Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff

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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Everyone Else
Session 204 (b)

At the nomads’ camp, Sindi observes the nomads set guards as the boats come in. She reports back to the others and they make a plan: with Xellos, Calibos and Sindi invisible and everyone else reduced to 6 inches tall with potions of diminution they sneak back to the camp, steal a couple of boats, and as the nomads react, Xellos uses his wand of illusion to cause a distraction amongst the tents (attacks by shadowy monsters), allowing the party to escape without much fuss.

They sail and row out into the darkness, tying the boats together and taking turns sleeping as they take several hours to cross the lake. Around mid-morning the next day they reach the opposite shore and disembark. Sindi levitates up high, but can’t see any sign of Halmary. They make camp, lighting a fire in case the cleric is able to see it. They spend time discussing and discarding options (such as searching the entire lake), but eventually settle on heading to the mountains and the place where the nomads said there was a tunnel; hoping that Halmary also remembers the tale. To help them decide, Xellos Contacts Other Planes and manages to get some ‘yes’ answers to the following questions: (1) is Halmary alive, (2) is he at liberty, and (3) is he making his way to the mountains.

They head off into the dunes, straight east, Sindi managing to more or less keep them on track. A dust-storm slows them down for a few hours, but thanks to Xellos and his Wall of Stone, no one suffers. After several days they enter the foothills of the mountains and make camp, lighting a fire to keep warm and drive the wildlife way. While the others settle down to sleep, Sindi turns herself invisible and scouts ahead. She finds a wood higher up the slope, a few miles east, and decides to set a tree on fire, hoping that it will act as a beacon for Halmary if he is heading the same direction. Then she heads back to the others.

Sindi arrives just as half-a-dozen ankhegs burst from the earth!

She alerts the others with a well-aimed lightning bolt, wounding two of the creatures, and allowing Ungrid to smash one to pieces with his hammer. But it is too late to help Illinoss, the last gnoll, and Dara, all of whom are grabbed and pulled below the ground by one of the monsters. Calibos too is grabbed, but Ungrid manages to reach him before he is pulled under, and crushes the monster’s head. The rest of the monsters retreat, burrowing under the ground and taking their meals with them.

Of all the allies they helped escape from the prison, now only Wulsted remains.

The set guards and settle down for the night, keeping an eye on the darkness and the ground.

End of Session

Kills: 2 ankhegs.

Losses: Illinoss, Dara, and a gnoll.

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Halmary & Eshan
Session 204 (a)

After exploring the tunnels and caves (moss-lined steep tunnels, taking some effort to climb) Halmary and Eshan managed to find their way out: a stone trapdoor leading into some ruins that slide off into the dust-lake. They decide to leave the caves behind and hike a few miles north along the shore, digging a shallow pit and draping Halmary’s tent over it to make a shelter. After laying out a glyph of warding to protect themselves, the pair settle down to sleep.

In the morning Halmary waits for a few hours after setting a globe of darkness high in the air, in the hope that one of his fellow party members will spot it. When nothing happens, he divines with his goddess and asks if he will meet up with his comrades anytime soon: the goddess basically says yes, by finding the circle of charred earth and the blackened spire. This rings a bell: at the nomads camp they told of a tunnel that cut through the mountains, hidden beneath the blackened spire. If he followed the sun due east, aiming for the tallest mountain peak as the sun crests its top, then he should find it (presuming the tale was true). Eshan agrees, having no better ideas and no desire to be left alone, and the unlikely allies head off towards the mountains.

For the next four days they hike across the dust dunes and make their way into the foothills of the mountains. A dust storm almost stops them, but they huddle under the tent and survive, digging themselves out after the storm passes. A few times they have to divert off their path, but manage to reorientate themselves as they reach the hills. There they find a sheltered gully and make camp, Eshan standing guard so that Halmary can rest for his spells in the morning.

Sometime during the night, Eshan nudges Halmary awake and points to the east. A couple of miles away, something is burning. In the light of the fire it looks like a wooded area. They break camp and head towards it.

End of Session

  1. days in the Sea of Dust:* 20.
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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.

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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.

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Nomads
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

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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.

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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.

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