, though she wasn't in real danger herself. Let's not talk about Vestron or Derry!]

    [DM OOC: Lareth is definitely in that great hall too. As you move up the hallway to the right, Emyn can sense him to the left. BTW, I need to pause here, as Windsong has some stuff to share. I will assume this happened BEFORE you entered the Fire Node. His player was supposed to share this, but he has dropped from sight.

    When you discovered the other holy symbol on The Second, he was a bit shocked. He then explains what it is.

    "This is the symbol of He Who Must Never Awaken, The Lord of Ultimate Evil, Tharizdun. Aeons ago, He was entrapped by those deities who understood that this greatest Evil must be fettered or all Goodness would perish from this world and possibly the entire universe. Acting in concert, these entities managed to enmesh Tharizdun in a manner that turned his own evil upon him, slowly spinning a cocoon of power that, being of his own making, wrapped and entrapped him in a way he could not avoid. But because it was a web spun from his own malignancy, the Terrible One of Utter Darkness would not willingly finish the work. Too late to untangle the bindings, He could still exist and wield a limited wickedness bound as He was. Thereupon, those who had conjoined to create this subtle snare had then to complete their task. They did so, but Tharizdun understood too, and used his still mighty force to resist. Those who struggled against Him had hoped that Tharizdun himself would complete the web, thus bringing about his own annihilation.... A forlorn hope indeed, considering the greatness of His wicked and malign powers.

    No binding they could make could destroy Him, but they enwrapped Him in blackest realms, in a slumber so total that only faint echoes of His vileness could exude from Him. Still, these faint dreams of His empower much of the evil that permeates all planes. Being also of other making, the mesh that enwraps Him of Utter Darkness is imperfect. Of necessity, it contains an opening, a means of unraveling the weaving, loosing the bonds. Tharizdun sleeps but is not dead! Should that one awaken, all beings of malign power, all bad things, every evil creature must bend their necks to Him. The Dukes of Hells, the Princes of the Abyss, and all those baneful rulers of the planes between must and will be united under the wicked might of the Lord of Ultimate Evil.

    Long before the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless fire, when the Drow rose up against their Grey Olven brothers and began the Kindred Wars, they turned their corrupt hearts away from their Gods and sought comfort in the worship of the Blackest One, Tharizdun. Throughout the Hellfurnaces and Chrystalmists, temples devoted to the Slumbering One appeared in secret forbidding places. For centuries they sought in vain the secret of the Ultimate Sleeper’s imprisonment. Although their efforts were ultimately futile, they did succeed in awakening his fiendish servant Ghaunadaur, the Elder Elemental God. It was this cruel and amorphous deity, King of the Material Planes and Lord of the Elements, who supported the Drow priests in their worship of the Eternal One. He too had been forgotten with the imprisonment of his master, although His different aspects are known across the planes by many other names. With His guidance, the Drow delved into long forgotten mysteries which twisted their already distorted nature into an evil mockery of their virtuous kin."

    Windsong is visibly shaken in the telling of this history, however brief.

    "There is much to be told," he says, "but this is not the time for a history lesson. I am a Shadowmaster. The Shadowmasters are an ancient order of elves, completely unknown to the rest of the world. We have spent centuries learning our skills, under the direct tutelage of the demi-god Zuoken himself. We have known of the existence of Tharizdun for many centuries, while all other races, even the drow themselves who once openly worshiped He of Ultimate Darkness, have all forgotten Him. At least we had hoped He had been forgotten. When evidence of the Temple of Elemental Evil arose, we investigated. It seemed a harmless ploy of the Demonqueen of Fungi, a base attempt to appeal to higher motives of the elements, rather than fungus and ooze. We failed to recognize the true power behind the Temple, but after you threw it down a second time, I was sent on the trail. It led me to the Temple of the Elder Elemental God. I allowed myself to be taken, to learn their secrets, but you once again stepped in to foil their greater plans. Now we find ourselves here, in this place. We must finish things here, defeat whatever they have planned, for it is far worse than any imagined. It is for this reason my order exists, and I must leave, now, to report what we have found."

    Hepla says,"Do these guys have a weakness?"

    He doesn't know anything specific about what a priest of The One Who Must Never Awaken may be like. There has not been one for thousands of years, not since that last known priest, Tilvan, disappeared into the penninsula which bears his name.

    [DM OOC: ok, sorry for that disjointed bit, but the dropping of a key player threw things a bit. Now that we're back on track, we can pick up where we left off!]

    Thorgrim will say a prayer to Clanggedin, asking him for strength for the battle to come. Strength beyond the Strength of Stone. "We must take them by surprise...it's our greatest hope for success. A few area-of-effect spells may come in handy before we engage in melee. Fireball would have little or no effect, I fear. Cold spells may be our best bet. After that... Well, Lightning Bolts may still be effective: given their great size, the mages might easily avoid hitting us. Any other ideas?"

    "Snowfang you have served me well," says Elrae, drawing Snowfang. "May you fulfill your destiny and extinguish these evil flre creatures and banish them back to the Abyss." [Elrae OOC: Elrae will cast Haste on the party at the appropriate time.]

    While this is going on, Isilme slipped off to investigate again. The party hears her voice whispering to them a few minutes later as she relays this information:

    "The four fire pits are VERY LARGE fire elementals. Imix and the First are arguing, as the First is trying to force Imix to do his will. The man in armor is Lareth. He does not seem himself and seems under a very powerful charm yet does not radiate magic. He does hold the Orb, also strange and powerful Bracers and a Rod that also radiates strong magic. Make your move; I will concentrate on the first or getting the Orb by any means."

    "This may be a break for us," says Berenn. "If the First and Imix are arguing, they may starting fighting each other when we attack."

    "Lareth is charmed?" asks Thorgrim, incredulous. "Now why would they need to Charm their Champion? Do you suppose he maintains the change of heart he expressed to Isilme? If we could find a way to break the spell, he might be able to help us."

    "It does not excuse his actions," says Emyn. "Trithereon has made it clear that I must bring vengeance upon him and send him to a righteous death."

    "Gotrek," says Elrae, "now is the time for you to start singing. Get in here, everyone get in here..look into each other eyes..now! look into each others eyes, I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on and no matter what happens we must not give in, we owe it to each other, play for each other, I need one more day with you guys, I need to see what Hepla will wear tomorrow, I want to play defense behind Windsong because he’s never been to the playoffs..play for each other not yourself, win each moment, win each inning, it’s all we have left. Tonight I was proud to be together as a team, in a hostile environment, with just us..brothers that play for the name on the front, not the name on the back."

    Elrae will start playing inspirational music to rally up the troops.

    [DM OOC: Hah! Love the use of Hunter Pence's speech! Bonus EXP for Elrae!!!]

    Hepla looks at Elray and says quietly, "Once more <giggle> into the breach my friend." She then takes out the strange stone she found in the Pomarj that she couldn't identify, the one with some kind of cold magic, and gives it to Berenn to throw. "You will have a better chance to hit with this then I will. Please use it." After giving it to him, she takes out her Wand of Fire Extinguishing and preps dispell magic.

    Berenn gives it to Gotrek, who is going to charge down the hall anway. "His charge will be our signal. All the invisible, sneaky types can infiltrate, with Isilme flying above the aboleth, ready to 'un-item' the boulder she took earlier. Once everyone gets into position, Gotrek starts to sing..... Hepla casts Invisibility 10'r to cover the entrance of everyone else.

    Gotrek throws the stone as he, Emyn, and Thorgrim charge down the hall. It lands between Imix, Lareth, and the First where it explodes into a huge Ice Storm. A hail of stones relentlessly pounds the area around them. Imix seems completely unaffected, and the stones seem to simply bounce off Lareth. The aboleth takes [11]. Unfortunately, Windsong's in the are of effect too, having snuck up there invisible. However, he successfully avoids the hail, slipping silently beneath the aboleth which doesn't notice him. The closest firepit is nearly extingquished.

    [DM OOC: Thus starts the combat. That thrown stone is the free "surprise" move. Everything that follows will be in normal rounds.]

    Berenn enter the hall and calls out to Imix, "Imix! The First is here to kill you! We were his followers, but we broke from him when we discovered his true plan. He has no plan to release you from this prison. It is his intent to make this place your grave! We were to appear as his reinforcements at the opportune moment and help destroy you. Help us now and we will release your fire upon the world once more!"

    You hear a deep laughter from Imix, a sound like a roaring of a thousand fires. The aboleth also turns around, as does the plate-armored man. Everyone can see that it is Lareth.

    "If you want further proof," says Berenn, "ask the First why his champion is under the control of a powerful charm and not a willing participant in your summoning. Kill the aboleth and Lareth will tell you himself this is a trap!"

    Imix roars, "SHOW YOURSELF! BOW BEFORE THE MIGHT OF IMIX, AND I MAY WELL LET YOU LIVE TO SERVE ME."

    "Your servants can best serve you from a hidden place, oh Lord of Flame," yells Berenn. "Once your enemies are dead, we will reveal ourselves and lead you from this node." Berenn will send the Iron Golem to attack the aboleth.

    The aboleth casts a powerful dispel magic at the entrance of the chamber. Noot, Windsong, and Isilme are not in the area of effect. However, the following spells stop functioning:

    Invis 10'r (everyone else appears) and Haste (remember, this doesn't affect Noot, Windsong, and Isilme)
    Berenn: loses protection from evil
    Gotrek: loses stoneskin, superheroism
    Hepla: loses stoneskin, endure heat
    Thorgrim: loses endure heat

    Berenn commands the IG to attack the aboleth!

    Imix calls out in a strange language, and the flames in the four fire pits actually start to move towards the party! They are very large elementals, and they are moving to the attack....

    Hepla uses her wand on the far elemental, doing [26] damage! [DM OOC: It is quite useful against Fire Elementals.] Elrae moves over, points Snowfang, and summons up the Cone of Cold. It blast forth, hitting all four Fire Elementals. It does [64] [36] [36] and [52]. The last elemental is destroyed!

    The three remaining elementals all attack, one moving up and attacking Elrae, one attacking Emyn, and one moving to the left and attacking Gotrek. The one attacking Elrae actually rolls right over him, totally engulfing him. Elrae can feel the exceptional heat, even through Snowfang's protection; however, he still takes [5]. He knows that had he not been so protected, he would likely not have survived!

    Emyn is missed by a flaming appendage, but Gotrek is hit. He takes [14, though the Endure Heat of his armor protects him from the first 10 so he only takes 4]. The endure heat power of the armor is temporarily ended.

    The Iron Golem lumbers all the way up, walking right through the fire pits which still burn, though much less brightly. It reaches the aboleth, but cannot attack this turn.

    Thorgrim steps up to attack. He does [11] to the elemental. Emyn misses. Gotrek hits his twice [18] [16]. Granitethews steps around the corner, throws a rock at the elemental attacking Elrae, but it misses harmlessly, and he takes out his club.

    Finally, Isilme drops the boulder on the aboleth. It falls from such a great height, that it smashes down on it like a mountain. It squishes it down to the ground, Windsong just barely getting out of the way. He does succeed in stabbing the aboleth with both swords, right behind the eyes. The thing squeels out in crazy pain as disgusting smelling puss oozes out of the thing's pierced hide.

    Imix roars and swings his greatsword, hitting the Iron Golem [42]. The IG is slammed back against the wall, but it doesn't go down. It relentlessly starts back towards the aboleth, following it's last command.

    ***

    710/7094

    Berenn casts Protection from Evil. Hepla is STILL protected by the Pro: Elementals. It creates a 10' radius effect, so she approaches Elrae. This causes the Fire Elemental that engulfed him to back off. Of course, it backs into Granitethews, who bashes it [20]. The elemental strikes back at him [15]. The elemental next to Berenn and Thorgrim also has to back off.

    Elrae backs up, taking cover behind Hepla. "Thanks," he says, visibly shaken. Thorgrim steps up and hits the elemental before him [17]. Emyn misses, but Gotrek hits [19].

    The last two elementals attack Emyn and Gotrek hitting them both. Emyn takes [25] feeling the intense heat even through his magic ring [I did take off -2 for each die] and Gotrek takes [15]. Thorgrim and Emyn both hit again, doing [15] and [17] respectively.

    Noot throws his bands at Lareth, but misses. Unfortunately, he's now visible! The bands bounce back beneath Imix, though he doesn't seem to notice.

    The wounds on the aboleth slowly seem to simply fade away as it somehow heals itself.
    The Iron Golem then strides forward and slams its massive fists into it [28].

    Lareth holds the Orb of Oblivion out and the air before him starts to swirl and darken. Soon, it takes on an eerily familiar look, like the sphere the party saw earlier except this one spins and draws the flames from the nearby fire pit into it. [think mini black hole!]

    The spinning black disk slides in front of the Iron Golem and the iron golem walks right into it. It seems to slowly stretch as it is pulled into the swirling vortex until ultimately, it is sucked completely into it.

    Windsong speaks in an ancient form of elven as he steps up and attacks the aboleth. He hits it three times with his longswords [9] [7] [5].

    [Isilme OOC: Wow. A sphere of anhiliation to go along with everything else? We are f@%&d! Quick question rags, it may have healed the damage bit that rock is still dropping serious weight on te aboleth right? Isnt It like have a bus on you crushing your life out of you? Even if you could heal, you would still be crushed again?]

    [DM OOC: That may be true if it were trapped, but that's not the case. It just took damage from the blow, but it is not trapped. That may make more sense, but that isn't always how things work in DnD.]

    Isilme just drops the crystal jar with the gold pudding inside on Lareth, hoping it will cause him to drop the Orb or loose control. It drops on him, catching a glancing blow which shatters the jar and releases the pudding. It just slides off him, and you notice that he didn't even flinch. In fact, it clearly shattered against some kind of barrier around him.

    IMIX sees what happens and slams his sword down into the thing, cutting it into two smaller creatures. The flames of his blade don't seem to affect it.

    On second thought, while it at first seemed to Isilme that the aboleth was not trapped, now that she looks again, part of it IS trapped beneath the boulder. See, it clearly tries to move away from the ooze, and you now see that his tail fins are stuck! [DM OOC: I have to admit, that was a good idea!]

    ***

    Berenn moves up around the elementals and takes out his bow. Isilme casts enlarge on the sphere, but it has no effect.

    The oozes attack Lareth and the aboleth. Lareth seems unaffected, but the aboleth’s screams echo through the chamber. It takes [17] from the thing’s corrosive touch. The black sphere moves back towards Lareth, touching the ooze creature engulfing him. It is sucked into the sphere just as was the Iron Golem. The elemental in front of Granitethews surges forwards and engulfs him, just as it did Elrae. Granitethews takes [24] damage. Thorgrim is struck by an elemental [19].

    Hepla uses her wand on it, causing [22] damage. The elemental’s flames are noticeably weaker. Thorgrim and Emyn then both hit it destroying it! Hepla moves towards Lareth and stops next to Berenn. Her movement also forces the fire elemental engulfing Granitethews to move away, and the giant bashes it apart with its club, sending sparks flying everywhere [22]. Gotrek hits the other elemental twice [18] and [18]. It too is noticeably weaker. Elrae fires a series of magic missiles, which scream into the elemental attacking Granitethews and blasting its remaining fires away!

    Windsong flips over the aboleth, attacking it from the side opposite Imix [6].

    Noot attempts to move away, but he is hit by a blow from Imix’s blade [28]. He is also knocked off the wall, and flies backwards 20’ and 50’ to the ground taking another [18]. He lands with a heavy “CRACK!” right in front of Berenn and Hepla. He lies totally still, [He's at -7 hit points, not dead.]

    ***

    Lareth directs the Black Hole towards Windsong, but the nimble elf evades it, leaping backwards and landing behind the last fire elemental. He takes another drink of his potion of invisibility and disappears.

    The elemental then surges forward, engulfing Gotrek [25]. Gotrek attempts to break out, but fails [-10 str check to do so!]

    Berenn fires his bow, hitting the aboleth [5]. Isilme then casts Enlarge on the pudding as she moves behind Imix and flys down behind his throne.

    The aboleth then melds into the very boulder which was holding it, the enlarged pudding slipping back to the ground. The pudding moves around the area, looking for its suddenly departed prey.

    Thorgrim disengages and moves around by Hepla. "Granitethews, you're up!" he shouts. "Kill that aboleth! Hepla! Use your witch magic to heal Noot!”

    Hepla moves up and heals Noot [17]. Noot crawls away from the combat in order to drink his potion, but he finds that it’s broken, probably in his fall. [still, he’s back to 10 hp]. Elrae sings away some more magic missiles, and these pound the fire elemental, destroying it. Emyn then moves forward, taking out his bow.

    Granitethews steps into the chamber and throws his rock, which shatters against the boulder that Isilme dropped.

    Imix reaches out, grabs the pudding, and engulfs it in flame. Nothing happens, but there is no flesh for the pudding to eat either. He picks it up and looks at it with interest.

    Berenn fires his next arrow at Lareth, but it bounces right off him. He then fires one at Imix, seeing he cannot hit either of the other targets. It just ignites when it reaches the seething elemental Prince. Imix laughs again, the sound like a crackling bonfire.

    Also, Gotrek goes into his rage!

    ***

    "Hepla!" yells Thorgrim. "Now is the time to test your Telekinesis spell."

    "Pick up the boulder with the aboleth melded into it," says Berenn, "and drop it somewhere, drop it in the sphere!"

    "Emyn, do you think Lareth's mind was his own?" Thorgrim will move forward and to the left in front of Hepla about 15 feet, keeping an eye on the sphere. And on Imix.

    "Beats the hell out of me, Thorgrim," replies Emyn. "Imix," Emyn shouts as he fires at Lareth. "The aboleth and Lareth are beholden to Thazridun! They intend to sacrifice you and the other three elemental princes to bring the god out of its prison! You are being used no matter wht promises they gave you! You will die and be lost forever to the void!"

    "Noot! Get out of the line-of-fire!" shouts Thorgrim. He waits for a moment to see if the aboleth gets destroyed or what gives. He keeps an eye on the sphere, on Lareth, on the aboleth/boulder, on Imix, and on Emyn. What happens next will determine his next actions.

    Noot nods, crawling away towards the wall.

    Imix laughs back at Emyn, "PUNY HUMAN!" [sorry, love Hulk quotes too!] "WHO DO YOU THINK WE SERVE, IF NOT HE WHO SLEEPS?"

    "Just because you serve doesn't mean you won't be sacrificed for his gain!" replies Emyn.

    "FOOL!" he says. "THARIZDUN WILL NOT REMAKE THE WORLDS. HE SHALL DESTROY THEM!!!"

    [DM OOC: OK, that was good enough for free talking. Gotta do the combat round too!]

    Lareth directs the sphere towards the party…..

    Isilme wills her enlarge spell to end, and as the boulder shrinks back to its normal size, the aboleth is violently expunged from it, since it is no longer large enough to hold it! It takes [21] being expelled. Hepla sees that Noot’s potion is destroyed, so she takes out her last one and gives it to him. He drinks it, healing [24].

    “Thanks,” he says, standing up. He goes to take out his rod, but he doesn’t have it either. He had it in his hand before, but lost it when he was hit by Imix. He doesn’t know where it is.

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Emyn, both with bows out, immediately switch targets to the aboleth. They both fire, putting arrows into the thing. [10] and [6].

    Granitethews roars in rage and throws a boulder at the aboleth, hitting it with a big “SPLISH!” [21]

    Thorgrim waits, keeping an eye on everything. [You can make a late-round move/attack, but you can’t wait and cast a spell unless you SAY beforehand what that spell’s going to be. No spontaneous spell-casting.]

    Gotrek, realizing that he is about to go into a rage but that this simply is not the time for such, holds back his anger. He has to bite his lip so strongly that he nearly bites through it. He tastes the blood, and grits his teeth, determined to not go crazy now that his friends need him. [This delays his rage for another 5 rounds!]

    Elrae casts Haste on the party, affecting all those around him. That’s everyone except Isilme. Windsong retreated next to Elrae, and then warns him, “Behind you!” he says. Elrae looks, and coming from both of the flanking corridors are a couple of salamanders, the guards from the entrance!

    Imix rears back as if to throw the pudding, but it slips from his grip and falls to the floor. He looks down, and around, cursing in his strange tongue. He then steps on the pudding with a massive flaming foot. Swinging his sword before him, he starts to walk towards the party!

    Berenn and Emyn then release their second shots. They fire at Imix, but their arrows just burn up when they hit him, having no noticeable affect. Thorgrim then drinks a potion of ex-healing, healing [20], while Isilme casts Aid on herself.

    ***

    Noot looks around, and he spies his rod in the center of the room, between a couple of the fire pits and right between Imix’s legs. Not wanting to get nearly killed again, he decides to stay back, though he walks up the walls to the ceiling. Up there he hides behind one of the arched buttresses above to gain more cover.

    [DM OOC: BTW, you have now all seen that Imix has a 20’ reach (being 50’ tall!) so he can get you even without being right next to you.]

    Windsong waits, invisible, behind the corner. Lareth moves the Black Hole towards Emyn, but he dives aside, just avoiding being hit. His bow gets sucked into the hole though, and though he attempts to hold it for a moment, he quickly lets it go.

    The two puddings move to attack the aboleth and Lareth. The one just can’t reach the levitating aboleth, and Lareth is protected by his strange force field.

    Elrae casts another series of magic missiles at the salamander closest to him, hitting it [22] and really getting it mad. It charges! Hepla casts Dispel Magic at Lareth. It doesn’t have any noticeable affect. Thorgrim calls upon all the gods of the dwarves and casts Holy Orb. “Send forth your power in our hour of need.”

    A glowing red/white orb appears in the palm of his hand, then streaks between Imix’s legs and explodes in righteous fury between the three of your enemies. The aboleth takes [31] and is simply incinerated by the raw power of Thorgrim’s faith! Imix takes nothing, as the waves of power just fade to nothing as they contact his flaming body. You expect the waves to harm Lareth as well, but the don’t. They wash over him without actually touching him, completely blocked from contacting his body, and he takes no damage. Both the puddings are burned as well.

    Isilme casts "prayer" and then floats up behind Lareth so she can get a full action next round. "Eilistraee, grant me the strength to stand against such an evil foes."

    Elrae taunts the charging salamander. "Time for you to feel the bite of Snowfang, forged to destroy you maggot." Caution is thrown to the wind as the sword comes alive glowing a bright blue hue.

    Emyn throws his Javelin of Lightning, hitting Imix [24] and blasting the area behind him.
    Gotrek hits the salamander [17], and gets hit in return [10]. He then hits the salamander a second time [14]. The other salamander is hit by a stone from Granitethews [15]. It grunts as it charges, only to run into Windsong's waiting backstab as it rushes by him [26]. The salamander cries out in agony as it falls forward, its momentum carrying it to a stop right at Elrae's feet.

    Imix raises a hand, and the entire room explodes in a firey pyrotechnic display. The following characters are all blinded: Elrae, Windsong, and Noot.

    Berenn will call out to Lareth, "I once spared your life Lareth and took pity on you. This is not your true self. If the Lareth I know is still in there, break free of what is binding you and help us destroy this evil!"

    "Lareth," shouts Thorgrim, "Use your free will and turn that orb on Imix!"

    Lareth DOES hear Berenn. He actually takes off his helm and looks around. He sees Imix standing in front of him (actually between himself and the party, as Imix took some strides down the hall) and looks to be a bit confused. He then hears Thorgrim, which makes him glance over towards the Aboleth, his countenence slowly turning angry.

    Thorgrim attempts to approach Lareth, if he can do so without contacting the sphere. He shoulders his pick and shouts, "Imix is the enemy, not we!"

    ***

    Granitethews throws a boulder, hitting Imix [20]. He is rocked back, unused to taking such blows from mere mortals, or anyone. Emyn drinks his potion of ex-healing [+14], gets up. Gotrek finishes off the salamander, then begins to return. Hepla fires off her wand at Imix. His flames are not affected at all. Noot blinks repeatedly, trying to shake off the blindness as he tries to hide in the shadows of the ceiling. Elrae and Windsong stand there, blinded, and back off towards the walls where they feel a bit safer. Windsong concentrates on the area around him, using his training to sense what is nearby and keep himself and Elrae safe. Berenn shouts at Lareth, but it is Imix who responds, with a blow from his sword. Berenn is hit [23], slammed against the wall, and then he slumps to the floor, trying to shake off the blow.

    Isilme flies up to Lareth and attempts to steal the orb. As soon as she touches it, she is hit with another negative level! She also appears and she falls to the ground in front of Lareth. She looks up at him, weakened visibly by her touching of the orb. "Lareth it is Isilme! You place us all in great danger, release that Sphere!"

    Emyn uses his haste movement to try and reach Lareth, but Imix attacks him. [DM OOC: I warned everyone about his reach….] Imix takes a swing at Emyn as he tries to circle around him [i.e. attack of opportunity as you move through all those threatened squares] and Emyn is hit by a wicked blow from Imix’s blade [38]. He is knocked back again, landing on the floor in front of Hepla where he lies stunned! [no move next round]

    Gotrek returns to the room, and he too circles around Imix, moving between him and Berenn. Only his short size and training against giant-sized opponents allows him to avoid Imix’s blow [DM OOC: another attack of opportunity. Remember, he gets them when you move through his threatened squares. With a 20’ reach, that’s a lot of squares. It’s very hard to close on those with long reach without them getting free attacks!]

    Lareth looks down at Isilme, and in his eyes she sees not just recognition, but something more. Resignation? She is not sure what it means, but then hears a deep surprised crackle from behind her. Turning around, she sees that the sphere has moved up against Imix. The great Prince of Elemental Evil moves away, but his flames are slowly drawn into the spinning vortex.

    “WHAT?” he cries, as he turns back towards Lareth. “YOU DARE?”

    “Yes!” cries Lareth, and he moves the Black Hole into Imix’s body. The shriek is near-shattering, and everyone is rocked backwards, falling over if not already down. All except Lareth who stands like a stone wall [ok, had to use another one of my favorite quotes!]

    Thorgrim is dumbstruck with awe watching the destruction of Imix. Thorgrim will move to stand between Lareth and danger. That means next to Lareth. As he passes Berenn, he says, "We must be wary. Just because he slew Imix doesn't mean he hasn't gone bad for good."

    "I like our odds better with Imix dead, than with him alive," replies Berenn, "but I have a feeling Lareth has been freed from what was binding him."

    Emyn groans in pain as he lies there in a heap, silently praying to Trithereon for direction of his Pursuit of Vengeance against Lareth, given the man's actions. He then can sense that his Pursuit of Vengeance is no longer in force. It would seem Trithereon accepts Lareth's atonement.

    Emyn comes out of the stunned state, stands, and tells Hepla that Trithereon has forgiven Lareth for his crimes. "He he is no longer required to kill him."

    [DM OOC: btw, Imix isn't gone. The Hole draws some of the flames crackling around Imix into its spiraling nothingness, but Imix himself is NOT sucked in. He simply backed away. Lareth keeps "pushing" him backwards, toward his throne, with the hole. I guess that was my fault; I didn't write that clearly. It was late, and I was a bit tipsy after the Giant's win! Sorry. Imix is still around, but he's going backwards, away from the sphere, which Lareth is using to corral him.]

    "YOU WILL PAY ETERNALLY HUMAN GNAT!" bellows Imix, still backing up.

    "You are probably right," says Lareth. "But not for this."

    He then looks down at Isilme, reaching out and offering a hand to help her up. "Only the Champion can hold the orb," he says, a weak smile playing across his face. "I would have told you had I a chance." He then turns his attention back to Imix.

    "I did not want to attack you in the hope you were released from the aboleth's hold after its death," says Isilme. "I alone of this party has felt the power of the insane god, and I wonder if you had to accept his offer as "champion" to save us. I feel the gods spared my life in order to spare yours and show you a diffrent path ....give you a choice...and in turn save the world from this chaos. But who truly knows the will of the gods?"

    She places a comforting hand on his shoulder and watches the scene with Imix play out.

    "I may have been their Champion," he says, "but a wise woman once told me that I still have free will, that I could choose my own path. Today, I made a choice."

    Meanwhile, Noot and Hepla both cast Walls of Force behind Imix. However, he passes back through them. He stands on the other side of them, laughing. "YOU THINK TO SO EASILY ENTRAP ME? YOU UNDERESTIMATE MY POWER, PUNY HUMANS!"

    "We need to leave," says Lareth, looking back at Imix whose flames start to grow ever brighter. "Now!"

    Thorgrim will heed Lareth's advice. "Let's go!" he shouts.

    Most of the party retreats, with only Isilme, Thorgrim, Emyn, and Lareth left in the hall when Imix throws a massive fireball up and over the two walls of force (they don't reach all the way up through the arched ceiling. It explodes in the hall with the most awesome display of flame you've ever seen. Isilme takes [33] and is blown backwards out of the hall. Thorgrim takes [36] and he too is blown backwards. Emyn takes [17]; good thing he has a Ring of Fire Resistance! He is at -7 now though. Lareth takes [33] but he yet stands.

    Lareth rush back to her, helping her up.

    "Imix will be trapped here," she says. "The only way in or out is through the powers of the orb." She looks into the eyes of Lareth, "You must use the powers of the orb to return them home," she says, indicating the rest of the party. "Then you will have another choice to make. The orb needs to be destroyed, and I suggest you throw it into the Sphere of Anhiliation to do so. This insanity with these elemental nodes must end for the good of the all." She hugs him and whispers, "continue to force Imix back into the throne, I will place myself behind him, and he will be unable to move away from the sphere. His evil ends now. It's fitting I died by fire to return and be die ending the Prince of Fire!" She smiles weakly.

    Lareth takes a familiar red stone from the orb and hands it to her. "Take this, it will return you to the temple. You are right," he adds. "There is only one way to end this."

    Hepla rushes to Emyn, using healing on him to heal [2] and to stop his wounds. He has terrible scars over anything exposed and across his face.

    Lareth looks to Emyn, then back to Isilme. "Tell him, I would have followed his God had I the chance."

    As Gotrek and Berenn pick up Emyn, Berenn casts CSW on him, curing [+14]. Emyn comes to, barely.

    Lareth helps Isilme up. "Now go!" he says. "There is no time to lose!"

    "You will not be forgotten," she says. "You are truly a hero."

    "Trithereon awaits you in the next life! You are worthy!" shouts Emyn as he runs out.

    [Berenn OOC: Marines we are leaving!]

    [Gotrek OOC: in the best Arnold accent : Get to the CHOPPER !]

    Lareth tries to throw the orb into the sphere, but he finds he cannot do it. He looks back at Isilme as she's about to leave, just as Imix drops another 20d6 fireball in the room! He takes [27] and in knocked to the ground. His hairs is burned off his head, and his face, already horribly scarred, is once again blistered and burnt.

    Isilme gives the stone to Berenn. "Get everyone out of the gate," she says, then flies back in to Lareth. She plans to Dimension Door the two of them back to the gate as well, but he puts a hand out to stop her.

    "No!" he says, knowing what she is about to do. "Only destroying the Orb will stop Imix and his kind forever." We must destroy it now, before he can enter our world!"

    Everyone else gets to the gate, where they find the other two salamanders. Gotrek charges one, hitting it [20] and knocking it to the ground. Elrae attacks the other, hitting it with Snowfang [18]. It howls in rage at the blow from Snowfang. Windsong tumbles passed one, attacking from the rear, while Emyn engages the other. In short order, they take both of them out.

    "If you can't do it alone," whispers Isilme as she helps Lareth to his feet, "we will do it together." Her eyes clearly showing her intent. "Choose now, the gate of fire or the sphere - together or alone. "No one can say you have not earned redemption," she adds, and kisses him on the cheek.

    The party then uses the gate to return to the Temple.

    "Well done," says Thorgrim.

    Hepla returns the ring of fire resistence to Emyn. "Thank you for its use. I wore it on my left hand. Maybe you will give me anoother ring someday." giggle, giggle. blush.

    Emyn blushes to the roots of his hair and says, "That I can promise."

    She looks at him for a minute then says, "but not till I'm 18."

    Looking around, the party then realizes that Isilme hasn't returned.

    "We should await Isilme's return," says Thorgrim. "But for how long? Are we able to return to that hellish place? And do we want to? Or should we consign Isilme to her fate? Lareth said it was time to leave, and I heeded him. I do not think he was trying to trick us, as we saw him attack Imix with the sphere."

    ***

    Meanwhile, back in the Fire Node....

    Isilme smiles brightly and says to Lareth, "we die together, do what you must to keep this evil from the world." She uses her haste and whatever movement she has left to take cover yelling at Imix, "Enough Prince Imix! If you kill us you can never leave as only the Chosen can use the Orb. This place will be your prison for eternity." She is hoping to distract Imix just enough to give Lareth time to do what he must.

    Imix laughs, "No LITTLE MORTAL, FOR I CAN NOW RETURN FROM HERE TO THE PLANE OF FIRE. THAT DOORWAY HAS BEEN OPENED PERMANENTLY!" With that he chants, and the flame pits roar to life again, as Imix begins to call forth more aid from the Plane of Fire!"

    "Looks like we are out of time," says Lareth.

    As he does this, Isilme and Lareth both cast Protection from Fire on themselves. YThey then both stand up, as Imix's Gates to the Plane of Fire opens....

    [DM OOC: yeah, the suspense is just killing you isn't it!]

    Isilme holds lareths hand and asks, "Areyou capable of only dropping the orb into the black hole?"

    "Yes," he says. "We can just throw it in. I'm sorry I failed earlier." He looks down at the Orb. "You must understand, it doesn't want to be destroyed!"

    Both then hear a roar, and a very large creature which they don't recognize comes out of one of the Fire Pits, as Imix continues his crackling laughter.



    "Then do what you must," says Isilme, squeezing Lareth's hand tightly. "Concentrate on my song and ignore the orb." Isilme begins to burst into song in ancient elvish, her powerful voice echoing throughout the room in perfect melody filling the minds of Lareth and Isilme with Hope and strengthing their resolve. [Isilme OOC: Isilme casts emotion, moving her body between this new creature and Lareth to shield him so he can do what must be done]

    "WELCOME, SHAYTAN AL-UZZA," roars Imix. "LORD OF THE EFREETI, I..."

    He is cut off as Lareth uses his control of the Orb to draw the Sphere back towards them and into the unsuspecting back of the Efreet. It screams terribly as it is sucked back into Oblivion! With a newfound surge of hopefulness, he looks at Isilme and takes her hand. "Ready?"

    Isilme continues to sing with all her heart, tears begining to sting her eyes as she swells with the strength of hope. She points at the gate to the Plane of Fire and shrugs questioningly.....

    Lareth and Isilme rush forward, as Lareth pulls the sphere of annihilation closer. Lareth, face burned and blistered, gives Isilme a kiss. "For luck," he says as she looks at him startled. He throws the Orb into the sphere as the two leap into the roaring fire pit!

    "NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" cries Imix as the Orb flies into the sphere!
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:38 am  
    Part - 26 Epilogue

    Back in the Greater Temple....

    The Gate symbol on the floor suddenly fades away. Elrae uses Snowfang to detect magic, and finds that it is simply gone. Further, the great ruby is no longer magical.

    "It seems that your friends were successful," says Windsong with a note of sadness. "Their sacrifice shall be remembered for as long as the world endures and beyond."

    Thorgrim is stunned. "Isilme..." he breathes.

    As you return to the main temple, you hear a strange sound from above. Suddenly, the ceiling of the temple opens in a large circle. Sunlight is visible streaming straight down into the center of the chamber. Settling down through it are a quartet of figures. Two you recognize, Burne and Tenser. The third and fourth you do not. The third is a man of mixed Baklunish and Suel stock, six feet tall, 170 lbs, with auburn hair, bright green eyes, and a tanned complexion. He still wears tan robes of Baklunish design with intricate gold patterns, and his green eyes still sparkle and shine, and his good looks persist despite his apparent age. The last is clearly a warrior of great renown, a grim, black-haired, saturnine man with a brooding countenance, deep-set eyes, and a short goatee. In his hands he wields a two-handed sword with a blade of the deepest black.

    Once the figures land, Burne steps up to Hepla. "I am sorry for our tardiness, my dear. I only saw your message this morning." He looks around, finally noticing that Isilme and Taki are gone. "Oh my," he says sadly. "This is my fault. I should have checked sooner, but for so many days there was nothing. I forgot."

    "Tenser, Burne, you are welcome!" says Thorgrim. "Who, praytell, are your friends? And what brings you to this neck of the woods?"

    A tear forms in Emyn's eye as he holds Hepla and tells her, "Friends are never truly gone when you keep them in your heart."

    She looks a Emyn and says," you ae right and I will not forget." She gives him a quick kiss and stands on her own feet. She sudenly remembers that her stuff is all piled on the floor, she grabs her hat and puts it on, "sorry, I did not mean to appear not propely dressed. Luckily mom did not see that, I hope."

    "Is there some magic you can use to help us determine Isilme's fate?" asks Thorgrim.

    "This sort of magic is beyond my realm," says Berenn, "but a murderer needs to be brought to justice so any who are able I would appreciate you returning with me and apprehending the assassin. Unfortunately, my duty comes first and if there is reason to mourn I will do so in good time."

    Hepla says,"After wee find out what is happening with our friends here then I will help you get her." There is a hardness in those last words no one has heard before.

    "And I will wreak vengeance upon the assassin's head as well, Berenn," says Emyn.

    The older Baklunish wizard introduces himself, in very polite and proper language. "I am Rary," he says, "a close friend of Tenser, and this," pointing to the warrior, "is our trusted ally, Sir Robilar of Greyhawk." The grim warrior smiles quite affably, and despite his gruff appearance, he seems very charming and polite."

    "Robilar often talked of coming here," says Tenser. "I sensed it would all come to an ill-outcome, so convinced him to leave well-enough alone."

    The grim warrior gives him a look, the shrugs. "Plenty a other adventures," he mutters.

    [Here's what happened in EGG's campaign, from what I've read. Hm, wonder if Olorin was around then?

    "Robilar and Quij, his orcish henchman, ventured to the Temple of Elemental Evil atop a carpet of flying. Leaving Quij outside to guard his carpet and griffons, he bullied his way into the depths, slaying vast ranks of monsters and freeing the demoness Zuggtmoy. This incident resulted in Robilar's being forcibly evicted from the Domain of Greyhawk by Tenser's army and being named persona-non-grata throughout the region."]

    Elrae is a bit star struck by meeting these heroes of Greyhawk.

    Emyn turns to the new arrivals and says, "Your presence honours us. We have lost some good friends in defeating the cult of Tharizdun. Taki of the Hill People fell to his death and Isilme's fate remains unknown to us except that she and Lareth chose to face Imix alone. And now, the portal to the Fire Node is gone and its key inactive. Can you in some way help us find our lost friends?"

    Tenser, knowing Isilme, can attempt to scry her. It's a rather simple matter for an Archmage! Of course, he finds nothing. "This may be more difficult that I thought," he says. "If she is dead, it will take more effort, and it is not something I can do here."

    Rary laughs, "You always were too cautious, my friend," he says.

    "You propose a better idea, Rary?" asks Thorgrim.

    Emyn says, "She does have an amulet of proof against detection. Might that be an issue? Would it work on her if she were dead?"

    "Ah," says Tenser, "that explains it."

    "Yes," add Rary, quickly. "Such amulets are powerful indeed," and he runs his fingers over a slight bulge over his chest. "Only beings of God-like ability or items of near-artifact power can pierce their protections."

    "Know where we can find one of those?" asks Thorgrim.

    Windsong looks behind the altar, towards the far chamber with the evil, life-draining throne. "Actually, yes," he says, and points that way.

    "Do it," says Thorgrim. "If you please."

    Hepla, dispite being broken hearted, pays close attention to this new magic. New to her. Everyone moves into the area beyond the altar. When you reach the body of The Second, nearly unrecognizable after Gotrek's rage, Tenser actually shudders. "I have seen much," he says, "but never brutality like that."

    Gotrek just mumbles under his breath. Robilar notices and smiles, barely suppressing a chuckle. The group moves on, back to the room with the column of shimmering light.

    "Interesting," says both mages nearly simultaneously.

    Noot looks around at the remaining gems studding the walls, taking out his dagger eagerly.

    Tenser and Rary converse for a bit, then Tenser passes through the light into the inner chamber. "That tickled," he says from within.

    "Just get on with it," says Rary, sounding a bit bored.

    Hepla's mouth dropped open, "How did he do that? What spell protected him?"

    "He's an archmage," says Robilar, laughing.

    Tenser comes back in a bit, looking a bit frustrated. "Couldn't find her," he said. "Sorry."

    Meanwhile, Noot goes over to the wall and starts prying off more gems from the mural. He gets another dozen before Rary sees him. He shakes his head, saying, "Beware, lest your greed become your undoing."

    Noot gulps, then puts the few gems he has taken away, backing off sullenly, but not taking anything else.

    Emyn says, "Imix threatened to bring creatures from the Plane of Fire to him during our fight. Might they have escaped to that plane? Maybe this would narrow your search."

    "It's possible," says Tenser, "but I would likely have still found him, even were he on another plane. I'm afraid there is little I can do at this point."

    "True," says Rary. "One does not simply walk into the Plane of Fire. It is a barren, burned wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly."

    "There is little more we can here," agrees Tenser. "Burne, my friend," he says. "Let us return to your tower where these brave souls may rest. Perhaps once there we can consider further options."

    Windsong and Berenn will go gather the elf woman, then travel via the barn. There they find the assassin, still guarding the area. Tenser creates a floating disk and the party all gets on one. Then you all travel up through the hole in the ceiling, eventually coming out on the surface. While they wait, and with Noot mentioning the gems, Tenser takes notice.

    "There were many gems upon a throne within that circle of light," he says. "I was tempted to take some, as somebody else clearly did before me." He looks at Noot gravely. "However, they all bore the taint of evil," he adds. "It would be bad to take them."

    Berenn hogties the assassin. "My business takes me to Warden's Station. I have a monolith to remove, along with a couple of heads ..." he looks down with disdain at his two prisoners. "If there is word of Isilme, I can be reached there and if anyone wishes to seek shelter at Warden's Station you are welcome to travel with me."

    "Why don't you allow us to transport you?" asks Tenser. "It is much...easier, even though the great powers of the universe (i.e. DMs) generally don't approve."

    The two archmages smile, and Sir Robilar bursts into laughter. Quickly, however, it is Burne who brings everyone back to earth. "We have lost two of our own," he says. "This is no time for levity."

    "Fear not," says Tenser. "At least Isilme yet lives."

    "Isilme lives?" asks Thorgrim, incredulous. "How do you know?"

    "Simple logic," says Tenser. "This one is still under the effects of her charm," he continues, pointing to the the trussed up assassin. "Thus, she must still be alive."

    "Good thinking," says Thorgrim. To the party, he says, "Let us join these goodly mages in their abode."

    "Of course, I should have thought of that. Is there a way to trace that strand of magic back to her?" asks Hepla. She then looks at Noot's gems. " Are these ok to keep or are they too tainted?"

    "It's hard to say," says Rary, looking at them. "It will require some effort to first understand this taint. Only then can we attempt to remove it. If it is otherworldly in nature, it will likely require magic of a more...religious nature."

    Emyn says, "I fear some of us have also experienced the touch of the undead as well as that curtain. We may will need to seek counsel on how to remedy this as well."

    Granitethews will take his leave of you. It seems you have succeeded, and he wishes to rejoin his kin. He can follow their tracks away, and hopefully catch up shortly. He takes with him the body of the other giant and departs. You have made a friend of these Stone Giants this day. After he leaves, Tenser and Rary will teleport the entire party back to Warden's Station. Once there, Berenn takes his prisoners to their cells and arranges guards until they can be executed. Berenn will be the only one with the key, so there will be no chance of escape. He will check in on the griffons and see how they are doing and call for a meeting of Elmo and Icar to learn what has happened in his absence. He tells the rest of the party to make themselves at home and instructs some of the people working in the keep to show them to quarters.

    "Perhaps the assassin still under Isilme's charm be allowed to live until we find her or the charm is somehow broken?" asks Hepla. "Right now she is the only contact we have with Isilme."

    "I suppose it is in the best interest to allow the assassin a few more days of life," replies Berenn, "but if the charm wears off, her usefulness comes to an end. I will turn my efforts toward removing the monolith from the station."

    "Monolith?" asks Rary. "What monolith?"

    Berenn will show Rary to the monolith. "This thing has caused me nothing but misery since I discovered it and I mean to be rid of it as soon as possible. While exploring the Temple of the Elder Gods we found instructions on how to safely move one of these evil creations and I intend on hauling it to the Temple of Elemental Evil, dumping it in, casting an Earthquake spell and sealing the whole thing up once and for all!"

    They recognize the thing, once they see it. Well, they don't recognize it per se, but they can tell that it is holy to He Who Must Slumber Everlastingly. "We don't use His name," says Tenser, "just in case."

    There are secret compartments, just like the one you found at the other temple. One secret compartment contains some magic beads, another holds a skin-covered black drum, another a set of silver chimes, while the last contains a thurible and three chunks of incense. Rary and Tenser will remove the monolith and the altar, as well as all these unholy relics. "They are very important, and require the utmost care and attention," says Rary.

    "Simply burying them is not good enough," says Tenser. "Look at this one. It was still exerting its evil influence, even then. We can take them and do what needs be done with them."

    "Destroy it!" says Thorgrim. "I am sure Berenn will be relieved to be rid of that evil artifact."

    The archmages use their powerful magics to take the Monolith. Tenser is saddened that he cannot find Isilme, but he is yet hopeful she still lives. "I feel strangly tied to that one," he says, "though for the life of me I cannot tell why." Then the archmages leave, and the party can get some much needed rest.

    Thorgrim says a prayer to Clanggedin, thanking him for strength and wisdom to defeat the plans of Imix.

    Once at Warder's, Thorgrim will open his Portable Hole in Berenn's treasure room, and start unloading treasure and magic. He needs to get to the bottom to get to his clothing.. "It will take some time to Identify all this," he says. He shows the Archmages the glob of stuck-together magic items made by his miscreant Earth Elemental. "Anythiing you can do with this?" he asks them.

    Thorgrim will check in on Lyseios, to make sure he hasn't blown himself up, yet. He will deliver to him the gutted chimera corpse with stomach retained, the chimera blood, the minotaur horns, the troll-flesh, and the Umber Hulk eyeballs. "See what you can make of these," he says. "I think Berenn wanted that chimera stuffed for his sitting room, though we may use a few feathers to use as quills." He hands the Displacer Beast pelts to Berenn. "Better get these tanned," he says.

    Thorgrim will then doff his armor and bathe, getting into his fine clothes he last wore at the opera in Greyhawk (the time we first met Tenser). He wants to spend as much time as possible with these Archmages, to glean as much wisdom as he can from the interaction, and to learn the current greater state of the world.

    Robilar is very impressed with the chimera. "They are not so easy to slay," he say, marveling at how intact it is. He gives you the name of a great taxidermist in Greyhawk City. "He has stuffed all my trophies," he says quite jovially.

    "You really should have warned him about the medusa though," says Rary.

    "Yes, that didn't work out so well," he replied. "But luckily he pulled through."

    Hepla shows Tenser Isilme's mirror, and they try to use it to find her. Tenser returns to his attempts to contact Isilme, and Hepla assists, using the mirror. They both have no luck.

    "They must be in a place completely cut off from any attempts to scry," he said. "That mirror is a wondrous item," he adds, looking at it closely. "Guard it carefully."

    "I do", she says as Star makes her appearance, nuzzling up to Tenser.

    "The power of your mirror is as great as any I could use," says Tenser. He then winks, "almost. Still, there are places I cannot see. Many places throughout the realms are protected from scrying. Some planes are completely closed."

    He goes on to explain the cosmology and realizes after a few minutes that Hepla's not following and is just petting star. "My apologies," he says, "I sometimes get carried away."

    He leans forward and pets Star himself. "Explain it to her someday," he whispers to Star, who looks up with a light meaow."

    Emyn appears about this time. "Would a wish spell being her back," he asks.

    Rary looks at Emyn, giving him a quick rebuke. "Casting wishes isn't like dusting crops boy!"

    "Well, I must return to my tower," says Burne. "Wouldn't want Rufus to worry," he adds with a chuckle.

    "And I must return home," says Rary. "There is much to do with these evil artifacts, and not a moment to lose. I shall return you home, and then Robilar and I will depart."

    He reaches into the folds of his robes and withdraws a scroll which he hands to Hepla. "Consider this a gesture of thanks for what you have done. What all of you have done." He surveys the group. "Your deeds deserve the praise of all, for you have perhaps saved the Flanaess this day, maybe the world."

    "Thank you," says Hepla, as she takes the scroll. "I will continue the search into those multiversal thingies you were talking about." Star just shakes her head. "I almost forgot, here is the fire gem from that orb, it was supposed to get me back here, and it did. Do you need to destroy this too, I will give it to you, or do you think this might still have a way to Isilme?" She gives each one a hug and a kiss then looks at the scroll for a moment, curiosity getting the better of her.

    Rary and Robilar leave, with all the Tharizdun artifacts, though Tenser is staying to try and help. He had a more personal interest in Isilme's well-being, and would like to help.
    Also, the gem is no longer magical, but is just a 5000 gp ruby!

    "Isilme piked up a bunch of things which she told us not to touch," says Hepla. "I wonder if that could be the way tofind her?" She mentions this to Tenser. She also explains that you have to put the ring on and then pick up the right rod.

    "Better to not touch them at all," says Tenser, "except under the most careful and guarded circumstances." [Rary took everything you had that was "bad" when he left.]

    Tenser also remarks at Hepla's staff. "You realize what you have there?" he asks. "That is the Staff of Irardenthas, an Ur-Flan wizard of long ago." He points out some markings you had not even noticed. "There, that is her mark," he adds. "I sense it is nearly as dead as its creator. You should not use it again without recharging its potent magics."

    He will break out the Gutshaker, and offer some to Noot and our guests, though Berenn probably has some more palatable libations in his stores. The remainder will be drunk by him, Gotrek, and Hepla. Not too much for Hepla. She gets drunk on one mug.

    [Well, that's it. The party was successful in foiling the schemes of the Temple of the Elder Elemental God, defeated the Dread Prince Imix, and returned home. They lost a few on the way, and are particularly saddened by the death of Taki. Thorgrim hangs Taki's maul above the mantel on the fireplace, in honor of his Hillman friend. Windsong leaves to parts unknown, and Filbin retires as well, nearly drained of life. Berenn returns to the Temple and reads his Earthquake scroll, completely destroying the place once and for all.

    This effectively ends the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It was fun taking such an interesting 3rd ed module and adapting it to my campaign. I think everyone enjoyed the link to their previous adventures as well. Now the party can settle down to rest, learn more spells, and do who knows what. Of course, there is still the story of Isilme and Lareth. While they yet live, nobody can find them! I believe a lot of that tale was done in emails between myself and the Isilme player, and unfortunately I never posted a summary. I also deleted all those old emails, even from my sent folder, so I do not have any of them. That's too bad, because it was a very interesting, and important, journey. I am trying to see if the player kept those emails, and maybe I can then retreive the story as it was written, rather that just post a quick summary. So please, stay tuned for the epilogue, if I can find it. Otherwise, I'll just sumarize what happened.]
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:09 am  
    Part 27 - Epilogue part deux or Back Home

    Freerday, 7th of Richfest (CY 581)
    You wake up the next morning. It is the last day of the Festival week of Richfest. I just wanted to give you the time perspective. Tomorrow will be the first of Reaping.
    You guys were gone two weeks. Not that long, actually.

    Hepla gets up Star of couse wants attention so she doesn't notice right away. She fiinally looks at her ioun stone and finds it dead . She goes downstairs and gets breakfast and two saucers of milk, one for her and one for Star. The others find her hitting the stone on the table to try and make it work.

    Tenser helps Hepla to purify all the items, and then the party can do Identifying. He also has lots of knowledge, so you can ask him about things of which you are uncertain, magic items that you don't understand. He is like a sage, and pretty much will be able to give you full descriptions.

    Hepla thanks Tenser for the help, "Without you this would have taken a lot longer. Any new thoughts of where she might be? I've written mom but she offered no help as to where Isilme might be. She is trying a few things but did not sound hopeful." Star watches them work.

    Noot wakes up and has an ale for breakfast. He is still depresses about the loss of Isaac.
    "You all can do whatever you want with the gems," he says, then leaves. He heads
    for the woods near town to spend the rest of the day mourning Isaac. He returns at sundown.

    [Berenn OOC: I am thinking about restoring Nulb, the waterway could be profitable and I might have enough money when this is all over to rebuild it, plus provide it with a garrison.]

    [DM OOC: You will have to discuss that with the Viscount. Your lands do not extend to Nulb, though you are charged with keeping an eye on the area. Perhaps he will further expand your titles, to encompass the land thereabouts.]

    The party also decides that a trip to Verbobonc is going to be necessary, to sell all the gems and jewelry they found, which ammounted to a few hundred thousand gp value!

    Before leaving Warder's Station, Thorgrim will speak with Lyseios, and probably chide him for not having already taken a trip to Verbebonc to collect needful alchemical supplies. But with experiments in progress and all, and the short time that has passed, Thorgrim will quickly forgive him.

    In Hommlet, Thorgrim will check in to his and Gotrek's home at the Trading Post. He will deposit money into his secret cache, keeping a portion in the Hole (amounts depend on treasure haul). "First time in a long time I've owned more than I can reasonably carry," he will remark. He will keep his tithe money there at his home as well, to be used for future purposes of the faith.

    He will check the shrine to Clanggedin he and Gotrek had built, and ensure it remains pristine. He will clean it up, and pull any weeds which have sprung up nearby. He will kneel and say a prayer to Clanggedin, thanking him for the strength and wisdom to thwart Imix and to crush the resurgent evil of the Temple. He will muse upon the fact that destroying evil is much like pulling weeds: even when you pull them out by the root, always new ones arise. He asks Clanggedin to keep Isilme safe, as brave warrior hearts like hers deserve death in battle, not trapped like a rat in some foreign plane. He will ask for continued guidance in his holy path of righteous vengeance. He will also say a prayer to Ellistrae.

    Before everyone goes running off to Verbebonc, we should see how Tenser intends to help us find Isilme. It would be most rude to leave such an august guest to tie up our loose ends while we go traipsing around the Oerth, unless he is in agreement.

    Hepla takes a candle and puts it in front of her mirror and trys to skry for Isilme. "Maybe a candle can guide her home," She will tell anyone who asks what she is doing.

    The party also asks Tenser if he would go to Verbobonc as well. He says no. "There is too much to be done, especially regarding the ill-tidings of a new priesthood to He Who Must Not Be Named." So, if there is nothing more to do with regards to finding Isilme, Tenser will retire back to his home in the Free City.

    [DM OOC: At this time Gotrek leaves to go survey the area around Warden's Station and Nulb for potential mining opportunities. The player left the game, so I removed Gotrek from the party.]

    Hepla tries to recall Isilme's Leomunds Labile Locker, but with no success. When you do that, Tenser actually laughs that you have it.

    "Leomund was very fond of that item," says Tenser. "It was one of a kind, for he created it by complete accident. He lost it, and he never could remember where. Of course, he was old when I met him, so I guess it's not surprising."

    Anyway, you can scry the chest, which even in the Ethereal will be found through Isilme's mirror. You find that you cannot scry the chest, which if it were in the Ethereal, you could find, as it would appear. So, the mystery deepens.

    "Since the chest is not in the Ethereal," says Tenser, "then we must assume that she is carrying it with her and has entered a realm which has no connection to either the Prime Material or the Ethereal."

    Of course, most the party just stares dumbly at such talk of other planes.

    "Thank you, Tenser," Thorgrim says. "Your wisdom in these matters is without equal. Any assistance you can offer us will be greatly appreciated. Isilme is...precious to me. And to us. You are always welcome here. Please do not let it be long ere we hear from you again."

    Hepla says, "That I cannot summon the chest is a positive sign. Right after we got out I called for the chest and put a note in it to Isilme. Now I cannot call it which means she has called it and it is now out of my reach. But that does mean she is not just alive but doing stuff." She gives Tenser a big kiss and does a little dance around the room punctuated with giggles.

    The next day you see Isilme and Lareth step out of a room with Tenser. It appears they have just concluded a long meeting.

    "No way!" says Thorgrim.

    Hepla runs and hugs Isilme. She's crying. Emyn tears up a little but doesn't let Isilme see. He does welcome her back heartily once he has his emotions under control.

    Isilme hugs everyone she sees and thanks them for never stopping to try and find her.
    She seems diffrent now, with a renewed dedication and glow in her eyes.

    "Seems I get stuck in other planes often" she says with a wry smile. She tells the party that she and Lareth jumped through one of the fire pillars (a gate to the Plane of Fire)
    at the last minute as the Orb was destroyed. Barely surviving such a hostile environment, they traveled from plane to plane trying to make their way home. They eventually made their way to Arvendor (Olympus), where the godess herself called to them and they met her avatar in a forest glen.

    "I have been returned to the prime, to begin the formation of her church with Lareth, and found the first holy Order of the Battledancers of Eilistraee. I am a Darksong Knight." She smiles, and you can clearly see a fanatical fevor in her words and actions that was not there before.

    "Thank you Tenser." Berenn bows to the mage. "My companions and I are eternally grateful for returning our friends to us." He turns to Isilme and Lareth, "I am very happy you are both alive and safe."

    "Wow" says Hepla, then," the candle, excuse me, hi Mr Lareth, glad you both made it back." She then runs off to put out the candle burning in front of the mirror.

    Emyn says, "I welcome this new order and perhaps we can look into honouring them at the Temple of Trithereon in Verbobonc. All goodly deities are given shrines to honour them there."

    "What a fantastic story," says Elrae. "I dream of traveling the planes like that. I seem to get stuck in small elemental nodes instead."

    "I don't mean to inhospitable, but matters of the realm require me to depart for Verbobonc in the morning. I will be flying on Ra so as to make good time. Please rest here until my return and I will accompany you when we haul the treasure there for exchange." Berenn prepares to depart in the morning.

    "Isilme, what method did you use to traipse across the planes?" Thorgrim asks.

    "Thorgrim," she gives him a hug. "The chest is a dangerous, but still a useable tool in times of great distress. I had to shrink us, then attempt to send us to the Etheral inside it. It kept failing, catching us in an etheral cyclone and sending us randomly to other planes of existence. I have seen the para-elemental plane of ice, of minerals, and even the dangerous Astral plane!"

    She then turns to Emyn, "Emyn the ties between the churches of Elistraee and Tritherion are undeniable. I intend to speak to the head cleric in Verbobonc. I had intended to being Lareth before one of the greater servants of your god in Arvendor, but fate had other plans." She smiles.

    "Ah, good thinking," Thorgrim says. "What wonders you must have seen... And Imix? His oerthly form was destroyed? And the Fire Node with it?"

    "Imix, the node, and the orb were destroyed," says Isilme. "Though I know not if Imix was destroyed permanently. Doubtless his essence was reborn in the plane of fire."

    "Where it belongs," agrees Thorgrim. "Lareth, your help was instrumental. I am glad you did not return to your evil ways."

    You see a newfound sense of purpose in the young man, who also, to your amazement, is no longer burned.

    "I have seen the error of such ways," he says. "Apparently, I was the Champion of Elemental Evil," he adds sardonically. "I played along, since my only choice at the time would likely have been death. I fooled Hedrack, who never imagined my heart had changed, but the First, it was something different."

    He seems pained by the memory, as he continues his tale. "I could do nothing against whatever powers the thing possessed. It was as if my body and mind simply were no longer mine. I was like a puppet in a traveling show. I only had the barest idea that I was controlled, so total was the thing's power over me. It was only in the Fire Node, after it was slain, that clarity returned, albeit slowly. When I saw what was happening, I could not stand by. Rather, I chose to aid the only ones who ever showed any true concern for my wretched soul."

    He looks at Berenn, Emyn, and Isilme. "I didn't, honestly, believe a true conversion possible for myself. The gods I have known are terrible, selfish, and cruel. I did not understand that there were any who were different. Not until I met Ellistraee. There was never any doubt after that, how I would devote the rest of my days. I have much for which to atone; I can only hope to prove myself worth of her care and trust."

    Isilme also tells everyone, "I buried Taki in Arvendor, as I found it a fitting paradise for his final resting place." She then turns to Noot and says, "I sought out Issac's spirit in Arvendor, in the hopes I could bring him back to you. When I found him, He could not bring himself to leave paradise. Rest easy though, he says he is very happy in the afterlife."

    Noot gives Isilme a hug, fighting back tears. "Isilme, thank you so much for remembering Isaac. I had a strong feeling when I was in the woods the other day that he was free. Now I know that is true. I never owned him; he chose to be with me, and so knowing for sure that he is happy and free gives me great peace. My sincerest thanks to you once again." He then goes back to his mug, raises it in toast to nobody, and downs it.

    The last night Tenser is with the party they are having dinner together when he and Hepla suddenly look to the back of the room. A moment later, outside the front door you hear a strong gush of wind and the door creeking open. You do not see the door opening however. From over your shoulders a black silk clad arm appears and places a crystal decanter on the table, the liquid inside glows like moonlight. "Drink till dawn, then its gone." Says a very nice sexy female voice that you see comes from a slight 4'10" black silk clad woman wearing a wide brimmed hat 20 years out of fashon. [Hepla's mom for those of you who have met her before.]

    Star looks up from lapping cream and then continues with the cream. Tenser stands as she passes Isilme and Lareth and says. "Thank You." Isilme finds her voice like fingernails on a chalk board. She walks past Hepla with a nod and coutsies to Tenser. "I trust you are still drinking the same my lord archmage." she says with a magician's flourish that produces a silver tray, a botole of wine, very dusty, and two silver and crystal wine glasses. The dwarves notice its not silver but mithril. Hepala and Tenser sit down together as the bottle fills their glasses. They talk but no one can make out any of their words.

    Hepala gets up from the table. Tenser kisses her hand. She leaves and everyone hears her say, "Good to se you again my lord, lets not make it so long next time, 19 years is way to long." She courtsiies as she leaves and he bows deeply and sighs as she walks away. He finishes the wine and when he leaves the table the glassee, tray and bottle dissapear.

    Hepala again addresses Isilme and Lareth, "The dancing was wonderful, good choice."
    She then looks at Hepla, holds up a small silver spoon, and says, "I am proud of you daughter. I have a treat for you up in you room." The two go up there and soon there is loud, crazy laughter coming from the room. Star laps up her cream and fish snack.
    After a half hour the two come downstairs, Hepla walking a little unsteady, and have a glass each from the bottle of moonshine, which like always never seems to run out. Hepla says, "Grandma made a good batch this week."

    Hepala, at about midnight, gets up, bows to Tenser and begins to leave with Hepla. As they go past Emyn she stops, takes a strange orange coin from her dress and says,"When the time is right this will buy you one entry to our hut." She holds it near the floor and Star licks it. She then tosses it to him,"If you lose it or it is taken from you Star will return it to you for a small price." Hepla rubs the back of her hand when her mom says that. At the door Hepala blows kisses to everyone, they all feel it even Tenser, hugs Hepla and walks out the door, disapearing as she crosses the threshold. Hepla turns back and says,"MOM!" and you hear a witch's laughter and an upper window opens as you sense a presence truely leaving.

    Hepla, about an hour later, after consuming enough Moonshine to put two grown men under the table, stagers slightly as she gets up and goes to Tenser. She does a courtsie, not as well as mom's. and says,"<Giggle, hic> Sorry., I figure I have just enough courage in me now to say this, my lord archmage." She pulls something out of her pocket and has a little trouble unwrapping it, "I know you are probably a member of any number of great and powerful mage groops, but I would like to invite you to be a member of the Noble Order of the Cat. Right now it is Emyn, who is our Knight-defender, Isilme and myself." She holds up a cat badge(mom brought it to her). "You certainly have earned this meny times over. There are no dues or meatings to attend. Just do your best to practice good magic always."

    He smiles at Hepla, takes the cat badge, and offers her a little bow. "It would be my honor," he says.

    "As it is ours." She returns the bow then heads up to bed, using Levitate to pick up Star who is asleep from a seriouse case of too much cream. Tenser then retires to bed.

    After he leaves, Isilme brings the rest of the group together. "When I was in the TOEE," says Isilme, "I scried Markessa and she was unable to block me. If we have some maps I can show you where she was heading, generally. It was an older map, so the city may not be there, We will have to find out. I for one would have her pay for her crimes before the queen of the elves herself!"

    "Markessa?" says Thorgrim incredulously.

    "Yes," replies Isilme. "I used the power of the throne to scry her location while we were in the temple. It seems it allowed me to get around her protections."

    Hepla sits up in her chair and says,"Markessa, where is she?"

    Noot brings out a map, and Isilme says, "I saw Markessa, and she was looking at an old map of this region." She points to the Suss Forest. "There was a dot here," she says, pointing to place near the Principality of Ulek. "Whatever she is doing, she seems interested in this place, which cannot be good for anyone else."

    [So, that was the return of Isilme and Lareth. If I get more info, I'll post it. For now, I can fill in some more. The two found themselves in the Plane of Fire, so it was lucky that they had the Protection from Fire spells cast upon themselves. They could see that this was not going to be good, so Isilme summoned her Leomund's Labile Locker. With a Shrink spell on each, they climbed inside it, closed it, and she said the command word to send it back to the Ethereal. This was the way she was saved from the Ethereal after drinking the cursed potion in the Pomarj, so she figured it would be ok. However, it didn't work as she had hoped....

    I had decided some time ago that I didn't want the party using the LLL as some kind of plane-hopping transporter, so I made the following determination.

    Leomunds Labile Locker: It is a very cool magic item, though I do not believe all the possible ramifications of it were ever considered. Anyway, the description says nothing about what happens to its contents when you change its size. However, it does say it acts like a Leomund's Secret Chest. That spell descriptions says that items shrink when you shrink the chest. I see no reason to change that. However, THIS chest can also enlarge. I think I had things put in the large chest simply shrink down to still fit when it's small, but NOT living things. Anyway, here's my ruling:

    First, the chest weighs 30 lbs when shrunk, regardless of what's in it. No biggie. It also weighs 1,200 lbs when large. Again, no biggie. However, There are a few things regarding Leomund's Secret Chest that I am now going to consider. It can ONLY hold 1 cu'/level of material, whatever its size. This seems to imply that there's maybe some kind of Extra-Dimensional magic involved in it. Not really sure. I'm not going to worry about that. Rather, because the chest can enlarge to its big size, I will say that it can hold whatever it can fit at that size. That size was pretty big, so it's not really a big deal; the player can keep track of that. However, the LSC spell also says that 75% of the time the spell fails if "living matter" is placed within it. I gave the party a break with this when Isilme was trapped, out of the kindness of my evil DM heart. Now that Isilme used it a second time, and now Hepla, I'm going to stop this practice, or at least make it more...dicey.

    Getting into it as a transport to the Ethereal, while totally possible, should have a 75% failure rate. If this were a spell it would make the whole thing fail. However, it's a magic item, not a spell, so it's permanent. What does failure then mean for the LLL? This, I'm not sure, but it should mean something. So, there are some possibilities. One is that the chest's contents get "lost" in the Ethereal (somewhere between wherever it goes and wherever it ends up). Now, that would be pretty bad, and I didn't like that. Or, doing this could attract an Ethereal Cyclone, creatures to the chest, etc. That would be bad too. My other ideas get incrementally worse.....I went with the Ethereal Cyclone option. Can you use it to travel to/from the Ethereal? Yes. They've done it before; in fact, three times successfully (and I didn't roll for failure even once, just letting them do it because it seemed necessary game-wise). However, consider this, at a 75% failure rate, they are way bucking the odds already! ]

    Anyway, when Isilme and Lareth tried, and I rolled for the failure, which happened. They were caught in the Ethereal Cyclone, and jumped through a few planes, as noted earlier. Eventually they ended up in the Astral Plane, which had big ramifications, most important being they no longer had a link to the Ethereal! When they tried the chest again, it no longer worked! After a while, they began to travel about the Astral Plane, without knowing even where they were. Eventually they found a color pool, which by a strange stroke of luck led to Olympus/Arvandor, the home plane of Isilme's own goddess, Ellistraee. When they saw the idyllic setting beyond the pool, Isilme and Lareth decided to pass through.

    They ended up in a vast forest, and were eventually approached by an elven angelic being.



    The elven angel addressed Isilme specifically, calling her by name. Isilme was surprised, especially when it said, "You don't remember me, do you?" She then reasoned that this must be the elven mage Vestron.

    The angel smiled, and led Isilme and Lareth to a glade where they saw a beautiful dark elf woman dancing in the moonlight.



    When the dance finished, the figure approached, and Isilme and Lareth learned that this was Ellistraee herself! A long conversation ensued, which I wish I still had. Unfortunately, it seems it's lost to the internet ethereal! Anyway, she charged Isilme with a new mission on Oerth, where Ellistraee really has no influence, or at least not much. She was to build a church there, and to begin the long task of redeaming those others of Isilme's kind who would follow. This actually worked out well, because the player wasn't happy with his multi-class situation, which also was the result of tinkering with a Deck of Many Things. After this meeting, and with the power of Ellistraee behind it, I allowed a straight change to a new multi-class, a Paladin of Ellistraee/Song Mage. The player made up a new class for this, and Isilme started down a new path.

    The goddess then took Lareth, now horribly burned again. She held his face in her hands and healed the terrible scars. Lareth fell before her, and was speechless. However, I decided to make him a priest of Ellistraee. He was really going to become a priest of Trithereon, the vengeance aspect being particularly appealing. However, this unique moment changed everything. After this, he was totally devoted to Ellistraee. The interesting thing is that he can't really be a priest of her, since she only has female priests. Funny how this worked out, because he started as a priest of Lolth, another who only has female priestesses! Anyway, I let it slide for now.

    Finally, Ellistraee noticed Isilme's broken sword, Maerthorlear. Isilme had been carrying it all along, and she asked for it, finding it indeed interesting. Isilme asked if She could restore the sword, and Ellistraee said yes. However, it wasn't just her decision. She then addressed the angel that had led Isilme and Lareth to her. "Maerthorlear," she said, "is this your wish as well?" Well, it was something like that. In essence, it was revealed that the angel was the "soul" of Isilme's sundered sword, Maerthorlear. The player was surprised, never considering that for even a moment! The personification of the sword, as well as it's "soul" really added a new dimension. Maerthorlear agreed to return with Isilme, as it could continue to do great things with her and for the elves. Ellistraee then restored the sword, into which the essence of Maerthorlear flowed once again.

    With everything finished, Ellistraee then restored Isilme and Lareth to Hommlet. They appeared within a huge grove of trees which resembled those found in Arvandor (basically giant redwoods). I'm not sure why they stepped out of a meeting with Tenser, but whatever. The point was that Isilme and Lareth returned, both changed by their planewalking experience.

    So, that pretty much sums up what happened. The party was thus back together and ready to embark on their next journey.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:25 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    "She is an erinyes and really nice," says Emyn. "She said we might have fun together some day. What do you think? She's pretty hot..."

    I love what you did there, Ragnar! Happy

    SirXaris


    I just realized that I had the private conversation between the Paladin Emyn and Kelasha, the Erineyes. It was in a word document that I just stumbled upon. So, I will reprint it here. I just wanted to make sure those who already read the thread earlier, didn't miss this exchange.

    Kelasha

    Emyns sees a most beautiful woman in one of the room. The most beautiful he's ever seen. Way more beautiful than Hepla. While the others are checking out the next room, he slips into this one, as the woman beckons him.

    You are instantly 100% in love with her. You'd do anything for her. She runs a hand along your face, and you'd die right there if asked.

    "Oh but what a fine catch you would be for Kelasha," she says. “I would so love to play with you.”

    [She charmed you and had you come to her room. She then plays with you for a few minutes, teasing you with the hellish delights which she would oh so enjoy with Emyn.]

    Emyn starts reciting his bad poetry to her and asks her if she would like to meet his betrothed for a threesome.

    [LOL! that's precious. Actually, it's not as bad as you probably think, though she certainly would enjoy bringing you back to the Nine Hells.]

    "Don't catch me a paladin every day, you know," she says with a mischievous wink.

    “Alas, cannot do so at the present.” She blows a kiss in Emyn’s ear, whispering seductively. “Well, I could, but my masters would, in the long run, be quite displeased.”

    She then places her smooth palm under Emyn’s chin and looks into his eyes. “And for them, the long run is very, very, very long.”

    She then sits back on her bed, stretching out and spreading her legs for a moment as she squirms comfortably atop a bunch of pillows. She then explains that the Dukes of Hell do NOT have any desire to see the Doomdreamers succeed in their plans. Though Kelasha was sent here as an ambassador, she is far more. Being the only type of Devil able to come and go on the Prime without being summoned, coupled with her innate ability to get others to see things her way, she was uniquely suited to play the spy. That mission complete, she intends to return forthwith to the Hells. However, having seen what you have accomplished so far, she believes you may be the only ones who can actually stop the Doomdreamers. Thus, she is prepared to help you.

    “How can you help us, my love?” asks Emyn, sitting down in a chair, thoroughly enraptured by her.

    She smiles, knowingly. “Why, I will tell you where the Tourbillon is, that you may transport to the Temple and stop them.”

    “What do you want in return,” asks Emyn, surprised at his own question. “These things never come free.”

    “Actually my dear,” she says, sitting back up. “I want nothing. Does that surprise you?”

    Emyn shakes his head, then turns back to her with a most confused look. She giggles, sounding eerily like Hepla.

    “Very well my love,” says Emyn. “Tell me how and where we need to go to chase after these Doomdreamers. Then let's go back to the others. Let me do the talking so we don't have problems. I would not want them to harm you."

    She tells you that the summoning of the Princes of Elemental Evil is only the first step in their plan, that what the Doomdreams seek is nothing less than the awakening of He Who Must Sleep For Eternity. That is something her master will not abide. Thus, she will aid you to destroy them.

    "There were many more Doomdreamers," she explains "but they have drunk the Dreamstep, using it to enter the Dreaming Stone. Little did they understand that those who enter the stone seldom return. Currently, all but one of them, Lord Lychon, have entered the stone and are lost in dreams of madness. Lord Tychon resides in the next mansion, and is aware of your group's progress. He has prepared for you coming, as he knows this is his chance. He would slay the lot of you and then slay the Third. Blaming you, he would take his place as part of the Triad."

    You ask her about the Triad, and she smiles as she continues. “They are the three most powerful of the Doomdreamers. Hedrack was as nothing compared to the Doomdreamers, and the are as nothing compared to the Triad. Sure, Hedrack did wield the power of a tentacle rod; yet, that was as much a badge of station as anything else. No, the Doomdreamers are much more powerful, with abilities beyond that of the priests of the Elder Elemental God. They are more powerful for they serve His master."

    Before you can further interrupt, she adds. "Of the Triad, The Third lies at the top of the tower, lost in the incense-induced dreams. You must slay him and take his key to work the Toubillion. The Second, a half-air elemental, has yet to return from the Plane of Air where she meets directly with the Dread Prince Yan-C-Bin. The First has gone to the Recovered Temple, to rededicate it to the Elder Elemental God in preparation for the summoning of Imix to this world. Once they are finished, the Champion will open the portal to the Fire Node and free him.”

    She lies back on her bed, pulling pillows under her for comfort as she smiles. “The Triad will never be weaker than it is now, with all three apart. You have no time to lose.”

    As you are about to ask a further question, you realize that you are no longer charmed. In fact, you realize that she released you from her charms some time ago. As you come to the realization, she smiles, almost warmly. "There is a saying in Baator," she says. "The enemy of my enemy is not my enemy today." With a serious look, she adds, "There is much you do not know mortal, but know this. Today, we are not enemies."

    “Then let us go and fight this being together,” says Emyn. He then says a prayer to Trithereon, attempting to summon aid before leaving. [i.e. casts MS3]

    Unfortunately, his attempt fails, and the Erinyes shakes her head. "Mortals," she says. "There is no access to this place," she says. "Trithereon cannot answer you here."

    With a wave of her hand, she opens the doorway to her room. Hearing the sound of battle, she adds, "Sounds like your friends need you," and she waves towards the open doorway.

    [I also put this back into the actual post where it should have been in the first place.]
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:55 am  
    A visit to Verbobonc

    VISIT TO VERBOBONC

    The party stays the night that evening with Heri at her Spider Farm outside of Etterboek. [btw, you can probably get more rope if you want. I think somebody lost theirs.] You recognize a few people from Nulb who resettled here, and you see that things are going quite nicely. In the morning you can continue to Verbobonc.

    Isilme will sit down with Heri and discuss how the investment in the farm is coming along. Has she run into any more issues? Does she have enough people? I find it unlikely in two weeks - but has she found a way to spin the spider silk to make armor (or stronger)?

    Isilme then loans Heri the Spider Amulet she found in the Pomarj as part of their partnership. "I have a sage researching methods of making spider silk armor. Keep experimenting yourself. Using this amulet should help you in that respect, making the spider spin strands of webbing in ways that benefit us and is not "natural". Plus it gives you the capability to save the life of yourself or a worker."

    Heri thanks you for your incredible generosity. She promises you the finest dress they can make. You also get two 100' ropes for free (for whoever needs them). Heri gives them to you for free.

    Berenn thanks her for the generous gift.

    "No," she replies. "It is I who must still thank you. This farm would not even exist if not for your efforts." She then provides an excellent breakfast for you and the whole party, before you take off to return to Hommlet and they continue on their way to Verbobonc.

    "Let us be off to Verbobonc," Thorgrim says.

    Elrae continues on his journey to Verbobanc with his wife and son in tow. He carries Principe in his arms and shows him the wonders of the world. He sings lullabies to soothe the young babe and silly children's songs to amuse him and the party around him. "Soon we will reach the big city."

    His wife seems strangely silent.

    As she would be, being married to Elrae. "Don't worry honey, once we reach Verbobonc, I will buy you clothes to rival a queen. It is time for us to expand and move on up and for me to provide the best for you and their son, Principe."

    "Hrumph!" she says, pouting and turning away.

    If she knows the songs Hepla sings along quietly. In between songs she will bring him a pretty flower or rock. Isilme sings joyously and blast the horn of bubbles every once in a while, showering the party with a torrent of colorful bubbles.

    Visit to Verbobonc
    https://picasaweb.google.com/114210769103054751114/Verbobonc?authkey=Gv1sRgCP6e-KGf_dtl#5908110723079200402
    Link to the Verbobonc map. It should be zoomable.

    Berenn and Hepla fly together for a bit, but then she gets tired and returns to the party. Berenn reaches the city hours before the party. He lands in the ruins south of town, what was once the Elemental School of Magic. There he sets Ra up, while he settles down to await the party. He has a few hours. so he takes a walk around the area. The woods are thick and beautiful around the city, and their nearness stands as testimony to the relatively peaceful times. He follows a path off to the left, towards the Nigb, and then walks its banks for a time, enjoying the tranquility. He follows the Run down to where he stands opposite the strange solitary tower on the opposite bank. Even from here he can see that it is occupied and very well kept.

    He continues along, eventually reaching one of the city's corner towers. A guard atop it takes notice of him, but does nothing but wave. Berenn waves back, then turns back into the woods, walking along a small creek back towards the road. He comes to a small wooden bridge, which arches over the creek by a small cottage. A very intriguing smell wafts along the breeze towards him, and though he isn't really hungry, his stomach growls nonetheless. Walking up to the cottage, he notices the symbol carved over the doorway, a rotund female figure sitting around the world.



    It is the symbol of Beory, the Oerth Mother. Beory is the Oerth Mother, and as said above, 'is considered to be a manifestation of the Oerth itself'.

    Hepla says, "I must be out of shape( something all the guys diagree with), or maybe I'm still tired from that last adventure. I used to be able to fly much farther without a rest." She walks along the path and looks for herbs.

    Berenn will call to the cottage and announce himself, seeing if anyone is at home. You hear an old woman's voice from inside, inviting you in. Berenn enters the cottage. "Greetings gentle soul, I am Sir Berenn Silverwood Knight Commander of the Watchlands. I was taking a casual flight while waiting for my friends and smelled an interesting odor coming from your cottage."

    A very kind, gentle woman, thin but not too skinny and of relatively young age greets you. "I am Althea," she says. "Come, enjoy the blessing of the Oerth Mother."

    She pours a tea for Berenn, handing it to him as he enters. "From what I hear," she adds, "you have earned it."

    Berenn takes the tea, "Most kind Althea. I have only done what was required of me and not without the aid of others, some of which made the ultimate sacrifice to see these lands safe."

    Berenn spends a bit of time with Althea, sipping tea. She is the caretaker of the local shrine to Beory, the Oerth Mother. She tells him that the land itself breathed a sigh of relief a few days ago, as if it knew what danger was averted. "It is good that She has such protectors," she remarks. Not that anything can harm Oerth. In the long run all is temporary, even the seas and mountains. However, a flaming wasteland would certainly not appeal to many of Her children. You are but a ranger," she adds, "though I sense deeper ties to the world than in many others. "You have done your world a great deed," she finishes, "and the world never forgets."

    After finishing your tea, you bid her farewell as you return to the road. You backtrack to the ruined magic school, and there await the party, which arrives just after dark. You have a small fire burning, with a rabbit roasting on a spit.

    "Berenn, this smells wonderful. Sorry I could not keep up with you earlier but it was all for the good, Elrae entertained us with his stories. I hope you have not been bored waiting for us." She looks toward the old magic school and casts a Detect Magic at it, just in case. There's nothing there. The place has been picked over rather well. Since the problems over the years with the Temple of Elemental Evil, it has never been rebuilt and has been left to just decay.

    "I know we detected nothing but after taking care of our buisness in town it might not hurt to double check this place that nothing remains of that evil." Hepla says. After dinner she is ready to go into town and settle in their rooms. Maybe stop by the bar for a drink. She wishes also to see what the Viscount's schedule is, to see when she might see him.

    "How went your visit with the Viscount?" asks Thorgrim. He casts Create Food and Drink so that the party may have a proper dinner. He gets out his new pipe and puffs, listening to Berenn's response. As the night wears on, he stares into the fire, thinking on the horrific power of the Soul Burn he endured. "Wake me for last watch," he says, and drifts into slumber.

    Noot doesn't arrive and meet Althea. Not unless he goes on his own to the shrine of Beory. The rest of the party met Berenn at his camp in the ruins of the old magic school.

    So, anyone who wishes to enter town may do so. You are entering through the South (Low) Gate, marked H4 on the map. You pass the Blind Beholder Tavern (F6) on your right, and the sight of the crudely painted beholder with no eye draws a laugh. You also pass the Temple of Pholtus (F4), the top floor of the tower shining brightly like a beacon. Further along on the right stands the Basilica of the Four Seasons (D1), holy to the four Gods of the seasons (Atroa-spring, Sotillion-summer, Wenta-fall, and Telchur-winter). You also break out into the corner of the great plaza, where the magnificent cathedral of Trithereon stands. Just beyond it, to the right, at the corner of the Civic Center Plaza, lies the Spruce Goose (C8) and your destination.

    Noot will get a room, but he made it clear he was looking for a good alehouse. He asks around for a good pub. There is one right around the corner, between the Silver Consortium and the Academy of Farsight. It is called the College Lane, and is frequented mostly by students of the two schools. It is generally quiet. [basically it's located below C5 on the map). Otherwise, you have to go towards the Business District (where all the B buildings are!) or the East End (where all the E locations are!), across the Nigb. Most of the more...colorful places are there. The Laughing Rogue's Hostel (E1) is recommended as a fun and raucous place, as is Lester's House of Cards (D5).

    Hepla enters the town and gets her room. She asks what the room rates are, last time the rooms were free but now she is interested what they are paying. Since it is late she informs them that she and her party have some items to sell gems, magic and some masterwork items and could they again make the arrangements to help them sell them.
    She and Star put their stuff down in her rooms and she finds Emyn, and anyone else who want to take a walk and she heads to the palace to see what the court schedule is for tomorrow, unles the hotel staff happens to know that as well. She finishes her walk by going into the cathedral and enjoying its peace.

    It's after dark now, so there's not really going to be anything you can do until morning. If you have valuables, they will hold them for you at the inn. Tomorrow you can take care of all your business. Emyn is there waiting, and you can sit down to a nice meal. I don't think you can just go to the palace. Does anyone really have business with the Viscount? He's not really available just to say hi you know. Berenn saw him yesterday, and got lucky as he kind of went with Bishop Davers who had a meeting with the Viscount. Plus, Berenn is a full-fledged knight of the Viscounty now. For you guys, you don't just "pop in" on the ruler.

    [I again lost the posts, but Berenn basically was looking to get his fief enlarged, that he could better handle looking after affairs around Nulb and the old temple. He does not want to see evil return, and sees rebuilding Nulb as the first step. The Viscount promised to give him aid. Berenn was given the title of Knight Commander of the Watchlands and the Viscount's pledged to eventually visit to Warden's Station. Berenn decides to spend the evening outside the city with Ra, since he hasn't seen his griffon in almost a month and there is no place in Verbobonc which can properly stable him. He will return early in the morning to help the party go about their business.]

    Hepla takes a walk, and I'm sure Emyn will go with her. Cathedral Square is beautiful, as usual. Isilme goes along as well, and she finds that there is now a new statue of the Goddess Ellistraee there, having been moved from the Drow niche to that of the Seldarine. Isilme notes that the features are "all wrong."

    The group at the temples learns of a big fire that swept through the Harvester's Theater (A4) a few weeks ago. There was some trouble associated with it, as the fire was set on purpose to cover up a murder. A group of adventurers helped out, saving a young child from the flames, and then tracked down the killer. Turned out to be an evil cult associated with the Wicked One (Iuz). They battled in the streets just a week ago, before vanquishing their foe. The people hereabouts now call them Harvester's Heroes. [just a short plug from my OLD pbem game, not necessarily anything to follow up on! I may post the transcripts from that game one of these days.]

    Anyway, just wanted to fill you in on the news, as well as point out another of the city's features, this time the ruined theater.

    Hepla also notes that there is no shrine to the Cat-Lord. She wants to visit the High Priest, Cornelius Arx, but finds they have to wait until tomorrow.

    "Strange," Hepla mutters, "The high priest seems so open to the meny gods, they must not have heard of him, I will tell him tomorrow." She then will head back to the inn.

    Isilme would rather stay the night at the Cathedral. She can put in her official requests to see the Viscount and High Priest the next day. The priests show her to a small sleeping chamber where visiting priests sometimes sleep. There she can rest. She is also brought food and drink, if she wishes.

    ***

    Noot and Elrae:

    Elrae gets a room, and you soon hear yelling from their room, followed by a crash. Elrae slips out, and the door slams behind him as he mutters. He sees Noot, leaving for a drink, and decides to join him.

    Elrae and Noot go to the College Lane, Elrae having left his wife back in a nice room at the inn. It is a simple corner bar frequented by many students from the Academy of Farsight. It was a rather small, square establishment, with an L-shaped bar behind which a bookish looking man poured ale for a couple of youths, obviously students of the nearby academy. The bar itself was quite clean, with none of the standard muck and filth you usually associated with such places. At the corner of the bar was a small stage, elevated above the bar by a few steps, from which performers likely entertained. A handful of patrons sit calmly in the place, sipping their brews. One group in particular is a bit noisier. As they entered the doors, they could hear a lofty voice expounding on some obscure astronomical detail to the disinterested amusement of those nearby. Across the table sat a young man, quietly sipping from a mug of ale, his eyes glued on the silver necklace of a young student a few tables away. He caught a young mage's warning glance and smiled slightly before returning to his drink.

    Next to them sat another priest, a relatively tall youth whose somewhat unkempt brown hair peaked out from under an old chapeaux. That, and the holy symbol dangling from his neck, clearly marked him as a priest of St Cuthbert. The priests were having some kind of discussion about the planes of existence or some such, and it seems that the only one really interested is the priest who is speaking. The rest of his party show mild amusement.

    Elrae and Noot walk in and take a seat at an empty table, ordering ale from the young serving girl. She returns with an ale each, which Elrae downs in one gulp, before asking for another!

    Noot and Elrae return to their rooms later. You hear Elrae knock on his door, but his wife says "Go away." He ends up having to go and get another room for himself, wondering What is the deal with women?

    The folks they were drinking with were members of the Harvester's Heroes, a group of adventurers which helped to deal with the fire which burned down the Harvester's Theater. There was apparently a cult of Iuz behind a bunch of murders, and they are now relatively famous in town. The ones in the College Lane were Harlan, a priest of Celestian; Kagan, a priest of St. Cuthbert; and Floyd and Jeremey, two adventurers from Greyhawk. They spent the night talking of their adventures, and sharing a few rounds. When Elrae mentions his desire to buy an inn or something, he learns that it is quite possible that he could buy the Harvester's Theater and rebuild it.

    [DM OOC: I am trying to do a lot of this as a big city role-playing opportunity, rather than just "you exchange your gems, check in at the temple, and return to Hommlet." As such, I'm not necessarily rushing any of the action. On the other hand, if people want certain things to move along, then I will do so. Those who aren't around will, necessarily, miss out on the chance to role-play. That said, only Noot and Elrae are still out and about, having an ale at the College Lane. If it's ok with everyone, I'll move on to the next day and just fill them in on how the night went.]

    Moonday, 2rd of Reaping (CY 581)
    It was quite warm overnight, and when you wake up it is already getting hot. High will be 104; low will be 87. The skies are clear, and there is no wind at all. People are generally going to be grumpy today due to the extreme heat.

    Heplal starts the day with a bath and breakfast. Star has a small fish, if they don't serve mouse. She tips the bath maid a silver piece. The rooms here are about 10gp/night. You get many perks at that rate. Remember, this place is for visiting nobles and the VERY wealthy. Basic meals, which are very good, are included, though you can pay extra for almost anything you want. This is the "inn of all inns."

    Thorgrim desires to do some shopping for any mundane items not to be found in Hommlet. He counsels Elrae, "Elrae, I see you're experiencing some strife within your relationship with your new wife. It is the way of all intelligent creatures. Be prepared for more of this as your relationship continues. It is well and good that you be the leader of your family. Your word should always be final. But a good leader rules by consensus. Otherwise, he is just another tyrant, of which this world already has a surplus. Perhaps you should've discussed this matter with her privately, before uprooting her from her home and family?"

    Over breakfast, the party does learn a piece of world news:

    "At the end of 579 CY [we started at the middle of 580], the Horned Society banded together with the lords of the bandit realms Warfields and Wormhall. With hobgoblin and mercenary armies supported by fell creatures and even devils, the vast host swarmed the northern and central territories, bypassing strongholds and laying waste to villages and farmsteads. Thousands of Shield Landers gathered at Axeport to halt the invasion, but their line was broken and their bodies thrown as fodder to inhuman beasts. Nearly all of the Shield Lands have now fallen, except for Critwall in the west, and a strip along the Artonsmay River where the armies of Urnst stepped in and halted the invaders which had been joined by other Bandit Kingdoms' troops. The victors have carved up the Shield Lands, dividing it into chaotic holdings ruled by bandits, goblinoids, and agents of the Horned Society."

    Later, when the party is regrouped, he will discuss with them our next course of action.

    "This news of resurgent humanoids ravaging human lands is very disturbing," he will say, "as is this cult of Tharizdun and other things Tenser told us of. I do not think we should involve ourselves in millitary affairs of state, even though it affects all of us. Perhaps we can help a bit, in our own way, when the time comes."

    "Remember," says Hepla, "Tenser told us to keep the T stuff to ourselves. You're NOT supposed to use his name. That's why he has so many crazy epithets!"

    Thorgrim also gets more details about the Shield Lands, which he recalls is where Urgal and the Deldukr were heading.

    [Though many Knights of the Shield remained in Critwall, hundreds more spread to the good countries of the Flanaess, pleading with their leaders to send armies and aid to their fallen land. The gruff arrogance of the Shield Lands nobles had caused deeper rifts than anyone had imagined, however, and despite faint agreements that something must be done, little has come of the recruiting effort. The Shield Lander fleet rules the sea around Admundfort, and has been able to keep Critwall supplied. The Knights of Holy Shielding have been traveling the various lands from Veluna to Urnst, seeking to raise an army to reconquer their country. Only Furyondy has openly responded with enthusiasm, but the Lord Commander has rejected Furyondyian help, fearing that to let Furyondians into the Shield Lands would ultimate lead to their loss of independence. Thus, they struggle on, alone.]

    Berenn finds the party early in the morning and greets them before going about his errands. He has a possible compromise for Elrae with the rebuilding of Nulb. He could build an inn there which would be closer to Hommlet which might make his bride more agreeable is the long distance move is part of the problem. After making this suggestion, Berenn looks for a taxidermist for the chimera and looks for labor (woodcutters, engineers, carpenters, masons, etc.) and men-at-arms for Warden's Station and Nulb. He also looks into some fine food and drink since he will be having a very important guest in the near future.

    Isilme checks with Betham the sage on the spider-silk armor question, but he has found nothing useful there. "If the dark elves indeed create such things," he tells her, "they keep the secret very carefully." Since he's been paid in advance, he promises to keep searching for more information. His shop is also a rare book store. He caters mostly to the Consortium, Academy, or the very rich and nobles. Nobody else could really afford books. He will buy pretty much most of the books the party has found, the non-magical ones.

    [DMO OOC: I'll have to roll up random values for them, so make a list if you want to get rid of some. You'll get an EXP bonus too! I ended up just using the old gem table from the 1st ed DMG.]

    Isilme also asks Betham to help her research something while she is here (for a fee of course). She asks him to bring out some maps, and points out the area on the map
    Markessa was pointing to. He has already researched those "rain of colorless fire" coins for us, and since she got them from Markessa, asks if this could be related?

    He can answer that right away. "Yes," he says, "they are related. The coins were definitely of ancient Suel make, though they seemed untarnished by age which is strange. There is also a story about a lost Suel city in the Suss Forest."

    Bentham pulls out some other books, including a huge atlas about 2' by 3'. In it he finds a map which matches the geographic area which Isilme saw. Although the details are different, she is able to come up with a pretty good idea where this city was.



    As you can see, it's located inside the dangerous Suss Forest, about 100 miles north of Thunderstrike and maybe 50 miles into the forest. It seems to be in a generally swampy area. He doesn't know anything about that area. All he has is the map. The arrow points to where Isilme indicated the city was located.

    Further, Bentham will give you what he knows of the Lost City of the Suss:

    " Lost City of the Suloise

    Tales and legends gather thickly beneath the eves of the Suss Forest. Reaching north from the Drachensgrab Hills of the Pomarj, this much feared woodland has long defined the marches of the Wild Coast and the olven realm of Celene. Of all the stories told of the Suss around the fires and hearths of the Flanaess, none so captures the imagination as that of the Lost City of the Suloise.

    Somewhere deep within the forest, so the tale goes, stand the ruins of a marvelous city built by the Suloise after they fled the destruction of their homeland in the Rain of Colourless Fire. In that place, the exiled Suel sought to recreate the glory of the fallen imperium. From the funeral pyre of their empire, they carried many artifacts of wondrous power and hordes of gemstones so numerous that they were heaped in mounds. The city’s splendor was such that even the Celeni olve were said to have marveled and wondered aloud whether gods or men had wrought such works.

    Then, just when the city’s might seemed unequalled, all tidings of it cease in the chronicles of man, olve and dwur. It was as though the very forest itself had come alive and swallowed it whole. Some say that the inhabitants had carried in their hearts the evil that had laid their empire low and that it consumed them and their great city as it had their homeland. Others whisper that the olve and dwur, jealous of the works of the Suel, fell upon the city and slew all within, carrying off its treasures to adorn their high palaces and deep halls. Whatever the truth, so complete was the city’s doom that not even its name is now remembered.

    Tales of the Lost City have long fired the imagination of adventurers from across the Flanaess. However, though many have sought their fortune there, they have more often found their death. The fell reputation of the Suss is well earned. The forest is home to hordes of orcs, goblinkin, gnolls and kobolds, but even these savage creatures tread wearily in the Suss for more fearsome predators lurk in its thorn-choked tangles and noisome bogs. Ettercaps, susserus, gibberings and kech abound. Hangman trees, huge assassin vines, and other feral plants lie in wait for the unwary. The very trees of the forest, huge and blackened with age, seem to radiate malice towards any who dare to trespass beneath their boughs."

    Finally, he shares what he found out about the coins:

    "I had no idea the Empire was so different from our own modern culture.," he begins. "I have uncovered a currency conversion chart in a tome I borrowed from the Bankers Guild."

    He leafs through some scrolls, before rolling one out. "Here it is. 1/5 mithril ember = 1 platinum ingot = 2 gold wheels = 20 silver rods = 100 amber chips = 200 perfume orbs."

    He pushed the chart over to Isilme, as he continued. "The chart made little sense to me, because I did not understand the context. Further reading has revealed currency descriptions for the Suel Empire, at least in the latter years. The following coins were commonly referenced as embers, ingots, wheels, rods, chips and orbs."

    He takes another scroll, and reads what he wrote. "Mithril Embers" were flat irregular coins, consisting of mithril metal and the reddish mineral cinnabar. The resulting appearance gave the coin a "hot coal" look, hence the name mithril "embers". The metals used to make these coins were mined by the Baklarran dwarves of what was then known as the Suel Halt mountains. The dwarves sold the Empire the mithril primarily due to the natural cinnabar taint. Because of the cinnabar infusion, the metal was unusable in weapons or other magical items. However, there was no more beautiful coin than the mithril ember. Markings on one side showed a griffon flying over the capital city Suendrako, the emperor's name, and the year of minting. The reverse of the coin had the flaming skull symbol of the god Wee Jas. This coin was usually preferred by aristocrats, mages, and dwarves."

    "Now, here's the interesting part," he adds. "Platinum Ingots were thick flat rectangular rounded edged blocks of pure platinum, roughly equal to the size of 5 pp today. On one side was imprinted the year of minting beneath the Temple of the Magi. The reverse was engraved with an inverted ziggurat that had a barely distinct mauve glean to it. Platinum ingots were usually preferred by priests."

    He looks up at you. "Now, there's the key. While the round coins you have found are not exactly the same, they yet have the exact same features, including the inverted ziggurat on the reverse, whatever that means. Still, other than being round, they are clearly of late Suloise make. Since you said you found them, nearly brand new, in the northern Pomarj, it stands to reason that the legends are, indeed, true."

    Isilme only remembers one small tidbit of info from her own history. An old tale of the Ancient Flan wizard, Galap-Dreidel. In one source that she remembers from her earliest studies, the dark elves believed that he found his famed Soul Gem in a lost city in the Suss Forest.

    Isilme thanks Betham, asking if he can make a copy of that map. He says yes, and she will get it before she leaves Verbobonc. Isilme will stop by the Guild of Carpenters, and the Guild of Stonemasons. She tells them of her plans to build a small temple compound in Hommlet and asks for their assistance or some direction in getting the project done, along with hiring the appropriate amount of men and skilled laborers (to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time.) Perhaps pay a few extra coin to send out criers to announce the available jobs? I am sure they know their business.

    The Guild of Architects, Masons, and Carpenters is across the street from Betham's. This large building is finely crafted from stone (as one would expect). Inside, you find a handful of humans, gnomes, and dwarves, all going about the everyday business of running all the building work in the city. When you explain what you are looking for, they get quite excited about the prospect. Certainly, they will do what they can, for a fee of course. Plus, you have to agree that all building will be done without the benefit of magical aid. Currently, the guild is in a high profile, protest with the city hall. They are seeking to ban spell use in construction throughout the viscounty. Heavy use of spells has drastically reduced the demand for this guild (especially for ornamental works by the churches of the city which were done with Stone Shape, rather than skilled labor).

    "Fear not good guildmasters," says Isilme. "I wanted no magic used in the construction, so we are in perfect agreement. Make the arrangements for my modest temple complex to be built and get the monthly price for the labor and we can get things started! This project is dear to my heart, and I must not delay."

    Isilme remembering that Berenn was talking about hiring men to rebuild Nulb, will mention this to the guild as well since she figures he is busy looking for men at arms.

    In fact, Berenn spendt the morning visiting the various inns and taverns. He found the Packard's Trough [B16], a notorious dive that caters to soldiers, and talks to the barkeep there. He passed a few coin, and got a sign posted looking for a few good men. While in the area, he marveled at the new Church of St. Cuthbert being built right in the heart of the Business District. He then continued on to Jala's Armoury and Weaponsmithy, doing the same thing again. Jala, a short man who has grown very podgy since he left the mercenary business, can be seen running around his shop, checking in on every process in his busines. He is impressed with Berenn, and offers to pay top-dollar for any weapons he may wish to sell. [He can share this info with the party]

    He next heads back to the Guildhouse, where he runs into Isilme coming out. She takes him back inside, introducing him to the guildmen. When he informs them of the coming work in Nulb, they are very impressed. They knew that there was a new castle being built in Hommlet at the bequest of the Viscount, but they had no idea of the scale of work being done in the region. They will do their utmost to get the word out.

    They walk out together, having both completed most of their errands for the morning. Isilme then heads off to the Cathedral for his meeting with High Priest Arx. Berenn heads for the Guild of Adventurers. He makes inquires at the guild and introduces himself as Sir Silverwood Knight Commander of the Watchlands. He is looking for men willing to join his garrison and protect the Watchlands.

    ***

    Meanwhile the rest of the party has a fine meal downstairs, and you hear frolicking sounds from the back. You go over to the windows and look out into the courtyard, and there you see a remarkable sight. In the centre of the court, there is a large swimming pool. It is magically heated all year round, but cooled now on account of the heat wave. Great, carved pillars surround it, and servants can be seen bringing towels and beverages to guests who relax at pool-side.

    You make a note to return and take a swim later, as the heat is already getting to you. After finishing breakfast, you head next door to the Banker's Guild. This location is home to the city’s bankers, moneylenders, etc. Although there is no ‘official’ bank in the city, there are many locations that will provide those services , like the Temple of Zilchus. The entire first floor is filled with tables of moneylenders shouting and arguing over rates. Other areas in the guild are strictly off limits to non-guild members (large, armoured guards are found throughout the building).

    You are approached by a young gnome who notices you three (Thorgrim, Hepla, and Emyn) [Noot and Elrae are still asleep!] standing there looking out of place. He talks really fast, in that somewhat annoying gnomish way. "Soz," he says quickly, "youz looks ta be outta places herebouts, eh? What izit I cn help youz withs?" He sticks out a stubby arm, "Namez Mibert Wicketoggle."

    Hepla, closest to his size, shakes his hand, making sure she has not losr any rings in the process. "We were here a little while ago and are looking for the fellow with whon we did buiseness before. Thank you for offering help. You are most kind." She looks for those who helped them before. I don't think we got any name.

    "Hard sayin not knowin," he replies with a smile. "Youz looks outta place herez," he adds. "What izit Mibert can do fer yaz?"

    Hepla, wishing Noot and his fast talking ability was present says, "First we want to look around to see if we recogniise anyone, if not we will be looking for a gem merchant."

    "Gemz you sayz?" he asks. "Why didn't youz sayz so. I can helpz youz." He waves to back door, indicating for you to head there. Two guards stands outside the doorway, armed in full plate mail and with long swords, and they look like they know how to use them. "Come," says Mibert. "We do private buzinez back here."

    [DM OOC: Incidentally, this is exactly where you went last time. Beyond the doorway are a series of private rooms where you may conduct business away from the crazy hubbub of the trading floo