Continuing their exploration of the jungle, the party come across a cave that appears empty save for a ‘nest’ and a few treasure trinkets. They pocket the goods, find another magic pool a few hours later and Idni convinces Halmary to have a drink: the day’s dirt and grime sloughs from his frame, and a healthy blush creeps into his cheeks. For the rest of the day Halmary is a fine example of manhood and has the confidence that goes with it; sadly, it wears off over night as they make camp. In the morning they carry on, now skirting the southern edge of the jungle realm; the only creatures they come across are four white apes that are quickly dispatched thanks to a successful _Hold Person_ cast by Zarkov.
Then, as the day wears on, they come across a ruined colonnade with a set of bronze doors set in a square stone hut; on which the carvings of a tiger’s face glare out at the jungle. Cautiously they approach, Idni checking for tracks and noticing lots of ape footprints; Corvin checking for traps on the door, finding nothing and noting that not only is it unlocked, but it has seen regular use and easily opens. Halmary pushes the doors open, revealing a set of stairs leading down into a chamber lit by flickering torches. Nothing seems to be moving within, so they enter and Corvin lights another torch to shed extra light on the chamber they walk into.
A long recessed area, surrounded by a ten foot wide walkway with arches leading off to further stairs leading down into shadows, and lined with crumbling pillars, stretches before them; tiled with blue and white marble, cracked and scarred. The vaulted ceiling is also cracked, sagging in parts, but still solidly built. At the far end are another pair of torches, also lit, revealing another set of bronze doors also engraved with tiger face. And at the end of the tiled recess is a green marble throne, sat upon a white marble dais; on the throne is the skeleton of a large gorilla-like ape.
It seems quiet. The adventurers spread out, Idni and Halmary walking along the left-hand walkway, peering into the shadowy arches; the dwarves climb down onto the tiled floor; Corvin takes the opposite walkway, and he hears the sound before anyone else: footsteps, the padding of leathery feet, and is able to warn the others when four white apes come out of the archway ahead of Idni, looking wary: they immediately attack as they spy intruders, hollering and howling as they do.
Having already bested four apes before, the heroes are nonplussed and wade into the fight. Idni scores the first hit, using _Eye-Gouger_ to great effect: he blinds the ape he attacks, tearing through its eyes, allowing Halmary to move up next to it and bash it with his mace. Corvin, with his nice and pretty sword (Old Man Iron_) and his torch in the other, feels compelled to take a swipe and attacks an ape as it swings past the others and lands neatly on the tiled floor; the thief misses, and Ungrid moves up to lend a hand, cutting into its flesh with his own magical sword; Zarkov proves once again hopeless with his crossbow, and fires a quarrel into the wall instead. As the fight continues, Idni slashing the blind ape, Corvin landing a hit and ageing a year in the process, Halmary steps back and tries to duplicate Zarkov’s previous success with a _Hold Person, but it fails to have any effect. Ungrid kills an ape, and turns around…
…and at the same time as Zarkov, he spots more apes swarming out of several of the archways! Not just a couple, but a dozen or more! Apes to the left, right and by the entrance, howling and yelping, gnashing their teeth and flexing their claws; they advance swiftly on the now surrounded adventurers. The dwarves shout out “Retreat!”, but not everyone listens.
Idni slays the ape he blinded, and attacks another ape; Halmary tries again to _Hold_ the apes, but these apes resist his magic. Zarkov and Ungrid begin to retreat, but are clawed as they force their way through the first wave of loping apes. Corvin finds his way back to the exit cut off, and instead runs up to and leaps onto the throne, hoping that it will, somehow, prevent the apes from attacking: it doesn’t, instead, several of the apes head his way and climb up the dais and throne to get him. He leaps off, but gets clawed several times before he manages to break free and make it to the walkway. He ditches his torch and tries to hide behind a pillar, in the shadows, but is seen and an ape leaps to his side, slashing his badly; the thief is barely standing and bleeding heavily.
Zarkov makes it safely to the top of the entry stairs, using the _Staff of Healing_ to heal some of his wounds. Everyone else now backs away, ducking swipes, taking blows from other apes, edging closer to the entrance slowly but surely; but each of them feels the sting of their enemies claws, and blood is splattered across the tiles and walls. Zarkov helps his allies out, proving his god to be more powerful, as he lets loose another Hold Person to freeze two apes in their place, allowing the others to break free via the resultant gap: they manage to regroup at the foot of the stairs, Zarkov healing both Idni and Corvin with the staff, as the three main fighters– Idni, Ungrid and Halmary– form their usual shield-wall to block the apes; Corvin shoots over their heads, wounding apes with his arrows; Idni blinds another ape, allowing Ungrid to wound it further, and giving Idni the chance to finish it off. Ungrid kills another ape, cleaving into a second, and thanks to their determination and skill, the mass of remaining apes do not pursue, and slink off back into the shadows.
With the closest apes finished off, the adventurers quickly back out, slamming the doors shut, and flee into the jungle…
End of Session
Kills: 8 white apes.
Notes: an epic battle against the apes, that almost proved to be the PCs undoing. They all came close to falling, some very close indeed (Corvin was on 1 hit point for the later half of that fight), but thanks to some Morale rolls that landed in their favour, the apes didn’t follow them as they left; but it seems obvious that they are guarding something valuable. The question is, what?