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Brother of Venom
(1/18/04 9:24 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
I did not hesitate at all. I'm not sure if they'll be surprised or not when Thrommel makes an appearance. Btw, the 'unclear' answer is due to the fuzziness surrounding Tharizdun. I figure he clouds everything, so somethings are impossible to discern, if from other deities. I told my players this, however, IG by the High Priest of Heironeous. That's why many consider Tharizdun to be a myth, since even the highest level spells do not reveal anything about him.

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(1/19/04 5:42 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
Sylvan immediately recognizes the effect of the message spell
That's a pretty good trick for a Cleric. ;)

Brother of Venom
(1/19/04 7:30 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
LOL! Oops, not a clerical spell, is it? Yeah, well, no one else picked up on it. Maybe I'll give Heddy a level of bard to compensate. :)

Brother of Venom
(1/19/04 7:40 am)

Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
But what about sending? That oughta do it?

Siobharek is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Knowe Remorse 
Tolling Bell Cultist
(1/19/04 12:37 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
or just give him an item with message ability on it.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten it.

Brother of Venom
(1/20/04 6:51 pm)
Session Thirty-Six (Part 1/3)
The Battle of the Earth Bridge
In the few moments after the guards flee, the dwarven cleric of Moradin heals his comrades and the ranger uses his wand of cure light wounds. Shangor barely finishes a cure serious wounds spell on Aldoroc when they hear a loud roar coming from the open side door. Verilia immediately recognizes the sound of a bear, a large bear. She activates her torc of animal speech and listens to the animal.

“Pain! Death! Hunger!” The words are like thoughts and express what the bear wants. Concerned, the halfling druid leads the adventurers forward after they light the trolls on fire with torches.

The side door leads to a luxurious lounge, fouled only by the stench of trolls and the troglodyte stink originating near the locked door to the north. A couple of plush chairs sit in front of a fireplace to the east and a hallway leads south, the obvious source of the bear’s growls. Verilia quickly moves off in that direction, followed by Aldoroc, as Kale and Aramil investigate the door. Shangor stands at attention in the center of the room while Sylvan watches out at the rear, making sure the trolls and, more importantly, the tattooed gray render do not get up.

The room to the south is a huge mess, littered with broken bones, patches of dried blood, and bear crap. The bear itself, a dire bear, is chained to the east wall with a massive chain. It growls menacingly at the new targets and stretches its chain to almost forty feet, long enough for it to reach any part in the room, but not extend outside it. Lacerations, enormous burns, and open wounds cover the bear. It is obviously in pain and expresses his anger and hatred to Verilia. Finding no way to calm the beast, Verilia casts dominate animal and forces it back into the corner.

Meanwhile, Aramil opens up the door to the north with a knock spell. The next room is well-furnished and filled with spices, a silver dinnerware set, and similar items. It also leads to another door to the north, requiring another knock spell. The last room is a bedchamber, reeking horribly of a troglodyte, though no monster is present. Clearly the foulest smell ever, this must be the bedchamber of Reokallitan. On the bed is an open book, which Kale quickly takes, holding his breath and darting back out of the room.

The heroes continue without pause through the door to the south, beyond the bear’s prison. The door is locked, but that is easily cured by a wood shape spell from Verilia. The door creaks violent and twists uncontrollably of its hinges and falls away with a crack. The next oddly shaped room is filled with two black and white spiral colored rugs and more human guards. Aldoroc bellows a challenge and charges forward into the center of the room, staying off the rugs. Unbeknownst to the heroes, the battle of the earth bridge is on, and deadly peril awaits.

The guards are no match for the seasoned veteran as Aldoroc cuts them down like wheat before a scythe. Verilia rides her tiger into the room behind Aldoroc and begins casting call lightning, prepared for additional guards around the corner.

The remaining members join the advance team. Sylvan stays at the rear and casts greater invisibility on Aramil. Expecting real trouble, Kale furiously starts quaffing healing and protective potions. Shangor uses his prayer bead to bless the party.

Just then, eight more guards join the fray. These are more heavily armored than the others and wield battleaxes. One yells, “There’s the tiger! Get Her! Lord Hedrack wants a new rug!” Two fire heavy crossbows, and then two more step in front to fire their heavy crossbows as well. The other four, waiting for the missile volley to complete, then move into position around the tiger, swinging wildly with their weapons.

Furious from the taunting, Verilia blasts the guard with a lightning bolt. Summer rips another apart with her claws and teeth, while Aldoroc and Kale engage the others. Another combatant emerges from around the corner, a tall, lanky man with greasy hair and wearing only a simple robe. A whip for self-flagellation hangs on his belt. He steps past Summer deftly somersaulting over the tiger. He moves more than sixty feet, eventually standing in front of Shangor and punching him in the face with his fist.

Shangor draws out his holy warhammer and studies his opponent, commenting, “If it’s a fight yer lookin’ fer, laddie, ye come ta the right person.”

The monk smoothly avoids the blow, however, and continues his movement to Sylvan. He says, “Here you are, Azzalin, way in the back as I expected. I’m Tac. Remember me?” He then grips the back of Sylvan’s head and brings his knee up into the wizard’s nose. Fortunately, the elf avoids a bloody nose by virtue of his false life spell.

Aramil launches a well-placed fireball around Verilia, killing two or three of the guards. The others are struck unconscious by Verilia, Aldoroc, Kale, and Summer. Suddenly, a lightning bolt erupts down the corridor, blasting the druid and her animal companion, Aldoroc, and most of the guards. Aramil then targets Tac with a magic missile and moves down the corridor to engage the unseen spellcaster, apparently also affected by a greater invisibility. Aramil protects himself with resistance to electrical energy.

Shangor returns the favor on the monk, and Sylvan also targets him with a magic missile. In response, the monk launches a flurry of blows on the elf, but cannot seem to penetrate Sylvan’s mage armor, shield, and mirror images. Aldoroc spring attacks from across the room and further injures the monk.

Verilia dismounts and sends her badly damaged tiger to safety outside the corridor. She moves up, looking for a target for her lightning bolts. The next area is an intersection as the corridor continues west into another hallway with a door and curves out of sight. To the south, a wider hallway joins up with the main bridge staging area. To the north lies a very large room, lit by the unholy, reddish glow of a protective summoning circle. The intersection has four stone statues in it, each about eight feet tall and comprising the four facets of the elements.

Kale moves down the corridor, past Verilia, but gets bit as he moves between the four statues. Potion already in hand, he drinks it and disappears from view. The invisible spellcaster moves further down the hall past Kale and casts another lightning bolt down the hallway, hitting Kale, Verilia, and the protected Aramil. Aramil then moves into the statue room as well, unknowingly past Kale and into the southwest corner next to the air statue, one comprising a whirlwind in stone with outstretched tentacle-like appendages.

Heedless of his grievous wounds, seemingly even enjoying the pain, Tac continues his ferocious and ineffective assault on Sylvan, eliminating only one more image. He dies shortly thereafter from a combination of Shangor’s warhammer, Aldoroc’s battleaxe, and Sylvan’s magic missiles. Sylvan then protects himself from lightning with a newly acquired resist energy spell.

The invisible caster fires yet another lightning bolt down the hall, hitting Verilia, Shangor, Aldoroc, and the protected Sylvan. His hoarse cackling is heard from the intersection as he moves towards the north into the larger room. Kale also moves towards the north, not realizing that the sorcerer went there as well. The ranger starts another round of potion quaffing, hoping to heal himself enough to continue the battle. Shangor takes a moment back in the room to the east to heal himself, Aldoroc, and the tiger.

Verilia steps forward, calling out, “Show yourself, coward!” She then tries a faerie fire, but chooses her location poorly, failing to highlight the enemy.

Eeridik, leader of the Earth Bridge Complex, bellows in a deep-throated growl, slightly hampered by his hybrid wererat form, “I’ve had enough playing games with you. Now say hello to my little friend!”

He then steps across the glowing circle, breaking the protection and activating the summons.

Brother of Venom
(1/20/04 6:57 pm)
Session Thirty-Six (Part 2/3)
The Summoning of the Bebilith
Eeridik steps across the circle, and casts magic missile at Verilia. The badly wounded druid looks on in horror as the magic of the circle calls forth a giant spider-like demon. She doesn’t need Sylvan or Shangor to identify the bebilith to let her know she’s in for a world of hurt.

The bebilith takes a moment to look for a target, seeing only the druid. All three others in the area are invisible, and the demon’s scent does not pinpoint them right away. As it moves forward to engage the halfling, Kale drops prone, letting the monster walk over him. The bebilith sends a quick telepathic message to Verilia, Little morsel, and then rips her throat out with its giant mandibles.

Aramil is stunned at the ferocity of the beast and the ease at which it killed the powerful druid. He thinks, perhaps she was more injured than I thought from those lightning bolts and that magic missile. The dragon disciple backs away into the corridor, planning to kill the enemy sorcerer when his invisibility wears off.

The location of the enemy caster is made evident by another lightning bolt from down the corridor, doing only minor damage to Shangor and Aldoroc. Sylvan’s resistance negates the effect entirely. Aldoroc spring attacks from the eastern hallway and hits the mammoth demon, who takes a few moments to rip apart the interfering statues. It is too large to maneuver around them and attacks at the annoyance in the hallway.

Summer, feeling the pain from the loss of her druid companion, recklessly runs forward and attacks the demon. Having a stationary opponent, the demon rips apart the tiger and then finishes off the remaining statue and blocks the entire intersection. Summer drops dead to the floor in a pool of blood beside Verilia.

Sylvan, perhaps not thinking in his right mind, or feeling a debt to the druid, bravely steps forward to recover the halfling’s body, hoping beyond hope that she still breathes. The bebilith eliminates a few of the wizard’s images, but otherwise causes him no harm. Unfortunately, his heroic deed is for naught as the druid lives no more.

In anger, Sylvan drops black tentacles down the western hallway in an attempt to capture the lightning-throwing spellcaster, knowing that the spell would have little or no effect on the gigantic demon. It is also an attempt to allow them to concentrate on the demon and ignore the sorcerer.

Aramil starts targeting the demon with fireballs, at first not expecting them to be effective. The bebilith is not a tanar’ri, however, and does not enjoy protection from fire. Magic missiles from Sylvan and a flame strike from Shangor ensure its fate as Aldoroc and Kale attack the beast with melee weapons. After a few tense moments, the monstrous demon finally falls to the ground, dead.

The caster escapes the tentacles and enters his room to the north, calling for a truce. Angered at the death of the stout halfling, the heroes ignore his plea. Sylvan dismisses the tentacles and the intruders enter the hallway on mass. Shangor casts spike stones in the intersection, blocking out some trolls, ogres, and gnolls from the south. Aramil further blocks the hallway with a grease spell, then pulls out his bow Cumulonimbus and targets the lead ogre.

The ogres throw javelins and the gnolls return fire with their bows, but they are clearly outmatched and soon retreat around the corner. Aramil then drops a fireball in the area, killing all the remaining gnolls and an unseen ogre. Eeridik closes the door to his room as Aldoroc tries to break it down unsuccessfully. Fearing that the wererat has other means of egress, Sylvan touches Kale and uses dimension door to enter the room.

Shangor and Aldoroc enter the room as Eeridik surrenders. The wererat says, “Let me live and I will tell you all I know!”

Shangor accepts the surrender, but Kale doesn’t, thinking only of his close friend killed by the demon that the wererat sorcerer summoned. Kale curses at Eeridik, “You will not live to see the outside of this rat infested hole in the wall!” He then lunges at the lycanthrope and attacks with both weapons, his magical longsword in one hand, and the flaming short sword in the other.

Eeridik growls and then flees, running through a veritable gauntlet of foes, provoking attacks from Kale, Aldoroc, and Aramil. His expeditious retreat spell helps him elude the pursuing heroes as he manages to pass through the deadly field of spike stones and even the grease. Badly wounded, he escapes to the south and taunts the heroes one final time, “Follow me now, fools!” His maniacal laughter echoes down the hall, accompanied by the retreating sounds of him and his band of trolls and ogres.

Shangor casually slays one of the dire rats infesting the pile of litter in the makeshift bedchamber. He mutters, “Rats! I hate rats.”

Brother of Venom
(1/20/04 7:00 pm)
Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
The Dwarven Bolt Hole
The remaining heroes gather their fallen comrades and perform a quick search of the rooms north of the bridge entrance. Aramil easily figures out the mechanism that controls the chain for the bear and forces it into the corner. Summer is not so much gathered as she is dragged past the bear. The bodies are brought into the lounge and they rest for a moment, trying to decide what to do.

Sylvan says, “I cannot teleport everyone back to Khorasan, or even Rastor, and without Verilia to reduce Summer, I can’t even bring the tiger along. Perhaps we should just give Summer to the bear?”

Aldoroc thinks a moment and then adds, “I know Verilia would not want us to harm the bear, but feeding it Summer is probably not something she would like. I suggest we feed some of the guards to the bear. Looks like it deserves some retaliation, so to speak, on its former captors.”

Kale, walks over to the fireplace, still lit, to get some warmth, and notices an odd stone over the mantle. “Hey, guys, I think there’s a door by this” …click… “fireplace.”

A panel of the stone wall swivels and reveals a secret room to the east. The room contains a large statue of a dragon with an upraised paw. Inspection from Kale reveals that the arm of the dragon may be lowered or raised even further. Everyone enters the room, leaving the bodies of Verilia and Summer in the lounge. Aldoroc finishes tossing a few of the guard’s corpses at the bear and joins his companions.

Sylvan prepares levitate from a wand and says, “Ready.”

Aramil pulls the arm down as the entire twenty foot room descends slowly, statue and all. The ceiling remains in place, however, and the room does not stop until the shaft is one hundred feet deep. Another stone door appears at the bottom of the shaft, towards the west. Kale opens it, ushering a tremendous flood of water.

Everyone is smashed into the floor or walls by the rushing water and most have trouble staying above the quickly rising water. Sylvan levitates above the water and uses the wand on everyone except Kale, basically saving their lives. The ranger, an accomplished swimmer instead swims down to the statue and pushes the dragon arm up. The room slows ascends, pushing the water upwards with it, and draining it into small grates about halfway up. The room stops at the previous location and the arm clicks back into position.

Aramil cleans everyone off with liberal usage of prestidigitation as Kale prepares to lift the arm up. As expected, the room moves upwards, with the ceiling and floor moving with it. It stops after about another hundred feet, according to Shangor’s best estimation, and another door to the west is revealed. This one has no water marks, however, and it opens into a large room filled with comfortable sleeping pallets, a table, and some chairs and benches. A small keg, a box, and some goblets rest on the table as if recently used. A weapons rack stands in the corner, adorned with a number of battleaxes, warhammers, and urgroshes, all clearly of dwarven make and finely crafted. The room is strangely unaffected by time and not filled with dust.

Shangor points out the painting on the back wall, a holy symbol to Moradin and a tribute to the dwarven culture. As the cleric steps into the room, the torches on the walls light up and fill the room with a warm glow. Open the keg reveals fresh water and the box offers six steaming fresh, hearty biscuits. Kale and Aramil experiment with the keg and box, finding out that they can be reactivated a number of times.

Tears stream down Shangor’s eyes as he sits on one of the benches, staring at the mural on the wall. A dwarf in fine plate mail inscribed with the runic symbols of Moradin swings a mighty warhammer at enemy orcs. Shangor whispers to the wall, “Aye, lad, ye give the orc one fer me, too. The Saltheart clan will be avenged, this I swear upon the holy hammer and anvil of Moradin.”

The heroes sleep the night peacefully in the bolt hole, bringing the bodies of their comrades with them. The next day, Sylvan teleports with Verilia, Kale, and Summer to Khorasan. They sell some loot, buy some consumable items, and bring the corpses to the grove.

The following day, the grand druid casts true reincarnation and brings Verilia back from the dead. Fortuitously, perhaps influenced by the night her corpse spent in the bolt hole, she returns as a male dwarf. He decides upon a new name, Verrick. It is similarly to Verilia, but different, proclaiming the changes infused by Obad-Hai himself in granting him the new body. Verrick considers whether Obad-Hai and Moradin are working together.

Verrick spends another day in Khorasan, searching for a new animal companion. He finds one, miraculously within the city itself. Perhaps Obad-Hai is looking out for him already.

A light warhorse whinnies from a nearby stable as he exits the grove. The warhorse is costly, but no price is too high for a servant of the Green God. Verrick takes the warhorse, named Bucky, back to the grove and performs the daylong ceremony. The following day, Sylvan, Kale, Verrick, and a reduced Bucky return to the bolt hole. Ready for revenge against the Fire Temple and Eeridik.

Tolling Bell Cultist
(1/20/04 7:57 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
Wow, I am amazed Shangor did not have more to say about the attempted murder of his prisoner by Kale - The wererat had surrendered, and Shangor being Lawful, Good, or both, maybe should have said something...

In retrospect the wererat probably was only surrendering because he was cornered, but to try to kill him anyway is a little harsh... I think stories of this could be spread by Ederick, and next time the party fights humans a leader could shout "Remeber men, no surrender, these guys slaugter thier prisoners for kicks (a slight embelishment ;) )

I can see that Kale was pissed off and full of emotion, but what he tried to do was wrong, TM. :D

Brother of Venom
(1/20/04 11:51 pm)

Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
I beg to differ. Admitted, he's LG, but as long as the player doesn't make a habit of it, I'd actually say that it adds to the character. Had he been a paladin, it would have been another matter, but he isn't (is he?)

Siobharek is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Brother of Venom
(1/21/04 6:55 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
He's not a paladin, but he was quite upset. I didn't put the whole exchange, but they actually discussed it for a few rounds. It was actually everyone else against Shangor, arguing for his death. It was just that Kale was right next to Eeridik. They convinced him that Eeridik was clearly guilty and responsible for unspeakable evil (calling a bebelith), and summary punishment was justified. I really saw nothing wrong with that logic to impose any penalties, particularly if he let the others carry it out.

Thanks for the comments! Next session log, I have a whole slew of cut scenes, preliminary preparations by the OF. :evil

Tolling Bell Cultist
(1/21/04 11:41 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
That sounds good :) I know with my players they wouldn't give it a second thought even _if_ they were playing a paladin, and then get a little peeved with me for giving them a warning...

Siobharek: you are right, it is a great way to give a little character to a ... character. As long as the player knows that what has happened is not lawful or good. A LG character is allowed to have the occasional slip, they are not all paladins! And it looks like Infiniti's crew know what they tried to do. I usually allow my players to do what they want, and just chime in to give them some feedback on what I think is happening :D

Infiniti2000: How close are you to being caught up with the logs? It sounds like you are close if you haven't already, but I am just curious...

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(1/21/04 12:49 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
Not to get into an alignment argument or anything, but I don't believe killing Eeridik is against the good ethos (as Eeridik isn't an "innocent"), but would definitely be against lawful if he had surrendered and the party accepted it.

Brother of Venom
(1/21/04 1:11 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
" How close are you to being caught up with the logs? It sounds like you are close if you haven't already, but I am just curious..."

Session 40 is this Sat. I will post 37 tomorrow and maybe 38 by Sat. You might have already read part of it.

I agree with you, Cordo, but only Shangor accepted the surrender and he didn't find (neither did I) that it violated his alignment that his party members didn't accept it. He wasn't going to defend the wererat against his friends. :)

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(1/23/04 3:17 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Six (Part 3/3)
Actually my comment was more aimed at arcane12's original comment, so no worries I2K. ;) I do think "Oh I accepted your surrender but my friends didn't, so sorry!" is dodgy, but I wasn't at the table.

"They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers. They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came... They were scum who died violent deaths, hanging on to a certain cachet among the impressionable through their undeniable bravery and their occasionally impressive exploits" China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

Brother of Venom
(1/23/04 5:18 am)
Session Thirty-Seven (Part 1/4)
The Schemes of the Outer Fane
Heunar coughs, spitting up blood onto the body of the unconscious halfling.

Tippesh glances indifferently at her half-orc lover. “You should visit the Air Temple and have Fachish cure that disease for you. I don’t want to catch it.”

The ugly half-orc coughs again, and then presses his hand against the warm stone wall, waiting till the dizziness passes. The warmth of the Fire Temple doesn’t help his breathing. “Yeah, like Fachish would help me, even if I paid a lot of money.” His sarcasm is ruined by another cough as he replies to the human wizard. “I think I’ll take my chances without magical healing.”

Tippesh drags the body of the halfling across the rough stone floor. A trio of guards accompanies the two emissaries from the Fire Bridge to Lord Skassik, waiting in the Fire Temple.

The red-enameled bronze double doors open to reveal an eighty-foot wide flaming pit. A thirty-foot square platform with a black altar floats to the edge of the pit as Lord Skassik slithers off and onto the stone floor. He wears a beautiful suit of mithril plate mail, custom fit for his unusual snakelike form. He gestures grandly around the temple and says, “Welcome to the Fire Temple, my friends. I see you’ve brought my…er, next guest.” The flames licking his body flare up in anticipation. “Guards, take her to the iron maiden. And, pay them.”

Two of the guards drag the body through the curtain wall to the east, while the other obtains a potion bottle and a large emerald from Tippesh.

Tippesh says, “Lord D’Gran sends greetings to his ally, Lord Skassik. He also expresses an interest in a coordinated assault of the Air Temple once the interlopers are properly dealt with.”

The salamander considers the offer. “Perhaps.”

The tracks end at the fireplace in the Eastern Bridge Complex. The invisible stalkers shrug in unison, neither seeing the other but somehow amazingly working together as a unit.

They return hesitantly to the Outer Fane, dreading the report of failure to find the intruders to Lord Hedrack, but fearing the lack of a report even more. At least they have useful information on the occupied forces in the Northern Bridge Complex.

Naquent kneels down at her private altar. He tentatively lifts the crystal goblet to her lips, holds her breaths and drinks deeply of the blood. Stemming the bile rising in her throat she casts the spell to call forth a planar ally.

A violet mist surges from the altar, forming into a large demon. The bar-lgura glares disdainfully at the high priestess, “You rang?”

Naquent sits up, fiercely gripping her obex. Although protected by her spell, she hates calling these dreadful beasts into her own room. “I have a simple mission for you that should take little of your time. Travel to Rastor and obtain two townspeople, preferably dwarves. I want them alive. Your capture will be timed with an attack on the town, so you should have no adversaries to contend with.”

The demon considers the simplicity of the request and a bargain is quickly reached.

The operation succeeds easily and a couple of hours later, the demon returns with two unconscious dwarven craftsmen, one still wearing his work smock. It obtains its payment of a gold necklace studded with amethysts and then departs.

The high priestess turns to the spectre and orders, “If anyone but I enters the room, kill the hostages.”

D’Gran tosses the letter into the fire. Why do I need to capture the intruders alive? Why would they be hiding amongst the orcs? I had planned to wipe out those orcs anyway, but being ordered by Varachan to do so just…irritates me. I hope I eventually have the opportunity to eliminate him as well, perhaps with the help of Naquent. She wants him dead almost as much as I do.

The blue demon thinks about it some more, then smiles. No, I don’t want him dead. I want him alive, and screaming.

D’Gran rounds up some of his troops and readies them for battle. He sends Krall, Tippesh, and half the guards down the western passage while he takes Skank, Heunar, and the other half down the eastern passage. The battles are short and decisive. None from the attacking force are killed or even badly wounded. The orcs put up little resistance and are easily defeated.

Murant recognizes the power of D’Gran’s assault force and instead of fighting, surrenders. He pays off D’Gran with all of his money and treasure, and convinces the ogre mage to let him join the Western Bridge Complex.

The orc barbarian is not weak, so D’Gran accepts the offer. As a sign of his new allegiance, D’Gran orders Murant to personally murder the entire roomful of orc women and children. The barbarian does so happily, a smile of relief spread across his dirty face.

The High Priestess places the bloody dagger back onto the altar, slowly coming out of her state of arousal and the throes of ecstasy in worshipping the Dark God. She uses her healing magic to cure the ceremonial knife wounds, smiling affectionately at the new scar from the night’s service.
Naquent looks up at the arriving quasit. The reddish demon is particularly strong for a quasit, much stronger than any other she has seen. He floats gently in the doorway to her private chamber, about three feet from the floor. Every minute or so he disappears and then reappears, flaunting his ability to turn invisible at will.

Insentorix speaks in abyssal, “Lord Hedrack sent me to assist you in some matter. What is it?”

Naquent grimaces at the demon’s tone, and grumbles at its obvious lack of respect. She only barely holds her dismissal in check, planning to one day end its existence on the material plane. If only to irritate the demon, she replies in the common tongue, “I need you to send a message to Fachish, the High Priest of the Air Temple. Tell him that he must send an assault force to wipe out the remnants of the Northern Bridge Complex. They are enemies of the Temple of All Consumption.”

Insentorix, not one for maintaining control of his emotions, whines in frustration. “You are sending me to perform such a menial task?”

The High Priestess grins at the quasit, suddenly excited at its near refusal to do the task. She readies dismissal and holds her hand in the air, reaching slowly for the flying demon. She reverts to abyssal; to make sure the creature understands her fully. “So, Insentorix. Am I to understand this correctly? You are refusing my direct command, at the behest of Lord Hedrack? I don’t think Lord Hedrack would be pleased with you when he calls you back from the abyss.”

The demon appears frightened at her hand, as if it were the deadliest snake in the world. Not that tanar’ri can feel poison. “No, Lady Naquent. I’ll leave right now.” He then turns invisible and flies off down the hallway towards the Air Door.

Brother of Venom
(1/23/04 5:19 am)
Session Thirty-Seven (Part 2/4)
The Slurry Pit
The next morning after returning to the bolt hole, the heroes get fired up for attacking the Fire Temple. The new addition, or old addition in new guise, Verrick prepares his new warhorse to battle the flames. However, upon exiting the elevator room in the lounge area of the Eastern Bridge Complex, the decision is made to investigate the tunnels north of the complex first, where the gray render originated.

The northern tunnel forks east and west. The northwestern passage leads to the lair of the gray render, now smelling horribly of decay when Kale finds a half-eaten carcass of a cow. Kale notes that the carcass is still covered in maggots, and wisely decides not to investigate the lair any further.

The northeastern passage leads into a wide room filled with rocky debris and dust. Aldoroc, Shangor, and Sylvan enter the room down a sharply descending incline. All three lose their footing and slide down the slope further into the room.

Sylvan manages to pull out his wand and levitate himself above the floor. He offers to levitate Aldoroc and Shangor, but Aldoroc turns him down, apparently deciding that he will not let a simple slippery room get the best of him. Kale throws a rope to Sylvan and Shangor and pulls them out of the area.

The burly human fighter continues to struggle against the slippery slope and slides further north and around the corner out of view from the rest of the party. Slipping on the rocky debris is not pleasant. The sharp protrusions poke, jab, and cut at Aldoroc. At one point, he manages to climb back up into the main room, only to slide all the back again, almost falling into a deep pit. He barely grabs hold onto a firm rock outcropping at the edge.

Finally, Verrick wildshapes into a dire bat and flies into the room. He finds Aldoroc hanging over the pit and hovers down into the pit to see what it contains. The pit is almost eighty feet deep and filled with an acidic mud. Hitting the slurry would not be pleasant, but attempting to survive would surely be deadly for the strong warrior. He flies back out of the pit and picks up Aldoroc by the shoulders, hauling him out of the danger zone.

Shangor heals some of their wounds, but he has no healing spell for Aldoroc’s dignity. Until now, Aldoroc prided himself on his dexterity and mobility. Nevertheless, a hardened adventurer, he shrugs it off and the heroes resume their exploration of the complex.

A number of doors bar their way and these are destroyed by Aldoroc, perhaps still irritated at the pit. Aramil surmises that Eeridik placed arcane lock on most of the doors, due to the difficulty in opening them. It’s an expensive task, but an effective one at locking up the area against most unwanted guests.

The remainder of the Eastern Bridge Complex contains little of value so the adventurers travel all the way to the northern doors of the Fire Temple. Instead of assaulting the Fire Temple, however, they decide to check out the passage to the northeast. In passing, Sylvan notes that the temple doors have been repaired.

The tunnel to the northeast is cold and dark.

Brother of Venom
(1/23/04 5:22 am)
Session Thirty-Seven (Part 3/4)
The Crypts
The tunnel leads to a broad room containing two large black stone statues. The statues resemble warriors in action, menacing, and wearing armor with angular flanges and strange embellishments. Both face south and stand ten feet tall, wielding long swords with bizarre baroque ornamentation. Aramil casts detect magic, noting strong necromancy magic on the statues, so the party moves cautiously.

Some writing is inscribed on the floor in front of the statues, but no one understands the language. The lettering is ancient, twisted, and somehow disturbing. Sylvan stops and prepares a comprehend languages spell for fifteen minutes and then touches the writing, translating it into the common tongue from its native abyssal. “Here lie those who served best the dark master in all his forms. Disturb not their slumber.”

Shangor says, “Sounds ominous, lad.”

Aramil agrees, “I suggest that we leave the things alone until we figure out what we are up against.”

Kale shifts nervously on his feet, not very comfortable with fighting the undead now that he has gotten rid of the ghost touch longsword. “I agree, but I’m not too happy about just letting the former worshippers of the Elder Elemental Eye and Tharizdun sleep in peace.”

They explore into the next chamber, Sylvan lighting their way with dancing lights, and disturb a group of dire bats. The bats attack, not seemingly inconvenienced by the tight quarters, but they are no match for the trespassers. Verrick does not even have the time to command the animals to flee. He is not too concerned with their deaths though, assuming the bats to have absorbed too much of the pervading evil in the crypts.

A couple of side chambers contain sarcophagi, but these are left alone. However, Aramil uses detect magic to see if any are magically trapped or if they contain valuable treasures. Some do, and the dragon disciple notes which ones to pay closer attention to later.

Further north, the passage curves around to the west and leads to a large chamber with eight sarcophagi. The passage turns to the north again and continues. Aldoroc and Kale lead the way into the next hallway, but their exploration is interrupted by four ghostlike undead and eight shadow monsters. The ghost’s true nature is revealed when two of them flank Aldoroc and touch him, striking right through his magical armor. Aldoroc screams in pain at the dual attacks when almost half his life force is drained away.

Shangor yells out, “Lads, be careful! We are under attack by unholy spectres and a cadre of shadows!”

Another spectre swipes at Kale, drawing part of his energy as well. The fourth moves through the floor and up in front of the cleric of Moradin. Two of the shadows get into position around Kale and Aldoroc, while the other six move through the walls to attack Sylvan and Aramil at the rear. Verrick seems well protected in the center of the group.

Aldoroc draws his holy battleaxe and swings at the nearest spectre, striking truly and yet failing to affect it. Kale draws both of his weapons similarly misses. Shangor grips his holy symbol and says, “By the power o’ Moradin, I command ye foul beasts to flee or be destroyed!” The two nearest shadows dissipate in response, unable to withstand the cleric’s power. The spectre in front of Shangor withdraws into the floor.

Sylvan casts mirror image and shield, while Aramil casts mage armor and shield. Protected from the shadows, the dragon disciple starts pummeling the spectres with magic missiles. Sylvan also casts magic missiles until he has no more, and then pulls out his wand.

One of the spectres touches Aldoroc again, eliciting another yelp of agony. The others amazingly miss, despite their flanking positions. Shangor casts spiritual weapon and a warhammer made of force attacks one of the spectres. He then steps backward and destroys the remaining shadows by channeling strong positive energy.

Verrick casts flame blade and attempts to get some attacks in, but they are largely ineffective. Fortunately, the spectres are eventually destroyed from the combined magical attacks and a few lucky strikes from Aldoroc and Kale.

Aldoroc slumps against the wall in obvious agony. His skin has become ashen and his eyes look sunken in his skull. Even one more strike from the specters could have finished him off. Aldoroc mumbles aloud, “My granddaddy always said that there’s a fine line between bravery and utter stupidity.” Then, to himself, “I almost crossed it.”

The last spectre to reappear has no chance against the prepared heroes. It reemerges from the lid of a sarcophagus and attacks Aramil, but misses terribly. The subsequent barrage of magic missiles and weapons destroys it within seconds.

Shangor strides over to Aldoroc, yanking a scroll from his pack. “Lad, ye done a brave thing back there. It were a wee bit idiotic, too. Let me help ye relieving that pain, though.” He then reads the restoration spell from the scroll and Aldoroc suddenly looks a whole lot better. Shangor turns to the archer, “I’m sorry, lad. I’ve only the one scroll, ye know. Tomorrow, if’n we live to see another day, I’ll cast restoration on ye.”

Brother of Venom
(1/23/04 5:24 am)
Session Thirty-Seven (Part 4/4)
The Greatest of Us, Gone but not Slain
Instead of resting for the night, the adventurers decide to resume their exploration into the last, and largest of the crypts, almost sixty feet long and forty feet wide. The walls glisten as though wet, shimmering in the continual flames mounted on Kale’s armor. A single sarcophagus made of reddish stone rests in the center of the room atop an obsidian dais with three steps. A squat, bloated demon statue sits on the lid of the coffin like a guardian. A warrior statue stands nearby, holding a bronze spear at attention. The statue is made of dark gray stone, but strangely wears bronze plate mail covered in the verdigris of age. In front of the sarcophagus, the heroes see an empty pool, about ten feet square.

Aldoroc takes a few steps into the room, educing a reaction from the statue. The statue turns to the human and points his spear at him as the pool magically fills up with water. Aldoroc stops and waits to see what happened, only to get hit in the chest with a powerful salvo of magic missiles from the statue. Taking the hint, he retreats out of the room and watches the statue stand back at attention and the pool of water empty again.

Aramil casts detect magic and takes a few minutes to study the items within sight. The pool basin radiates faint conjuration and illusory magic. As expected, the statue is based on moderate evocation magic. The demon statue radiates strong illusion, but the lid radiates strong abjuration magic.

A long discussion ensues as Aramil, Shangor, Sylvan, and Verrick contemplate what all the auras mean. Kale tries to help, but the extent of his magical knowledge is limited, particularly when compared to the other powerful spellcasters. Aldoroc just tries not to look bored, and drinks a potion of cure light wounds or two.

Eventually, they decide to leave and think about it over a good night’s sleep on the pallets in the bolt hole. In the morning, Shangor casts restoration on Kale and then tends to any remaining injuries. The adventurers head back to the Grand Crypt, encountering no difficulties on the way. Strangely, the Fire Temple has not posted any guards by the door. Or, at least none that they could see.

Aramil casts shield and steps into the room, evoking the same response from the previous day. Sylvan does the same thing and the warrior statue shifts its attention to the newcomer. It then alternates between the two targets, blasting Aramil with magic missiles and then Sylvan. It seems to have no limit, and no concept of its ineffectiveness, so the two elves leave the room.

A plan is finally put into action, whereby Sylvan, Aramil, and Aldoroc will enter the room. The statue will split its attacks amongst the three intruders, allowing the fighter to beat on the statue until it crumbles. The plan works, though Aldoroc takes a few more magic missiles than he’d like. The statue is surprisingly tough, particularly with the bronze plating. Shangor joins them and uses a cure critical wounds spell to help the fighter.

Standing near the lid, Aramil can now read the writing engraved there in common. “The greatest of us, gone but not slain.”

Shangor grunts. “Aye, so I’d wager that the cleric buried in this unholy tomb will not be wantin’ us ta open it.”

Kale agrees with the dwarf. “It’s a good bet that the priest in here is not entirely dead.”

Aldoroc, still holding his holy battleaxe, nods affirmatively. “So be it. The evil must be destroyed. By Heironeous, I will see justice served.”

Sylvan and Verrick stand outside the room. Verrick casts detect magic and keeps an eye on the sarcophagus, particularly the lid. Kale and Shangor join Aldoroc, who has reattached his weapon to his belt. Aramil casts dispel magic on the sarcophagus, suppressing the illusion, but not the abjuration. Nevertheless, his three comrades attempt to lift the lid to no avail. On the brighter side, nothing bad happens. Nothing visible anyway.

They keep trying as the dispel magic ends and the bloated demon springs to life. It hisses at the burglars and says, “This is the resting place of Unariq VoTalsimol, who has joined with the Master.” The demon returns to its normal pose, as Sylvan and Aramil both comment in unison that it is merely a magic mouth spell.

Kale sticks his hands in the water of the pool, wiping them off. When he places them back on the lid, he notices that it does not feel quite the same. He cups his hands and dumps a double handful of water on the lid. Aldoroc and Shangor do the same thing and all three heave together on the lid. It is difficult, but after almost half a minute, they push the heavy top off. It falls to the floor with a crash, breaking the head from the bloated demon.

Everyone gazes at the open sarcophagus, fully expecting to see a mummy emerge from the tomb. Their fears are not quite allayed, however, when instead they see a swirling black vortex. The portal is almost mesmerizing, but appears way too dangerous to play with. Shangor says, “I almost wish it were an undead.”

The adventurers decide to plunder the other sarcophagi and leave this room alone. The traps are largely ignored by the battle hardened adventurers, but after a few lids are tossed aside, Aldoroc succumbs to a terrible disease. He falls to the floor, writhing in pain as mottled purple bumps appear on his skin. He gets worse by the second until Shangor pulls out first a cure disease scroll and then a remove curse.

Aramil deduces the origination of the powerful curses and recommends that Aldoroc lay his battleaxe into the two statues at the front. Just in case it matters, Shangor gives Aldoroc the protection of Moradin, using his powerful innate clerical ability.

Once the two guardian statues become a pile of rubble, the necromantic aura disappears and the tomb raiders rob the remaining crypts with impunity, finding no need to respect the dead of such an evil cult.

Brother of Venom
(1/26/04 9:37 pm)
Session Thirty-Eight (Part 1/4)
The Invisible Assailants
The Black Sun pulsates with an unholy energy felt more than seen or heard. The vibrations emanate through the glass door and even ripple through the swollen purple stone floor. Sweat beads upon the High Priest’s brow while he concentrates on the Black Sun. Under his dominating will, the sphere of annihilation moves slowly, grudgingly out of its resting place and towards the closed door. It passes through the glass, seemingly not even touching it, to float chest high in the hallway at Lord Hedrack’s command.

Frightened at such a spectacle of power, Naquent and the newly arrived assassin drop to the stone floor in obeisance. Naquent searches through her memory for a reason why she deserves such an ultimate punishment, or glory. Surely Hedrack does not suspect her ambitions of ruling the Outer Fane, replacing him? Perhaps he does not appreciate her initiative at capturing the dwarven paladins for her personal use? Her musings are of no matter now.

Lord Hedrack maintains a steely gaze on the sphere, and addresses Naquent. “Do you actually think I am not aware of your ambition? You seek to remove me as leader of the Outer Fane.” He smiles as the High Priestess shakes her head in denial. “First, however, you must go through Varachan.” Hedrack glances at Naquent, momentarily removing his gaze from the sphere. “I give you your chance to jump up in the hierarchy. You merely need to wrest control of the sphere and use it against me.”

That thought could not be further from her mind as Naquent only falls prone to the floor. “No, Master! Please! I beg mercy!”

Hedrack grins. “I did not think so.” He then turns and glares at Bethe, still in the disguise of an elf. She quickly dismisses the disguise self spell and reverts to her normal, luscious human form. She prostrates herself on the floor beside Naquent, who shifts away.

Hedrack commands, “Bethe, report to me of your astonishing success.”

She gulps, briefly considering lying, but realizing the futility of trying to hoodwink Hedrack. “Master, we had waited until the intruders exited the crypts. The stalkers watched them play with Lord Unariq’s tomb and leave. We set up the ambush near the Earth Bridge area, hoping to trap them between the two stalkers and giving me time to assassinate the lead fighter.”

Naquent continues shifting away from Bethe, coming to the understanding that the lack of an immediate acknowledgment of success could only mean failure. Bethe continues her report. “The dwarven druid, apparently a replacement for Verilia, cast faerie fire on the rear stalker, while the front stalker pummeled the fighter, Aldoroc. As planned, the rear stalker attacked the wizard, Azzalin, attempting to kill him quickly. The ranger Kale stepped in front of Azzalin, however, and drove it off, due to its inability to overcome the faerie fire. Indeed, I almost shifted my target to the druid because of that.”

Hedrack grimaces in concentration as the sphere moves closer to him. After a few moments, he dominates the artifact again and forces it back. Bethe looks fearfully at the sphere, continuing her report. “The dragon disciple, Aramil, then dropped a fireball ahead of Aldoroc, unfortunately hitting the stalker and almost injuring me. I managed to evade the blast, though.”

“I decided to make my attack right then and drove my rapier through the fighter! Master, I punctured his lung, I swear! Aldoroc shrugged it off, though!”

“I tumbled away as Azzalin cast a black tentacles spell into the corridor, as you predicted. Thank you, O Master, for your gracious freedom of movement spell! That is when I broke the refuge stick and appeared in Varachan’s chambers. I can only assume the forward stalker was killed. I met up with the other by the Air Door and we came here to report.”

Naquent glances around, noticing for the first time the presence of an invisible creature standing over Bethe. Hedrack nods and the invisible stalker reaches down and grabs the assassin, holding her firmly. She cries out, “Master! Please let me try again! I will kill them, I swear!”

Hedrack concentrates and motions with his arm. “You’ve had your chance.” The sphere of annihilation shoots towards the assassin, moving through her and the surprised stalker, stopping only at the purple wall writhing with swollen veins. With two successive audible pops, Bethe and the stalker disappear in puffs of acrid violet smoke. Bethe’s magical items fall to the floor beside Naquent, who stays absolutely motionless.

Hedrack chuckles, eyes seemingly transfixed on the undulating wall. He speaks in auran to the already annihilated stalker, “You, too.”

He then lets go of the sphere, watching it move slowly back through the glass door and into its resting place. “Naquent, I hope you’ve learned a lesson today.” He grabs her forcefully by the hair and wrenches her head to look up at him. “Now, bitch, get Choranth and meet me in my chambers.”

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