Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff

Yellow Musk
Session 214

The heroes regroup back at the ruined foundry, where Halmary unpacks mundane weapons and armour from his bag of holding and distributes them to the rescued explorers (a couple of scholars, a guide, and mercenaries). They are looking for a lost city, but after losing much of their equipment and several men, have decided to return to the port they came from so that they can resupply and hire more men. The heroes suggest that they all go together, but only after they’ve checked out the ruined temple Calibos was almost sacrificed in, and the shipwreck they passed while rescuing him. The explorers agree, and tag along.

They head to the temple, leaving Eshan to guard the explorers, while the rest levitate down and explore the catacombs below. The offerings left for the abomination are looted (coins, gems, various trade goods, some potions and possible magic items), then the catacombs raided: most caskets are already open and empty, but they find one sealed with the bones of a child inside with a crushed skull, and a horn carved with symbols of wind; Halmary pockets that. Two sarcophagi are looted of the diamonds resting in the skeleton’s eye socket, but there’s no danger and it is uneventful.

Back to the shipwreck, which seems to be an odd ship, buried nose-first in the earth, too big for the small river that runs by it. They explore the upper deck, finding little of interest (water-damaged charts, a journal, and a brass telescope), a stone chair with a skeleton of a hippo-man sat in it, with vines and yellow flowers sprouting from its ribcage. Sindi and Calibos descend into the hold, where ripped cargo webbing hides crates and other goods. Flowering vines curl around the interior, and as the two begin to fan out, and Halmary and the others get ready to join them, Sindi spots a zombie (also with vines and yellows flowers sprouting from its body) lurking behind a crate. It rears up to attack an unsuspecting Calibos, but is speared by Sindi and cut down.

Then things get interesting as one of the flowers sprays a cloud of pollen in the air, the spores entrancing Sindi but having no effect on Calibos. Sindi heads straight to the aft of the hold, where a think plant writhes and latches onto Sindi’s head with brain-sucking tendrils. Another zombie and a skeleton head into the hold, straight for Calibos. Ungrid, then Halmary, followed by Xellos after a few rounds, all come down to join them. Calibos charges past the flowery dead and goes straight for the plant, hacking it into pieces and freeing Sindi before any harm comes to her. Ungrid takes care of the other zombie, crushing it under his heel. Halmary tires and fails to turn them, since it appears that are not undead. He is about to use a ring of plant control, but Xellos cuts down the skeleton and then turns when he hears Eshan (on deck with the explorers) cry out as the hippo-man skeleton from above shambles down; this skeleton is smashed by Xellos’ axe.

They shred the plants, loot what little there is left in the hold, and retreat from the shipwreck. They discuss what to do next, and agree to head to the port in the morning. Halmary brings out a treasure map he found, and the explorers help him determine that there is a ruin of some sort a few days out from the port, and may provide a side-trek while they wait for a ship home to book passage on.

Camp is struck and everyone settles in for a night in the jungle.

End of Session

Kills: 2 Yellow Musk Zombies, 2 Yellow Musk Skeletons, 1 Yellow Musk Creeper.

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Naked Calibos
Session 213

With the loss of his most powerful weapons and armour, Ungrid levitates into the air out of reach of the metal-eating beasts.

Meanwhile, the battle continues around him, while the lizardman carrying Calibos runs off into the jungle.

Halmary takes out the lizardfolk shaman with a hefty whack to the head, then backs off as more rust monsters come towards him. He finds himself cornered and the king of the rust monsters looms over him; but before it has a chance to do anything, Xellos fires off a ray of paralysis, freezing the big beast in place. Halmary tries to escape the smaller monsters by climbing on the king’s back, but something about its hide doesn’t like metal either, and Halmary’s armour starts to rust; he jumps off before it is damaged, but is then trapped against the wall by three of the rust monsters are eagerly try to eat his plate armour.

Xellos joins Sindi and Ungrid in the air as he too downs a potion and levitates up. Eshan, down below, finds himself losing weapons quickly as a rust monster takes a shine to him and he is soon defenceless. Those explorers inside manage to break out, and join the fight outside, but they too are missing their weapons and armour and starts grabbing the stone and wooden implements from the dead lizardfolk.

Speaking of the lizardfolk, those left, fanatically fighting on despite their losses, savagely tear into the explorers, killing a couple before Xellos (by magic missile) and Ungrid (with a dagger, after dropping back down to the ground) end their lives. The final champion almost survives as a prisoner, after Xellos commands him to freeze, but Ungrid just slits his throat.

That leaves just the rust monsters. Sindi lobs down the grenade from a while back, creating a devastating explosion that blasts half-a-dozen of the monsters to pieces; Xellos takes a couple more out with a lightning bolt, freeing Halmary and allowing him too withdraw. Sindi kills another with a well-placed arrow, and the last two scurry off, finally driven away. Halmary then goes back in and bludgeons the rust monster king to death with his staff.

While Halmary deals with the king, and Ungrid gathers the surviving explorers and Eshan together outside the foundry, Sindi and Xellos hurry after Calibos. They quickly find a trail and hack their way through the jungle, passing a ship wrecked on the bank of a small river (but Xellos’ sword of locate person doesn’t detect Calibos, so they leave it alone for now) and soon coming across all of Calibo’s items, including his clothes, thrown on the ground. They make a note of where to find it, and hurry on. Before too long they come to a clearing, where a ruined temple stands. From inside they hear chanting.

Sindi and Xellos approach, both invisible, and Xellos’ sword detects Calibos inside and down. The temple has a pit inside, and the lizardman that carted away their friend is kneeling down, praying, chanting, intent on whatever is in the pit. Sindi tries to barge the chanting lizardman into the pit, but slips on some leaves and instead collides with a pillar. The lizardman spins round, spots the now visible explorer and claws her across the chest. Xellos comes up behind him, and decapitates the lizardman.

Below, the pit has two arches leading off. A trail of slime leads into one. They both levitate down and follow the slime into a cavern, where they spot an abomination of undulating flesh wrapped around a naked Calibos, many mouths latched on and beginning to tear at his flesh. Quickly hasted, Sindi and Xellos charge in, stabbing and hacking away at the creature, killing it and saving Calibos from being eaten. They leave the cave and lots of loot for now, grabbing Calibos and make their way back to the foundry, collecting Calibos’ belongings on the way back.

When everyone is back together, they introduce themselves to the explorers they rescued; an expedition looking for a lost city, and who know think it better to return to port to resupply and hire new men, having lost much on their journey so far. The heroes then open up their bags if holding and bring out various magic weapons and armour to replace the ones they lost, rearming and quickly back to their unstoppable selves.

End of Session

Kills: 1 lizardfolk shaman, 1 lizardfolk champion, 2 lizardfolk warriors, 1 rust monster king, 10 rust monsters, 1 abomination.

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Ashes to Ashes, Rust to Rust
Session 212

As the rest of the party stand at the bottom of the shaft, Sindi grabs a light and flies up and up and up, half-a-mile straight. Two hundred feet from the top, where a glimmer of daylight filters through, a mass of cobwebs block the passage. She spots a spider lurking in the cracks of the shaft’s wall. Then she heads back down, levitating all the way to the bottom, taking a couple of hours to rejoin the others. The others stay put, resting their weary feet, tending to their weapons and armour, as Sindi levitates up again, and burns through the webs and the spider with a crackling lightning bolt; two more spiders scurry out of a cave, but she just spears them and sends them plummeting to their doom.

Down below, Eshan is covered in spider gore as the two bodies splat next to him.

They rest for the day, then using a mixture of diminution and levitation potions, boots and fly, they ascend the shaft and come out in a cave that overlooks a steamy jungle. From their vantage point they can see a river winding through the nearby trees, and a clearing with some wooden structure. A trail of smoke wafts up from the building. They head towards it, hacking their way through the jungle undergrowth until they suddenly come out right in front of the building; inside, there are snarls and hisses, voices raised in concern, and looking through the gapes in the walls, the heroes see a group of explorers trapped between savage lizardfolk and a dozen or so Rust Monsters!

Sindi wastes no time coming to their aid, stepping inside what appears to be an old iron foundry, and lightning bolting three of the lizardfolk, grabbing everyone’s attention and enraging the dead creatures allies!

Ungrid hurls Grontdreng through the opening in the wall, crushing the skull of a lizardman, and Calibos charges past him, leaping over the obstacles in his way, and decapitates another. Those inside shout, and from the surrounding jungle more lizardfolk emerge; and several drop down dead as Xellos unleashes a death spell. Even that doesn’t stop them, as they snarl and shout, raise their spears and axes high, and attack!

Meanwhile, the Rust Monsters sense fresh new metal to eat. Several attack the trapped explorers, destroying weapons and armour; the others move towards the heavily equipped party. Halmary suffers the first loss as he whacks one of the armoured beasts, but is aghast as his magical mace Crusher is turned to rust before his eyes. Ungrid turns to face the newly arrived lizardfolk, taking down another and catching a champion with the return of his hammer. Sindii finds herself momentarily surrounded, but then Eshan proves himself capable in a fight and backstabs one of the lizardmen, freeing Sindi from being trapped. Xellos lets loose with a flurry of his fiery magic missiles, taking out another champion and wounding the Rust Monster facing off against Halmary.

Ungrid finds himself facing a Rust Monster, and grabs Mountain Sledge to use instead of his favourite weapon. He smashes the armoured hide of the monster, but does not kill it. Worse, the warhammer’s metal parts rust away and the magical weapon crumbles. The monster retaliates, its antenna slapping against the dwarf’s plate armour, turning it to rust as well!

Calibos finds himself in a similar situation, his armour disintegrating as he finds a Rust Monster rearing up behind him. As his armour turns to red and falls apart, the shaman lizardman casts a spell, and Calibos is held! One of the shaman’s allies grab hold of the former paladin and heaves him over its shoulder; it starts to make its way out of the foundry. The shaman tries to follow, but is blocked by Halmary, who was freed from fighting his Rust Monster after Xellos slew it with another burst of magic missiles.

Sindi levitates herself up out of reach of both Rust Monsters and Lizardfolk, pulling her bow free and taking aim at one of the Rust Monsters. She sticks it with a magic arrow, right between its beady eyes, killing it outright.

Ungrid and Xellos engage the reinforcement lizardmen, and a couple of Rust Monsters. It seems to be going well, with the lizardmen staggering under their blows. Then things take a turn for the worse, as the Rust Monster leaps at Ungrid, grabs hold of Grontdrengi and eats it!

End of Session

Kills: 3 giant black widow spiders, 17 lizardfolk, 2 rust monsters.

Losses: two sets of magical plate armour, Mountain Sledge warhammer, and the mighty Grontdrengi.

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Doom Bats
Session 211

With the deafening shriek of unseen beasts, the heroes venture into the cave, stepping cautiously on the bridge, after Halmary throws some light into the cavern and Xellos tries (and fails) to coax out whatever is making the noise with some illusions. Nothing happens until Halmary reaches the first landing of the bridge: then, from caves dotting the wall, giant bats fly out and move in to attack!

Sindi unleashes a_ lightning bolt_ that wounds a couple and Calibos blesses everyone, except Halmary who is out of range. Halmary creates a zone of silence, which has the effect of disorientating any bats that pass through the area, and everyone else finds themselves ducking and lashing out as the bats fly through them, biting and slapping with their tails, trying to dislodge the heroes from their perch on the bridge. The first giant bat is knocked out of the air by Ungrid, killing it instantly as grontdrengi smashes its skull. Sindi takes out another, flying into it with her spear leading; the others slash and hack as the bats fly overhead. Eshan defends himself, but is knocked off the bridge; but he thankfully falls only ten feet to the cavern floor, missing the chasm. He quickly turns invisible and stays out of the way.

Meanwhile, another pair of bats manage to knock Ungrid off balance, and the dwarf totters on the edge of the bridge… then plummets off into the chasm!

Xellos fireballs several bats, incinerating one, burning others. Halmary does something similar after slinging stones at them, and flame strikes some bats. More bats fall to sword and axe, albeit slowly.

Meanwhile, Ungrid saves himself by activating his boots of levitation before he hits the floor, and Sindi flies down to help as several bats dive at them; together they finish off a few bats.

Soon the bats are all dead, and Ungrid is hauled back up to the bridge. They cross the ancient bridge, back into the tunnel on the opposite side and from there spend a further four days travelling along. The days and nights are uneventful until the penultimate day, when they pass through a damp section of the tunnel, with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Some of these drop when they pass under, wounding some of three of the party. The piercers turn out to be useless after they’ve dropped and are swiftly dispatched.

Then, on the final day, they read the end of the tunnel, where a shaft ascends up and up and up…

End of Session

Kills: 12 doom bats; a colony of piercers.

  1. days in tunnel:* 20.
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Webbed Cavern
Session 210

The Heroes camp down in the crumbling tunnel on the night of their 11th day underground. During the night they are attacked by Cave Morays that squirm out of the cracks and fissures, managing to bite a few of the unarmoured and sleeping before the adventurers (even Eshan) manage to dice them. They move camp further down the tunnel, then set camp again and the rest of the night passes without incident.

They travel for another two days, truding through the perfectly straight tunnel, and come to another cavern: this one is a large chams, the tunnel continuing on the other side. Thick cobwebs span the chasm, anchored to the walls and boulders partially blocking the entry. Sindi takes flight using her Feather spear carrying the magical glowing warhammer of Halmary’s. She spots a cave high on the wall, and spots a large spider climbing out. Before she has a chance to warn the others, that spider spots Halmary and scuttles forward, letting loose a stream of webs that completely engulf the cleric, trapping him!

Another two of the spiders scuttle out, all moving down onto the webs spanning the chasm, and as the adventurers move forward, both Calibos and Ungrid are both webbed too!

Xellos manages to duck down as another spray of sticky webs heads his way, and then he retaliates with a_ lightning bolt_ that badly burns two of the spiders; Sindi follows with a blast from her shield, her lightning bolt further wounding them. Then Sindi too is webbed, leaving only Xellos and Eshan untouched. Calibos, with his girdle of giant strength starts tearing free, while Eshan starts to cut away at Ungrid’s webs. Meanwhile, Xellos finishes off the two wounded spiders with a flurry of fiery magic missiles, sending them spiralling into the chasm below. He injures the last spider with more magic missiles, and as it scurries closer, Calibos breaks free and takes a swipe at the spider as it enters his reach; the spider is cut in twain and falls twitching to the ground.

After freeing the others from the webs, Sindi, Ungrid and Calibos (using Boots and a Potion of Levitation) explore the cave the spiders crawled out of, finding plenty of loot that they collect and stow away in their bags of holding_. Sindi then uses the remaining time of her fly to ship the others all upto the cave. From there, Xellos uses a fl_oating disc and borrowed boots of levitation and ferries everyone across to the other side, where they re-enter the tunnel, camping there before they head off the following day.

After a brief encounter with another tunnel worm (that barely raised its head before Sindi and Ungrid smashed it to pulp), another couple of days travel finds them arriving at yet another cavern, with a chasm falling away before the cave opens up. Old, crumbling stairs arch over the chasm, then rise up on supporting columns to the tunnel opposite, high above the cave floor.

Sindi takes flight and enters the cave, and no sooner has she done so, then a yipping, shriekinghigh-pitched chorus ecohes around the cave, grating on nerves and almost deafening the party.

End of Session

Kills: 12 moray eels, 3 arane, 1 tunnel worm.

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Toll
Session 209

After leaving behind the slug-inhabited cavern, the intrepid adventurers continue trekking down the tunnel. The tunnel now shows signs of erosion, possibly an earthquake, with fissures breaking up the otherwise even walls and ceiling, cracks crisscrossing the floor, rocks partially blocking the passage from where the ceiling caved-in. After a day travelling, as ‘night’ comes, and the party decide to stop to rest and sleep, Sindi and Calibos (scouting ahead) spot a group of four blue-skinned, white-haired dwarf-like creatures approaching in the dark. Before they have a chance to warn the others, these creatures fire bolts at the people they can see: these bolts harmlessly ping off armour and magical protection, and Calibos then just wades in and in a dance of death, decapitates the whole lot. They loot the bodies, but the only items of interest are the pair of small repeating crossbows they carried.

The rest of their rest goes without incident, as do the next three and a half days; and then they arrive at another break in the tunnel, this time a wall with a gate and a tower blocking the way.

As they approach, a voice in an unknown language calls out to them. Halmary prays to understand their tongues and translates as Calibos parleys. The creatures (derro, they later learn) demand a toll for passage through their gate: they want gemstones or magic and get increasingly greedy during the negotiations. While they talk, Sindi, invisible, uses her boots of levitation to scale the wall and investigate the other side. In the dim light cast by Halmary’s glowing warhammer, she spots a few derro, doors into the tower, the tunnel beyond and a more natural side-tunnel leading off. Sidni then creeps up to one of the gates and pulls the bolt free.

At that moment, Ungrid gets bored and decide to put an end to the negotiations by hurling grontdrengi at one of the derro on the wall: the hammer knocks the short blue-skinned dwarf off the wall, crushing his ribs, killing him instantly. Battle is quickly joined. Sindi opens the other gate, the others race through, one of the derro opens a door and releases a Chaos Hulk: a constantly shifting mass of limbs, eyes and legs. Derro attack, and are slaughtered; one flees down the side-tunnel shouting for aid and reinforcements. Halmary deals with the hulk with a well-timed finger of death, eliminating it before it has a chance to do any damage. Sindi heads up the side-tunnel, blindly firing off a lightning bolt down it, managing to kill some more derro; Calibos heads down there too, into a cave of huts; he kills a derro, then a savant releases a cloud kill, but before it reaches them, the part decide it’s not worth the effort (nor ethical) to slaughter an entire colony of derro. They withdraw, and the derro, in their wisdom, decide to let them go, since it is obvious that they are outmatched.

The adventurers continue down the passage for a another couple of hours until they are sure there is no one following them, then settle down to sleep. During their camp, a giant worm burrows out of the rock, but barely manages to bite something when Sindi and Ungrid chop it in two. They move camp, and in the ‘morning’ once again continue their long journey through the tunnel…

End of Session

Kills: 11 derro, 1 chaos hulk, 1 tunnel worm.

Time Spent in Tunnel: 13 days.

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Leaving the Vault
Session 208

As the Heroes tend to their wounds, Xellos uses Alter Self together with a ritual scroll of Permanency to appear as a living, whole person, thus enabling him to use both legs. He then summons a hero (via a spell), and a worn and tired soldier called Reuben appears. He’s not too happy to go exploring ahead of Xellos, who turns himself Invisible to follow, but has no choice but to obey. They don’t go far, just exploring the immediate area looking for the creature that attacked them. They find nothing, but are too wary to explore through the doors yet unopened. Instead they return to the tunnel, setting up camp after wizard locking and magic mouthing the door. Reuben stands guard together with Wulsted and Xellos, and Eshan keeps an eye on the tunnel. The others settle down to sleep.

Not long after, but long enough for the summoned hero to return whence he came, Wulsted cries out in alarm as the creature returns to attack (using Passwall to bypass the door): the barbarian takes the full force of a pair of cone of cold blasts, freezing him solid. Xellos wakes the others, tries to attack the creature, but it turns its hideous alien face on him and he finds himself paralysed.

Then the battle is won when Sindi steps up and lets loose with a_ lightning bolt_ from her shield; it ricochets down the passage, blasting Wulstead into tiny pieces, shocking Xellos out of his paralysis, and finishing off the creature in one final blow.

Wulsted is dead. They mourn his death, briefly, and now they are down to one ex-prisoner, Eshan. The others are all dead now.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully, and in the morning, rested and mostly fully healed, they begin trekking down the tunnel. It gradually descends for a mile before widening into a 20’ wide, 25’ high arched tunnel that looks natural but is obviously not. They travel down the monotonous tunnel for two days, then come to a cavern where water has eroded the bedrock. The tunnel continues on the other side, and there are signs of a cave-in, the other entry partially blocked by debris. Sindi scouts ahead invisible and finds a pair of giant slugs inhabiting the cavern. Thankfully the slugs are not particularly interested in the party, so they make their way through the cavern, Sindi flying them over the river that runs through it and up to the ledge where the tunnel continues

They squeeze through the blockage and carry on down the tunnel…

End of Session

Kills: 1 Khepri Hierarch.

KO’d: Wulsted, now well and truly dead.

Levelled-Up: Halmary is now level 11.

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Lighting, Fire and Ice
Session 207

They drag the dead creature inside, and dump it in the pit along with the remains of the golems– after looting it first, naturally. They set new guards and once more settle down to sleep… and the hours pass by without event, and in the morning everyone feels refreshed; except Halmary, who (although ready to adventure again) suffered from his usual nightmares and is too drained to pray and prepare his spells for the day.

After breaking camp they head back to the vault, Calibos pushing the door open to reveal a pair of the beetle-headed humanoids and yet another obsidian golem: the adventurers charge in, destroying the golem with ease, Calibos hitting it with enough force to send cracks splintering through its body, allowing Xellos to step up and shatter it with a swing of his axe. The undead Ruin guard then finds himself in combat with one of the humanoids, and gets struck by a Staff of Withering, that withers Xellos’ right leg, turning it to dust. He falls to the floor, but manages to hold himself together enough to blast it with a flurry of magic missiles, allowing Sindi to step in and run it through with her spear.

The other beetle-headed creature wields its own staff, blasting the party with a cone of cold before it escapes by means of a dimension door. The party regroup in the vault, quickly tend to what wounds they can, loot the body of the slain creature, and watch Ungrid as he begins to fight an imaginary fiend; whatever mental attack he suffered soon wears off, and he is no worse off for it. They set guards at the entry door, and Calibos checks out the other door in the room: this one explodes with fire as he tries to open it, but Halmary is able to lay on hands to ease the pain. Beyond that door lies a tunnel, heading directly east, and they decide to head down it, since it is what they were looking for and hoping to find.

They haven’t gone far, just barely started, when the from behind them the escaped creature returns, this time flying, and reveals its inhuman face to paralyse Calibos, Wulsted and Ungrid. It follows that with a cone of cold that causes some damage. Xellos quickly throws up a Ward vs Magic, and lobs his cube of frost by the paralysed party members to protect them. They drag Wulsted and Ungrid into the ward, but before they can help Calibos, and as Sindi flies in and charges the creature, it sends a_ lightning bolt_ down the corridor; thankfully, the ward protects most of the party, but Sindi and Calibos are shocked and both collapse, twitching. Halmary grabs Calibos and drags him to safety, but Sindi is too far away to help. Ungrid scares off the creature by hurling grontdrengi at it, crushing one of its mandibles in the process. The creature flees.

They check on their fallen comrades: Calibos is merely unconscious, and with a rest should be fine; same for Sindi, although she has burns to go with the scars she already possesses. They huddle together under the protection of the_ Anti-Magic Ward_ and try to figure out their next move.

End of Session

Kills: 1 obsidian golem, 1 Khepri.

KO’d: Calibos (merely knocked out), Sindi (in shock, needs a night’s rest).

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The Gods that Bleed
Session 206

…and quickly retreating along with the others, Ungrid covering their retreat by hurling his mighty hammer and splintering one of the obsidian statues. The form their shield wall in the doorway, are hasted by Xellos and Ungrid and Calibos stand in the doorway, taking on the statues as they mindlessly advance one-by-one. In the hopes of making the battle go easier, Sindi unleashes her daily lightning bolt, but that proves unwise as the bolt is reflected back, shocking the entire party. This seems to invigorate the fighters though, and with the added punch of Halmary’s striking on Calibos’ hammer, the two frontline dwarfs managed to shatter the first statue. A second quickly follows, and even botched magic missiles from Xellos (also reflected back, injuring the undead Ruinguard) don’t hinder the fighters; a third, then the fourth fall under the two hammers and Sindi’s jabbing spear. And with only one statue left, the trio charge it, and smash it, Sindi’s final piercing stab sending obsidian fragments flying everywhere.

Wounds are tended to as the dust settles, then off exploring the party goes. There are more doors, each bearing the carved likeness of a scarab beetle. Calibos tries one, gets electrocuted by a glyph of warding (which he just shrugs off), and peers into a strange room with panels of crystals, a curved glass wall, another door, and yet another statue as yet unmoving. When the statue remains still, they creep in, see a corridor the ends in several alcoves, each holding what looks like a giant metallic scarab beetle, and decide to backtrack before anything happens.

They head back to the entry hall, and through the doorway where the long, long tunnel stretches off into darkness beyond an archway. Sindi goes first, invisible and scouting, and as soon as she passes through the archway, the floor opens beneath her and she plummets into a pit, too surprised to activate her boots of levitation; at the same time, the long, long tunnel is reveal to be an illusion, and a dead end lies on the other side of the pit; at the same time, two lengths of the walls are also revealed to be illusions hiding alcoves full of scarab beetles, which swarm out!

Xellos, reacting swiftly, destroys a swarm immediately with burning hands, but the other one engulfs Calibos and Halmary, the beetles crawling under their armour. They start to rend and eat their flesh! The others try their best to help, but their weapons only kill a few at a time, and each swing and jab also wounds their allies: by the time the swarm is destroyed, Halmary is lying on the floor, fate unknown, and Calibos is suffering badly. Thankfully for the former paladin, his ring of regeneration begins to heal his wounds, but Halmary is unconscious. Luckily, timely intervention with potions of extra-healing reveal that he is merely in shock, and after a night’s rest he’ll be fine. Phew.

They make camp, setting guards, in the entry hall. They shut the doors, and settle down to rest. A couple of hours later, Sindi– on guard with her back against the door– is knocked out of the way as the door is forced open, revealing two more of the obsidian statues, and something else: an obsidian-skinned humanoid, tall, dressed in ancient clothes, and in place of its head is what looks to be a scarab beetle! The new creature shimmers and is difficult to make out. It tries to grip Sindi in a choking grip, but she resists and is instead engaged by the statues. The others wake to see a battle taking place, and rush to Sindi’s aid. Xellos fells the first, shattering it after a few blows from himself and Sindi; the other is splintered and crushed by Ungrid’s and Calibos’ hammers, leaving it open for a final strike by Sindi; she follows through with a well-aimed thrust at the creature behind them, wounding it.

Then the carapace of its beetle-head opens, revealing an utterly inhuman, alien face swarming with larvae: the sight of it paralyses Calibos, Xellos and Wulsted (Eshan is keeping out of the way, Halmary sleeping off his injuries), but Ungrid shakes off his revulsion and whacks the creature, paving the way for Sindi to step in and stab it straight through its alien face, killing it!

End of Session

Kills: 7 obsidian golems, 2 scarab beetle swarms, 1 khepri.

KO’d: Halmary (in shock, gruesome scars).

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The Blackened Spire
Session 205

Halmary and Eshan make their way to the wooded slope, where a tree stands burning away. There is no sign of life and in the night, there is little to see beyond the fire. They search the woods, and come across a clearing of charred earth, with a 20’ spire in the middle, surrounded by a patch of wild grass dotted with daisies. It’s hard to make out, but there seems to be a door in the spire. Leaving Eshan to watch and guard, Halmary attempts to cross the charred circle, but as soon as he crosses the threshold he feels intense heat; so hot, that his clothes begin to smoulder and his hair singes, even with the Ring of Fire Resistance he wears. He steps back, and the heat dissipates. The cleric sets his own beacon by placing a continual light on the edge of the circle, then the two of them huddle down amongst the trees and wait to see if anyone comes looking: as someone set fire to the tree and Halmary’s goddess did say that he would meet his party here (as this seems to be the place she mentioned).

Sure enough, after a few hours, he is discovered by an invisible Sindi, who scouted ahead as they rest of the party waited on the edge of the woods. After their devastating attack in the foothills, they decided to break camp and make their way to the woods where Sindi had lit a tree on fire. Reunited, they swap stories (albeit briefly and without going into too much detail), and Halmary shows them a map he found in the caverns he was trapped in, which seems to show the place they’ve now found, and which seems to be the place that the nomads told tales about at the camp; to quote:

Legends dating back to before the Suel Imperium speak of gods that once walked the land, subjugating the savages and tribes that lived in the region now known as the Sea of Dust. These tribes rebelled when they discovered that the gods bled and could die, and became hunters and slayers of their former deities. Those gods that survived did so by retreating and sealing themselves in vaults hidden beneath the earth, where they placed themselves into hibernation, waiting for the right time to awaken and reclaim the land.

One such vault is said to lie beneath The Blackened Spire, a shrine of rock, blackened as if from intense heat, that stands in a clearing of charred earth, amidst some woods on the slopes of the mountains to the east. There is said to be a tunnel leading from the vault, which cuts through the rock beneath the mountains, coming out into the jungle on the other side of the volcanic range. No one knows what lies within the vault, but the passage through the mountains is said to have been dug to allow the sleeping gods a safe egress should they ever been found and hunted again.

The Blackened Spire lies directly east. If you point towards the sun as it crests the tallest peak in the morning, after a day or two of hiking through the foothills, you come to a wooded slope that climbs the foot of the mountain. There, in the centre of a charred clearing, lies the shrine.

They settle down for the night, setting guards as usual, and refreshed and undisturbed, they awake next morning and investigate the blackened spire. After probing, levitating and throwing sticks, they quickly deduce that the spire is enclosed by a hemisphere that contains immense heat: enough to incinerate a thrown twig, cause clothes to smoulder and burn, and would no doubt cause some nasty burns to anyone who tried to walk across the charred ground. Calibos again tests it using Halmary’s Ring of Fire Resistance and quickly steps back, armour heating up and his hair smoking. Halmary tries to dispel magic, but it has no effect. They then search the woods and immediate area for alternative ways inside, or secret doors, but find nothing. They break for lunch, Halmary conjuring food & water, and afterwards Calibos remembers that he has a scroll of Ward Against Magic_. They try it out, and success! The circle of anti-magic allows everyone to cross safely. At the door, which bears an engraving of a scarab beetle, Halmary Finds Traps_ and identifies glyph of warding on the carving. They dispel it, and Halmary forces the door open.

Inside is a small chamber, tapering to a point 15’ up. Along the wall, in niches, are tall obsidian statues of scarab-beetle headed men, similar to the golem that they fought in the nomads’ camp. There is also a pit, 10’ wide, descending as far as they can see. They drop a coin enchanted with continual light and the shaft goes 120’ down before it opens into a room or corridor. Sindi and Ungrid, using their Boots of Levitation ferry everyone down, into a corridor capped by stone doors, again with scarab beetles engraved on them. Five alcoves line the corridor, each with an obsidian statue, 10’ tall, beetles for heads. Halmary detects no traps, but everyone is obviously wary of the statues; prior experience has earned them the right to be wary. The air is chilled, and as they crossed the threshold of the pit, everyone felt a shudder through the stone, their flesh and bones, that was there and gone, leaving them feeling like they were trespassing.

Guessing that the tunnel through the mountains lie east, they head to the eastern door, arranged in battle formation. Calibos opens the door: beyond it is a corridor, that stretches 30’ to an archway, and beyond the arch, the tunnel goes on for as far as the eye can see.

And as soon as the door swings open, the statues come to life and move to attack!

One of the statues punches Wulsted, but the barbarian rolls with the punch and bounces back to his feet, merely bruised. Xellos and Eshan hurry through into the new corridor, as the others cover the retreat and fail to land a blow, their weapons failing to cause a dent in the thick bodies of the statues. Then another statue pummels Halmary with both its fists, almost forcing him to his knees. Something cracks, and Halmary has to lay on hands as he struggles to stand, feeling those punches…

End of Session

No kills, but no deaths either, and both NPCs still alive.

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