Lighthouse for the Blind

11th Session, Killing the Tar Nest
The Sunless Citadel
Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WohNkeFjm4M

Summary:

Dahloy, Nizhoni, Conor, Zwaithe and Skelly (Aliin, the undead Rae-Jsha) first release the Mud Fiend (now a venerable spirit) from its ancient duty. For this, and the humble act of cleaning the mud from the chamber, the spirit gives each a temporary boon for the next 24 hours. Dahloy gains the effects of the power ectoplasmic form (SRD, activate/deactivate at-will), Nizhoni gains the soulmeld scholar’s adornment (custom, currently bound to her Crown chakra), Conor gains the effects of the recitation of the wise man (tWWW, augmented twice), Zwaithe gains the effects of the sonic lash special ability of the sonokineticist (see here, adds 1d6 sonic damage to whip), and Aliin gains the effects of the mystery alacrity (see here).

After the spirit flies away, Dahloy and Nizhoni’s party decides to open the sarcophogus in front of them. A necrocarnum troll zombie (Jadhak hiChna’él, former priest of Sárku) is released and starts to fight them in an epic montage involving the troll shifting necrocarnum essentia (energy) between his chakras, morphing him into a strong, fast, or tough opponent as needed. But Dahloy and Nizhoni are more effective as Dahlor quickly chips off bits of old bones with Supernal Clarity and Nizhoni slashes the enemy with her claws and miraculously heals her own wounds (while Conor attends to the others). Skelly (Aliin) and Nizhoni serve as the tanks, saving their party members from numerous blows.

After the battle the group collects several magical scrolls and two hundred silver pieces, they rest and recoup some of their health before deciding to return to the main area of the dungeon the next day (Dahloy noted the treasure). While resting, the psicrystal playing hide-and-seek with Aeislun before awakens Dahloy. Following it into the hallway, he notices a small, twisted, twig-like creature holding Aaromal’s chastity belt at the end of the hall. Chasing after it, he never quite gets a good enough shot before it deftly navigates a trapped corridor leading to the slig infested area of the fortress level. Dahloy and the others are unable to follow safely, and so they decide to go back to the surface to investigate what’s happened to Aaromal and Umata. Once there, they discover that someone has cut the rope, seemingly killed Umata (all that remains is a mess of vines and a few eye stalks), and Aaromal is no-where to be seen. After an extensive search that yields no answers, Dahloy takes what remains of Umata’s corpse and he and his party continue resting to recover their wounds.

The next day is one of great bloodshed. Dahloy and Nizhoni’s group begins their trip back to the ugly underground citadel when a battle starts in the nest of the giant snakes!

Rymyr, Nebes, Scarlett, Aeislun and the expendable ugly guy (the bvanen bounder) we got to come along with us are unable to catch the three snakes off guard by coup de gracing them because they react extremely fast. The group settles in for a long and nasty battle, wherein Nebes does about 75% (!) of the damage needed to kill the fat Mother Snake (she’s like 3 hexes wide!) who tries to eat Aeislun who has to pull some elven luck to get out of the situation only to be grabbed by her child to the right (who turns down offers of help in order to let the party focus on the big one). Nebes also wounds one of the other snakes later on. In the meantime Rymyr jumps over the pit to catch up with the rest and wounds the snake to the left with a crossbow and tags the various enemies with true-naming utterances and incantations, ensuring the blows will do more damage. The expendable ugly guy misses twice, but gets a hit on the mother snake in the third round setting it up for Zwaithe to finish off, so yay him!

Three more snakes reinforce the battle! Dahloy, Nizhoni, Conor, Zwaithe and Skelly (Aliin) arrive in the middle of the battle, Nizhoni using her roar to scare the weak-willed serpents and slashing and biting them with her claws and fangs, Zwaithe whipping them, Dahloy shooting him accidentally in the back with a fire power before firing off powers and stabbing at the enemies, and Conor preparing to heal anyone that’s fallen. Skelly helps by stabbing a snake to death that Dahloy and Zwaithe have wounded.

Aeislun tries to get free after casting vigor by biting off the snake’s tail but just damages his trachea and starts suffocating from its tail.
Scarlett basically kills one of the other snakes on her own and wounds another, and when the snake grabbing Aeislun drags him down into the loose underground dirt (turns out he needed help after all) she dives in after him using her sandswim ability!
Aeislun is overcome with rage at this embaressment and achieving the zen-focus of his entire race’s psychic ability focused into him at that moment (a natural happenstance as he is the savior of his race) he eats the entire python-size bastard from the inside out. Scarlet grabs him and resurfaces to safety, while she is able to breath surrounded by dirt she has no doubt saved Aeislun’s life.
At this point the entire party basically shivs one of the last two remaining snakes to death – but the last one attempts to escape. Still on his limit break and powered up by the guts of his former captor Aeislun unleashes his pent-up psychic power, causing an earthquake and spikes of sand that bruises the snake attempting to escape and throwing it into the air where it’s perforated to death by the snake guts being projectile-vomited by Aeislun at supersonic speeds. The bvanen bounder is absolutely amazed at the skill and powers displayed by the party.

The party then congratules each other, shares stories of what’s happened so far then goes to the portal of the ancient, powerful and good but dead race, so that one of the children can open the door because the rest of us are evil or at least not good by their standards (they have shown this opinion by us touching the door triggering a swinging battleaxe trap!). Connor sits down and chants an ancient, arcane language, and then with eyes glazed over, he says something in a more common tongue “He cannot put his water spirit in the tree, for an evil spirit already struggles within.” After he comes to his senses, blows his words of power toward the door, and it opens. Skelly is sent into the room to pick up to walk on every single hex and prod every five-foot hex of surface on the walls and ceiling, then picks up the potions there and looks and take notes of the arcane script for Rhymer to decode, in return he is able to work off fifty silver of his debt.

The party then asks the bvanen bounder what the areas they haven’t explored are. He tells them that two are storage rooms, one is the turtle’s feeding area, and the last few are bvanen barracks. The party notes that one of the books of the History of Bodach is possibly in the storage room, based off his description. The party finally returns to the nest of the dead snakes to take a secret route from it through the dirt that will lead to a room to its left guarded more lightly by sligs holding the people we were sent to save hostage (plus a giant pet turtle). Therein we are to save the skelly/Rae-Jsha hatchlings and turtle and perhaps some human/other children as well, after giving this room a cursory check for loot (and a more serious search after we save the children hopefully).

Yay us!

Hooray for Good Intentions, for we have triumped over a bunch of slimy, scaly snakes – thus showing our superiority over our serpentine foes and deserving of lunch!

Character Points:
Aeislun 4, Nizhoni 3, Scarlett 5, Dahloy 2, Nebes 3, Rymyr 1

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Session 10
The Sunless Citadel
Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh-CWoAXV8g

Summary:

Bloodied and tired from their last encounter, the group of adventurers set about searching the immediate area finding 6 small rooms each containing a reptilian nest. Aeislun searches each of the nests in turn, hoping to uncover hidden treasures and is rewarded for his effort with eighteen snake eggs, a gem and a number of partially digested ceramic pieces. The group is eager to find a place to rest, but curiosity and the temptation of riches drives them to investigate one last room…

Cautiously, the adventurers open the door to find a large room with two sprung traps held open with bones and it is clear that someone or something had passed through there before. Aeislun deftly jumped the trap and silently searched the room. On the far wall there was a large dried up fountain and above it a worn inscription with a picture of a wavy black line with a red circle. Another door led into a cavernous room with a very large nest in the centre. With the party in need of rest the group decided to investigate this dark room at a later point, prompting Aeislun to quietly close the door to the room again. Eager to uncover the mystery of the inscription, Rymyr carefully navigated the deadly pit trap and entered the room to investigate the strange writing. Upon speaking the words inscribed on the wall aloud a noxious gas erupted from the fountain, covering the room in a choking cloud that caused violent waves of nausea in the two curious adventurers. The party flees the room in search of a safe place to rest. Remembering a quiet room with a solid door that they encountered earlier in the day, the group heads back the way they came.

Retracing their steps, the party moved through the previously explored rooms. Curiosity again diverted them from their path to safety as they sought to investigate another wall mounted fountain. This fountain, like the previous, had an inscription above it which Rymyr read aloud. As soon as the strange words were spoken a red liquid trickled from the mouth of the fountain and pooled in the bowl. After quickly studying the liquid Rymyr and Aeislun decided to drink some of it before it drained from the bowl. Soon after, both developed a burning sensation in their stomachs and an urge to “burp”. Aeislun was the first to release the pressure in his belly and was surprise when he expelled a jet of hot fire that scorched a nearby wall. Still bleeding from her wounds Scarlett encouraged the party to find a place to rest.

The brave adventurers made their way back to the room that contained a strange Ooze creature (I cannot remember the name). Feeling confident with their new fire breathing abilities the party believed that they could destroy this foe and discover the secrets that it guarded. Scarlett broke open the door allowing Aeislun and Rymyr blow fire on the waiting creature. The Ooze appeared to be hurt by the assault, but in retaliation it released a foul smelling gas that incapacitated all the party members who drew breath. Choking and running from the gas, the party retreated, however in a final act of vengeance the Ooze spat a glob of acid at Rymyr that hit him full in the chest, wounding him badly and knocking him unconscious. The creature then slammed the door to the room closed again leaving the adventurers alone to lick their wounds.

The group sought refuge in a nearby room using the time to rest, sleep and tend to Rymyr’s life threating wounds. Scarlett ripped off Rymr’s breast plate to stop the acid from damaging him any further while the other party members fought to keep him alive. In time and with the skill of his friends Rymr was stabilized but he was still in a grave state. Unable to continue with their quest in their current state the party agreed to seek the help of the queen and her healing powers.

The queen was willing to help the unfortunate adventurers, for a price. After some skilful negotiation the queen agreed to aid the party if they were to cook a meal to her high standards. The adventurers toiled for most of the morning in preparation of this meal, and with the aid of a potion, delivered a meal the queen regarded as outstanding in flavour. She healed Rymyr’s wounds, taking damage herself in the process. After further pleading from the party, the queen declared that she would heal all wounds suffered if the adventurers were to make her an equally delicious lunch. As such, the party returned to the dirty kitchen to make another fine meal for the queen, who upon tasting it kept to her promise.

Fully rested and healed the adventurers returned to the cavernous room with the large nest in the centre. Inside they found a massive snake like creature that is ready to strike…

Character Points:
Aeislun 3, Rymyr 3, Scarlett 3, Nebes 3

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9th Session
The Sunless Citadel
Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhsngx18RDQ

Summary:

Nizhoni’s life took another strange turn, but she was used to strange. She had known that the ruins of Bodach was a sinister place, but the room with four sligs all slain in combat is a particularly nasty reminder. The teeth marks of the kludz seen on one slig sends shudders through her spine, reminding her of the time she spent dodging them at every turn. Her new found pride seems to have a good time of it though as they take what bone spears they can find before setting out to explore further.

Nebes, the big one, went down the corridor and seemed to have discovered a door he deemed worth smashing. He swung at it with his huge stone heartpick but it barely shifts. Aeislun, ever nifty with lock picks, nimbly disabled the lock to reveal a room with a huge keg, smelling strongly of wine. Nizhoni’s pride seems to make nervous jokes about the room: she vaguely makes out the word “party”, but something sinister seems to be lurking within. (The keg is held down in place by pipes, and kicking it only produces sloshing sounds). Aeislun takes the bung off the keg in one swift motion. A creature oozes out, smelling as fermented as the keg it came from and looking anything but friendly. Rymyr shrieks something about it being hard to fight and everyone jumps out, locking the door tightly behind them.

A large chamber stands down the hall. The pride enters, drawn by the mysterious green glyphs decorating the walls. Nizhoni sees and smells a recent bonfire in the center of the room, but more intriguingly a metallic cage stands empty near the southern wall. Rymyr reads the glyphs in draconic “here there be turtles”, bringing about mostly puzzled looks from the pack.
The bedroll near the cage whimpered. Zwaithe unrolled it and revealed a bvanen: an awful amphibian looking creature with a forked tongue, skeletal carapace and coiling eyestalks. It’s not doing well: ooze is secreting from its pores and it looks like it’s in a very unrestful sleep. Aeislun turns on his charm and attempts to befriend the sorry creature.

“Hello, don’t be frightened!” Aeislun said as he calmly stirred it awake.
The creature came to its senses, somewhat distressed, but on seeing Aeislun there, it seemed to relax momentarily.
“He’s a Bvanen, they’re not from around here,” blurted out Rymyr in the Trade Tongue.
Turning back to the bvanen, Aeislun asked (in Trade Tongue), “What’s your name?”
“Meep… Meepo.”
“Well Meepo, why are you here? Do you know how to get to the lower level?” Responded Rymyr in Gulgan.
​“Meepo don’t know, but the leader does. Meepo takes you to meet the leader, Yus-dra-yl, if you make nice. Grant you safe passage, if you promise not to hurt Meep. May be if you promise to rescue turtle, leader make nice to you, answer your questions.”
​“Ok, take us to your leader, Meepo.”

​Excitedly, Meepo raised himself up and directed the pride to a door on the western wall. After a few short turns, the pride found themselves in a long hallway lined with columns. The hallway was guarded by more bvanen, whom Meepo waived away as the pride passed. Each column’s relief depicted a burning witch sitting in judgement at court, similar to the room with the locked door they found earlier.

A short throne stood near the west wall, constructed of fallen bits of masonry stacked against an old altar. A large, muscular and bony figure in red-dyed robes sat in the throne, and a force of six similar creatures stood guard. The altar’s top contained a variety of small items, while the portion of the altar that served as the throne’s back featured a carving of an ivory tower. A metallic object that looked to Nizhoni like a curved horn was held firmly in the tower’s eye-socket.

Meepo introduced the pride to his leader, the chieftess of the bvanen, Yusdrayl. Nizhoni was immediately impressed by her many animal totems.

​An imposing avatar of bestial power, she was a large muscular and bony figure clad in red-dyed robes. Although her actual body was barely visible within the gray render, hairless form, her eyes glowed with a pale green radiance and were melded into what appeared to be the skull and pincers of a frost worm. Nizhoni recognized that the rest of her snout was shaped like that of a basilisk. Both seemed bound to her totem chakra… was it possible that she embraced two beast spirits at once?

​The pride negotiated with the chieftess in their strange high-pitch voices. To Nizhoni, it seemed like a lot of words were spoken that invoked anger, though not directly at the pride. Because there were six guards standing at attention around the altar, the pride tread carefully with both Connor and Nizhoni keeping on their toes, exchanging a few glances, and with one eye on the other Bvanen guarding the way out.

Eventually, a small bauble was given to the queen in exchange for the horn in the eye of the tower relief behind her. It took force and time for one of her Bvanen to yank it out of the wall – during which Nizhoni was assured that this horn would allow the pride to explore more of the sunken citadel. Why was this a good idea?

Before she knew it, the pride had agreed to split up. Scarlett argued that they’d waste less time that way. This pride seemed more eager to scavenge than to save lives.

(To be continued)

3 points each to each (Dahloy, Aeislun, Rymyr, Nebes, Scarlett, Zwaithe and Nizhoni)?
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8th Session
The Sunless Citadel

Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPjuuVOGqxI&feature=slpl

========

Dahloy’s youthful face seemed filled with awe and trepidation as he stared across the expansive swamp and mire towards the towering structure that signified that the party had reached the once-mighty Bodach.

City of the dead.

Tales were still told of the majesty and grandeur that Bodach had embodied during the Green Age. It said a lot that Dahloy, skeptical as he was of any history he found in the tablelands, believed at least the basis for the tales. He had seen enough of the devastation wrought by arrogant minds and Defilers of his own era to know that such self-destruction that Bodach exemplified was borderline historical cliché for the Tablelands.

Almost. None had managed to dig their own grave quite-so-well as the ancient Bodachians had.

No one stands in front of you,” Morrah intoned politely in his head, and Dahloy instinctively turned to face the dark figure that had stepped out of the shadows to grace their presence once more. Dahloy sniffed appreciatively – the musky smell of death, layered over the slightly acrid tones of belladonna, surrounded this figure, but it was quiet, controlled, compared to his own party’s amphibious monstrosity.

Beyond the Rae-Jsha was a canyon, of sorts, and Dahloy could smell the odor of tar bubbling at the bottom. He idly toyed with the thought of what would happen if he shoved some of their party into the tar from this height. Words of the conditions of their contract flashed through his mind, dampening all would-be images of his companions flailing about beneath the tar – unable to see or breathe as their death approached with open arms.

Now was not the time to dwell on such pleasurable thoughts – work needed to be done.

“Then you know what needs to be done?” intoned the Rae-Jsha in its usual soft-spoken monotone.

“Don’t spill blood, return the hatchlings, and learn the nature of this new enemy,” said Rymyr, who was once again checking her damnable book.

“To be clear,” interjected Dahloy, staring into the shadowed depths of the Rae-Jsha’s hood. “The agreement we have is for the return of two of your hatchlings, regardless of their condition.”

The hood moved in a nod.

“And what is the criteria for having learned the nature of your new enemy?” said Dahloy. The Rae-Jsha seemed to be a race obsessed with code and conduct and honor – which, of course, meant that they would not do things on good faith. It had to be spelled out.

“We wish to know where this enemy comes from, and how it can move as we do. Learn this, and we shall consider that task complete.”

“Are we in agreement, then?” asked the Rae-Jsha. “I will remind you that you may still offer payment for our loyalties for your time in the Sunless Citadel.”

“I will pa-” started Aeislun, but the Rae-Jsha interrupted him.

“The decision rests upon the Delver,” he said, and a webbed hand motioned towards Zwaithe, who shrugged and offered up a ruby they had recently procured from Kalak’s treasury. The Rae-Jsha seemed to consider this, and eventually reached out for it. A reptilian head appeared from the inside of its sleeve and swallowed the ruby whole before retreating back into the Rae-Jsha’s sleeve. Disgusting creatures.

“We are in agreement then. Living blood may be spilt on your path through the Sunless Citadel, but we remind you that, regardless the terms of our agreement, you do so at your own peril.”

The creature motioned toward a knotted rope dangling down to just above the tar river. “The path lies below us, below even the river of tar. The abomination in your midst shall guide your way. Traverse only the tunnels where this moss does not grow,” he said handing Zwaithe a small amount of glowing moss. “Within the Underdark under the Ivory Triangle, you shall reach our associates, the Shadows, waiting. They will know of your task and objective, and should you come to them with the hatchlings, you will reach Nibenay in little time. This is the only way for surfacers to enter the Sunless Citadel. You may want to leave guards to guard the path back out, should you fail in your endeavours.”

He did not mention what would happen should they not appear with the hatchlings in their burden. No one asked.

While Aaromal and Umata decided to stay, the Rae-Jsha added, as an aside, “Trust not the lighted paths and follow only the darkness. The citizens of Bodach follow their own laws.”

“How did you like my hawk?” asked the damnable elf, but, gratefully, the Rae-Jsha was already leaving, and the darkness around it seemed to haze until he disappeared beyond the polished skulls.

As Dahloy began to pull rope from his pack, Aeislun was the first to jump onto the rope already hanging over the ledge and begin to climb down, preventing Dahloy from suggesting it. The pity.
The party watched as Aeislun finally reached the tar river itself and begin to flail. No one moved to help him, however, and soon enough the surface of the tar lay still.

Dahloy ignored the shock of some of the others – as it seemed, for all intents and purposes, Aeislun had died in the tar. He instead tossed his own rope to Aliin and told the undead Rae-Jsha to go down first and have the rope trail behind him.

It did not take long for Aliin to reappear from the surface of the tar and tell them the way down and that Aeislun was unfort- was very much alive.

The party slowly but surely made their way through the tar afterwards, with a few close calls for Rymyr, Zwaithe and Xaus, even after Dahloy had greased them.

What greeted them was darkness. A sandy ledge overlooked a subterranean gulf of utter blackness to the west. The ledge was wide but rough. Mud, rocky debris, and the bones of small animals covered it. A roughly hewn stairwell zigged and zagged down the side of the ledge, descending into the all-consuming dark. Someone cast a spell to enhance everyone’s vision with the ability to detect magical auras as Rymyr’s dancing sigils provided them the only illumination with which to see the sandy region normally.

The floor below them, however, was stone, worked by mortal, or immortal, in this case, hands and, as Dahloy peered into the Asker, he could see that the sheer drop a ways off. He could also spot a humanoid figure shuffling about, glowing slightly through his enhanced vision through the sword, to the side, but it did not seem to have noticed them. Aeislun was already peering down the ledge and stated he could see nothing below.

“Maybe we should throw a torch down there?” asked Aeislun, looking back towards the party.

Rymyr, who had been checking to make sure that her books remained safe and unharmed from the tar, seemed to agree and the two began preparations to light up the cliffs below them.

While the Rae-Jsha’s suggestion to follow the darkness and beware the light within the Sunless Citadel never strayed far from his thoughts, Dahloy remained silent as Aeislun and Rymyr searched for a torch.

“No no no no no no no!” said a panicked voice in Trade Tongue from the shadows. Dahloy watched curiously as two indistinguishable figures emerged from behind where the ledge met the winding staircase down. The two children finally came into the small circle of light that surrounded Rymyr. Both were covered in mud, wore nothing but rags, and sported eyes more knowing than their young age implied. The similarities stopped there.

The first, a young girl, seemed to approach on all fours… although something about her creeping gate seemed eerily unnatural. A shaft of light revealed how coarse, thick, dusty golden hair with brass and silver highlights spread over her face and framed the rest of her head. A single, striking blue eye shone from between her bangs with feral intensity while hints of a brass-colored mask, dark tan skin, and huge leonine fangs flashed briefly between her wild, yet fascinatingly graceful movements. As her full body came into view, Dahloy swore that she was the product of a defilier’s nightmare gone wrong, for the golden-brown fur that started at her waist continued down into the shape of a lion’s fully body – complete with four legs ending in sharp claws, a long, tufted tail, and coarse golden-brown fur. Pulling up the Asker to see if this girl was for real, he quickly realized that some parts of her were not – the leonine mask and creeping lower body were something of an illusion, and that in her true form she appeared to be something like a nubile half-elf.

The owner of the hushed voice also seemed a child, but not so afflicted as his companion… save for his strangely long limbs and face. Though he appeared thin, Dahloy decided this was mostly due to his height, and figured that he actually had normal proportions for a human (being keen to such details). The boy had arranged his rags to cover most of his all-but-albino skin – rightfully so, for fair skin is a rare thing in all the lands under the crimson sun, said to be the sign of a witch… or worse. Though his lithe legs strode with the kind of determined intention that only comes from being entirely immersed in the moment, his eyes seemed unfocused, or perhaps staring out somewhere beyond the party. As if sensing Dahloy’s observation, the boy’s eyes quickly snapped back into focus and met his own. Back in the present, he spoke simply, but clearly. “Fire – bad. Light – it makes snakes come.”

“Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?” cursed Zwaithe.

“And they call me rhetorical…” muttered Rymyr.

As if to snuff out any more foolish questions, she immediately supressed the dancing sigils that circled her head, once again plunging the group into darkness. Dahloy was forced to open Supernal Clarity once more and peer through it to see into the darkness. The feral child, no older than Dahloy appeared to be, was whole within Supernal Clarity’s vision, just as Dahloy could see the man that Aliin had once been through it. The damnable sword refused to tell him more, and he had to ignore Morrah as it suggested that he put his face deeper between the hilts.

“Who are you?” asked Rymyr kindly. “How did you get here?”

“We escaped,” said the boy, his voice still a bit raspy. “We got away.”

“Maybe they know where the hatchlings are,” someone murmured, and the boy and glanced at the girl, who, while oblivious, simply seemed to be sizing them up like they were her next meal.

“They could not come,” he said. “Could not escape. Only Nizhoni and I escaped. Call me Conor.”

“But you know where to find them?” asked Rymyr, and Dahloy could already tell that Rymyr had fallen prey to some maternal instinct mechanism and was fully planning to bring the children along. The boy, Connor, nodded, and the group readily agreed to use their local knowledge and other talents.

“Whatever the case,” said Dahloy, not voicing his own objections to bringing two starved and unhelpful bodies along with them, “We need to rest before we head further. This seems as good a place as any, so long as we keep watch, which Aliin can do, seeing as he doesn’t sleep.”

Aliin gave him a scowl, but the rest of the party agreed the zombie (and perhaps someone else) would make the best guard(s), and Aeislun and Rymyr began to feed and clothe the children as Dahloy laid out his bedroll upon the hard stone floor, but stopped as he heard a shuffling noise in the distance. He glanced over at where they had seen the figure moving about at the opposite edge of the ledge, but could not see farther than a couple meters in front of him.

Dahloy could smell whatever it was, however, as the stench of half-decayed, half-preserved body began to make its way towards them. For a second he wondered if it was just Aliin, but then he was forced to crinkle his nose a bit – the stench was not pleasant. He reluctantly unlocked the Asker once more, and saw that the figure was, indeed, approaching their direction, but its gait did not signify that it was moving towards them.

The party stood still for a tense moment, hands on hilts and words of power upon lips, but the figure halted a fair few feet from them, right in front of the shapesand that held back the tar from entering the room. The figure, which, upon closer inspection, looked to have once been a man, knelt and opened a bag that he had been carrying. Dahloy heard Aeislun hiss as a psicrystal appeared from the depths of the bag, carried by spindly legs, as it approached the shapesand and created a faucet out of it – Aeislun must have destroyed the shape as he had come through, Dahloy surmised.

As the figure began to fill the bag up with tar, Dahloy glanced at Aeislun – there was greed in those eyes, and soon enough, the psicrystal seemed to approach for a second, then scamper off. Aeislun watched it longingly, and Dahloy half-wondered if the elf would chase it. Unfortunately, the enhanced vision of the elves helped Aeislun listen to reason as he, too, settled down to sleep. The figure had long-since made its way to the other side of the ledge again, where it appeared to be repairing the roof of the citadel with the tar it had filled its bag with.

Dahloy glanced around him once more before he pushed Supernal Clarity into the shapesand that surrounded Morrah. He fell asleep to the sound of was either a fiddle or Morrah’s slight alarm in his head as he idly wondered if he could replace Morrah with the psicrystal Aeislun had just connected to.

When he awoke, it was still dark – the Sunless Citadel was named as such for a reason, and Dahloy spent a moment trying to reorient himself as he tried to ignore Morrah’s suggestions in between his own thoughts.

With rest, however, came confidence. The dark paths that the party dared not tread the night before seemed like the natural decision. Rymyr had once again turned the dancing lights above her head on, and Aeislun idly conversed behind them with Xaus as Connor and Scarlett took the head of the group as they made their way down the winding staircase.

That left Dahloy with the female half-child. The feral child did not say anything, save for a few growls and grunts, and Dahloy wondered if she did not know language at all.

“Do you speak trade tongue?” asked Dahloy. “Do you speak my language?” he said in Nibenese, then once again in Tyrian. When the girl did not respond to either of these, he finally asked, in the gutteral language of the dragons, “Do you speak in the Draconic tongue?

And it was to this that the girl finally turned to look at him and answer, “You speak like the pride… grr… do you speak for this pride?

Dahloy smiled. “What is your name? I am called Dahloy, though some call me Fool.

The girl frowned, then answered, “_Nizhoni. It has been long since anyone has called me by name. The other children merely called me:” , “The Wild Thing_.” "I… do not know what it means."

Dahloy told her, and added when he saw her lone visible eyebrow furrow at the meaning. “No more, then_. For I shall call you Nizhoni and you shall call me Dahloy_._ _”

“What language is that?” demanded a voice from behind them. Dahloy turned, although he did not need to recognize Rymyr’s voice or distinctive aroma of dry leather, ink, and parchment.

“They call it the language of the dragons and sorcery,” said Dahloy, shrugging. “How this girl has come to know it as her own is something I do not know yet.”

“Can you teach it to me?” asked Rymyr.

Dahloy made a small, strangled noise, but nodded. “For a favour, though. To be named later.”

Rymyr nodded, and Dahloy began to teach her as they walked. Unsurprisingly, she was a quick study of words and they made quick progress until they finally hit the base of the winding staircase.

“Shhh,” whispered Connor from the front. “Snakes here. Take care, take care.”

Dahloy peered out through the darkness and saw that the room before them was about the size of a small courtyard, apparently the top of what was once a crenelated battlement. The buried citadel had sunk so far into the mire that the battlement was now level with the surrounding cavern floor. The floor stretched away to the north and south, and it was apparently composed of a layer of treacherous, crumbled masonry, which reached to an unknown depth. To the west loomed the surviving structure of what must have been the Sunless Citadel. A tower stood on the western side of the courtyard.

Though Dahloy could not see them, the smell of tar and snake droppings was distinctive. He quickly manifested an invisible suit of armor and held Supernal Clarity, blade in front of him, as the party slowly navigated its way through the maze of traps and snakes. Aeislun found at least one trap filled with half-decayed slig remains – apparently a feast for several tar kluzd still inside. The party slowly crept past the pit and toward the tower beyond it.

A collective breath was let out as they safely made their way past a collapsed section of the tower’s crenelated wall. Once inside, Dahloy took note of his new surroundings.

This area was cobbled with cracked granite, upon which sprawled four sligs, all seemingly slain in combat. One stood with its back against the western wall, the killing spear still skewered it and held it upright. Three wooden doors led off from the area. Above, a hollow tower of loose masonry reached 30 feet, but the intervening floors and stairs were gone, except for a couple of crumbled ledges.

The party looted the sligs and made two discoveries. First, on the wall behind the upright, skewered slig was some kind of arcane mark – Rymyr managed to make out the name “Irikos” in a stylized language most resembling ancient giustinel or draconic. Second, on the southern wall was a secret door of some kind with a trap already triggered by fallen rubble.

Careful not to remove the rubble and re-arm the trap, the party opened the secret door – revealing three undead archers locked in eternal vigil against an enemy that no longer existed. Aliin placated the archers when their attentions turned towards the party, and they returned to their posts as the party shut the door behind them.

Looking over the crumbled opening in the western wall, the party surmised that a collision caused by the uneven sinking of the citadel linked the two rooms. Nizhoni and Conor indicated that they had escaped from within.

Following them through the crumbling hole, Dahloy noticed that the masonry walls of the 20-foot wide hall were in poor repair. The far end was especially bad, as it had completely collapsed filling the southern section with rubble. Before he could better examine it, however, someone noticed a sithering shape coiling into an aggressive stance in the darkness. Nizhoni took the initiative and contorted her body in a slithering motion of her own. After about a minute, she managed to calm the frightened creature and appease its appetite with a small bit of food she had been saving. The tar kluzd subsequently retreated into a tiny-sized crack in the floor.

“We escaped and climbed up through there. It took hours… strange, there weren’t any snakes in there before,” said Conor, pointing to the tiny crack.

Zwaithe cut in, “You were probably just lucky. Anyway, I’d rather not go down that way.”

“I bet you wouldn’t.” Scarlett stung back. “I’m up for the challenge.”

Dahloy cautioned wryly, “Best not to split the group. We’ll need almost everyone for whatever is down there.”

“Yes, you will.” Conor said, ominously.

With that settled, Dahloy took a moment to examine the door at the far end of the chamber. A stylized balance beam scale was carved in relief upon it. At the fulcrum of the balancing beam was a single keyhole, sitting upon what looked like an ivory tower. Arrayed around the door along the walls was a relief sculpture of similarly stylized women burning at the stake.

Instead of screaming in anguish, the women appeared poised and focused, staring directly at Dahloy as he stood in front of the door. Rymyr chimed in that the arrangement of the women harkened back to traditional Bodachi accounts of jurors listening intently to a court case in session. The substitution of witches for jurors was meant to instruct citizens as to “what was at stake” should they fail to reach an “honourable judgement.”

Dahloy ran his hands over other carved figures of blind justices and Lawmakers, frowning at their meanings. He didn’t need anyone to tell him that the door was securely closed and locked – and given the meticulous and serious nature of its relief – likely trapped.

“This is a dead-end,” he said softly. “I won’t cut this.” With no other exit from the chamber, he returned with the party to the tower shell to examine other paths of descent…

========

Character Points:

Xaus Nebes: 3
Aeislun: 2
Dahloy: 3
Rymyr: 3
Zwaithe: 3
Nizhoni: 4
Conor: 3

View
7th Session
Good Intentions
Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjQfyK65gKQ

Summary:

The explorers reach the village of Samarah in the evening after being chased their by angry halflings, irrate over their random acts of violence against their community. The villiage of Samarah is the hometown of Rhymyr and Aliin. The town is eerily quiet, the usual nightlife absent.

At the center of the village something dark and shadowy waits. Dahloy notices the outline of the cloak and realizes that inside the magical darkness lurks a Rae-Jsha (ninja guy). He is using a magic lantern to generate the darkness.

As the group approaches they notice a tree covered in effigies behind the Rae-Jsha. He speaks to Rhymyr, “Since you could not bring yourself to the hanging tree, we brought the hanging tree to you”.

The Rae-Jsha gives the group three choices.

1. Quit adventuring and live life in Samarah.
2. Go to through the wild lands of the Ivory Triangle and hope we make it alive to destination. But we now have enemies. King Kalak is still alive and probably wants to punish those who stole his treasure. If people hire the Rae-Jsha to put a contract on our heads the Rae-Jsha will accept it. Plus the Dragon is coming… and if neither King Kalak nor King Tithian can amass sufficient slaves to sacrifice to the creature, then it may destroy everything in the tablelands.
3. We compensate the Rae-Jsha either through $ or deed. If pay them money they wont accept contract on our head or we can do a favor for them. They will show us a secret way undergound to the city we hope to reach (Nibenay). But while crossing Bodach we cannot spill a drop of blood. We need to do reconisence about a new stealthy creature lurking in the land and finally find missing hatchlings. If we complete the finak task Rhymyr will recieve refund for botched assaination.

While pondering options Aeislun (aka Aslan :P) tries to negotiate a deal with the Rae-Jsha to wipe out halfling village, deliberations ultimately breakdown.

Group choses option three. Rae-Jsha tells us the people will sleep for a day then leaves.

Group begins to pillage the lovely town of Samarah :(
1. Zwaith and Dahloy break into the Dictator’s house. They try to take a chest but keep waking up the dictator. Multiple times they disguise selves as his children than run away. Ultimately Dahloy gets the old man to chase him out of the house while Zwaith unlocks the chest and leaves behind a note, “Sorry bout this. Thanks for the stuff. Lolz”. They take a few magical scrolls.
2. Aeislum wakes three elvish girls up to tell them to run because the world’s prejudice may mean they will be blamed for the group’s looting. He gives them money and they leave.
3. Aeislum and Nebes raid the shops. 2 chainshirts, bronze bastard sword, whistling mace, cloak clasp with face amulet (feels more onfident when wearing, charisma?). 20 random potions.
3. Rymyr cleans the carnage from the Trader’s hall and loots his friends supplies and weapons. The group gains 9 meat skewers, 2 brown croulou meat and rice, 1 egg, 10 Broy Beans, 2 gourds, 50 gallons of water. Rhymyr finds a Caudfil shard, a light steel whistling mace, tome of truenaming (teaches someone their true name), other book TBD.

Group prepares to go to sleep. Awoken from all the earlier commotion the dictator is prowling the town checking for disturbancea. Aliin and Nebes are sparing with new weapons. The dictator hears the fighting and comes to the trader guild. After locking Aeslun up in the backroom so he wont say anything stupid, Rymyr and Dahloy greet him and are successful in getting him to go home and back to bed. Convincing him the noise and commotion was just “kids being kids”.

Due to the hot day the group leaves the following evening.

The group follows Zwaith who gets grabbed by a tentacle on his boot. Rhymyr knows that this creture is a serpant root. It is unmoveable plant that drains vitality. It is extremely hardy. Dahloy shoots a silver piece but misses. Aslans two bronze arrows also miss. Zwaith hits with arrow. It does -2 points of hit damage, but arrow bounces off because bark is so thick. Zwaith’s energy bolt misses. Zwaith tries again and does 9 fire damage causing the creature to retreat into the ground. The party moves on.

Umata informs the group that he can talk to intelligent plants, but that the serpant root was not one. The party consumes nine gallons of water on the hike.

After imbibing, Rhymyr notices the path to the skulls. Rhymyr also sees a long broad bladed green grass with shaking tentacles moving towards her. It is the Marsh blood grass. It is one plant that camflogues itself as part of a field of grass. Nobles plant it as a home defense device. The grass is not as vulnerable to fire.

Dahloy swings his sword like a scythe, but misses the aims high and misses the Marsh Blood Grass. He tries again provoking an attack of opportunity. This time he hits the plant, knocking it unconcious. Rather than stay and fight the adventurers walk away.

We come to a body of water. Aeslun observes some Jesus Stones allowing us to walk over the water. While crossing Dahloy falls in and is pulled under. Aeslun makes waves by shooting into the water but he fails to hit the creature. Nebes grapples with the creature and grabs Dahloy’s arms. The massively strong bodyguard yanking teenage Dahloy from the clutches of what lies beneath.

The group sees the circle of skulls, proclaiming “Do Not Enter” in the distance they see a shadowy figure move behind a tree.
Dum DUM DUM! …

Character Points:
Nebes 3
Aeislun 2
Dahloy 4
Rymyr 3
Zwaithe 3

View
6th Session
Good Intentions
Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MHpwDatfso

Summary:

Our adventure starts with our party in the dusk, after signing a paper that will bond them, considering a way to put the food back before the townspeople would notice.

Even though late, Rymyr sees Aeislun’s hand in her pocket. She finds a few pieces of ceramic pieces. Rymyr doesn’t understand why Aeislun would do this, and so Aeislun gives 10 pieces to Rymyr and apologizes.

With a lot of effort, Aliin manages to put the food back before it is noticed.

As the morning closes by, there seems to be a commotion at the side of town.

Aliin goes to investigate for the party wearing a hat of disguise (borrowed from Zwaithe), also using his shadowy skills.
He manages to see that the halflings are holding little ceramic-filled bowls while some creature has appeared nearby, and halflings are jumping around.

Without noticing, Aliin makes a move and a small creature nearby says in gulgan : “mommy, who the tall-ling ?”

Aliin hides before the mother manages to see anything, even though the child points at him, the mother is too preocupied, so she tells the kid to help her jockey for position.

Scarlett has followed underground just in case something goes wrong, and can hear the roar of the crowd but doesn’t know exactly what is happening.

As soon as the party awakes, Aliin comes back and tells them about the commotion.

Aeislun tries to talk to a halfling, yet he quits since he cannot speak their language. Rymyr talks to a halfling and the halfling wants to speak to Aeislun, knowing that he has a lot of silver pieces.

The halfling seems interested to trade his tools for some money. (In fact, he seems desperate for money).

Aeislun helps Rhemir talk to the halfling and back.

halfling : “do you not realise it is just past high sun? there is just ONE FRUIT every high sun. Sligs – sell a fruit – every mid year, they travel with it and put it up for auction.”

Aeislun gives 10 ceramic pieces to the halfling for the information, and wants to ask for more but the halfling seems to be already gone.

Aeislun and Rymyr go to the auction while Aliin sneaks careully out of the village, because he does not want to be seen, and they all agree to meet later outside on the trail.

While nearing the haggling place, they notice that the slig has the look of a muscular humanoid – lean, blunt black claws, crucked jugged teeth, and he is holding a single piece of a fruit : a very large, extremely juicy and ripe fruit, which looks like a mixture between an apple and watermellon.

Laying at the sligs feet are two lizards, one dead, one alive.

As they get closer, they hear the halflings complain about the price.
Aeislun shouts – “Rymyr wishes to know what the fruit does”
A halfling from the crowd : “it is the miracle fruit”
Aeislun – “What does it do ?”
Same halfling from crowd : “look, my father is dying, are you going to give me silver to buy it or, do I have to get it myself ?”

Aeislun notices that the halfling that was talking is hanging on to a bone pitchfork, ready to turn it down at any second.
Also she notices that there is a small group of halflings that has been walking nearby the crowd, holding sharp things.

Aeislun thinks forward and he jitters with anticipation.

Rymyr shouts “he’s got a knife !” pointing at the
The halflings that were moving around the backside of certain ‘moshy’ parts of the swamp, at which point sligs pop out and grab the halflings.

A captain halfling comes out : “Don’t listen to the outsiders ! we should solve this our own way !”

Everybody seems frozen for a second.

The Slig yells : “sold ! for 500 ceramics !” to this woman ! and hands the fruit to a woman that seems to be crying.
As she gets the fruit, she gives the slig papyri equivalent of 500 ceramic pieces – which seem to have the financial importance – and the slig accepts it.

Once they pull out the bodies, Aeislun yells : “Revenge! for the halflings!” luckily the halflings don’t understand and Rymyr convinces Aeislun with simple logic that it wouldn’t be the best thing to do.

Rymyr hears a few lines of lore from the local halflings. At low sun, the same fruit, brought back, would be poisonous, or if there would be people killed around, the healing fruit becomes poisonous.

Aliin : “Where are we going?”
Aeislun : “Faraway from here, right Dahloy ?”
Dahloy: “The answer is correct. Perhaps we should go before other problems arrive.”

After a while of walking.
Aeislun – shoots 5 silver arrows into the town. Aeislun thought that the arrows, since they are made of silver, could also be melted and reput into silver coin and poorly thought this would be a goodbye present.
The Halflings sound the alarm and they start throwing spears, luckily these are not in the range of touching our party’s flesh.
In the silence of the sky, one could hear sounds of squatting birds as they were being set free.

Aliin walks aside of the group not to be seen together. He does not wish to be noticed as a part of the group and would like to protect the party and he believes that they would be better off without an assassin such as himself.

Aproaching the main group there seem to be some birds, they are enraged, yet have a miniature size, and seem to be flying very fast.

Aeislun quickly fires his bow twice, yet misses both times, due to the fact that the birds are pretty far.
Rymyr – looking at the birds ( nature check )- notices that they use their powerful beak that allows them to attack at night. They are weak individually but strong as a group.
Dahloy – hits one of them with his hand crossbow, he doesn’t consider using his magical weapon at this point, simply because he doesn’t want to attract too much attention.

Aeislun fires twice, two lucky shots that manage to take down two birds.
Two other birds fly towards Aeislun.
The first scratches Aeislun leaving a visible flesh would ( 2 damage ) , while the second one misses him by a touch of a hand.

Meanwhile Aliin notices a petrified tree on the beach, the tree has fruits, and these look like Petrified amber, and there is a little dingling that looks like amber coming out of the tree.

Aliin touches – What looks like a slowly dripping liquid – and feels a strong burn on his hand ( extremely burns for 4 acid damage) at the same time his cold hand seems to hurt the tree, which shivers in pain, showing a lot more feeling than a simple plant.
The tree swings one of its branches with acid towards Aliin but Aliin manages to dodge it in due time.

Meanwhile, the birds try to attack Dahloy but his armor stands in the way of their piercing beaks.

Rymyr – uses syllable of entropy – 3dmg takes, doesn’t die.
Another bird attacks Rymyr and wounds her lightly ( 2 dmg ) .
Scarlett gets ready to hit the first bird as it gets in the range of her scorpion chain.

Aaromal misses the birds with his spinning sword
Dahloy uses his weapon dealing a heavy blow to one of the birds and nearly killing her ( 4 damage ) .
In the exchange, Dahloy suffers a mild wound ( 1 damage from bird ) .

Aeislun quickly pulls up the weapon, and shoots but breaks the weapon while the arrow lands very close to Aromal.

The birds spin around and attack again. They manage to hurt Zwaithe, the Delver (1 damage) which in return furiously hits a bird killing it ( 4 dmg + kill) .
Aaromal is also the victim of a bird attack, suffering a small wound ( 2 damage ) , and focuses his rage into an attack that unfortunately misses.

Aliin casts voice of shadow on the tree, and commands the tree : “disarm”.
At the sound of this, the tree drops all it’s fruits.

Rymyr – gives the weapon to Aeislun (arrow) and casts on Aeislun a (commandeer ?!) (+2 ranged attack) helping him improve his ranged attack.

One of the injured birds runs away.
Scarlett, Aaromal, Zwaithe and Dahloy shoot at the birds yet non of their missiles manage to get lucky. Dahloy reloads his weapon.

The bird provoked from the spear of Rymyr misses Aeislun. Rymyr also manages to hit a bird ( 6dmg ) which falls dead.

The other Chordevocs ( birds ) run away.

The tree shines very bright – Aeislun and Aliin are temporarly blinded ( also the birds ) .
With a lucky shot, Aeislun manages to kill another (blinded) bird.

Aeislun takes some of the birds and party and run to the nearest village ( Samarah ).

Aliin stays behind and takes the fruits of the tree using his umbral hand ( since they were covered in acid) , and as soon as he hears the halflings nearby he follows the tracks of his companions.

Character Points:

Rymyr 3
Aeislun 3
Aliin 3

View
Fifth Session
Good Intentions
Theme Song for this Session (listen while you read):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUPDzniTrWs&feature=BFa

Characters & Setup

With Dahloy at its helm wielding Supernal Clarity, the silt-skimmer carrying the party and its massive treasure pulled away from the Lighthouse for the Blind. The tiny vessel seemed to occupy the very eye of the storm raging outside, but through the lens of the skillful weapon, Dahloy was able to witness events beyond the hurricane. The massive battle outside was being fought by none other than King Tithian’s allied rebels and King Kalak’s loyal templars. A small party of heroes seemed to be turning the tide toward King Tithian’s favor when a small object went hurtling from the group toward the spinewyrm (now swimming through the storm clouds). The party surmised that the object must’ve been the fabled Heartwood Spear that had been used to kill Kalak the first time, and had it not been for one of his loyal templars that flew in at the last second, it might’ve succeeded the second time. In the end, the spirit of King Kalak showed its terrible might – blasting out of the gem on the forehead of the spinewyrm -with an unimaginable display of arcane magic. Soon, nothing remained of the group of heroes loyal to King Tithian. By then, all that could be seen through the lens of Supernal Clarity was the strange, blinding light of the lighthouse as they drifted further out into the now calm Sea of Silt…

After taking some time to collect their treasures and wits, the characters realized that they were now the richest Athasians they had ever met (unless that really was King Kalak back there). Each took a moment to appraise their situation:

  • Dahloy, the Fool, stood at the helm of the silt-skimmer smirking to himself while trying to guide it toward the city of Nibenay.
  • As the Initiate’s summoning magic wears off, Toan says a quick goodbye to his fellow survivors before being teleported back to his previous location.
  • Umata is falling unconscious as he was gravely injured by defiling magics unleashed during the cerulean storm.
  • Très, a bit disheveled from his near-death experience with the spinewyrm, removes his shirt to better dress some wounds.
  • Aaromal, on the other hand, finally put some clothes on before realizing how desolate the world had become.
  • Aeislun began the tedious (and satisfying) task of counting all the silver aboard.
  • Zwaithe reiterated that he only lived for the thrill of dungeon delving, but as one of only educated party members, nevertheless double-checked Aeislun’s accounting.
  • Somewhere else, Aliin, the Self-Shade, prowled through the night in pursuit of those that called for his death…
  • And the Rhetorical Rymyr ran with her bodyguard Xaus of Alfala up a long, barren, coastal road…
Abreast of the Situation

It was late at night, the party was resting after their narrow escape, but not all was well. The silt-skimmer, heavily weighed down by the party, treasure, and collecting silt, was nearly sinking and in need of repair. Umata, seemingly the only one capable of shaping wood to his will, was slowly dying. Dahloy considered using the last healing extract to save him, but ultimately decided against it. Before falling unconscious, Umata blabbered something incomprehensible about finding the sword-splinters to recreate the living gate which separates reason from madness. Someone commented that perhaps it was only the strange-plant man that was mad. Umata’s final telepathic words were, “Now I must feed…”

It was about this moment that Toan disappeared and the boat rocked violently from the lost weight. Dahloy and Aeislun cursed the situation as they realized their time at sea was limited and once on shore, it would be extremely cumbersome (and dangerous) to carry all the silver without Toan’s help. Braiding some hair, the Scarlett Scorpion advised the party that giants commonly target silt-skimmers in this area, and that with silt blowing from sea to shore, some creatures down-wind could likely sniff them out. While listening, Zwaithe noticed something himself in the flickering light.

“Those curves on you Très… you’re either a woman or a shapely six-foot scorpion!”

“And which would be worse? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” she said, subtly comparing the blade at the end of her thickly braided hair to Zwaithe’s limp whip. Both weapons lay in their masters laps.

“Doesn’t matter,” he snapped sharply, “They’re both the same anyway.” But his retort did little to stop the grins sliding up the party’s faces.

In the end, Très revealed that she was indeed a woman better known as Scarlett. Originally from Nibenay, she preferred not to reveal any more about herself, but offered that the city of the Shadow King would be the best place to sell their loot. The party agreed, and together began to formulate a plan…

A Change in the Wind

Meanwhile, the last remnants of the Samarah Scribing Guild were running for their lives. Caught up in their own plan of intrigue and betrayal, they sought a final meeting with the infamous Rae-Jsha. It would seem that the mythical order of assassins was indeed just that, a myth, as they had failed to execute a simple trader who chose to compete with the wrong guild. As perhaps the two groups most known for being “as good as their word” in the region, Rymyr bet the assassins would honor their agreement by protecting her company from their vengeful mark.

Desperately in need of some fresh air, Rymyr and Xaus climbed the embankment separating the Salt Meres from the Estuary of the Forked Tongue. Though a wave of silt was the first element to greet them, a recent storm had cleared the air of other pollutants and left it with an almost pleasant breeze. The pair took a moment to find their bearings. Rymyr, with a quick look at the sigils in the stars, confirmed they were on a coastal road a few miles south of the village of Alfala. Somewhere nearby should be the “Hanging Tree,” or the ominous final meeting place with the Rae-Jsha. They were told they would recognize the site upon seeing it, and Xaus wondered aloud if the Rae-Jsha really meant to honor their agreement or just add a few more trophies to their collection.

Before Rymyr could respond, she saw some strange, kank-like tracks in the sand of the embankment. This would be an odd place for a herder to graze given that the tracks seemed to hug the barren silt shore. Figuring that the tracks might indicate something that could be bought (a guarded caravan) or tricked (a wild Athasian monster) into defending what remained of her enterprise, she decided to follow them south. Better chance than the Rae-Jsha, she thought. As she and Xaus turned to head down the embankment, the grit-filled wind began to blow toward the northwest carrying the sound of silent tension and a fiddle’s tone…

Strange and Strident

The Rae-Jsha’s mark was just starting to get the hang of his new body. Its webbed hands and feet were surprisingly sprightly and flexible, although it’s naturally crouched frame made it an ungainly runner. He relished every step anyway, since each one brought him that much closer to revenge upon all those that would write off the name of Aliin Al’Shadar. He had seen in the final moment of his death the grace and subtlety with which the assassin had killed him. This was the body of a natural killer, he thought. I will learn this skill as I have learned so many others. The old man had delved into far darker magical experiments than most, some even darker than the double-crossing Samarah Scribing Guild, and now his greatest experiment had succeeded. He had mastered the shadowy mysteries of the Necromancers of Bodach, and with his dying breath cursed his murderer to be the vessel of his own mind and soul… the vessel of his revenge.

Such were his thoughts when he found the tracks of Rymyr and Xaus, last conspirators of the Samarah Scribing Guild. They seemed to meetup with kanks before heading south, Likely reinforcements. Won’t matter. Then his attention turned to the sound of tumbling metal as he witnessed the survivors of the cerulean storm unpacking and distributing their stolen hoard. Ironically, with Toan gone, Scarlett was the strongest of the party, and so she took the heaviest bags of silver. It helped that Zwaithe claimed entertainment as his only reward.

More for me. Despite his icy mission, Aliin still possessed the instincts of a trader, and he knew an opportunity when he saw one. Striding low to the ground behind a petrified log, he reached out with a stitched, freezing hand toward one of the scorpion woman’s bags. Safely in his clutches, he darted to the marshy side of the embankment and continued north with a plan. Moment’s later he would hear the uproar as the party learned of the theft.

Kanks of a Different Color

Never had the wild kanks of the Salt Meres seen so much traffic on the coastal road of the embankment. First, flinching their mandibles even while hiding, they saw one of the silent ones scuttling along – making entirely too much noise in the process. It smelled like carrion. Then, the pink, fleshy ones that could’ve been masters or predators followed holding what looked to them like large nectar sacs. Except the clashing and clicking of the sacs was louder than a thousand starving, newly hatched clutches. Seemingly even hungrier than that, a pack of brown kin waved their antenna as they followed the scent of the strange sacs. Finally, a weathered pair of pink, fleshy ones continued the strange pursuit. The colors of scorching dawn had nearly banishing all cool shade by then, save one spot. When the kanks saw the slightest outline of a silent one in the final fading shadow, watching the road with them, they chose to face the blazing sunlight instead and scattered.

The Forks of Alfala

Aliin came to a fork in the road.

Down the left path, sloping into the salty bog, was a well kept, terraced graveyard. Flat tombstones with intricate designs but no writing marked what were obviously shallow graves. Out in the marsh, a large tree grew on an island just large enough to support its roots. Stuffed effigies hung by rope from its bare branches – a warning, a tribute, or maybe both. This must be the Hanging Tree.

Down the right path was the village of Alfala itself. Though he often traded with Alfala from Samarah in his youth, it occurred to him that he had never approached the village from the southern road before. He proceeded carefully as the locals were fierce, he knew, and would attack anything that didn’t look like a merchant’s caravan. Slinking off toward the nearest watch tower, he managed to stay out of sight until the very last second. The tiny halfling stood no chance once it was in his icy grip. Before he had time to properly appraise the situation from his new lookout, however, the party of rich adventurers showed up.

Predictably, Alfala’s militia sounded the alarm and confronted the adventurers spear point first. Seeing the rush of halflings, squat humans, and quarterlings with their favored birds of prey, the Chorvedoc, the party decided this battle was perhaps better won with diplomacy. Aeislun and Dahloy managed to calm the ankle-biters down long enough to negotiate for their lives. Though the locals had poor trade-tongues, they spoke Gulgan well enough and between the two the party was able to explain their situation. To prove their worth, Aeislun offered their commander a silver piece. After biting down to ensure its authenticity, the commander changed his tone and allowed the party to enter the village. Aeislun and Dahloy wondered aloud if staying there would be a good idea… halflings are notorious cannibals after all.

Before a decision could be reached, the rust monsters finally caught up with their prey. Without hesitation, the militia of Alfala fought off the costly pests with a hail of bone-tipped spears. As the rust monsters retreated into the marsh, the party decided that the villagers couldn’t be too bad, and so they wandered toward the village’s center. There, on the party’s insistence that they remain together under one roof, the halfling hosts put them up in a small barn-like structure where some foodstocks were kept. Though they wondered what the halflings true intentions were, everyone needed a rest and they fell asleep…

Oh the Stability

When Rymyr and Xaus finally made it to the town in the early morning, they realized they had been following the creature feared most by all merchants across Athas – Rust Monsters. Few other common vermin had such power to destroy a trader AND his metallic legacy. The thought sent shivers down their spines before it gave way to the welcome relief of making it to Alfala in one piece. After some rest and restocking, the two might stand a chance against their stalker or maybe even the Rae-Jsha. They signaled their peaceful intentions before being allowed to enter the village. As they came close to the center, Rymyr overheard several local merchants haggling over a few pieces of silver. It would seem that there were other guests – wealthy guests – resting in the barn. Rymyr made a note to hawk a few books to them the next day, before a quarterling showed her and Xaus their accommodations: in the stable with the kanks. One of the kanks gave them a look like it had seen them before. Rymyr was not accustomed to playing second fiddle to a bunch of grave-robbers… she needed to know more.

The next day passed relatively uneventfully. The party and remnants of the Samarah Scribing Guild rested for a time before meeting in the open market of the village’s center. Rymyr introduced herself as a scribe and collector of illegal writings (as the Sorcerer-Kings have heavily restricted writings within their city-states). Aeislun introduced himself as the next king of Tyr while Dahloy said nothing about himself or his intentions. Umata, still in terrible shape, was lifted and transferred into a newly purchased pot of fertile soil. With a splash of some water, he awoke and introduced himself as well. The effort seemed to do him some good. Rymyr then proceeded to sell the party a few books and papyri from her collection. Dahloy cashed in on a legend of Kelanen and his nine swords. Aeislun bought a map, Scarlett perused a martial arts manual, and Aaromal picked up a copy of the Athasian Kama-Sutra.

Over the next few hours the group discussed and debated the advantages of keeping a trader around to help them manage their new-found wealth. Rymyr made a veiled claim that she needed some protection, and upon some digging, the party realized that she was running from an assassin somehow connected to the Rae-Jsha. Given this new revelation, everyone agreed to part ways for now and return to the stables at night. Aaromal entertained some children with the mime and dance of an heroic tale. Rymyr found a new book, “Whose flesh is the sweetest? 1001 Cannibal Recipes.” The other characters found nothing particularly sinister about the halflings of the village and Aliin was no where to be seen.

A Road Paved with Good Intentions

The party discussed their options with Rymyr late into the evening. Ultimately, they opted to just sleep in the stable. When the two moons of Athas had both climbed into the merciful sky, a figure found its way into the room. Morrah, not needing sleep, noticed it first and awoke Dahloy. The earthen psicrystal and its master beheld a creature like a shadow rising to cover the room, but it made no threatening gestures. The mysterious figure spoke first:

“I am Aliin Al’Shadar, and I am here to warn you.”

“Warn us of what?” He tried to buy time for everyone else to awaken.

“If you stay here you will die. But I can save you.”

“That sounds more like a threat than an offer. What proof do you have?”

“You will have to trust me. If you do not, you will die – I am sure of it.”

Scarlett came to her senses next, and while Aliin was distracted, she grabbed her scorpion pincer gauntlets and dove into the soft earth with hardly the sound of a footstep. Rymyr awoke next, and shook Xaus, whispering:

“Aliin is here, get ready.” Then she got up and turned to Dahloy, “I know this man. This is Aliin, the assassin trying to kill me!”

“I am Aliin, but I am not here to kill you. I have no reason now. But if you stay here, you will die.”

Confused, she looked to Dahloy and then to Aeislun, who was rubbing his eyes bewildered. “Then what do you want?” the self-righteous elf blurted out.

“You must allow me to… live, and protect me as you protect each other.”

Dahloy, seeing Scarlett ready to pounce beneath the feet of Aliin, said, “How could you offer to join us? Aren’t you the one that stole the silver from Scarlett?”

“That doesn’t matter now. What matters now is that we all survive. I… can’t be seen like this. I need your help to survive. And you need my help. Surely we can strike a deal?”

Rymyr, sensing what he was going for, produced a parchment and some ink. “In words there is the power to bind honor and punish dishonor,” she said cryptically, “We shall make an honor-bound contract to protect each other. Sign it and you shall be beholden to its conditions.”

Aliin agreed. Dahloy called Scarlett from hiding, and the party spent several minutes negotiating the terms of this new contract. They would form a new group or guild, named “Good Intentions.” Failure to uphold the terms of the contract would result in a debilitating curse for any of those that signed it. Finally, when all present had made their mark, Dahloy demanded to know why they were all in so much danger.

The Self-Shade showed them to the barn next door. All the food was gone. Aliin explained that he had hidden the food to make it appear as though the party had stolen it. They were tricked. Dahloy and Aeislun let out a few verbal curses but dared not strike Aliin for fear of being bewitched by a real one…

Wrap Up

The party lost 6 silver pieces for room and board. Rymyr paid 10 ceramic pieces for the cannibal recipe book, invested 11 pieces of parchment and 1 bottle of ink into the “Good Intentions” contract, and received 3 silver pieces from other members of the party for book purchases. Character point awards: Umata 2, Rymyr 3, Aeislun 2, Vlad 4, Dahloy 3, GM 1.

View
Fourth Session
Stormpeace
Theme Song for this Session (listen while you read):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRsycxGgyuI

Characters & Setup

After completing the third and final trial before the Law, the party descended down through the maw of the ancient tunnels to an underground cove leading out to the Sea of Silt. The tragic shipwrecks were now closer than ever – just at the mouth of the cave. For some reason the sand seemed to shimmer. A rope and bucket dangled from the ceiling in the a small pool of freshwater streaming in from an underground stream to the south. It must be a well of some kind. In the center of the chamber, just before the shelf descended to the lower entrance to the cove, two cylindrical objects floated above a pedestal (each about the size of a sword’s hilt).

The Initiate screamed out, “At last! The Law is mine!” as he flew over to the hovering metal cylinders. Grasping the cylinders in both hands, he became fascinated by some unseen vision in the space between them. After a few seconds of wonderment, the smoke of his form was somehow sucked into the empty space between the strange objects. In a fraction of a second, the last vestiges of his lingering spirit were sucked from existence…

Then the party realized: the entire floor of the cove was covered with Silver Pieces! Just as they were about to start shoveling them all into their pockets, a strange creature flew out of the shadows from behind a stalagmite. Enormous, with bony, spiked chitin covering every gap of its long and slender body, it flew gracefully through the air directly at the party. With a final glimpse before it attacked, they were able to recognize a single large jewel pulsating in its forehead…

  • Toan, Medrash, Très, Dahloy, and Morrah were in the lead of the group, ready to face the creature in the tough battle sure to come.
  • Zwaithe, Aeislun, and Aaromal took up the rear.
  • Jerri’s fate was still unknown.
Rolling Thunder of a Shining Shore

The battle was intense, but short. Zwaithe, Aeislun, and Dahloy all attacked the creature from range while Toan, Medrash, and Très attempted to engage it in melee. After a few failed attempts to penetrate it’s armor, Zwaithe and Aeislun went about the task of collecting silver pieces. Toan managed to slam the ground and blind the creature with a hail of silver pieces, while Medrash yelled something in Draconic (seemingly to calm the monster). In that moment, a dead skull-skull sauren fell from the top of the well into the water at the bottom of the well. It appeared to have been slain during whatever battle was raging above.

After a failed attack on Toan, the creature attempted to withdraw from the current battle by flying up the well. This drew attacks from its immediate attackers, and Très even managed to latch onto its tail with his scorpion chain. By gaining control of the grapple, the creature wrapped its spike covered exterior around the poor gladiator and constricted – bringing him to within an inch of his life before dropping him into the well. As it flew further up, Medrash followed while Dahloy used the second of the party’s healing extracts to resuscitate Très. Together, Medrash and Très felt a weight on the well’s rope, and jerked it down. An undead skeleton in ancient Balic armor fell down into the pool, helplessly. It would seem Aeislun’s plan to lure the undead Balic guards and the shades into attacking the Skull-Skull clan worked!

Around this time, Dahloy and the others had been examining the cylinders floating above the pedestal. They seemed simple and unadorned while the pedestal itself was richly engraved. Like a living bridge, the pedestal crossed from one side of the stream to the other, its arches intertwined with vines and leaves, while its path was of natural wood. Words of Ancient Giustenal were engraved on its sides. No one in the party could understand them. However, everyone in the party could see that the space between the floating cylinders seemed completely devoid of material whatsoever. Silt blowing from the sea seemed to phase out of existence as it passed through the space, and when one looked out into the sea, it appeared like an uncharacteristically calm sky and sea.

Seizing the opportunity, Dahloy took one cylinder in each hand, seemed to focus on an unknown task, and then held the two cylinders toward the flailing skeleton as one would hold a great, two-handed crossbow. A second later, the simple toothpick from his mouth had been fired clear through the creature’s skull – splintering it into a million pieces. A wide grin crossed his face as he realized he had found a truly powerful weapon…

In the meantime, Très and Medrash continued to pursue the spinewyrm up the well. Medrash yelled another phrase in draconic which Dahloy was able to translate to the party later, “We are not a threat to you – we mean only to help or to hide!” Someone noticed the shades descending down the sides of the well. When it looked like Medrash was about to be surrounded by the darkness, the spinewyrm let out a mighty roar and swallowed him whole (cutting off the rope in the process). Très fell down the well for a second time as the remainder of the party regrouped, fought off the shades (even by firing a sword from a vorpal crossbow), before realizing their only remaining means of escape: the shipwrecks. With some searching, the party was able to spot Umata repairing one of the damaged silt-skimmers, and so the party loaded it up with all the silver they could carry as the sound of hurried footsteps blew down from the tunnel from which they came.

Loot:
5,780 silver pieces, 115 copper pieces, 10 gold pieces, an ivory necklace, a ruby, an amethyst, a jade ring, a silver and bone ceremonial dagger, an ornate snuff box, and 10 dyed feathers.

The Silver Lining

With Dahloy at its helm wielding Supernal Clarity, the silt-skimmer carrying the party and its massive treasure pulled away from the lighthouse for the blind. The tiny vessel seemed to occupy the very eye of the storm raging outside, but through the lens of the skillful weapon, Dahloy was able to witness events beyond the hurricane. The massive battle outside was being fought by none other than King Tithian’s allied rebels and King Kalak’s loyal templars. A small party of heroes seemed to be turning the tide toward King Tithian’s favor when a small object went hurtling from the group toward the spinewyrm (now swimming through the storm clouds). The party surmised that the object must’ve been the fabled Heartwood Spear that had been used to kill Kalak the first time, and had it not been for one of his loyal templars that flew in at the last second, it might’ve succeeded the second time. In the end, the spirit of King Kalak showed its terrible might – blasting out of the gem on the forehead of the spinewyrm -with an unimaginable display of arcane magic. Soon, nothing remained of the group of heroes loyal to King Tithian. By then, all that could be seen through the lens of Supernal Clarity was the strange, blinding light of the lighthouse as they drifted further out into the now calm Sea of Silt…

Wrap Up

Toan got 4 character points, the GM got 3 (muhahaha), Medrash got 4 character points, Dahloy got 3, and Très got 1.

New Players

Dan, Russell, and Vlad joined us this session. Everyone give them a big welcome!

Here’s their world facts:

* There is a well where once a month you can change alignment. guarded by the spirits of all those that turned to evil but were once good. To become good you must kill a spirit guarding the well. If you want to turn evil, your spirit will haunt/guard the well. For good→evil, you may choose one person to die (like a curse of death). For evil→good, you may free one spirit from haunting/guarding the well.

* Nobody knows when it will come, it’s totally unpredictable, but for one full day (from sun up to sun down) all magic ceases to function. If you happen to perform a very specific ritual in the moments before that full day, then your magic continues to work normally (like Initiate of Mystra feat).

* Somewhere in Athas, there exists a being who knows the True Name of all things. The Truenamer has appeared in legends and fables of many cultures since before the Blue Age, and has taken on many different forms. The Truenamer is never the hero or the villain of the stories, but is often seen as the guiding hand of providence that appears when most needed, whether it be as a beggar who gives the hero advice, or as the inexplicable path that leads a protagonist through a sea of flame. The existence of the One Truenamer is debated among those scholars that have studied such things, but all will readily agree that there is a pattern found in the legends and fables that could be explained with the existence of such a One Truenamer, or Truenamers.

The Truenamer exists – has always existed, and will exist until the end of Athas’ days.

View
Third Session
Stormpeace
Theme Song for this Session (listen while you read):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDZXHjxmpXQ

Characters & Setup

After having defeated the swindlespitters and guard drakes of the sauren, the party finds themselves in a dramatic standoff with the Skull-Skull clan – with neither willing to give up their easily defensible positions. A long corridor with a sharp corner is all that separates the combatants.

  • Zwaithe, still in his skull-skull disguise, waited with whip in hand to punish anything that turned the sharp corner to the skull-skull room.
  • Medrash (the Dray), heaving from the recent use of his icy dragon breath, stood squarely in the center of the entrance.
  • Aislun stood a fair ways off since he could still feel the spider’s venom coursing through his veins.
  • Jerri was flanked by his kanks guarding the eastern side of the makeshift barricade.
  • Très was ready to catch whatever the sauren threw at him in his scorpion claw gauntlets.
  • Toan, reeling from the swindlespitter’s blinding attack, was desperately trying to clean the sticky, acidic glue from his eyes.
  • Morrah maintained the shapesand barricade as Dahloy rested his hand crossbow between the custom-made arrow slits.
Summary:

The session began with a few tense moments as the party waited for the sauren to make the first move. When the sauren simply started another game of skull-skull (seemingly out of boredom), the party decided to try to find another way out. Half the party ventured back toward the western room (the Balic Burial Chamber) to investigate the line of salt across the entry-way, while the other half continued to guard the southern corridor.

The Balic Burial Chamber

As they crossed the line of salt, a low hum stirred the wind, “Beware! He that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts, benighted walks under the mid-day sun, for he, himself, is his own dungeon!” And slowly smoke from the dozen or so candles wreathing the shrine in the back of the room coalesced into a roughly humanoid shape. After a few moments of startled hesitation, the assembled investigators took a few steps closer and triggered a pressure plate beneath their feet! One of the standing armors’ visors flicked up to reveal a firing mechanism – an action which was immediately followed by a volley of darts.

Très, Toan, and Medrash dodged the darts while attempting to appraise the threat posed by the spirit. Upon seeing Toan among the group, the spirit raised its ghostly arm in a non-threatening manner. Over the next few minutes, Aislun disabled the Balic Dart Traps while the party learned more about the spirit hovering before them. It called itself the “Initiate,” and had summoned Toan to this place to finally complete the task that was its life’s work. In exchange for aiding it in this task, it would show the party another exit and spare them a certain death at the hands of the dishonored Balic soldiers interned in the chamber.

The party agreed. With some work, Toan was able to draw the seal and bind the spirit to the pact – conferring upon him some small measure of the spirit’s power, but also granting the spirit a vessel through which to experience the world again… and perhaps, achieve its life’s purpose. This time, the Initiate would stop at nothing to attain Supernal Clarity, the greatest weapon ever forged by Kelanen and the greatest symbol of the martial arts styles he mastered (collectively known as the Sublime Way or the Law). He advised Toan that only masters of the Sublime Way could properly wield the sword, and to the uninitiated, it might not even appear as a weapon.

Loot:
20 darts, 4 psishards (trap targeting components)

Halls of the Blind

As the spirit crept into Toan’s mind, it provided him a glimpse of his means of escape and the threats they all faced, “I can see what you see not. Vision milky as eyes rot. When you turn they will be gone, whispering their hidden song. Then you see what cannot be! Shadows move where light should be! Out of darkness, out of mind, cast down into the Halls of the Blind!” Behind the shrine to King Kalak lay tunnels to the Lighthouse for the Blind’s terrible secret, and it’s exit. The tunnels were guarded by soul-sucking shades which could only be warded off by bright light. Hence the candles. After quickly prying the shrine from the wall, Très activated his natural iridescence to stave off the creatures while all the party members but Aislun and Jerri took shelter in his glow.

With the other party members gone, Aislun attempted to loot the sarcophagi in the Balic Burial Chamber (against Medrash’s and the Initiate’s advice). As he moved one lid, it sparked to life displaying the crashing of a fleet of ships onto the Lighthouse’s unlit shores. One of the very men that failed to defend the beacon of the lighthouse lay motionless in the sarcophagus. Given a new opportunity to avenge his honor, the creature’s bones began to shake as he stirred to undeath. Aislun quickly devised a new plan: lead the shades and the rising undead to attack the sauren in the other room! When he went to check on Jerri and his kanks, they were nowhere to be seen. Confused, Aislun took the shrine’s candles and made a break down the halls of the blind, but not before being snagged by a few of the tenacious shades. It seemed his plan worked as the shades and skeletons seemed to move toward the commotion of the Skull-Skull game. The Initiate’s only comment: “In the back of your mind there’s a whole open wide where the darkness creeps in from the outside. You can light rows of candles to cast the dark out, but it’s always there hiding… in shadows of doubt.”

The Door Before the Law

At the end of the Halls of the Blind was a room clearly much older than the rest of the tor. In it stood a giant circular slab presumably blocking a doorway. Engraved upon the slab was a similar scene as that depicted on the Balic sarcophagi: the lighthouse with a blackened light; its shores wreathed by shipwrecks. The Initiate insisted that Toan roll aside the slab. Once he had revealed the corridor beyond, the two split momentarily as a light flashed from the face of the slab. In the eye of the beacon, the two creatures acted out their ancient roles: Toan as the guard, and the Initiate as the man he once was…

Before the Law, there stands a guard. A man comes from the desert, begging admittance to the Law. The guard does not admit him. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to enter at a later time? “It’s possible,” says the guard, “but not now.” The man tries to peer through the entrance. He had been taught that the Law should be accessible to every man. “Don’t even think about it,” says the guard. “If it tempts you so much, go ahead and try it. But beware: I am very powerful. Yet I am weakest of all the guards. There are many guards before the Law, and each guard is more powerful than the last. I dare not even look upon the third…” By the guard’s permission, the man sits down by the side of the door, and there he waits. For years, he waits. Everything he has, he gives away in the hope of bribing the guard, who never fails to say to him, “I’m taking this only so that you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.” Keeping his watch during the long years, the man has learned to know even the fleas in the guard’s fur. And growing childish in old age, he begs the very fleas to persuade the guard to change his mind and allow him to enter. His sight has dimmed, but in the darkness he perceives a radiance streaming immortally from the door of the law. And now, before he dies, all he’s experienced condenses into one question, a question he’s never asked. He beckons to the guard. Says the guard, “You are insatiable! What is it now?” Says the man, “Every man strives to attain the law. How is it then that in all these years, no one else has ever come here, seeking admittance?” His hearing has failed, so the guard yells into his ear, “No one else but you could ever have obtained admittance! No one else could enter this door! This door was intended only for you! And now, I am going to close it."

As the vision ended, Toan and the Initiate re-bound and regained control of themselves. This time, instead of closing the doorway, the two simply walked through, toward the Law (whatever that really is) and the rest of the party followed…

Royal Chamber of the Law

The next chamber was just as old as the first one, perhaps from the Green Age, with large stone doors to the left and forward. Standing, weapon drawn, in the center of the room was the guardian of the chamber. What was once a masterwork splint-mail armor and Katana were little more than rusting heaps of metal held aloft by the strange warrior. Vines crept from the dirt floor up over the boots of the creature and its glaring orange eyes provided the only illumination in the chamber. Hardly noticing the creature, the party darted for the southern door…

This room was truly the site of a royal burial! A jade and gold encrusted sarcophagus sat prominently on a raised platform at the center of the room. Was it King Kalak’s?! Sure enough, royal embalming pots lined the left and right walls of the chamber, magical glyphs adorned almost every surface, and more gold pieces than the party had ever seen was practically overflowing from a chest in the back of the room.

Just in front of the sarcophagus, a well-adorned pedestal held a pillow aloft. Upon the pillow sat a strange looking chastity belt of masterwork quality. Its buckle depicting the profile of what could best be described as a Zhackal (a psionic athasian jackal) with nine tails that wrapped around the waist before melting into the shape of nine tongues which reconnected with the buckle. Upon closer inspection, the tails/tongues were bladed and appeared to be part of the locking mechanism of the buckle, which doubled as a hilt of some kind, indicating that part of the belt doubled as a weapon of some kind. Strangely, the metallic ribbons appeared to twist and wave slowly with a life of their own, as though the Zhackal were trying to speak but was restrained by its own tail…

Convinced that Toan was the only guardian that really stood between him and the Law, and that the strange blade-belt on the pedestal must be the fabled blade Supernal Clarity, the Initiate urged his vessel to take it and find a way to activate it. As the party looked on, Toan somehow managed to take the legacy item without activating any traps, however the spirit of the Initiate was thrust from his body and proved unable to climb onto the central platform. Dahloy surmised that the largest glyph covering the entire surface of the central platform must be that of an Antimagic Zone coupled with a Magic Circle Against Spirits, which prevented the use of magic and blocked the passage of spirits anywhere within its bounds. As Toan stepped outside the bounds of the zone and unhinged the buckle (it was already unlocked), streams of fire shot out of the mouth of the caricature Zhackal and into the open air. Just as the smoke had coalesced into the Initiate earlier, these smokeless flames began to take on a roughly humanoid form.

In a flash, the creature became solid in the party’s midst. Completely naked, his exotic figure, chiseled features, and copper-toned… assets appeared too perfect to be true, and you suspected illusory magic was at work. “I think he’s an elf,” someone says. Soon after you noticed some tell-tale magical signs: a lock of his otherwise golden-red hair was an ivory white, his eyes were an unnaturally bright shade of blue, and he sported nine Zhackal-like tails. Evidently confused and embarrassed, the creature somehow hid his tail from view before speaking in a language that could only have been the dead language of Ancient Tyrian. With some guesswork, Dahloy was able to learn that the Elf’s name was Aaromal, that the party sounded like slaves to him, and that he wanted the sword and belt back. By this time, someone had identified that the sword was not Supernal Clarity, but instead was the “Tail/Tale Spinner” – a famous hoax sword said to have convinced many seekers of the Law that it was any number of the fabled blades forged by Kelanen. In fact, it was created by an infamous group called the Forsaken. The Initiate was crushed. After some convincing, Toan decided to give the items to the stranger, but not before he promised to help them escape from the tor. Aaromal agreed.

As a first gesture of his new allegiance, Aaromal identified the burial chamber as belonging to his former master the Efreeti Pasha Quor’Ash yn Memnon adh Shoon. He then advised the party that tampering with any other part of the room would almost certainly lead to instant death. This was enough to deter any more experimentation…

The Second Door Before the Law

As the party entered the previous chamber once again, the guardian addressed them:

“Storm-Peace? I am Umata, splinter of the Living Gate, mindful of the Way of the Law, although you may think of me simply as a guardian, a telepath, or a student. I am also these things. However, I am still perplexed by the bounds of this physical realm. I appear to be… stuck? Yes, stuck. I yearn for the taste of these lands, these things, these dreams… will you help me?”

“And what do we gain by helping you?”, the party said, almost in unison.

“For many years, I upheld my oath to guard the second door before the Law. As was my skill, I maintained the traps to ward away those unworthy of admittance. Once I became… stuck… and was unable to physically fulfill my sacred duties, I spent much time in contemplation of the Law. If you show yourself to have the wisdom to pass beyond this door, then I shall disable what traps remain and go forth to seek the Way of the Law in the lands beyond these walls. In doing so, I shall leave you in peace.”

Before the party fully agreed to the deal, Aislun kicked the shin of Umata’s armor, shattering it in one swift motion. Beneath the broken shards laid a writhing mass of desiccated vines, out of which two bulbous orange eyes appeared like eye stalks. “I thank you.”, the plant-like creature said into the minds of those present, as its humbled form began to shamble toward the doorway from which the party had come. Medrash gave Umata a word of warning, “This world ain’t as nice to plants as it used to be…”, but the creature didn’t look back as it crossed the first door before the Law. Confronted now with the second doorway before the Law, the party realized this steel doorway could not be as easily bypassed as the first. Beside the doorway were carved three inscriptions. Each seemed to be a poem… the answer(s) would like be the password to open the magical door. The three riddles were thus:

In the dark night flies a many-hued phantom.
It soars and spreads its wings
above the gloomy human crowd.
The whole world calls to it,
the whole world implores it.
At dawn the phantom vanishes
to be reborn in every heart.
And every night ’t is born anew
and every day it dies!

If you break me
I do not stop working,
If you touch me
I may be snared,
If you lose me
Nothing will matter.

I am a double-edged sword, a fool’s crown:
Raise me up high, and I’ll cut you down.
Push me down low, and mark my word:
The call of the ages will be answered.

After many attempts to guess the correct answer, Aislun began reading the horticulture manual the party found on the alchemists body earlier in the tomb. With a bit of effort and a lot of luck, they stumbled upon the correct answer: “Hope.”

Another flash of light emanated from the door as the beacon of the Lighthouse for the Blind swept across the chamber. This time, another phantom (the Initiate’s father?) played opposite the spirit. The much younger looking Initiate spoke:

“Which way is the right path, as I stand upon
this chaotic crossroad of hate…
How many ways are there to roam
on this dark and damned road of Fate…"

“There are many ways, my son,
to find where the souls of Demons remain…
But it takes only one second of despair and of doubt
until at last, your soul, they will gain…
Inherit these lands, these things, these dreams
that are yours, forever, to adore…
For there is no life, in the depths of Chaos, my son,
for you to explore…"

And with that, the door opened seemingly under its own power.

The Final Door Before the Law

The final room was an expansive cavern. What the party initially mistook for rock formations turned out to be dozens of uncannily detailed humanoid statues of various adventures, treasure hunters, and tomb raiders. Each faced the very center of the cavern where a reinforced steel door blocked access to a solid drake-bone outcropping that likely led deeper into the dungeon. It would be impossible to bypass except by rather explicit means. Carefully, the party made their way down to the center of the room and discovered a simple stone sarcophagus, a long inscription, and three large statues looking down upon them. The Ancient Tyrian inscription read:

Here lies Sahanna Al’Shadar, Master of the Sublime Way, and Final Guardian Before the Law. Challenge her if you dare to attain the greatest Honor a Warrior shall ever have. But heed this: The Law also values intelligence – one should not needlessly take to battle. Show that you are not blind to this truth before the three judges above and you shall have proven your worth in their eyes…

The inscription goes on to describe how one might do this, in summary:

These three animated statues, one made of Limestone, one of Marble, and one of Jade are haunted by the vestiges of the ancient refugees, in no particular order, Kelanan, Rajaat, and Ikxtli. Kelanan always speaks truly, Rajaat always speaks falsely, but whether Ikxtli speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your test is to determine the identities of the Limestone, Marble, and Jade statues by asking a series of yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one statue. The statues understand all languages, but will answer all questions in their own language, in which the words for yes and no are da and ja, in some order. You do not know which word means which.

* It could be that some statue gets asked more than one question (and hence that some statue is not asked any question at all).
* What the second question is, and to which statue it is put, may depend on the answer to the first question. (And of course similarly for the third question.)
* Questions may be as complex as desired, so long as they may be answered with either a yes or a no. If a question cannot be answered with a yes or a no, for any reason, the statue will simply remain silent.
* Whether Ikxtli speaks truly or not should be thought of as depending on the flip of a coin hidden in its brain: if the coin comes down heads, it speaks truly; if tails, falsely.
* The penalty for incorrectly naming the statues is instant petrification of the speaker.

The party is allowed three free questions. Each additional question will require the sacrifice of an eye-ball from a still-living, sentient creature. If fewer than three questions are required to correctly solve the riddle, the remaining questions up to three may instead be wishes as the “Limited Wish” spell granted by the vestiges on behalf of the whole party. If the sarcophagus, other statues, or doorway are disturbed in any way, the guardian will test the party in battle.

After considerable discussion, the party eventually figured out from the Initiate and Aaromal that “Ja” means “Yes” and that “Da” means “No” in Ancient Tyrian. In the alchemist’s/archaeologist’s journal, the party found references to the puzzle. The delver seemed to indicate that the first step was to resolve which statue was Ikxtli. They then resolved to ask the following questions:

Q1: To the Limestone Statue, “Are you Ikxtli if and only if the other two statues would answer ‘ja’ to the first part of this question?”
A1: Silence.

Q2: To the Marble Statue, “Are you Ikxtli if and only if the other two statues would answer ‘ja’ to the first part of this question?”
A2: Silence.

Q3: To the Limestone Status, “Are you Ikxtli?”
A3: “Ja.”

The party then addressed the three statues:

“The Marble statue is Kelanen, the Limestone status is Rajaat, and the Jade statue is Ikxtli!”

Once again the door flashed with light, but instead of another scene with the Initiate, the party was greeted with a shining corona. It seemed like a living, flowing gateway emblazoned along the edges of the door. As the shape of nine swords were withdrawn from the archway, the millions of points of light were scattered like splinters and the doorway grew painfully dark…

And with that, the final doorway opened and everyone let out a big sigh of relief.

Rolling Thunder of a Shining Shore

Down a long petrified dragon-like maw the party tread. Rib bones lined the walls, providing extra reinforcement for what was likely a well-guarded secret millennia in the making. At the bottom, the party could hear the sound of the silt sea’s winds and the faint clangs of battle. A small cove exposed to the elements (likely below the lighthouse facing the sea of silt), revealed itself. The tragic shipwrecks were now closer than ever just at the mouth of the cave and for some reason the sand seemed to shimmer. A rope and bucket dangled from the ceiling in the a small pool of freshwater streaming in from an underground stream to the south. It must be a well of some kind. In the center of the chamber, just before the shelf descended to the lower entrance to the cove, above a pedestal floated two cylindrical objects about the side of a sword’s hilt.

Then they realized: the entire floor of the cove was covered with Silver Pieces! Just as they were about to start shoveling them all into their pockets, a strange creature flew out of the shadows from behind a stalagmite. Enormous, with bony, spiked chitin covering every gap of its long and slender body, it flew gracefully through the air directly at the party. With a final glimpse before it attacked, they were able to recognize a single large jewel pulsating in its forehead…

Wrap Up

I don’t think we really had a chance to distribute character points, and we technically got a little further into the battle, but I’d like to rewind to the start for any newcomers and give you guys some credit now for all the awesome stuff you pulled off above. So Aislun gets 3 CPs, Toan gets 3 CPs, Dahloy gets 2 CPs, Jerri gets 1 CP, Medrash gets 1 CP, and Aaromal gets 2 CPs.

Not much loot in this session, but now everyone’s standing in the room full of silver!

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Second Session
Stormpeace
Session Theme Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKP-Jbo5Hr0

Characters & Setup
  • Zwaithe and the Dray are unconscious after taking a beating from the storm and resulting collateral damage.
  • Aeislun was tending the wounded and devising a plan for what to do next.
  • Jerri was vowing to avenge his dead kanks by slaughtering every last Sauren.
  • Très was trying to calm down Jerri.
  • Toan was resting and trying to shake off a feeling of déjà vu.
  • Dahloy and Morrah were resting happily by the fire.
Quick Summary:

After resting by the fire for a while, someone produces a fiddle (you forgot who brought it in) and everyone sings and has a good time. The commotion manages to awaken Zwaithe and the Dray, who is seemingly suffering from short-term amnesia after his bout with the storm. After filling them in on what has happened so far, Aeislun decides to investigate the western room while Très and the Dray investigate the eastern room. The western room looks like a Balic Burial Chamber with a line of salt across the entrance-way (probably to keep an evil spirit contained within the room). The eastern room is filled with the webs of an ambush spider and is largely concealed. Deciding to avoid the western room for now, Très sets fire to the spider’s webs – clearing out the chamber. Aeislun rushes in and attempts to finish off the little spiders, but doesn’t count on their gigantic mother hiding behind the stone tiles. A quick venomous prick to his neck puts him down for the count and the other characters loot the cocooned corpses quickly before running out. Fortunately one of the corpses held the body of an alchemist-turned-archaeologist with a few unused healing extracts, so Aeislun is back on his feet in no time (that’s two remaining healing extracts for those counting).

While the characters are deciding what to do next, the Dray is able to translate some of the chanting from the other room: “Skull-Skull, SKULL-SKULL.” He reveals that this is a sport of some kind among the Sauren and quickly a plan is hatched to try to beat the Sauren at their own game. This plan fails due to a few poorly chosen words. Then the characters try to goad the Sauren from their easily defensible position into a small funnel where they can be easily dealt with. They don’t take the bait. When the characters finally try “Storm-Peace,” it’s way too late and the Sauren unleash the “Spitters.” A fight ensues in which the characters mercilessly slaughter a pack of swindlespitters and guard drakes that try to ambush them, but Toan is temporarily blinded in the process.

The conclusion is a dramatic standoff between the Sauren and the characters, with neither willing to give up their easily defensible position. However, the Sauren seem to be blocking the only apparent exit from the Lighthouse for the Blind…

Wrap Up

Everyone that showed up decided to award their character points evenly. So the Dray, Aeislun, Dahloy, Jerri, and Très each received 3 CPs. Please keep track of how many CPs you’ve invested and how many you’ve earned in total!

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