Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff

Caves of the Meenlocks
Session 203

Back at the nomads camp, Calibos (with Xellos translating by whispering in his ear, the Ruinguard still invisible) does the talking but ends up insulting the tribe when he accuses the shaman of falsely blessing them. The chief is outraged and demands that they leave, never to return. Al around the heroes, nomads draw swords, ready bows and get ready for a fight.

The heroes decide to leave, and head off along the shore, making camp a few miles up north. There they discuss ways to locate and rescue Halmary… who, with Eshan, finds himself trapped in a cave as the kraken drops them off in a cave below the lake, an air-pocket keeping the liquid dust out. It seals the entrance with giant boulders. As the cleric and assassin sit in the dark, they hear noises, whispers, scuttling in the darkness. Halmary throws some light and sees that they are in a cave littered with bones, with a moss-covered tunnel leading out. He spends some time tending to his and Eshan’s wounds, then starts to explore. No sooner has he entered the tunnel, Eshan disappears. Halmary carries on, spying movement in a cave. He approaches and is suddenly confronted by a short biped with tufts of black hair, sharp claws and strange eyes. There are more suddenly behind him, and the creatures attack!

Meanwhile, and technically a while later, the others spend an uneventful night camped out while Sindi sneaks into the camp and manages to steal a 3-man boat. She returns, gets her head down, and in the morning they concoct a plan to deal with the kraken. In the morning, Sindi, Xellos and Ungrid row out into the lake, and after half-hour the lake surface breaks as the mighty kraken rises. It immediately lashes out with its tentacles, allowing just enough time for Ungrid to down a fly potion and activate his_ Ring of Haste,_ and for Sindi to activate Hawk and grab Xellos, flying up with him out of reach of the monster’s tentacles. Ungrid, however, is grabbed by one of the smaller tentacles and lifted into the air; it squeezes him tightly, breaking a rib in the process. One of its larger tentacles then comes slamming down on the boat, shattering it into splinters and firewood.

Sindi and Xellos manage to blast it with lightning bolts, leaving it badly burned. It tries to eat Ungrid, but the dwarf, as he nears its eyes, grips Grontdrengi with all his strength and smashes it in the eye, then through the eye, and into the monster’s tiny brain. Gore flies everywhere, and the beast is dead. It sinks beneath the surface, taking Ungrid with it, but as soon as its grip loosens, the dwarf flies out, triumphant!

They fly back to shore, just reaching it in time before the spells wear off. They return to the others, and realise that slaying the kraken hasn’t brought them any closer to finding Halmary. They decide that their best option would be sail across the lake and hope that they can somehow find some sign of Halmary on the other side. Sindi sneaks off to try and steal some more boats, but as it is daylight the boats are out on the lake. She settles down and waits for night to fall or the boats to come back, whichever happens sooner.

Meanwhile, back to the previous night, and Halmary finds himself confronted by several of the small creatures. He proves himself a much more capable fighter than he gives himself credit for, and without any help from Eshan (who turns out to be invisible and keeping out of the way), Halmary manages to slay three of the creatures and wounds another, sending it fleeing into the tunnels. He imbues himself with True Seeing and sets off in pursuit, but loses track of the creature in the moss-lined and steep tunnels that lead from the cave. He retreats to a cave that looks to be some sort of lair, with crates and valuables from past victims stuffed in a corner. Eshan reveals himself, and together they loot the treasure. They then set off to explore their environment, keeping an eye out for the wounded monster.

End of Session

Kills: 1 kraken, 4 meenlocks.

Release the Kraken!
Session 202

During the feast held in their honour, the heroes are approached by the chief (Mannatok) who, once he learns that they are seeking to cross the lake, offers to loan them boats and guides, if they will investigate the recently uncovered ruins that are within his camp. They agree, much to the annoyance of the shaman (Torlep). In the morning they head into the ruins, watched by the chief, shaman and various nomads (many of whom bet on the survival). Calibos puts his shoulder to the stone door and forces it open, revealing a sand-covered room with stairs leading down. Leaving Xellos and Ungrid on guard outside– just in case– the others head down, Sindi (invisible) scouting out the passages first. It turns out to be an ancient catacomb, with desiccated corpses in burial alcoves and three ornate sarcophagi decorated with symbols of flowers and birds. Before they investigate the tombs further, everyone heads down and spend three hours fruitlessly searching for secret doors. Calibos prises off a lid of the first coffin, and three wights come out to play: all are merely wiped out of existence by Halmary’s prayers. There is loot to be had, but after looking through them and removing anything magical, they generously give the rest to the chief and shaman, which puts them on more friendly terms that before.

Next, the second uncovered ruin is just a single room: some shrine, with an old obsidian alter on which a bowl of gems sits. Behind the altar is a statue of a man but instead of a head a scarab beetle sits on his shoulders. Expecting trouble, the heroes get ready for the statue to animate; which it does after Calibos messes about with the bowl of gems. The statue proves inadequate against the heroes, and is smashed to dust by the combined might of Calibos and Ungrid. They hand the gems over to the chief, who gladly accepts them and arranges for boats to be loaned, as well as guides who will also man the sails. They spend the night, and in the morning split between four boats and head off across the lake, after the shaman ‘blesses’ them with what Halmary believes is nothing more elaborate than resist cold. They are told that it will protect them from the creature that lives in the lake…

…but that proves false, for as soon as they are out in the lake, a giant kraken rises up from the depths and attacks: its tentacles crush Petula and Lilly, a few gnolls, and manage to grab both Halmary and Eshan! In return, it is whacked by Ungrid’s hammer, belted by magic missiles from Xellos, singed by a lightning bolt from Sindi’s shield… but it is too late, and the kraken dives beneath the surface, taking Halmary and Eshan with it!

The shocked survivors quickly lose sight of the beast and turn round, heading back to shore. As soon as they land they are up in the shaman’s face, accusing him of betraying them, and demanding that the chief do something about it. The chief doesn’t believe them, since he trusts his shaman and has no reason not to.

Meanwhile, Halmary and Eshan, alive but immobilised by the kraken’s tentacles, are all alone…

End of Session

Kills: 3 wights, 1 stone golem.

Loses: Lilly, Petula, 4 gnolls.

Session 201
  1. Days travelling in the Sea of Dust*: 12.

After two days of further travel, with Sindi getting her directions right, the lake they spotted in the distance comes into sight. Sindi, levitating up to scout ahead, also spots what looks to be an encampment of nomads along the shore, mixed in with ruins poking out of the dust. Boats are out on the lake too. The lake itself looks odd, not reflecting the morning sun as you’d expect, more dusty and ashen. While the rest of the expanded party strike a cold camp about a mile away, an invisible Sindi goes off to explore the camp.

There are indeed nomads, a couple of hundred or so, tents dotted around old ruins. Crude docks have boats (some small rowers, a few with sails), and there are lots of camels hitched to poles. Some of the ruins are being used to store trade goods, a couple look like they have recently been revealed as a result of a dust-storm. A couple of nomads poke around these. She can’t understand their language, but suspects it is an ancient dialect that Sindi is sure Xellos has spoken before. Sindi also discovers that the lake is fluid dust, no doubt some magical effect. She reports back to the others, and they discuss whether to just go round the lake (although it is much longer than it is wide) and avoid potential trouble with the nomads, or head into the camp and either trade with them for boats to cross the lake, or just steal some. Judging by the size of the boats they’re going to need three or four to ferry everyone across. They decide to try bypassing the camp and make their way around the lake first, but after travelling for most of the day, with Sindi levitating up to see how far the lake stretches, they soon realise that it will take days to go round the lake, and Sindi can’t even see the end of it, even after rising a few hundred feet into the air. Across the lake is but a few miles, a couple of hours or so by boat.

They make camp and head back in the morning. As they near the camp another dust-storm bears down on them, but Xellos whips out one of his many scrolls and casts control weather, creating a zone of calm all around them. The storm passes and they head to the camp. Firstly, Xellos and Sindi (both invisible) scout ahead, checking out the camp with Xellos listening to their conversations and scanning them thanks to the blessing of Halmary and True Seeing. The nomads are just what they appear to be: desert nomads, sheltering here for winter, storing their goods. Some of the nomads grumble about the site, as it seems their chief is getting old and prefers the comfort of a stationery home rather than the nomadic life. The ruins are too small for these nomads, but until a new leader rises, they will make do. Some of them seem to favour their shaman, but most are unconcerned. There is talk of some beast that lives in the lake, but thanks to the shaman’s blessings, their boats are safe when they go out. A couple of nomads want to investigate the newly uncovered ruins, but are waiting for the chief to give them permission to explore.

Xellos and Sindi collect the rest of the party and they all head to the camp, and encounter nomads on camels as they approach. Halmary communicates using tongues and they are escorted to the camp to meet the shaman. The nomads are wary but not hostile. The shaman welcomes them in the common tongue, albeit with a strong accent and a few mixed-up words. He asks what they are doing here, and they tell him they seek to cross the lake. He says he can help, and will provide them with the boats, if they do him a favour first. Over tea and sweet meats he tells them that it is time the tribe had a new leader, and he would like them to remove the old chief from power (hinting that the chief must die), to allow his son-in-law (and the youngest son of the chief) to take his place. If they do this, he will help them.

They are reluctant to commit, so the shaman gives them the night to decide and in the meantime arranges a feast to be held in their honour as guests of the tribe.

End of Session

No Longer Reckless
Session 200

As the dust-storm approaches, the travellers find shelter in the ruins of an ancient ziggurat. As they huddle down against the few feet of foundations, they spy a stone trapdoor partially hidden by the dust and ash. Calibos and Halmary manage to haul it open, revealing a deep shaft line with tiles depicting some regal-looking man. Sindi activates her Hawk spear and flies down with a lantern to take a look…

…and no sooner has she disappeared below, a Skittering Maw (half-shark, half-centipede, giant-sized) bursts out of the dust-dunes and attacks, gobbling up a surprised gnoll right away.

The storm is almost upon them, so while the Maw takes on a few gnolls, the Heroes grab rope-ladders and rope, securing them to a nearby rock and beckoning everyone down the shaft. The Maw is quickly killed by a couple of flurries of magic missiles from Xellos, as the others start making their way down; Wulsted heads down first, followed by Dara, then Ungrid, then the two irritating nobles, a gnoll, Lilly, Xellos, and another gnoll… then the storm crashes down on the others. Halmary and a few gnolls shield their eyes in time to avoid being blinded, the others (seven gnolls, Eshan and Calibos) are not so lucky. Fortunately, Calibos and Eshan were holding onto the rope and manage to make their way down, as does Halmary. The non-blind gnolls head down next, and drag the trapdoor shut, leaving their blinded kin outside to die.

Thankfully, the rope holds as the heavy stone door slams shut, sealing everyone inside.

They descend into a vaulted chamber, four corridors leading off. Sindi has quickly scouted out each, revealing enough to know that they are in a tomb with snake-motifs. For once, reckless exploration does not take place, and after a brief debate, they decide to stay put in the central chamber and wait out the storm. They spend the night in the central chamber, set a rota of guards, cast light to illuminate the room. By morning everyone is reasonably rested, all temporary blindness has passed, and still no one wants to go exploring. Halmary communes with his goddess, learning that there is no other way out and that the air in the room will not last the day.

Sindi comes up with a plan, after they ascend the shaft (Calibos levitates up using Sindi’s boots) to find the trapdoor is buried shut. She levitates up and spends the next 12 hours carefully and slowly chipping away at the stone, using iron spikes and a hammer. She digs out a hole, letting dust and ash pour in, opening up an airway, and helping to shift some of the weight off the stone. Halmary assumes gaseous form and heads out to check that the coast is clear. When it is and he reforms, he helps clear more of the dust & ash away (naked). hen Calibos goes back up, armed with Halmary’s crowbar, and after a few attempts, manages to shove the trapdoor open.

By means of flight and levitation, they all climb out of the tomb, rest for the night, and head off the next day, trying to get back on track. It is not long before they are lost again, the distant mountains hidden by rising dust and haze. Undeterred, they carry on, heading to a lake that seems to be only a day or two away…

End of Session

Kills: 1 skittering maw.

Exit, Stage Left
Session 199

Our intrepid heroes find themselves in the cell with the runes on the floor, not outside the prison at all. This comes as a disappointment. As they unlock and prepare to force open the gate, Dara arrives with a few gnolls and accuses the heroes of trying to escape without them. He’s disappointed too, as he thought they were allies. After a bit of discussion, they agree to let bygones be bygones and go their separate ways, for now. Dara heads back to his side of the prison, leaving the heroes to break free of the cell and recommence their search for the way out; this time armed with detect secret doors. They eventually find one in the storeroom they had search and found nothing, by the kitchen and hobgoblin barracks. Behind it are stairs that go up, and up, and up. They head up, climbing for what must half-a-mile, until they reach a waiting room of sorts and a blockage caused by a cave-in. While Sindi, Xellos, Wulsted and Lilly stand guard, and after Ungrid determines it is safe to excavate, Halmary and Calibos take point and start to dig: no sooner have they begun, when a black oily ooze topped with a skull squeezes out of the rocks and attacks, burning Halmary with acid, before Ungrid and Calibos pulverise it.

They carry on, and after an hour Dara and the gnolls arrive, and after more discussion they agree to join forces. Papak, the necromancer elects to stay put, while Dara introduces them to Eshan, who has been invisible and keeping an eye on the party all this time. Together, they take shifts digging, and after nearly eight hours of hard labour, they clear 90’ worth of passageway, revealing a short stairs to an old, rusty iron trapdoor. Sindi forces it open and looks outside, seeing little in the dwindling light of day. What she does see what looks like a desert all around them.

They rest for the night, Halmary having nightmares again. In the morning they gather what supplies they can find in the prison, load up the gnolls, and head out, finally escaping the prison. They find themselves in a desert of ash and dust, a vast sea that stretches as far as the eye can see. In the distance, vague mountains to the East. Sindi flies up, thinks she can see a lake a few days travel, and estimates they are a good few days from there to the mountains. They gather their supplies together, dress for the desert heat, and head off into the sea of dust and ash.

Days pass, six to be exact. Progress is slow with the dryness and difficult terrain of the desert. Occasionally they see winged creatures in the distance, plumes of smoke or dust, and what could be a sandstorm (duststorm?) in the near distance. A couple of times Sindi loses sight of the lake and mountains, even with flying and ends up backtracking. Then, on the sixth day out, she spots a duststorm brewing and heading their way. As the sun begins to set, they spot some ruins nearby that might provide some shelter, and estimate that in less than half-hour the duststorm will be upon them.

End of Session

Kills: 1 undead ooze.

The Way Out?
Session 198

After Halmary has healed Wulsted and the freed prisoners (at least those who want to) have equipped themselves with weapons and armour scavenged from the dead, the cohort of heroes and escapees head north, passing back through the gardens and down into caverns. They find the giant slug waiting for them, which spits acid on Halmary, and is then pulverised by Calibos, Ungrid and a lightning bolt from Sindi’s shield. As it drops to the floor, from the ceiling it was clinging to, barely alive, Halmary steps up and caves in its head with Crusher. As the others search the caverns, looking for an exit, Sindi uses her Hawk spear and goes flying down the river, discovering more caves and what looks like an underwater passage. They late deduce that it comes up into the lake in the gardens. She returns, and everyone heads back up into the prisoner, belatedly realising that Petula and Illinoss, the noble prisoners, have not followed them and are instead looking out for themselves back in the kitchens. The heroes leave them to it and continue searching for a way out, going by the notes Xellos deciphered about a secret door in a storeroom.

Eventually, they find themselves back at the start and after checking out barracks and other rooms, come across a storeroom. Halmary uses Tapper and finds the secret door. It slides up into the roof. They try to do that sneakily, but a gnoll on patrol wanders up just at the wrong moment and spots them entering the secret door. He turns to call out to the others in the nearest barracks, but Sindi goes for it, trying to tackle and gag it before it can sound an alarm. She fails, the gnoll shouts out for help; but before the nearest gnolls can respond, Calibos kicks open the door to the barracks and wades in, sword swinging, cutting down one gnoll after another. Sindi skewers the one she tried to nab, and shoves it into the blood bathed barracks. The others start to filter through the secret door, Halmary casting Find Traps as they move into a long corridor. Just as Sindi is about to join them, more gnolls appear, intent on finding out what the call for help was about. She manages to convince them that nothing is up, but that they need to go and tell the others that they’ve found a secret door. Then she and Calibos, holding the door open, nip into the storeroom and shut the door. They hurry through the secret door, sealing it behind them; Xellos Wizard Locks it. Halmary spots a couple of traps down the corridor, so Calibis quaffs a potion of flying and just ferries everyone across to a stairs that leads up into a domed room, more stairs opposite, with featureless copper statues standing on plinths. A couple are smashed and lying on the floor. Cautiously, they enter (Xellos and Sindi both invisible), with Wulsted and Lilly following. As soon as they move inside, the statues animate, their features transforming to match those in the room, all except Sindi and Xellos. There is one statue per visible person.

Calibos flies over to his and wallops it: but, while he does some damage, Calibos himself is also wounded, mirroring the damage he just inflicted. Everyone else runs across the room, up the stairs, and finds a circular room, runes carved into the floor and no other exit. As Calibos joins them, the statues advancing quickly, Xellos identifies the runes are those of teleportation. One-by-one the heroes, Wulsted and Lilly enter the circle of runes, and one-by-one they disappear…

End of Session

Kills: 1 giant slug, 7 gnolls.

There's Sindi
Session 197

With the bodies of their enemies lying all around them, the heroes pause for a moment in their search for Sindi and loot the dead. They find her in one of the cells further down, still paralysed, and also find a few other prisoners: a gypsy called Lilly, a barbarian chief called Wulsted, a nobel’s wife (Petula), and an arrogant young prince who goes by the name of Illinoss. All of the cells are locked. The heroes tell everyone they’ll be back to free them as soon as they find the keys, then head down to the tunnel the hobgoblins came from. Calibos and Ungrid go first, followed by Halmary and Xellos. The tunnel comes out of a pit, close to the kitchen where Sindi encountered the monk; immediately, as Calibos climbs out, one of the invisible golems attacks, but the dwarf defender’s armour absorbs the blow, and with a few short exchanges, the golem crashes to the floor, destroyed. They all gather in the corridor and check out the barracks and rooms along the corridor, plus the storeroom at the end. They loot what treasure they find, but locate no keys for the cells. They head through the kitchen, back up to the gardens where the small lake it: as they cross the marshy land, two bear-like chimera explode from the waters and attack: neither lasts for longer than a minute, with Ungrid taking one out single-handedly, and the other falling to Xellos’ axe and Halmary’s crushing mace.

They return to Sindi, going through the gardens and down the corridor and over the now fallen barricade. Sindi is no longer paralysed and demands to be set free, but still no sign of the keys. They find a room nearby, the evil cleric’s, and after looting it they find a ring of keys for the cells. They then find that the cells are not only locked, but wizard locked, and decide to use gaseous form to free Sindi. They rest and sleep, identifying potions and scrolls, and in the ‘morning’ use potions of diminution to free the other prisoners.

Everyone gathers in the kitchen and share out rations. Halmary uses Tapper to search the storeroom for secret doors, but finds nothing.

End of Session

Kills: 1 turnkey golem, 2 bear-chimera.

Prisoners Freed: Lilly, Wulsted Petual, and Illinoss.

Where is Sindi?
Session 196

As Sindi is dragged away, her fate unknown to the others, Ungrid and Calibos take the troll apart and grant it a final death with Bannahog. They investigate the room it came out of, looting what treasure there is, then look toward the other door, still not aware that Sindi has been taken. Halmary, still in gaseous form filters through the cracks in the door, but it is too dark to see most, so he flows back out again. The remaining four heroes head to the barricade at the end of the corridor and start clambering over it…

…straight into the fists of a tall, golem-like creature, featureless and made of some sort of pliable tar-like material: it whacks Ungrid, who hammers it back, is pelted by magic missiles from Xellos, and has a tiny bit carved away by Calibos’ sword. As the fight continues, from down the corridor they find themselves in, others move into view: a man dressed in plate mail, who chants and tries to cast a spell that fails to have any effect; a pale woman who is guarded by a skull-headed skeletal snake; and another of the golems that comes stamping down the corridor, a bare-chest and sword-wielding man following behind.

Ungrid hastes himself and pummels the first golem into submission, finishing it off with some help from the others, and cleaving into the other as it moves into range. Xellos throws down a wall of fog, that momentarily blocks the corridor, before the newcomers dispel it; then they follow up on a second dispel magic, which cancels Ungrid’s haste, reforms Halmary as his gaseous form is removed, but also removes poor Xellos’ permanent fly spell, bringing him crashing to the floor. Xellos blasts them with a fireball, badly burning them, destroying the skeleton and disrupting whatever spells they were about to cast.Ungrid and Calibos take out the other golem, sending it toppling, and they move in on the bare-chested man, cutting him down in seconds; Xellos chucks the bag of holding with the cleric’s equipment inside to Halmary, who starts getting dressed; then Xellos blasts the pale woman with magic missiles, killing her. The plate mail wearing cleric retreats, disappearing down a tunnel.

The heroes follow, but stop by the room with the pit and tunnel. While Halmary reequips himself, the others loot. Xellos takes out his person-seeking sword and he and Ungrid go looking for Sindi along the corridor that has lots of cells along the walls; Calibos and Halmary guard the pit, further protected by a ward vs magic. Xellos and Ungrid reach the barricade, when it suddenly collapses as hobgoblins climb over it; behind and directing them, the hostile cleric yells for the heroes to be destroyed!

Calibos and Halmary head over to help, and no sooner have they done so, when more hobgoblins climb out of the pit and follow.

The cleric throws down flame strikes, one blocked by Calibos’ ward, the other breaking through and burning them. Xellos lets loose with a cone of paralysis, freezing several hobgoblins in place and allowing Ungrid to clamber over the debris and attack the evil cleric; leaving the others to take on the hobgoblins moving down the corridor: turns out, there are also another two invisible opponents, a monk and an assassin; the later backstabs Xellos, almost felling him. Calibos lends Ungrid a hand, and between them the evil cleric is dealt a killing blow. Back in the corridor, Halmary lends a hand by single-handedly slaying the hobgoblins, allowing the Ruinguard time to cast mirror image to stall the assassin’s attacks. The tactic works, and Xellos holds her off long enough for Calibos to jump in and help, badly wounding the assassin enough for Xellos to decapitate her. That leaves the monk, who Ungrid takes out.

The dust settles, and the heroes gather together, keeping an eye out for any more attackers.

And still no sign of Sindi.

End of Session

Kills: 8 hobgoblins, 5 named NPCs (cleric, mage, monk, barbarian, and an assassin), 2 Turnkey Golems, 1 Nerophidius.

One Down
Session 195

…and then decide to backtrack and head south instead. Sindi descends some stairs into a well-lit kitchen, a corridor leading off, a pair of hobgoblin guards nearby. At a long table sits a man dressed in simple robes. She calls out to him, friendly-like, and he responds the same, asking who she is, why she is there; she divulges only a few bits of information, and the man– calling himself Sin-Mat-Ikalli– does the same, saying that he too is an escaped prisoner, and they he and his friends occupy this part of the prison, and won’t have anything to do with Dara and his kind as they believe them to be only interested in power, not escape. Sindi says goodbye and rejoins the others, and then they head north, back down the stairs to the well-lit corridor.

After looking into a room that was an empty barracks, they walk into a large mess hall that has been converted into a laboratory: there, a robed figure is working, guarded by four former hobgoblins that have been patched together with skin and flesh from other animals and even plants. The figure, a man from the hoarse shout, tells them to leave immediately for he is far too busy to be disturbed. Halmary tries to engage him in conversation, but the man (Aradhasis, it turns out, a vivimancer as well) tries to make him flee by magic, which is reflected back by Halmary’s Ring of Spell Turning, which Aradhasis resists; but the mage becomes annoyed.

Then Halmary and Calibos, neither liking the look of the somewhat menacing hybrid creatures, take a swing at them, while Ungrid simply decides to hurl his hammer at the mage, cracking a few ribs and shoving the mage into his bench, spilling liquids and sending a few valuable glass pipes and jars crashing to the floor. Aradhasis yells for the hybrids to destroy the intruders, even as he begins to weave a spell, and the battle begins…

…with Xellos blasting Aradhasis with magic missiles, which fail as the mage has a brooch that simply absorbs the missiles. In return, he casts a spell on Xellos and Halmary: the cleric’s arms erupt in pain as his bones warp, rendering his arms useless; Xellos finds the same happening to his legs. Sindi lets loose with a lightning bolt, burning a line through the laboratory straight into the mage, who is then slain as Ungrid hurls his hammer again, cracking the mage’s skull like an egg. The hybrids fall quickly after that, to the combined force of Calibos’ giant strength, Ungrid magic hammer, Sindi icy sword, and Xellos’ axe.

The heroes gather into the hall, looting the bodies and whatever they can find in the remains of the laboratory. Xellos tries and fails to dispel the bonewarp, but thanks to his fly spell can still move around. In case the effect is long-lasting, they give Halmary a potion of gaseous form and stow his equipment into the bag of holding. He floats along with them as they continue to explore: although, not too long after, the warped bones of Xellos’ legs return to normal. They find a storeroom with books and spare alchemy equipment, some treasure in a chest, but no secret doors. A ruined room, the wall partially collapsed and the door on the floor, holds a crate of rusted weapons but also one that looks fairly intact and may well be magical. There is also a tunnel leading from the broken wall. Sindi descends to explore, invisible, and locates what looks to be someone’s makeshift bedroom, plus an underground river; and also a giant slug, which is attracted to the torch light, but otherwise ignores the party as they come in to do a little search.

Back out they go, to find that Papak and some gnolls have followed them and are now taking up residence in the laboratory, which the necromancer has been looking to take over for weeks. After a stern warning about tampering with evil sorcery, the heroes leave Papak to his new toys and head back to the mushroom forest and take the southern corridor: at the end is a barriade of piles of rubble, an upturned table and some old crates, three doors along the walls. One turns out to be a storeroom of seeds and bulbs, another is locked; and as they go to open the third a rather large troll steps out and pounces.

Meanwhile, Sindi has gone to investigate the barricade, invisible, and is smacked down by a large golem-like creature that hides on the side. It blink visible when it attacks and magically paralyses Sindi. As the others engage the troll, the golem takes Sindi by the arm and drags her away…

End of Session

Kills: 1 evil mage (Aradhasis), 4 Mongrel Men.

Session 194

Sindi scrambles out of the water, withdrawing from the serpent as it rises above her, dives at her and takes a nip at her leg. The stirges flee, straight into arrows sent flying through the air by Calibos. Even as more of the mosquito-bats attach themselves to Calibos, Ungrid and Halmary, Ungrid manages to smash a couple more and pulls one free from his back.

Across the gardens, Dara and the gnolls appear, bows ready, shouting for the Heroes to retreat and they’ll provide cover… it’s not needed. In quick succession the remaining stirges are pulled free and hacked apart, the swarm of flies dispersed, and the serpent finds itself fighting both Sindi and Calibos, who charges in wielding a spear, skewering the beast. In the aftermath they collect the stirges and cut meat from the serpent, the gnolls helping carry back what turns into the day’s evening meal.

At a slap-up feast, Dara explains a bit more about the prison: there are three factions, all escaped prisoners, after the wardens left for reasons unknown; the guards (gnolls and hobgoblins) were recruited by the escapees, but as far as Dara knows none have escaped or know the way out. He has documents that might help, but in an unknown language and are now relying on Xellos to decipher. Meanwhile, Xellos is testing out the anti-magic barrier, after coming across a few notes that might be useful. There is an iron shutter that seals the archway– controlled by the wheel in Dara’s office– which also deactivates the barrier. Using ventriloquism to test the theory, Xellos has the shutters closed and manages to throw his voice down the corridor. When the others confirm it worked, they close the shutters again, and Xellos dimension doors through it, carrying all their magical gear.

There is much rejoicing.

After a night’s rest (although poor Halmary has nightmares again, so no spells for the day) they go off exploring, much to the delight of Dara, who thinks they are going off to help clear the dungeon; while what they are actually doing is trying to locate the secret door that leads to the exit, as mentioned in the notes Xellos read. They search the storeroom where the green slime attacked, but to no avail. They head to the marshland, where the serpent rose. Spying the stairs to the north and south, they start heading north, only to be surprised by a trio of plant-monsters that rise out of the marsh and attack; at the same time, Sindi just spots a gelatinous cube climbing the stairs.

A scream of utter rage sweeps through the heroes minds, leaving Xellos and Halmary stunned. The others find themselves fighting for their lives… or at least they would have been if they weren’t reunited with their precious magic items. The cube and plant-monsters (algoids) are slaughtered.

They head north, and descend into a well-lit corridor with doors on either wall…

End of Session

Kills: 1 winged serpent, 1 fly swarm, 1 gelatinous cube, 3 algoids, 4 striges.


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