Chronicles of Azoth

Session 21 - An End To Beginnings

This session began with the party, bruised and battered, in the depths of the Temple of the Stone.

In attendance were:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Marit, Explorer 5, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Nantechildis, Witch 4, a Dark Oracle plagued by monstrous visions and dreams, from the haunted sunlit hills of Sallorn. (Asha)
Killim Tordil Mechanika, Machinist 2. a War Machinist of remarkable skill from the Khalzad Vault . (Delwyn)

The adventurers continued their exploration of the dark underground complex. After a short argument about mapping, they headed through the far door towards the location the traitor’s map had indicated as being the “Ogre Caves” and quickly found themselves in a chamber adjoining more natural caverns. An ongoing.commotion could be heard from one of the caverns, so they took the opportunity to prepare an ambush for the well-occupied group of 3 Ogres; unfortunately for them, the smallest of the three was not directly involved in their wrestling match and spotted the party’s approach. Still, the Ogres proved short work with only a few injuries dealt with swiftly by the party’s Witch.

After cleaning out the Ogre Caves and discovering a small bag of gold hidden in stinking rags, the adventurers discussed where to head next. Confirming that the gnolls had not lied and the passage to the southwest was a dead end, they decided to see if the remaining southern door (which had been locked) would be a passageway through to the main temple area they sought; yet they discovered it unlocked. Suspecting an ambush, they instead headed back into the cave with the lake of blood and to their relief, everyone succeeded in carefully edging along the side of the passageway south, emerging into a very strange chamber in which a “tree” made of twisted flesh rose to meet the roof, sending pulsating hideous tendrils through the stone.

Deciding to get away from it as soon as possible, and noticing strong torchlight coming from the west, the adventurers crept up on a small group of figures in robes performing some form of ceremony around an altar inlaid with gold and silver, launching an ambush. The fight was short and mostly one-sided, with the lesser dark clerics rapidly slain by a thrown flask of military oil, while their leader Ur-Namu attempted to cast a spell but was interrupted by burning. Attempting to recover his weapon and shield, he was rapidly overcome by Leandro and slain.

The heroes realised that they had located the heart of the complex, and began head toward the Inner Fane. A pair of doors held closed by magic blocked the way, and an Abomination waited between; its stingers threatened paralysis, but it was overwhelmed by the heroes’ press of numbers and use of tactics.

Breaking through the second warded door, the party found themselves on the edge of the Inner Fane of the Stone. The room featured a symbol of a snake eating its own tail surrounding an altar of bone, upon which sat the Stone itself; a reddish gem perhaps 2ft across, pulsing with dreadful power. The Lady Below – a strikingly beautiful woman with dark hair and eyes and fine features – waited inside with a swarm of undead minions, and they began to attack the party as they entered.

But the heroes had formed a plan, and the rescued Elf Zaira began to cast her Protection From Evil spell. The abomination and undead were kept from attacking, with the exception of 6 skeletons, which were swiftly dispatched by a hefty cleaving blow from Witchbane. From the back of the press, the Lady Below began to cast spells at the group, but was frequently interrupted by accurate bowfire from Marit; at one point she succeeded in casting a spell on Leandro, but he shrugged off the malign influence. Realising she was outnumbered and likely to lose, especially as Chil took control of her skeleton archers, she first attempted to remove the stone (receiving an arrow in the shoulder for her troubles), then used the stone’s power to summon all the remaining Abominations before fleeing the chamber. Twisted, shifting monsters began to pour in, and as Chil also took control of the zombies she sent the undead (which were immune to the Abominations’ paralysing stings) to fight the horrors while the party moved forward to at last destroy the Sinister Stone of Sakkara.

First the beserker Quintus attempted to smash the Stone, but did not succeed; finally Leandro swung Witch Bane and the stone shattered apart. A blast of baleful energy filled the room, with Leandro barely surviving the backlash and several of the party suffering terrible mutations; but none were killed or transformed into Abominations.

Seeking to pursue the Lady Below, the party found empty (if twisted) caverns and a number of dead ends, and with no sign of secret doors, they concluded that she had escaped their reach for now. The party began to grab what treasure they could (including removing the Lady’s treasure chest in its entirety), before hearing a loud roar and the sound of collapsing stone from up above – Idimmu had fled in rage from the Temple! Realising that sticking around could easily be their end, the party fled up and out, returned to their camp, and began heading back to Aligar Castle.

The Lady is defeated (if not dead) and the Stone destroyed! But what to do now? And where will the future take our heroes?

(Post session GM note – I was rather tired and not myself this evening. While most of the encounter went OK, endless fight between d4-damage-and-useless-Paralysis Abominations and hapless Zombies and unarmed Skeletons notwithstanding, the nature of Pacted in this campaign is such that the Lady should not have been capable of fleeing. In all honesty, a high level Ruinguard in close combat could potentially have caused the party much more difficulty than they faced; I was trying to represent her as being canny and making a tactical retreat, but she should not have been capable of such. Something to remember for next time.

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Session 20 - The Jaws Close

(This session log was written a week late, so it’s a bit of an overview rather than a full account.)

This session began with the party waiting until midnight to recover their spells before launching another strike into the Temple of the Stone.

In attendance were:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Marit, Explorer 5, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Nantechildis, Witch 4, a Dark Oracle plagued by monstrous visions and dreams, from the haunted sunlit hills of Sallorn. (Asha)
Killim Tordil Mechanika, Machinist 2. a War Machinist of remarkable skill from the Khalzad Vault . (Delwyn)

With the loss of Gunther and with Lee injured, the adventurers had suffered severe losses, but they had also recovered the Feared Brethren from the kobold prison. While Quintus had fully recovered from his injuries, and the use of a scroll by Chil had restored the elf Zaira to capability once more, the mage Vestus suffered still from the loss of his spellbook and in the absence of magical support to offer the party, he instead offered to stay behind with Lee and the carts.

The party advanced back into the dungeon. Order of march was:

Leandro (Ftr 4)
→ Tomas (Ass 1)
→ Quintus (Ftr 1)

Kilim (Mach 2)
→ Thorwell (NM 0)
→ Thorcigar (NM 0)

Chil (Witch 4)
→ Zaira (Spellsword 1)

Marit (Expl 5)
→ Tom (Ftr 2)

The party advanced with extreme care into the dungeon, expecting another ambush, though none arose. Reaching the lower floor without significant incident, they began to realise that at night the Temple had an almost palpable sense of evil, a pulsing sensation that seemed to beat throughout the structure and get worse as they descended.

The lower stair area was unoccupied, and the door lay broken and abandoned where they had left it. Advancing into the blood-filled chamber, they began to move towards where the Red-Eye Gnoll caverns had previously been; but they discovered the passageway had been caved in, effectively sealing it off. Looking west, they found that yellow dust-covered boxes had been piled up blocking the entrance to the chamber. The party did not have particular experience with yellow mould, but it was quickly mooted that fire would be a likely solution to the problem and they used a flask of military oil and a fire arrow to ignite the boxes. Although the caverns quickly began to fill with smoke, there was little mould-related trouble and the party advanced through the mouldered chamber and out from the “natural” caverns into the hewn chambers of the under-Temple.

Exploring to the north, the party realised that one doorway led to the Red Eye Gnoll chambers. The other chambers seemed mostly empty, though some showed signs of having recently been used to store goods; the party surmised that another group had taken the Red Eye’s spoils, and this was backed up by the discovery of a ritually-slain gnoll with a Black Fang symbol burned into its flesh; the half-formed stone tendrils had begun to creep towards the corpse and the party decided to move the body away before whatever unpleasantness was happening could be completed.

Moving west, the party discovered a chamber with a stairway, which they surmised was probably the route to the Ziggurat. They headed south past the stairs, and listened at the mostly-closed door to the south, where they overheard Gnolls arguing over some morsel or item they wanted. After setting up their assault, they stormed into the chambers below and overran the 4 Gnolls waiting in guard very quickly; a powerful Champion leapt into the fray with a toothy grin and was cut down, though Bertram fell to a gnollish bite which took both his eyes.

As they finished dispatching the last of the Black Fang guards the party heard the approach of running feet; then 9 more Black Fang Gnolls approached from the south along with a large, powerful-looking albino Gnoll. However, they did not attack (though clearly the smell of human and gnoll blood had them on edge), and the albino Chief of the Black Fang negotiated with the party in Beast-Hakk, expressing his dissatisfaction with his tribe’s treatment at the hands of the Lady Below and his wish to leave, especially given the “great favour” the adventurers had done him by destroying “the Abominated One”. Though it was clearly a struggle for them both, Kilim and Leandro agreed to his terms, allowing him 2 hours to escape the area. The creature explained that there was no further route through from their caves, and the party began to carry their injured back to the surface.

On the way they were waylaid by a group of shambling corpses wandering down the stairs from the Ziggurat; though the party made ready to retreat away from the zombies, Chil muttered some words in Ancient Zaharan and the creatures began tearing each other apart! Figuring that undermining their alliance with the strange Witch was probably not worth the trouble, the rest of the party decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

After returning to camp with Bertram (who was doubtless regretting his request to be allowed to do work other than guarding the camp), the party made ready to descend once again. Heading down towards the Ziggurat steps, they were suddenly assailed by Ghouls! The ghoul charge brought them up close to the party before too many were felled by bolts and arrows, and their first round of attacks left Leandro paralysed, their three attacks apiece overwhelming his defences. The party then began pushing them back, and soon enough they were defeated, with Quintus passing his paralysis save again and again and again against the odds. Exploring the direction the ghouls had come from, the party discovered a room of corpses; some fresh (mostly human and gnoll), some very old indeed. Amongst these corpses was an ancient exoskeleton from an insect almost as large as a human; Chil’s familiar informed his mistress that this was a kind of “bug-people” from the volcanic Biter Mountains.

With that, the evening came to a close. Though the party has taken extensive terrible injuries and has almost none of the hirelings it started with, they continue to forge deeper into the Temple and every beastman party has now been dealt with apart from the Ogres. What happens next remains to be seen…

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Session 19 - Treasure Trap

The session began with the party, bruised from their battle with Malyn and the Invisible Stalker, arriving at the Temple of the Stone.

In attendance were:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Marit, Explorer 5, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Nantechildis, Witch 4, a Dark Oracle plagued by monstrous visions and dreams, from the haunted sunlit hills of Sallorn. (Asha)
Killim Tordil Mechanika, Machinist 2. a War Machinist of remarkable skill from the Khalzad Vault . (Delwyn)

The party composition currently stands at:

Leandro (Ftr 4)
→ Gunther (Ftr 3)
→ Tomas (Ass 1)

Kilim (Mach 2)
→ Thorwell (NM 0)
→ Thorcigar (NM 0)

Chil (Witch 4)

Marit (Expl 5)
→ Lee (Ftr 1)
→ Tom (Ftr 1)

Our heroes launched their expedition into the Temple, leaving a camp some 20 minutes away to avoid the worst of the tainted region. Tom was asked to stay behind to keep watch on the camp, while the party made a cautious entry into the ancient ruin.

Progress was slow, with the Dwarf Kilim checking frequently for traps while the other members of the group sought to keep a watchful eye for the ambush they fully expected. Their initial goal was a secret room listed on the map in their possession, and despite numerous hidden crossbows and deadfall traps along the central corridor (no doubt added my the Lady Below’s minions since their last visit), they arrived at their goal without incident other than Gunther being struck by a crossbow bolt.

The room was along the northern corridor, an area they had not yet explored, and the party were surprised to discover goblin heads, impaled on broken torch sconces along the wall; yet worse still, the heads were weakly animated and would open and close their mouths in silent agony. The northern wall featured 3 orthostats with further writing in the terrible language of Zahar, and Chil stopped to translate them as the party progressed towards the far door.

The door at the western end of the corridor transpired to lead to an ogre’s lair. The huge creature yanked open the door at their intrusion, lowered its head to the party, and demanded “gold or meat!”. Leandro replied with a gauntleted fist to the face… which did nothing, and the Ogre’s punch in turn clubbed him around the head.
The party made ready to respond to the threat of the Ogre by retreating into the corridor and allowing the Ogre to enter, making it more vulnerable to their numerous missile weapon users. As soon as it entered, crossbows and arrows filled the air, injuring the huge beastman… and then a deafening BOOM! wracked the party’s ears as Tomas’ pistol fired in the enclosed space. The Ogre clutched the area below its throat as blood welled out, then fell to the ground dead.

The group congratulated Tomas on his first kill as an adventurer, and those who had not previously encountered pistols were suitably impressed, even if all of them suffered a little ringing in the ears afterwards. They quickly rifled through the Ogre’s filthy rag-pile of a bed, finding a small bag containing some silver and gold, then spent a while looking for the way into the secret room before Gunther simply pressed on a part of the wall and it swung open freely.

Inside lay a number of tapestries depicting an unfamiliar heraldry, a two-headed dragon with claws dripping blood. The tapestries surrounded a chest made of wood and bronze with fine-detailed scrollwork , and partially obscured an armour stand on which sat a suit of coppery chainmail with attached pauldrons which resembled bear-claws, as well as a reddish-steel axe and a quiver of black-fletched arrows made from an odd dark metal.
Kilim checked the room for traps and discovered a needle in the chest’s lock; he attempted to disarm the trap but doing so only triggered it, sending a foot-long needle through his hand. Luckily, his Dwarven constitution overcame the poison on the needle. Opening the chest the party discovered many more of the strange large coins they had previously seen, along with a pair of scrollcases; Chil was entrusted with translating them, being capable of reading the Zaharan language, and she discovered that one was a map of the complex similar to the one they recovered from Malyn, while the other contained numerous spells of divine magic that she could utilise.

The party then decided to explore the room to the north of the treasure room. Doing so they surprised a small group of a half-dozen Kobolds, with Marit and Kilim managing to kill every single one of them within 2 initiative ticks. To the north of this chamber they discovered a set of bars, and after a little while an emaciated figure appeared and called for them (a little too loud).

(OOC Note – I should mention that I was actually quite ill during this week’s session. As a result, I got confused between the Latrine and the Prison; the following encounter was supposed to happen in an entirely different room leading off from the ZIggurat. In retrospect, given my party’s almost total disinterest in encountering Idimmu, it’s probably for the best that it happened this way.)

One of the dead kobolds had a key to the barred gate, and after opening it, the group found a set of three prisoners. One was an emaciated, short man with soiled robes who called himself Vestus, while a much larger human wearing the remnants of an aketon lay bound in multiple places, gagged and blindfolded on the floor and an elf woman lay on another part, pale and unresponsive. Vestus explained that the elf Zaira had been badly beaten earlier that day by the kobold guards after she was caught trying to cast a spell, and she had not awoken since. Chil used the Cure Light Wounds spell from her newfound scroll to heal the woman, and she awoke shortly afterward

(OOC Note – the “Feared Brethren” were mentioned as having quested for the source of the beastmen way back in early June, so I figured by now they would be a baaaad way. I also needed an explanation as to why Zaira would not simply Charm the kobolds into letting her leave given that Elves in my setting do not need spellbooks to use magic. In my somewhat addled state I chose “beaten unconscious and needs healing within 1 day as per that Mortal Wounds result”, although in retrospect that doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. Never mind.)

Untying the third prisoner, who they learned was named Quintus, the group retreated with their new friends to the orthostat corridor. Handing Quintus a spare weapon, the adventurers gave the Feared Brethren directions to their camp and sent them out to get food and heal, promising them a chance at revenge once they had time to recover (much as they did with Thorcigar and Thorwell). After a little time of bickering over who was to get which of the Brethren as their hench, the party decided to head back to the central corridor and continue their journey towards the second floor. With one spell left, Chil asked if anyone needed healing; although it was noted that Gunther was injured, he refused healing, telling Chil to save her magic “for those that need it”.

They made slow progress, made especially difficult by a door-lintel that had been sawed through and which was rigged to collapse the roof above it if the door was opened. Spotting the trap in time, the party attached a rope to the door and pulled it open at a long range; a huge rumble filled the dungeon as part of the building collapsed. If the sound of a firing pistol had not already given the game away, this surely would!

Kilim was struck by some falling rocks from the collapse but was not severely injured, so the party continued. No more traps were found before the party arrived in the switchback series of rooms to the northeast of the dungeon, and it was just as they were leaving a chamber full of old barrels and boxes that Marit, acting as rearguard as usual, noticed a barrel slightly out of place; she shouted a warning even as half a dozen hobgoblins leapt from their hiding places behind the party and three more heavily-armoured hobgoblins approached from the north. The party were trapped!

Marit’s opening shot felled one hobgoblin who was reaching for a hidden spear in the barrel chamber, while to the north Leandro spotted one of the armoured hobs reaching for something inside a pouch and, suspecting an imminent oil attack against the bunched-up party, charged forward to tie them up. A pair of hobs to the south fired crossbows at the rearguard while the others charged, felling Lee and tying up Marit, who switched to her melee weapons with a grim expression. Finally, as Gunther moved up to tie up one of the armoured hobgoblins, the leering creature struck out with its black-iron polearm and he fell to the ground in a crumpled heap.
Fearing that things were turning rapidly against her allies, Chil uttered a prayer to the Principle of Consumption to devour her enemies’ consciousness; with a sigh of relief Marit watched as 4 of the remaining hobgoblins were struck by the magic and reeled, eyes rolling, before falling asleep. To the north the weight of the party’s numbers began to tell against the hobgoblins and they began to overrun them; the last hobgoblin fled towards the stairs down and was felled by a bolt from Kilim’s arbalest.

The battle was over, but at a terrible cost – Lee was injured and would die within a day without treatment, and all of the party’s healing magic was exhausted. Worse yet, as Chil inspected the gaping wound on Gunther’s torso, she realised that he would soon bleed to death; desperate, she tried the only thing she could to save him, forcing some of his own blood into his mouth. Suffice to say this didn’t work, and Leandro and Marit dragged her off the fallen warrior, before Leandro granted him release.

The party decided that they were in far too poor condition to attempt the next floor, and retreated as fast as they could with Lee, hoping that their new-found underlings would be able to help him. After some back and forth and a failed attempt at using comfrey to restore him (it didn’t give him back enough HP, sadly), a bit of desperate surgery by the elf Zaira stabilised his wound!

(OOC Note: Again, sick GM screwed up here – I somehow got it into my head that Zaira could attempt a Cure Light Wounds with 1 Healing pick. Given the Brethren are likely to stick around, I’m gonna assume that this was a one-off.)

Kilim led a group back to the Temple to bring the bronze scrollwork treasure chest back, and the party buried their dead. They had survived the worst the Lady Below could throw at them, so far, and now they had had time to heal and recover their spells. With Zaira and Vestus now fully armed and added to their team, it was time to strike back!

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Session 18 - Ambition Burns

The 18th session began with the party returning to Aligar Castle, battered and bruised from their battles with the Red Eye Gnolls.

In attendance were:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Marit, Explorer 5, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Nantechildis, Witch 4, a Dark Oracle plagued by monstrous visions and dreams, from the haunted sunlit hills of Sallorn. (Asha)
Killim Tordil Mechanika, Machinist 2. a War Machinist of remarkable skill from the Khalzad Vault . (Delwyn)

The party composition currently stands at:

Leandro (Ftr 4)
→ Gunther (Ftr 3)

Kilim (Mach 2)
→ Thorwell (NM 0)
→ Thorcigar (NM 0)

Chil (Witch 4)

Marit (Expl 5)
→ Lee (Ftr 2)
→ Tom (Ftr 2)

The journey back to the Castle was slowed significantly by the large quantities of treasure taken from the Temple along with the need to carry the injured Marit. The party were lucky, however, and did not encounter any additional dangers on the way south.

On arriving at Aligar’s keep, the party were asked if they had any news of the missing Lord Aligar. It transpired that the magic used by Nantechildis to keep the Watch-Captain of the fort functional had begun to unravel in her absence and he had once again become incapable; she reworked her Delay Disease spell and he returned to commanding the much-reduced garrison. The bottles of Sallorn wine found in the Temple were distributed amongst the men, and between that and the crystalline head of the Red Eye leader the morale of the castle increased dramatically.

The next 5 days saw a re-arming and a lot of very tense watching of the horizon, waiting for reprisal attacks from the beasmen which thankfully did not arrive. On the fifth day, a column of dust from the south announced the arrival of a party of 30 men (20 light and 10 heavy infantry) led by Erikka Valerian, the teenaged daughter of Lord Rezo of Woodstead (the brother of the Duke). She explained that her father had detached this contingent from the levies he has been leading to Turos Tem and sent her with these men to investigate whether Aligar Castle still stood and, if so, aid in its defence.

Erikka turned out to be quite a character, taking opportunities to engage the adventurers in conversation and, while never giving direct insult, made it clear the extent to which she considers them her inferiors. She did mention, however, that she had heard of the dragon which was said to lair in the Temple and offered (some would say demanded) an opportunity to join the party when they chose to hunt the beast. She sparred with Leandro and while his strength gave him the edge, her skill with a sword proved quite considerable.

Nine more days passed without incident at the castle. The party took advantage of the opportunity of the castle’s new smith Sorgen Ashkla Steelsmith, who forged them new crossbow bolts and blades where needed, then with Marit’s bed rest complete (and a missing ear added her already impressively hideous all-over scarring) they forged out into the wilderness once more.

Taking the journey easy, the party decided to camp some distance from the Temple and approach the following day (having seen the twisting effects of the Stone on the local wildlife etc). In the morning as they were leaving the clearing that had been the site of their overnight camp, the party were surprised by the sudden appearance of a garishly-dressed young man in a bandana and scarf who came sprinting from the undergrowth in a wild rush.

Initially assuming an attack, the party swiftly realised that the young man was not armed and was bellowing for help; moments later the party spotted the arrival (noticeable in the forest due to its disturbance of the foliage) of an invisible monster which flung itself in an assault against the stranger. The party engaged the invisible creature and successfully drove it off; quickly discussing the situation with the stranger, they discovered that his name was Tomas and that his friends had foolishly angered a strange man, against Tomas’ wishes and counsel, and had been slain by the invisible beast as a result. (The adventurers were, of course, not fooled for a second, and quickly surmised that Tomas’ allies had attempted to rob a powerful wizard or similar being.) As they began to beat a hasty retreat, they were assailed again by the invisible stalker, but this time had a plan; and as a group their warriors began to surround the invisible monster, making it harder for the beast to escape and/or reach its intended quarry while Chil released Faerie Fire to outline the monster.

The beast was revealed as a strange otherworldly monster with an elongated head, reversed elbows thrusting deadly long claws and long spurs extending from its knees. The monster, clearly intelligent, quickly realised it had become visible and used its powerful legs to leap from the middle of the pack of fighters to seek cover in the undergrowth until the spell lapsed.

As they were recovering from that assault, Gunther spoke up with a “Um, can anyone else…” just before the whole party heard an almighty “CRACK!” as a branch snapped to no apparent source. Quickly identifying the area of the noise, the party began to soak it in missile fire and within moments, the injured figure of the missing wizard Malyn was seen to reappear, casting an incantation. Deciding that it was too risky to let a powerful arcanist loose his spell, Leandro charged forward with Witch Bane (whose ruby gems glowed with a powerful, almost malicious energy) and cut down the mage with a powerful stroke which cleaved his casting arm clean from his body.

(The party were probably right to make sure – Malyn was 1 initiative tick away from letting loose a 6d6 damage Fireball on them, packed together as they were for defence against the Invisible Stalker.)

Even as Malyn fell to the ground, the Invisible Stalker reappeared and made one last furious attempt to reach Tomas; the counter charge from the party’s warriors eventually struck lucky (the benefit of that +2 to hit on a charge) and it was at last slain, with the strange sight of the air seeming to be sucked into itself. In the aftermath of the fight, and with the party mostly sure no more invisible enemies waited to ambush them, the group moved to investigate Malyn’s campsite – finding his spellbook, a broken amulet (which they surmised he had used to summon the Invisible Stalker), Tomas’ cutlass and Southspur Wheeler, and the bodies of Malyn’s friends. They also took Malyn’s Amulet of ESP and a potion, identified by Nantechildis’ new Familiar as a Potion of Polymorph.

The party successfully persuaded Tomas that his best option would be to join up with them, and as a result they now have an additional Assassin 1 (Pirate) Henchman, who has been assigned to Leandro.

As the session ended, the party constructed their dungeon camp and made ready to strike into the Temple once more. What surprises has the Lady laid in store for them, with two weeks to prepare?

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Session 17 - The Red Eye Blinks

(I’m no longer completely certain of my session counts, but I think this was Session 17.)

The 17th session began with the party recovering from their terrifying fight with the Demon Spider, deep inside the Temple of the Stone. In attendance were:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Marit, Explorer 4, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Nantechildis, Witch 3, a Dark Oracle plagued by monstrous visions and dreams, from the haunted sunlit hills of Sallorn. (Asha)
Killim Tordil Mechanika, Machinist 1. a War Machinist of remarkable skill from the Khalzad Vault . (Delwyn)

The party composition currently stands at:

Leandro (Ftr 4)
→ Gunther (Ftr 3)

Kilim (Mach 1)

Chil (Witch 3)

Marit (Expl 4)
→ Lee (Ftr 1)
→ Tom (Ftr 1)

Reasoning that the poisonous gas had by now likely been diffused, the party decided to return to the Treasure Chamber.to try the silver key found by Killim during his search for Chil in the previous session. They found the bronze chest lying open, trapped but apparently not locked, and filled with rotten vestments held together with spun gold thread. Hidden amongst the threads were 10 large amethysts, each worth 100gp. The Dwarf bravely trod back into the chamber that had already almost claimed his life, and turned the silver key in the lock for the silver chest… which then opened easily, revealing a pile of oversized gold coins! Stamped with the auspices of a long-forgotten time, the gold had a value of at least 5,000gp by modern standards.

With a hopeful and increasingly greedy glance at the gold chest, the party decided to return to locating the stairs down into the next level of the Temple. Having been told by the spy that the primary route downward went via the dragon’s lair, they decided to attempt to make use of the stairwell near what had been the hobgoblin’s lair. On their way there, they found their former hobgoblin ally Hepteth staked to the wall with his throat cut; then, while making their way back to the reliquary (which Chil wanted to examine more closely), Kilim’s eyes noticed a piece of stonework which was misaligned. In his previous travel through this region he had been in a panicked and fleeing state, but now he could see the way the stonework had been moved; and after some work he discovered a secret door in the wall.

Behind the secret door lay a small cell containing 4 very surprised humans. Two were bound and gagged atop a stone bench, while two others sat with hands bound, looking haggard and underfed. To the southern part of the chamber a set of bars blocked the exit from the cell, and the adventurers quickly removed the prisoners from their cell and closed the door. The two prisoners in solied, stinking robes were Daros Thenes and Osysios Panas, whom the party quickly recognised as the two merchants that were sought by the Aeropos back in Turos Tem, while the bound and gagged prisoners were a pair of former merchant guards, brothers named Thorwell and Thorcigar. The brothers offered to join the party; it was suggested that they return to the party’s camp with the merchants and eat and drink, with possibilities for employment to be discussed later.

After the prisoners were clear of the area, the adventurers decided on a ruse – they would attract the attention of the kobold guards, then bait them into an ambush, thus preventing the guards from drawing too much attention to their own presence. This worked reasonably well, with the kobolds noticing the ambush but the party’s powerful warriors making short work of them anyway. Once this loose end was tied up, the adventurers decided it was time to venture down the stairs at the eastern end of the hobgoblin lair.

The stairs descended into a cavern which tapered off impassably to the south. At the point of a natural intersection between this cavern and another, a wall had been built to block the entrance, and a heavy door had been constructed within. Noting that it appeared that the door had been built to keep things in rather than out, the party began to deconstruct the exposed hinges of the door; and as they finished breaking the door down, a cry from Chil indicated an ambush from behind! However, whichever group had tried to attack the party began their attack with a thrown flask of alchemist’s fire which set the stairs ablaze; with the door open and their attackers unable or unwilling to move through the intense flames, the group simply moved further into the dungeon.

They found themselves in a much larger cavern with a number of stone pillars holding the ceiling above. This cavern was partially filled with a broad pool of reddish liquid that looked and smelled like blood; exits left to the northeast, northwest, west and south, with the southern exit partly blocked by the fluid. The party initially explored to the northeast, finding a cavern completely filled with moss and lichen; suspicious, they stopped and threw out a chicken carcass they had stored; a green slime immediately dropped from the ceiling and began to consume the chicken carcass. Figuring that there might be more, the party retreated to the cavern with the blood lake to choose another exit.

As the party deliberated, Chil chose to disturb the late of blood-like fluid with the party’s 10-foot pole. Shortly after, a weird, twisted creature some four feet across, almost like a sphere of constantly shifting mouths, tentacles, limbs and other body parts, rose to the surface and made strange noises in her direction. Apparently concluding that she posed no threat, it eventually sank beneath the liquid again; the party decided not to investigate it further as Kilim and Marit snuck northwest to see what lay in that direction.

At the end of the passageway, they found themselves watching as 6 gnolls were listening to a huge, 7 feet tall gnoll apparently made of crystal (or perhaps an animated statue that resembled a gnoll?). The party gathered in ambush, and waited until the crystal gnoll ordered the others away apart from two bodyguards; then launched their attack.

The initial fight went well for the party, with the gnolls quickly tied up to reduce the impact of their fabled charge, while Leandro charged the large crystalline gnoll and a spell from Chil knocked him from his feet. Rather than attempt to regain his footing, the gnoll’s glowing third eye flared; a few moments later the adventurers smashed him to pieces, but not before two more parties of Red Eye gnolls came charging from the south.

One group was low on numbers, apparently due to some yellow mold spores, while the other group was six strong. Chil stepped out in the path of their charge and unleashed her magic again, forcing the lead gnoll to fall and causing many of the others to trip over them as they ran. With the attack blunted and split, the party fought back hard, while in the other passageway the missile-armed Kilim and Marit tried to snipe down the attack from the three mold-covered gnolls. Kilim’s bolts felled two, but the last got through the gauntlet of arrows and bolts, felled the henchman Tom, then closed its jaws around Marit’s head before being slain…

Eventually with their leader dead, the gnolls began to withdraw, while Kilim struggled to retrieve the sticky golden potion they had found the day before in a desperate attempt to prevent Marit bleeding to death from a dire wound to her ear and the side of her face. Luck smiled on them and the potion turned out to have been a Potion of Healing. With injured party members and no immediate threat to deal with, the party decided to quickly loot the area and retreat from the Temple, finding no sign of their assailant at the stairs.

The Red Eye Gnolls had been destroyed, but the party had been forced to retreat and grant the Lady Below time to react to their assaults on her fastness. How will she respond?

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Session Catchup - 6/11/2017

Work has been crazy, so I’ve not been keeping this up to date, but aside from 1 week we’ve been surging along this last month.

As of the last session:

- With the exception of Idimmu the Demonic, the ground floor of the Temple has been cleared out.
- The Kobolds were defeated over a couple of incursions, with their king offering surrender and to take his tribe away from the Temple.
- The Orcs were defeated fairly easily via the application of military oil to a throne built on a pile of bookcases. (Sadly this burned up some scrolls in the old library.)
- The Goblins were missing; there was evidence that they had been forced out, with a few corpses found in their territory.
- The Hobgoblins were a risky and dangerous fight which almost turned against the players in the absence of Leandro, but finally swung their way. They killed the tribe’s Witch Doctor, gave the injured and dying Chieftain the Good Death he desired, and befriended one of the Champions.
- Much treasure has been found, along with a couple of routes below. The warrior Gunther turned out to be extremely talented at spotting secret doors, and between his gift and Killim’s Dwarven skills, most of the dungeon’s secrets are being discovered – including a room containing three chests, each a different colour (gold, silver and bronze). An attempt at opening the bronze chest resulted in the release of a cloud of poisonous gas which Kilim barely survived; the party elected to flee the area and wait until the gas escaped through the weird windows of the dungeon’s rooms.
- An agent belonging to the Lady Below was captured, who turned out to be a mercenary agent quite willing to sell out the Lady in return for his own life. It was strongly suggested that he is a member of the same spy “guild” as the Bear’s own assistant.
- There have been some nasty injuries, including a nasty blow to the new Dwarf Machinist Killim which required a week of bed rest. In addition, several of Nantechildis’ minions have died in glorious battle. The group are beginning to get a reputation for losing their henches.
- The Bear led a strike against the beastmen in the forest in order to draw away numbers from the Temple. This went badly for the Aligar garrison, and the Bear and his assistant were last seen pursuing a strange orc amongst the enemy.
- The heroes explored a little further into the Temple to find routes downwards, and in doing so disturbed a powerful and dangerous Cave Spider that was possessed by some sort of entity which referred to Chil as “Sister”. Chil fled and hid, and took some time to be found; meanwhile the spider killed one of the party’s henches with its venom and almost managed to kill Killim before finally being felled.

The party retreated to their camp in order to plan their next strike against the Temple and its inhabitants.

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Session Catchup - 9/10/2017

Apologies for the lack of updates. Since the last Session Log, the party have:

- Breached the remaining chamber of the Fallen Manor of Oranas, successfully managing to earth out the massive overload of power before it could destroy the surrounding area.
- Resolved a tense stand-off between the guard of Rannir and the mercenary company encamped there.
- Met a young Witch (Asha) and been led by her to step up their campaign against the forces at the Temple.
- Lost their Nightblade Junwatu as he returned to the Elven Courts in failure with the remains of his charge (Adam left the group).
- Discovered that the Mage Malyn “The Magnificent” at Turos Tem has gone missing.
- Visited Castle Aligar, home of the Duke’s uncle (known as the Bear).
- Launched an initial raid against the Temple, killing many kobolds and bandits and taking the bandit chief Drusus captive (as well as slaying his lieutenant Antonius), at the cost of Guillermo and the hireling Bob.
- Returned to Turos Tem in triumph with their captive.
- Encountered a dwarven trading party including a Machinist who has decided to become an adventurer (Delwyn).
- Discovered a murderous plot at the fortress.
- Been the subject of terrifying visions and prophecies involving “The Seven”, leading to Genelen the Priestess ending up in a coma.

As things stand coming up to the thirteenth session, most of the the party are at Turos Tem gathering reinforcements, with Leandro currently training troops at Aligar Castle in case of reprisal attacks from the Temple.

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Session 9 - My Immortal

The ninth session began with our heroes returning to the village of Rannir to rest and recuperate. The situation had shifted a little, however; and soon enough tragedy would befall the adventurers.

In attendance were:

Guillermo Acosta, Grand Alchemist 4, a seeker of secrets from the far-off city of Candleton. (Delwyn)
Marit, Explorer 4, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Maeralya, Elven Enchantress 2, an Antiquarian from the far-off Elven Courts. (Asha)
Junwatu, Elven Nightblade 1, a Silent Slayer from the Elven Courts. (Adam)

The party were surprised to discover that the Bargainer mercenaries were still at the village on their return; they had supposed to be moving on at much the same time as the adventurers. After some gathering of information, the party discovered that the Bargainers had received a visitor just as they were preparing to leave; a scout who had refused to surrender his weapons and attempted to force his way past the guards. The scout having been beaten insensible, the village had devolved into a painfully tense stand-off, with the village guard captain refusing to allow the mercenaries to leave until “investigations were completed”. Marit consulted with her friend amongst the mercenaries and discovered that while their leader was not particularly interested in causing a scene, he was unable to back down without losing face; a thing few mercenary captains are willing to do. Caught in the midst of this mess (and angry at being treated differently simply due to being a Leaguesman), Leandro made a point of remaining at the village with Bertram, Erasmus and the injured dogs in order to ensure that the situation did not dissolve into violence and result in the death of innocent villagers. Guillermo and Marit arranged to ensure that the scout was brought to consciousness, hoping that might encourage the situation to a peaceful resolution.

The rest of the party spent some time interacting with the villagers, enjoying a fine meal and some drinks at the inn while Maeralya went in search of villagers with an in-depth knowledge of the human body; ending up, to the surprise of herself and others, at the village’s bawdy-house. The madam of the brothel turned out to have an understanding of elves, and spent some time explaining human concepts to Maeralya before eventually persuading her to engage in more brothel-oriented activities.

The next day saw the much-reduced party return to the Fallen Manor of Vicearch Oranas. Party composition was:

Marit (Expl 4)
→ Bob (Ftr 2 / Henchman) (+1 Morale)

Guillermo Acosti ( Alc 4)

Maeralya (Enc 2)
→ “Mook” (Ftr 1 / Henchman)

Junwatu (Nbl 1)

Returning to the Crossroads with little trouble, they first explored down the trickle-stream to the east; discovering that it ended in a set of gated bars blocking entrance to a room with.a few rusted pieces of metal that may have once been manacles. The rivulet ran into a drain in the centre of this room. Reasoning that this room was likely a prison and therefore highly unlikely to have any other exits, they turned their attention to the southern corridor.

The southern corridor ended with another reinforced door. Guillermo declared that he had a possible way to get through this door, and began slow work on reagents to burn through the lock. However, the work took a long, long time; and after around 20 minutes, Mook (who was on guard at the Crossroads) sounded a warning as the ground shook and a huge crashing sound emerged from the western corridor. Mook retreated to guard Maeralya, and the party assumed defensive positions as fast as they could as they were attacked by 3 massive, hulking Minotaurs!

Peppered with arrows as they rounded the corner, the Minotaurs took little notice and one charged Mook as the others attempted to overrun him where he stood blocking access to the other adventurers. Yet Mook was made of sterner stuff, and absorbed the Minotaur’s assault (and significantly injured him in turn) while preventing the other two pushing past him.

This gave the rest of the group enough time to begin working out a defence. Guillermo began concocting a fiery formula, while Maeralya attempted to Charm the nearest Minotaur. Sadly, the Minotaurs could not be touched by her magic. Arrows and flaming alchemical magic assailed the Minotaurs, and Maeralya waited to be grabbed by her Jump-enhanced friend Junwatu… but he arrived too late to rescue her, as both she and Mook collapsed under the assault of the beasts. As Bob struggled to hold the line, Guillermo prepared another flaming preparation and forced it into the face of a Minotaur, which fell, but one of its colleagues stepped in and felled Guillermo with a clawed hand to the face. The other remaining Minotaur charged at Marit, recognising her arrows as a major threat; she dropped her bow and readied a spear, and in its desperation to avoid the unexpected weapon the Minotaur crashed horns-first into the door. Junwatu and Bob finished the weakened, burned Minotaur in time to see Marit fall under the beast’s fists, and they charged it from behind; Bob fell to the creature’s goring horns, and Junwatu finally slipped his lethal blade between its ribs.

Looking around he realised for the first time that everyone else had fallen. The adventurers had come perilously close to being killed and eaten! He quickly prioritised an attempt to awaken Guillermo the healer, but he was bleeding badly from his damaged eye and could not yet be woken. With a sinking heart, Junwatu examined the others; he knew before even looking more closely that Maeralya and her human companion “Mook” were surrounded by far too much blood…

In the aftermath, it transpired that only Junwatu and Marit were sufficiently capable to begin lifting those still living from the chamber. Guillermo’s eye was badly damaged but likely to eventually heal; Bob was severely injured but would eventually recover; but they had lost two of their number to the beasts. Junwatu had failed in his mission, and a young elf had died at the hands of the beasts of the underground.

Hearts heavy, they made ready to carry the injured and the dead back to Rannir. Marit took the opportunity before they left to look through the crack in the door created by the minotaur’s horns; inside she saw complex machinery of some kind, accompanied by a palpable sense of energy that thrummed in the air. But that would have to wait.

Total Treasure: 0gp
XP Gained: 960xp

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Session 8 - Of Hounds and Elves

The eighth session began with our heroes encamped outside the Fallen Manor of Vicearch Oranas, licking their wounds and counting their loot. Meanwhile, a mysterious elven stranger approached the fortress of Turos Tem.

In attendance:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 4, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Guillermo Acosta, Grand Alchemist 4, a seeker of secrets from the far-off city of Candleton. (Delwyn)
Marit, Explorer 4, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Maeralya, Elven Enchantress 2, an Antiquarian from the far-off Elven Courts. (Asha)
Junwatu, Elven Nightblade 1, a Silent Slayer from the Elven Courts. (Adam)

Unknown to the adventurers, Maeralya’s absence from the Elven Courts had not gone unnoticed. Junwatu was an “uncle” (a close friend who serves as an aide or assistant to Elf parents in dealing with the extremely long childhood of Elves) to Maeralya, and had noticed her sudden disappearance with consternation. Junwatu is a member of the Elven order of Nghtblades, those entrusted with ensuring that the Elves do not again descend into barbarism and extremism; knowing that young and impulsive Elves are often in danger of digging into taboo and forbidden lore, the old Slayer had travelled across the continent to find her.

The party were gassed and injured; in need of safer rest than the wilderness could grant, thy returned to the inn at Rannir to rest and recuperate, as well as to declare their treasure for Trove purposes. While at the Inn, they encountered some new guests; a party of mercenaries from far off Redmold at the western end of the Bargainer’s League had arrived. The mercenaries were not shy about declaring their intent; they had been asked to pacify a region some way to the northeast, and were taking pains to ensure they were not causing border issues. Still, the guard were clearly watching the inn. Leandro passed time with the mercenaries and Marit let their leader know about the potential for employment given the need for warriors against the Gnolls. As the night wore on, the party eventually met with Junwatu. Not certain of the strange elf, the party reluctantly agreed to let him come along on their expeditions. That night the party were assailed with strange and portentous dreams, though unlike the ones that happened close to the Temple of the Stone, the heroes could remember little when they awoke. Trove was declared the next morning and, unsuprisingly, was rapidly declared in favour of the party, with little if any chance of living owners or inheritors. With little to present to Aramas in terms of their agreement, the party made sure their wounds were healed and returned to the site of the Manor.

Marit (Expl 4)
→ Bob (Ftr 2 / Henchman) (+1 Morale)
→ Cullie (Hunting Dog)

Guillermo Acosti ( Alc 4)
→ Erasmus (Ftr 2 / Henchman)

Maeralya (Enc 2)
→ “Mook” (Ftr 1 / Henchman)
→ Keletheryl (War Hound)

Leandro (Ftr 4)
→ Bertram (Ftr 2 / Henchman)

Junwatu (Nbl 1)

With little time having passed, they discovered that nobody had yet claimed the entrance chamber, and returned quickly to the Crossroads. Marit and Leandro had prepared a plan, and Marit began constructing tripwires across the directions they did not plan to explore. This process took much longer than they had intended, but they were luckily not interrupted.

Exploring to the west of the Crossroads they soon found themselves in a partially-collapsed room; the ceiling had collapsed at some point, allowing a thin trickle of water to run across and out of the door. As they examined the rubble, a huge and hideous maggot-like creature with 8 spiny probosces erupted from the stones and attacked! It threatened to overrun the party but Leandro had prepared a defence; arrows shrieked into the beast’s maw, and shields and spears waited to skewer the beast. The Carcass Scavenger began to latch on with its tentacles but was already faltering, and soon fell dead with no-one harmed.

With the beast slain, the party explored the rest of the chamber. Near the edge of the cave-in lay a locked oaken door. As Guillermo began to crowbar the hinges and Leandro began to hack at the lock with his axe, the party heard a commotion from the surface.

On the surface, a small band of Hobgoblins that had been watching the group arrive had chosen this moment to attack while the main body of the adventuring party was below ground. The remaining force on the surface consisted of Marit’s henchman Bob along with the two dogs, Cullie and Keletheryl. The fight was tough, with archers causing significant trouble for the defenders while the attacking hobgoblins rapidly surrounded Bob. Both of the dogs fell within a few moments, but Bob fought on bravely, slaying several of the goblinoids before being reinforced by Junwatu’s sudden surprise leap from the underground; the acrobatic prowess of the Nightblade being reinforced by the power of Maeralya’s Jump spell. With the arrival of Marit, Bertram, Erasmus and Mook, the tide was fully turned, and the last Hobgoblin attempted to retreat while continuing to shoot; Junwatu slew it as it fled.

Down in the Warrens, word was passed of the injuries to Guillermo and he headed to the surface at speed. Once the door was destroyed, Leandro turned from it to climb up and make sure all was safe there… and as he stepped away from the door, a large pit opened revealing a huge pit filled with vicious-looking brass spikes. Barely able to edge around the pit, he realised that the door led to a small storage chamber, in which was held a large quantity of goods.

On the surface, the two Hounds and Bob had fallen. One of the hounds suffered a severe leg wound and the other was injured enough to need bed rest, while it transpired that poor Bob had only a graze and a sore head to worry about. Still, the party was injured and in poor condition; so as they began to recover the (incredibly valuable) loot from the storage room, they decided to return to the village to recover.

The storage room contained:

2000 gold pieces
5000 silver pieces
4000 electrum pieces
9 bales of garishly dyed cloth, worth 10gp each (4st/each)
3 crates of glassware, worth 200gp each (5st/each)
Bundle of 12 rare alchemical smokesticks worth 20gp each.

And a gem pouch containing:
1 raw red diamond worth 1000gp
1 sunset amethyst worth 750gp
1 piece chalcedony worth 75gp
1 piece hematite worth 10gp
3 large tiger eyes worth 30gp
2 yellow-orange citrines worth 50gp

Total Treasure: 6,255gp
Components: 225gp
XP Gained: 6,480xp.

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Session 7 - Laboratory Larks

The seventh session began with most of our heroes in the village of Rannir, beneath the shadow of the mighty Tower. Meanwhile, Maeralya approached the village with news about the terrible Temple to the east.

In attendance:

Leandro Rebes, Fighter 3, a Mercenary from the Bargainer’s League with a powerful grudge. (Matthew)
Guillermo Acosta, Grand Alchemist 3, a seeker of secrets from the far-off city of Candleton. (Delwyn)
Marit, Explorer 3, a skilled Monster Hunter from the violent hills of Estiria. (Catherine)
Maeralya, Elven Enchantress 1, an Antiquarian from the far-off Elven Courts. (Asha)

Not long after the party arrived at the village, Maeralya also arrived, catching the group up on what she had discovered about the historical repeating of the current trouble afflicting the region. In turn, Guillermo let her know what they had discovered about the alchemical laboratory nearby; that the settlement of Red Oak no longer existed, but there was a well-known landmark known as Red Oak in the region.

Retiring for the night, the party were afflicted by strange dreams.

The party took the opportunity to visit the Spell-Wright Asandarin the morning. He was apparently waiting for them to arrive and invited them to his sanctum, where he gave them some information about the location they sought; it had once belonged to the local Vicearch, a title roughly equivalent to Earl, who had been an Alchemist of ill and dark repute, much given to experimenting upon the local population. Several adventuring groups had already attempted to locate the laboratory, though they had so far returned empty handed and some maimed by traps or passing monsters; and the location itself had from time to time become a stopping point for bands of beastmen. Still, Asandar gave the party his blessing to attempt the delve, in return for a promise of whatever spellbooks and research notes they could uncover.

With the local ruler’s blessing, the party headed off to locate the ancient laboratory.

Party Structure:

Marit (Expl 3)
→ Bob (Ftr 2 / Henchman) (+1 Morale)
→ Cullie (Hunting Dog)

Guillermo Acosti ( Alc 3)
→ Erasmus (Ftr 2 / Henchman)

Maeralya (Enc 1)
→ “Mook” (Ftr 1 / Henchman)
→ Keletheryl (War Hound)

Leandro (Ftr 3)
→ Bertram (Ftr 2 / Henchman)

The journey to the former site of Red Oak was short and uneventful. On arriving at the area, the party began to notice strange aberrations in the wildlife in the area; as well as the peculiar red-budding tree, the grass grew in peculiar shades and some of the smaller wildlife was mutated and strange. Guillermo suggested that the laboratory was leaking alchemical elements and reagents into the surrounding area.

Taking this as confirmation that they were in the right area, the party began to search for the entrance mentioned in the snipped of text they had seen. The only almost-standing structue was a couple of walls and a boulder supporting a small portion of remaining ceiling; Marit discovered a beam blocking then entrance (and supporting the roof), which she squeezed past. Inside, the mossy stonework floor was interrupted by a large stone slab. Attempting to squeeze out, Marit accidentally disturbed the beam and the ceiling collapsed, barely missing crushing her.

The party spent a while clearing the rubble from the floor, and then Maeralya noticed a lever in the wall. Using a rope to pull the lever (having been warned of traps), the party watched as the slab slid aside easily on oiled runners. The first thing the group noticed was the stink of kobold dung!

From beneath, the kobolds jabbered threats in their debased version of Beast-Hakk. Leandro threatened them back, and when challenged to “come down here and say that”, responded by leaping into the chamber. The following combat was mostly one-sided as the party above poured missile fire into the kobolds (Marit shooting three dead in a matter of seconds) and Leandro hacked through them; the last survivor obeyed the kobold champion’s order to open one of the doors and was immediately cast down by a massive, nine foot long weasel!

This was a somewhat more dangerous foe and even though the party hammered it with arrows and sling bullets, it managed to charge Leandro. He was ready for it, however, and set his halberd to receive the charge. The beast thundered into him and sank its teeth into his shoulder; yet even as it began to attempt to drink his blood, it started to fall limp, impaled clean through on the polearm.

With the cellar cleared of enemies, the party took a moment to get their bearings as they began to climb down, and Guillermo took the opportunity to treat Leandro’s vicious shoulder wound. The cellar had three doors, one of which was already opened; the cupboard behind was filled with weasel dung and pieces of regurgitated fur and bone. The northern exit was crudely boarded up, and the other door was stuck; Leandro easily opened it with a kick of his boot. inside lay a dusty wine rack in a darkened room. He then quickly noticed that the wine-rack was on a balancing platform, and poked the rack with his 10 foot pole; a crossbow bolt thudded from a gap in the wall and embedded itself in the floor. Examining the crossbow bolt, Guillermo determined that it had once been poisoned with purple worm venom, an extremely deadly toxin; but it had long ago expired.

Tearing the boards off the final exit from this room revealed a shaft heading downward and a set of rusted rungs, along with a smell of damp air. The party wisely decided not to attempt to use the rungs and instead descended ropes into the floor below.

Down below the cellar was a circular room forming a crossroads. A rivulet ran across the stone floor from west to east, while several of the party noticed a low but consistent humming sound coming from the south. On this basis, the party decided to head north, advancing carefully and leaving some of their number to guard the cellar.

The north corridor ended with a locked door. Leandro borrowed his henchman’s axe and made relatively quick work of the door as the others watched nervously around for ambushes. Inside was a room with painted, pinkish walls; another door waited on the opposite side. Entering, Marit realised with a sudden freezing feeling that the room had a fine notch all along the walls at roughly neck height; quickly ordering everyone out, the party watched as a pair of large serrated blades flashed suddenly from either side, slicing out across where their necks had been mere moments earlier.

Further careful investigation indicated that the floor was hinged in the middle; standing to either side at all caused the floor to descend slightly, setting off the trap. Leandro spiked the notches and advanced to investigate the other door, which had a handle but no apparent lock. Assuming by this point that the door must be trapped, he asked his henchman (who was a former lumberman) to fetch some chisels and a saw; and soon enough the team began to saw around the handle before malleting the handle into the next room.

The door hinged in the wall and opened into the pink-walled chamber, making it difficult not to step to either side. The light from the lantern revealed a large laboratory centred around a great operating table. Six niches containing corpses lay on either side of the room, while great permanent metamphora lay between the niches, and a huge piece of alchemical equipment of some kind stood on a metal gantry hanging over the surgical table. At one side of the equipment lay a storage cupboard, while a large, barred metal door lay at the other.

The corpses in the niches started shedding mercury as they slowly shambled to their feet, vicious-looking bladed weapons attached to their arms in place of hands. Quickly recognising the danger, Leandro moved everyone back across the antechamber, physically pulling Guillermo away as he tried to puzzle out the alchemical/surgical equipment. Taking a position on the other side of the trap room, Leandro blocked the door with the intention of allowing the alchemical “zombie” monsters to shamble into the trapped chamber. The monsters were extremely strong and surprisingly skilled; some of them began to land hits even despite Leandro’s armour and shield, but eventually the trap went off. Bertram landed an excellent charge with Leandro’s polearm, killing one of the creatures, though he lost the polearm in the attempt. Shortly afterwards, Guillermo released his powerful Burning Hands spell; 3 more fell to the ground in flames, and the party looked in wonder at the alchemist.

Leandro slowly retreated to allow the party to shoot at the zombies, and the two remaining monsters began to overrun the party a little, one of them getting access to Guillermo and only narrowly failing to gut him. But the party regained their composure and with Guillermo’s sap and Maeralya’s staff added to the battle line the tide turned once more; Leandro beheaded the burning zombie and Bertram took advantage of the gap to zip around the other side and bury his axe in the only one still standing.

Though there were worries about the toxic burning mercury (not to mention the huge pools of the stuff on the floor), the party advanced into the laboratory once more. One of the destroyed mercury zombies had a strange blade strapped to its thigh; on examination, this was determined to be an “elementally perfect” blade, with an effect similar to Mythril. A green-tinted potion sat on the surgical table; although on initial testing it appeared to be a Potion of Heroism, it was identified as a Potion of Delusion by the expert Alchemist. The four huge metamphora were found to contain a pair of Wyvern corpses and a pair of Ogre corpses.

Breaking open the equipment locker caused the tinkling sound of breaking glass, and suddenly the smell of mercury vanished as alchemical “anti-scent” filled the room. Inside the locker are the following items:

2 wrought gold chains worth 1000gp each,
1 orichalcum chalice worth 4000gp
1 set of finely wrought platinum scales worth 900gp.

Partly choked and somewhat battered, the party decided to grab what they had found so far and return to the surface to recover.

This added:
865gp of killed creature components
Two Wyvern Stingers (720gp)
Two Wyvern Wingtips (720gp)
Two sets of Ogre Knucklebones (280gp)

Total Treasure: 6,900gp
Components: 2,585gp
XP Gained: 9,485xp

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