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Brother of Venom
(1/26/04 9:42 pm)
Session Thirty-Eight (Part 2/4)
The Second Battle of the Fire Temple
Sylvan moans in pain, leans back against the stone wall, and slumps to the floor. A deep bruise rises slowly on his forehead, the result of a particularly strong blow from the invisible stalker. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Shangor leans down, placing a firm hand on the elf’s shoulder, and gives him his most powerful healing spell. The bruises vanish. The internal bleeding stops and the wizard feels a lot better suddenly as the divine energy of Moradin flows through his body.

Aldoroc puts his gauntleted hand to his left side, trying to stem the flow of blood. He breathes and then coughs from the blood in his lungs, evidence that the assassin’s blade had more effect than he originally thought. “Damn assassins.” He grumbles. Aldoroc reaches into his pack and takes out one healing potion after another, consuming them until the bleeding stops.

The heroes return to the secret dwarven room and rest for the remainder of the night. As usual, Sylvan sets an alarm spell, but they do not take any additional precautions. The morning dawns brightly, and early for the adventurers, though the sun is undetectable through the outer stone wall of the crater. The spellcasters prepare for the upcoming attack on the Fire Temple while Aldoroc does calisthenics, working out the stiffness from last night’s battle with the invisible stalkers and the female elven assassin.

The double bronze doors of the Fire Temple, like Skassik’s armor, are enameled bright red. They must have been painted recently, too, because they are not peeling yet. Heat radiates from them like coals in a torture chamber. Aldoroc unhooks the holy battleaxe from his belt and hefts it to his shoulder as the others cast protection spells. In half a minute when everyone’s ready, Aramil casts knock and the two doors open up, revealing an empty temple area and a raging fire pit eighty feet in diameter.

It’s not quite empty, however. Two elven guards and a hell hound stand on the left side of the pit. Aldoroc charges the guards as they raise bows to their shoulders and fire. Aramil steps up, too, and polymorphs into a gold dragon wyrmling. Seeing a relatively empty temple area, the others take another few seconds to continue preparing protection spells or drinking potions.

Another hell hound and group of burning skeletons emerge from the right hand side alcove, moving towards the heroes. Three trolls climb out of the fire pit and surround Aldoroc, blocking his advancement toward the elven guards. The guards smile at each other in obvious relief, not particularly desiring to confront the powerful fighter in hand-to-hand combat. The trolls flank Aldoroc and ferociously tear through his armor.

The platform rises out of the fire, exposing Skassik, two more salamanders, Eeridik, and an armored ogre. Skassik no longer wears the red enameled half-plate armor. Instead, he wears a beautifully crafted suit of mithril plate. The armor gleams brightly, reflecting the flames in a coruscating pattern over the altar and the others on the platform.

Eeridik, the wererat sorcerer who fled the Earth Bridge Complex, unfolds a thick scroll and casts wall of force. Sylvan and Aramil both recognize the spell. Aramil has a ill feeling about it and sticks his hand out behind himself, noticing that the wall blocks out his four companions, five including Verrick’s animal companion, the warhorse Bucky. Despite the predicament Aramil and Aldoroc are in, the others continue their preparations as Sylvan casts haste.

Skassik repositions the platform to the edge of the pit and slithers off, moving up to Aldoroc and attacking with his barbed greatsword. The other salamanders and the ogre engage the dragon disciple by the wall of force, knowing its location and not foolishly attacking those on the other side. One of the trolls breaks off from the assault on Aldoroc and battles Aramil as well. The skeletons mill about, looking for suitable opponents, and point out tactics to the frustrated ogre and salamanders. Eeridik moves the platform back to the center of the pit for protection and targets Aramil with a magic missile, failing to penetrate his shield spell.

Aldoroc is surrounded by foes and holds his own against the trolls and the salamander, but things take a bleak turn when Skassik moves into flanking position with his poisoned blade. The barbed greatsword metes out tremendous damage on the fighter. The protective boosts from his companions seem almost negligible facing the powerful attacks from the salamander blackguard. Aldoroc would have a fair chance one-on-one, but the flanking trolls only provide Skassik with the opportunity for taking devastating advantage of openings in his defenses.

Aldoroc manages to escape, engaging the elven guards and hell hounds at the back end of the temple. Sylvan grabs Verrick and casts dimension door. They appear on the platform beside a startled Eeridik. The wererat fires off a lightning bolt, but is quickly subdued with a feeblemind spell from Sylvan. Verrick casts call lightning and starts pummeling the trolls with bolts, druid-style.

Shangor stone shapes a tight opening past the wall of force and squeezes his dwarven frame through, attempting to help Aramil. Kale joins him, but then tumbles past the opponents to the platform after realizing that Shangor and Aramil can handle the ogre, troll, and salamanders by themselves.

Skassik ignores the fleeing Aldoroc to concentrate on the foes upon his platform. He slides to the edge of the pit and the platform moves over to him. He taunts Sylvan, “Azzalin, it is not too late. Join me.” He gestures at the babbling wererat, “I have a new opening for Fire Temple Wizard.”

Sylvan’s responds with a crude gesture and says, “I told you before, my name is Sylvan. I will never work for the Fire Temple.”

Skassik replies, “Then you will die, elf, like the rest of your incompetent family.”

The trolls step onto the platform, one engaging Verrick and the other moving around the altar and drum to attack Sylvan. Sylvan futilely attempts to control the platform, willing it back to the center of the pit and up, not yet understanding that the wielder of the tentacle rod commands it. The wizard then tries to move past the troll and out of its reach, knowingly provoking an attack. Instead of the normal swipe of its claw, the troll grapples the wizard. Verrick casts baleful polymorph on the troll to turn it into a chicken, but the giant resists the spell. Sylvan struggles to escape and fails, and then the troll steps off the platform and into the flames taking the mage with him. They plummet to the pit ten feet below. Kale jumps in to help Sylvan, but he cannot see due to the fire.

Verrick gleefully draws out his scimitar, attacking the troll with a vengeance. The druid’s tune changes, however, when Skassik snakes in behind him and slices through his shoulder with that wicked sword. Verrick is not troubled by the poison, but the terrible damage Skassik can inflict. The druid decides that today is not a good day to die and air walks off the platform, dropping a lightning bolt on the blackguard.

Shangor and Aramil battle the enemies by the wall of force, not yet advancing into the room. Aldoroc drinks healing potions and keeps out of reach of the guards and the hell hounds. The skeletons split up and approach Aldoroc from both sides of the pit. Seeing this, the elves fire their bows at Verrick floating the air, who is casting a spell. They fail to hit him, however, and he completes the summoning spell. Two beautiful, silver unicorns appear near the fire pit, engaging the skeletons in combat and healing Aldoroc as necessary, who nods silently in thanks to the druid.

Meanwhile, in the pit itself, Sylvan plays dead in an attempt to make the troll let go. It buys the bluff only too willingly, happy to leave the flames. Despite the protection from fire afforded by the temple altar, the troll’s innate desire to stay out of fire is almost overwhelming. The troll lets go of Sylvan and climbs the east wall to escape the pit.

Verrick blasts Skassik with lightning bolts, so the Lord of the Fire Temple raises the platform towards the ceiling. As it moves higher, Verrick notices the troll moving around the altar to the drum. A steady beat begins. Kale, still in the flames, gets butterflies in his belly listening to the drum, and carefully climbs out at the north end of the pit. Shangor and Aramil finally finish off their opponents as Aldoroc and the unicorns wipe out the remaining skeletons and the hell hound. The elven guards realize they are outclassed when threatened by the gold dragon wyrmling and surrender. The last troll, the one that dragged Sylvan into the pit, becomes mincemeat for a fully prepared Shangor with righteous might.

Sylvan floats wearily out of the flames, grimacing in pain and holding one hand to his head, trying to block out the pounding beat of the drum. With his free hand, he grips a weathered scroll. Then he mutters a few arcane words of power. The spell burns off the scroll and the wizard drops the flaming piece of paper into the pit. He points menacingly at the platform with his middle finger. A black light, no, a beam that absorbs light, shoots from his hand and strikes the center of the platform, underneath the altar. The platform screeches violently as the center ten feet disintegrates unwillingly. The black stone altar, already emitting a yellowish light in the vague shape of an eye, plunges sixty feet to the pit below with a tremendous crash.

Skassik peers through the hole in shock, wordlessly mouthing obscenities in his native language. Moments later, the remaining platform, drum, and troll plummet to the floor, sending flames shooting another fifteen feet into the air. Skassik floats gently down, aiming his sword at Sylvan on the way, “You will pay for this, you insolent cur.”

Sylvan levitates a little higher as the other heroes prepare for Skassik to emerge from the pit. Eventually, the salamander blackguard climbs out, accompanied by the troll. Skassik screams insults in all the languages he knows. His rage carries him only so far, however, as the concentrated assault from the adventurers end his reign permanently.

The subsequent collapse of the temple ceiling proves fatal for the elven guards and nearly fatal for Sylvan, who no longer has the spells prepared to fly or dimension door to safety. He also cannot move laterally due to the levitation and is too badly damaged to risk dropping back into the flames. Fortunately, Verrick is able to wildshape into a dire bat and collect the wizard, saving him in the nick of time.

Safe back outside the bronze doors, the heroes close their eyes and sigh almost as one. Kale speaks for the group when he says, “The Fire Temple is finally done.” Sylvan nods in silent agreement, a tear leaving a wet streak down his angular and dust-covered face.

Neither notices one of the trolls twitching, its crushed skull regenerating even the holy damage wrought by Shangor’s warhammer.

Brother of Venom
(1/26/04 9:48 pm)
Session Thirty-Eight (Part 3/4)
The Reading of the Oracle
Draped in his ochre robes, the Master of the Outer Fane strides regally through the purple-veined hallways. He pauses momentarily at the Dark Sun and utters a quick prayer. “O Dark Lord, give me strength as I go to visit the mortal enemy of my race.” His lips curve in a wicked grin. “Grant me the ability to overcome my weakness, such that Satau will not be dead at my hand by the end of the hour.” The grin widens. “For I still require the services of that miserable creature and I’d rather not accidentally kill him before he’s accomplished his task.” He chuckles, placing his palm on the glass door, looking inside upon the sphere of annihilation. “Just don’t grant him the ability to see his own death at my hand.”

The tendrils of the tentacle rod drag upon the floor as Hedrack stops in front of the thick basalt door. He gazes into the demon’s face on the door and asks, “Do you still seek to challenge me?” Understandably the door opens, revealing a chamber lit by a trio of dim glowing balls floating near the ceiling. A semicircular table made of lavender stone sits to the left of the entrance. Oddly shaped bits of stone, wood, and bone lie scattered on the table. A small marble mushroom-like stool provides a seat in front of the table. To the right of the door, a forty foot wide pit drops down into darkness, offering the only other exit.

Hedrack calls out in a deep voice, “Satau, don’t keep me waiting.”

A dark robed humanoid levitates silently out of the pit. The spacious hood hides his face, but a purple tentacle snaking out of the cowl belies his nature. Satau speaks to Hedrack, but not out loud. Greetings, Lord Hedrack. You are late.

Hedrack nonchalantly smacks the rod on the tabletop, knocking some of the bits of wood aside. “I had business to attend to…but, I am not here to provide you with information. Tell me about the reading, Oracle.”

Satau steps down onto the floor and walks across to the small stool. He sits down and uncovers his head. The illithid turns to face Hedrack, Your enemies become predictable. They travel the crater ridge mines in the exact same pattern every time they assault it.

Hedrack appears frustrated. “Yes, I know that already. Tell me about the vision!”

Satau turns back to the table, gazing at the objects scattered about. An ally from the depths of the abyss may succeed where all others have failed, in ways you do not yet expect. He pauses. An enemy works from the inside.

Hedrack frowns in concentration, twirling the tentacle rod. “What enemy? A traitor?”

The mind flayer moves a piece of bone. It is not clear.

The High Priest growls, “It never is.”

Satau ignores the jibe, continuing his reading. The Champion will be revealed when the four elements are quieted.

Hedrack’s eyes brighten. “Ah. Now I see the reason behind the Triad’s plan. The four temples must be eliminated before I can find the Champion. I had though they desired the destruction of the crater ridge temples only to replace them with others. A cleansing, so to speak.” He then looks annoyed. “If the First could see this, though, why not tell me earlier?”

Satau wisely remains quiet, not answering the rhetorical question. Hedrack paces in front of the curved stone table, absentmindedly swinging the tentacle rod. “Still, I shall summon that planar ally you mention. If it kills the intruders, I’ll let it destroy the remaining temples, minus a few choice individuals, of course. If the ally fails, then the intruders will complete the prophecy for me, thus revealing the Champion and bringing our plan that much closer to fruition.” He stops, turning towards the illithid, and cackles. “Either way, it’s win-win for me!”

Satau shifts nervously, changing the subject. Lord Hedrack, the time of the Champion has been revealed. By our agreement, I will take my leave and return to the city of my people.

Hedrack stares at the mind flayer incredulously. “Leave? You can’t leave! I still require the use of your abilities. You will remain here until the Champion is proclaimed in the Greater Temple itself and he summons the first Elemental Prince!”

But, my Lord, we had an agreement…

“I’m changing the agreement.” Hedrack readies a dimensional anchor spell and asks menacingly, “Are you challenging that?”

Satau tries one more time, Our deal…

“I’ve altered the deal. Pray I don’t alter it further.”

Brother of Venom
(1/26/04 9:50 pm)
Session Thirty-Eight (Part 4/4)
The Looting of the Fire Temple
After the dust settles, Aramil polymorphs into a gray ooze. He envelops the trolls, killing them slowly with his acidic secretions. It is not a pretty sight, though, and even the robust Aldoroc turns away. The bodies of Skassik and his guards are unenthusiastically looted. His armor looks nice, but it is unusually shaped and will require a lot of work to refit for a humanoid.

To the east of the Fire Temple, a number of rooms are curtained off from the hallways. The first room is akin to a torture chamber, a bedroom filled with all manner of grisly artifacts. There are jars of body parts, blood smeared over the walls and implements, bits of flesh scattered on the floor, and tools of different makes and styles lie haphazard all over the area. Not wanting to spend a lot of time in the room, Aramil casts detect magic, noting something of moderate strength emanating from within a repulsive chest. The chest is carved from alabaster and resembles a small human in the fetal position and bound in rusted barbed wire. The chest contains even more instruments of torture and a false bottom gives access to a small, black statue of a demon with furled wings. The statue is quite smooth, as if worn down by water.

Aramil shudders at the room and then takes the statue. “Ug, what a disgusting figure for a magical item.” He plops it into Sylvan’s bag of holding.

Verrick asks, “Do you suppose it’s cursed?”

Shangor sarcastically replies, “A magical item in the shape of a demon, resting in a bedroom doubling as a torture chamber? Of course not, lad. Be sensible.”

The adventurers explore further and find the actual torture chamber, complete with a blood-stained rack and even an iron maiden. Kale hears a muffled sound from the iron maiden and therefore examines it more closely. “Hey, someone appears to be in here!”

Sylvan suggests, “Leave him. He probably deserves it.”

The ever-watchful holy priest of Moradin shakes his head. Shangor tugs at his beard in annoyance. “Now, lad, ye kinna know that the poor soul trapped within the iron maiden deserves such a fate. We must open it up and see fer ourselves. Just be on guard.”

Kale unlatches the door and heaves it open with a grunt and the noise of metal scraping on metal. They hear a sucking sound as spikes are extracted from the body within the iron maiden. A beaten female halfling, bloody and bruised almost beyond the capacity to be healed, mumbles, “Finally…” and then falls to the floor.

Shangor steps up and heals the halfling. “Lass, get up. Who are ye? What happened to ye?”

Aldoroc pulls a spare cloak out of his pack and drapes it over the naked torture victim. She lifts her head up and smiles gratefully. “My name is Descritad. That filthy flea-bitten varmint D’Gran sold me to…” She suddenly looks concerned. “Are you guys with the Air Temple?”

Shangor shakes his head. “Nay, lass. We have come to exterminate the evil from within the wall of…”

Sylvan interrupts Shangor before the cleric can launch into his diatribe about the Temple of All Consumption and possibly reveal too much information. “We are not from here, but mean to inflict harm on many of the residents. The question for you, however, is more pertinent. Are you a member of the Temple of All Consumption?”

Descritad contemplates the question for a moment and then says, “Not anymore.” She bounds agilely to her feet, ignoring her injuries. “Unless you guys plan on helping me kill D’Gran, I’ll be on my way.” She pushes Kale out of her path and walks confidently towards the south curtain. She stops only momentarily to pick up a scalpel to use as a makeshift weapon. “Er, thanks for the cloak.”

Aramil says, “Not so fast, Descritad. We’ll help you kill D’Gran after you tell us some more information. Who is he and why do you want to kill him so badly?”

The halfling pulls the cloak tighter around her shoulders. “D’Gran is a disgusting oaf of a demon. He’s part ogre mage, too, or so I understand. He’s been torturing me for the last three months and I’ve had quite enough of that, let me assure you. I’m only glad that insane gnome Firre wasn’t here or I’d be in even worse shape. I guess I have you to thank for that, right? Anyway, D’Gran took my stuff, a bag of holding, a composite bow, and some other things. I want them back.”

The heroes consider it quietly and then Aramil offers, “We’ll help you. We’ll give you some basic equipment and you can help us kill D’Gran and we’ll get your stuff back. First, however, we’re going back to Rastor to rest.”

Descritad looks exasperated and impatient. “Very well, I’ll wait with you.” She then starts moving in the direction Aldoroc points. “Let’s go, then.”

Crimson Coil Cultist
(1/27/04 5:35 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Eight (Part 4/4)
Bravo! Excellent updates, Infiniti.

I particularly liked the vignettes, parts 1 and 3. At the end of part 1, I just couldn't shake the porno guitar (bwa-chicka-chicka) out of my head. And I _love_ the idea of Hedrack+Satau = Vader+Lando. It's a great idea to flesh out the motivations/character of Satau, who I'd been having trouble figuring out how to play until now. Thanks!

Brother of Venom
(1/27/04 6:57 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Eight (Part 4/4)
Thanks! :D

I've noticed in my writing of these that Hedrack probably has zero friends. I can't think of a single reason outside of fear that anyone would stick up for him or 'save' him. This is a very important point because if he is sorely pressed and calls for help, no one will come. On the other hand, he probably prefers it this way, the arrogant bastard. Btw, my players call him Hatrack. Does anyone else? ;)

Even in stealing that last line from Vader, it still gives me goose pimples. I tried to think of a valid reason Satau would work with the Cult and that is the best one I came up with. There must be some kind of agreement between the Temple and the hierachy (such as it is) of illithids.

Coming Soon:
Session 39 - The Infinitus Factor, wherein a glabrezu kicks ass
Session 40 - The Rise and Fall, wherein the Champion and traitor are found
Session 41 - The Spider Eaters, wherein the party 'bravely' faces a squadron

Brother of Venom
(1/27/04 7:02 am)

Re: Session Thirty-Eight (Part 4/4)
Can't wait for the next installments. Get crackin'!

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

Deathmantle Cultist
(1/27/04 9:33 am)
Sounds like Hedrack to me. Great job! Satau is lawful and Hedrack is chaotic makes more the sense to me.

Still, Hedrack have a degree of order to maintains his status and position. He is probably the most lawful chaotic evil out there.

Brother of Venom
(2/1/04 9:50 am)
Session Thirty-Nine (Part 1/4)
The Air Temple Assault
The halfling Descritad leads the heroes through the Fire Temple, and then pauses at the entrance to the crypts. She turns back to Aldoroc, “Which way?”

Aldoroc points to the left. Descritad pulls the cloak tighter, grips the scalpel, and moves in that direction. Once in the Earth Bridge Complex, it becomes evident that she is in unfamiliar territory. Aldoroc moves to the front and leads the party to the Water Temple. They exit from the mining tunnels, pushing one of the ore carts out of the way against the wall. Aldoroc peeks curiously into the first side room for scorpions, but none are found.

As they walk down the wide hallway, Kadiss and his remaining guards step out, swords drawn and spells prepared. Kadiss declares, “State your business or die, scum!” Recognizing his benefactors, however, he says, “Oh, it’s you!” He orders his troops, “Weapons down!”

Kadiss and the guards look very ragged, dirty, and even injured, contrary to their normal life in the Water Temple and specifically in their new location at the North Bridge Complex. Kale comments on their appearance and asks, “What happened to you, Kadiss?”

Kadiss motions them to the tables and chairs outside his quarters so that he can update them in relative comfort. He sends the human guard to get a small keg of beer and some loaves of bread from the depleted storeroom. “I was in the mess hall when Lorthian here spotted an ogre crossing the bridge. Those ogres from the Outer Fane are tough critters, so we decided to just see what it wants and hope we didn’t get into a row. Besides, you gave us instructions to try and maintain normal operations, though I suppose killing the ogre could also be considered normal operations, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it asked for Oamarthis, so I told him ‘Oamarthis is busy at the moment’ and he instead gave me a letter to pass on to the Captain of the Air Bridge.”

The guard returns with the keg, tapping it and filling up cups for everyone except Sylvan and Aramil. Verrick gulps his down quickly. The former halfling has either developed a new taste for ale or it’s a side effect of his new dwarven body. Kadiss grabs a pewter cup and continues his report. “It’s was a letter written to Oamarthis from Varachan. I’m not sure who Varachan is, but I think he’s pretty powerful, almost as powerful as Hedrack himself. The letters warns Oamarthis that a strike force was sent from the Air Temple to wipe him out.

Verrick says, “Why would this Varachan warn the leader of the Air Bridge about an attack from the Air Temple? I thought the Outer Fane stayed out of the crater politics?”

Kadiss nods, “That’s true, sir.” He then looks quizzically at the dwarf. “Um, who are you?”

Verricks shrugs his shoulders and gestures at his companions, “No one of consequence, just a new ally of theirs.”

Kadiss looks suspiciously at the druid. “Hm. Anyway, if it were a force strong enough to defeat Oamarthis, then it would easily destroy us. Hell, even the ape with the white stripe almost wiped us out. So, we decided to flee. We came here because we were familiar with the layout, and we could easily continue fleeing if necessary. We ran into a troll, though, and had some trouble. Fortunately, we managed to kill it.”

Aramil stands up, “Wise decision to flee. Now, however, you are back with us.”

Aldoroc confidently grips his battleaxe. “Let’s retake the complex.”

The heroes and their troops approach the Northern Bridge Complex cautiously, but they find it empty. Indeed, it is somewhat of a mess with the chimera dead by a combination of arrows and bludgeoning weapons. Its bloody corpse lies in the bridge entrance. The tables are overturned and the kitchen is in ruins. Almost all of the supplies in the storeroom are gone. They search the area for a half hour, but find nothing and decide to retreat to Rastor.

Descritad complains about the delay, but perks up when Verrick hands her a short sword, short bow, and some halfling-sized leather armor. Sylvan teleports to Khorasan for some buying and selling and takes some time to identify items. Verrick decides to keep the demon statue from the fetal chest, which the wizard identified as a luckstone.

Shangor casts detect evil, looking at the tentacle rod, Descritad, and even Kadiss and the guards. Finding the rod faintly evil, they give it to Rerrid to destroy or to sanctify. Descritad checks out okay, but the evil taint around Kadiss and the guards disappoints the heroes. Kadiss and the guards are dismissed from service and told to find work somewhere else, hopefully outside of Rastor.

Don’t let them leave. Kill them!

Verrick turns around, looking for the source of the whisper. No one else seems to hear it. Nor do they notice Verrick grabbing the statue and caressing it, smoothing it, wearing it down. Lovingly. He picks up the scalpel that Descritad carelessly discarded and puts it away.

Bash in their skulls!

Brother of Venom
(2/1/04 9:55 am)
Session Thirty-Nine (Part 2/4)
The Arrival of Infinitus
The mighty conquerors of the Temple of All Consumption reenter the crater ridge mines from the main gate. Again. Once more they plan to travel clockwise around the crater to reach the east side of the South Gate. They expect that this approach would be unexpected and give them the added advantage of surprise. Of course, this is the previous route they took when they had killed the cloakers, but who knows, maybe the Air Temple forgot.

This time is different, however. Soon after they enter in through the giant double doors, Sylvan hears a voice in his mind, an obvious telepathic connection from an unseen and somewhat unwelcome source. Azzalin. Or, should I say Sylvan? I have a proposition for you. Interested?

Sylvan thinks his response, not speaking out loud. That depends on who this is.

My name is Infinitus, the voice continues. I offer you whatever you wish in return for a small favor.

Sylvan considers carefully the implication of the intonation from the voice. What is the favor?

Infinitus suggests simply, Lead your ‘friends’ into a trap.

Sylvan quickly answers. No, that is unfair and cheating.

Aren’t you one who prefers to alter fate? Indeed, isn’t that one of the overriding principles you hold? The voice proclaims in a stern and commanding tone. Let me assure you, the cards are stacked against you.

Sylvan seems irritated as he replies. This is not cheating at cards. The forces of evil are too powerful no and need to be reduced to achieve balance. The answer is no.

Infinitus persists. This is not an idle proposition. Do you understand that I can offer you a wish?

The elf still denies the offer, growing impatient at the badgering. Yes, I understand. Some favors come with too high a price.

They are not your friends, Sylvan. If I restore your memories, you will realize who your true friends really are.

I know enough about my past to realize I don’t want to be that person again. On a whim, Sylvan asks, Are you a Doomdreamer?

Infinitus gruffly responds. No. I am something more. But, what I am is not pertinent. Your quest is futile. This is your last chance. You can have a wish, perhaps wishing for a magical staff and have longevity, or you can die, or worse.

Sylvan answers with finality. I will play the game with the hand I was dealt. He then shuts Infinitus out of his mind.

While Sylvan analyzes the voice and thinks about what was said, the heroes have almost reached the Northern Bridge Complex. The voice then insinuates itself in Verrick’s mind. Verilia, for I know your true name, are you willing to listen to a proposal?

Verrick responds similarly. That depends on who this is.

My name is Infinitus. I can give you whatever you wish for. All I ask is a small favor.

Verricks then asks, And the favor is?

Infinitus answers. Lead your ‘friends’ into a trap for me. For that, you alone will live and I can give you a wish.

Verrick responds negatively. Sorry, no. I don’t betray my friends.

Ignore them. Do you not understand what I offer? I can grow the Nulb forest in a single afternoon. The loss of five companions is a small price to pay for such a miraculous event. Obad-Hai would be pleased.

Verrick firmly states, No. Then, once the being has broken off telepathic communication, he mumbles, “Bastard.”

Brother of Venom
(2/1/04 10:03 am)
Session Thirty-Nine (Part 3/4)
The Infinitus Ambush
Sylvan mentions the voice in his head and Verrick offers a similar report. Everyone else then notes that they, too, got a quick offer to betray the rest of the party for a huge reward. No takers, though, so they continue the journey, pausing momentarily at Gouquog’s pool in order to cross on boats. Verrick rides his animal companion Bucky, who is outfitted with horseshoes of the zephyr and can walk on the water.

Once the party reaches the halfway point, a huge, demonic shape steps out of the darkened left passageway. The demon stands almost fifteen feet tall and has two large pincer claws, with penetrating violet eyes and pitch black skin. Two more arms extend from its torso and it points one of them at the group. “So be it. You have made your decision; now it is time to die.”

Sylvan immediately recognizes the monster as a glabrezu, an extremely powerful demon from the furthest reaches of the abyss. Obviously, this must be Infinitus, who has been contacting them all telepathically. Sylvan recalls that glabrezu demons indeed have the power to grant wishes, so it was not a false offer. The information doesn’t help much here, however, as the wizard’s moment of revelation is cut short when Infinitus casts reverse gravity. The heroes plummet to the ceiling, crashing into the sharp, uneven stone and getting further struck by the heavy boats. Verrick, Shangor, and Aramil all float gently to the ceiling, being protected by rings of featherfalling or the featherfall spell itself.

Verrick reacts first, placing a wall of fire in front of the demon, attempting to cut off its advance and give the party more time to prepare. In response, Infinitus dismisses the reverse gravity and the heroes plunge back down. Only Sylvan manages to miss the boat and hits the water. Shangor activates his prayer bead to bless his allies as Kale and Aldoroc row the boats forward, approaching the wall of fire. Aramil polymorphs into a gold dragon wyrmling and Sylvan struggles to pull out a wand while treading water.

Sylvan calls out to his companions, trying not to swallow the brackish water, “Should we fight? He’s a glabrezu demon, very tough.”

Verrick responds, “He’s blocked in, though. I don’t think he can get us yet.”

Kale utters the fateful words, “We stand and fight! We can’t let a demon stand in our way! Down with evil!”

Shangor agrees, “Aye, lads! We kinna flee from the like o’ ‘im.”

Verrick wildshapes into a shark and dives into the water, swimming towards the secret underwater cavern. Bucky the warhorse retreats back to dry land with a whinny. Even the warhorse realizes that fighting this monster is dangerous. Infinitus nonchalantly steps through the wall of fire, walking atop the water and getting right next to the boats. Verrick’s spell fails to penetrate his spell resistance, so the flames lick harmlessly off the demon’s back.

The demon comments, “Foolish mortals. You have no hope of defeating me.” He then points a clawed finger at Shangor. A thin beam of white light shoots out and hits the dwarf in the face, stunning him. Infinitus chuckles, “I’ll have none of your dismissal, cleric.”

The boat with Aldoroc and Shangor glides through the wall of fire to land on the bank of the right passage. Shangor, stunned and in the back of the boat, remains out of the fire’s effects, but Aldoroc goes all the way through, getting burned badly. The boat with Kale and Aramil is a little slower, but enough to push Kale through the fire as well and to bring Aramil into striking distance of the demon. Sylvan nervously recognizes the demon’s spell as power word stun, hoping that it has no more of those. He activates his wand of levitation and floats up out of the water, putting the wand away. Aramil attempts to dive off the side of the boat away from the demon, but it manages to grab him in one of its pincer claws, digging deep into the dragon disciple’s body and seizing him in the air despite not putting much effort into the hold. Aramil quickly escapes, however, and drops into the pool, leaving a thin trail of blood in the water as he swims away to safety.

Verrick begins casting summon nature’s ally, spontaneously converting a cure critical wounds spell. Infinitus keeps up his taunts, looking at the levitating elven wizard, “Azzalin, this is your last chance. Clearly, even you now realize that resistance is futile. Join us. Betrayal is your only hope of survival.”

Having no more ready opponents, the demon steps over the first rowboat and viciously attacks the stunned dwarf. Infinitus eschews his accuracy in favor of concentrating on using his full power. The attack shocks the remaining heroes as Shangor is nearly torn asunder in a bloody frenzy. On the other side of the wall of fire, Aldoroc draws his battleaxe and moves to the opposite passage, skirting the flames just enough to get singed again. He doesn’t find the demon, however, and instead takes a few moments to quaff some curative potions. Kale is also there and the ranger pulls out his wand of cure light wounds, likewise applying it to Aldoroc. Hopefully, they can heal the powerful fighter enough that he can withstand melee combat with the glabrezu. It is a slim hope, and probably late in coming.

Sylvan angrily says, “My name is Sylvan!” He then casts mirror image and swims up to Shangor, hoping to pull him to safety if the dwarf still lives. Unfortunately, Sylvan fails to remember that glabrezu demons cannot be fooled by mere illusionary spells. Moreover, the pool does not even provide cover as Infinitus reaches through the water with its huge pincer claw and hoists Sylvan above the boat, crushing him fiercely. The ease at which it attacked through the surface must only mean that it has freedom of movement.

Aramil casts magic missile, but fails to overcome the demon’s spell resistance. Verrick finishes the summoning, but only brings in one huge shark, which cannot even attack the demon due to its apparent magic circle of protection. He grumbles in frustration and then casts faerie fire, making sure Infinitus cannot turn invisible. Fortunately, Verrick overcomes the spell resistance for the first and only time.

Infinitus ignore the violet faerie fire and glares down at the hapless wizard in his grasp. “You should have heeded my advice.” He squeezes his claw, almost cutting the elf in half, then picks up Shangor in the other claw. “Fools.” Infinitus turns to the sharks as an afterthought and rips the summoned one apart with his remaining two claws and bared teeth. “Blast. I thought you were Verilia.” The demon almost shrugs as he spits out chunks of shark flesh, turns, and steps through the wall of fire to the right hand passageway leading to the Water Temple proper with the still living form of Sylvan in his grasp. Sylvan cannot withstand the flames, however, and silently perishes.

Aramil yells out, “He’s got Shangor and Sylvan! Aldoroc, Kale, don’t let him get away with their bodies!” The gold dragon then flies through the flames to confront the demon. He attempts a dispel magic on him, but fails to overcome most of its protections. He speaks with an obviously empty threat, hoping against hope that it will work, “Drop the bodies and we’ll let you live.” He is met only by hideous chuckling.

Aldoroc runs around the corner, burning himself again on the flames. He barely makes it up to the demon, and gets hurt from a claw as he moves within its range. The fighter swings his mighty battleaxe and tears a big hole in the creature’s side, the wound immediately filling with pus and sizzling from the holy weapon. Kale remains in the other passageway, using his wand of cure light wounds almost continuously. He thinks to himself, maybe I should get a wand of cure moderate wounds, it’d be quicker.

Verrick charges through the flames, taking damage as well. Not even the original caster is immune to his spells. Not for the first time this combat does Verrick wish wall of fire were dismissible. Infinitus backs away from the dangerous Aldoroc and casts confusion, fortunately affecting only the fighter.

Aldoroc babbles incoherently at Aramil, who continues unsuccessfully threatening the demon and casting another magic missile. Verrick summons a large air elemental to help beat the demon down but it also fails to get any closer than ten feet. Infinitus slowly backs away, squeezing down the ten foot wide passage, and drinks a potion of healing, eliminating the damage from the lone attack by Aldoroc, who continues to babble incoherently.

Eventually, Infinitus manages to withdraw to the wider area containing the twenty-five-foot kuo-toan statue. During his retreat, he confuses Aldoroc again and the air elemental, though Aramil dispels them both, sending the relatively useless air elemental back to its home plane. Aramil would rather face a powerful demon than a confused Aldoroc. Infinitus casts a series of unholy blights and chaos hammers during his retreat, damaging Kale, Aramil, and Verrick.
Verrick wildshapes into a brown bear and moves up to the demon, intending to retrieve the bodies. Unfortunately for the druid, Infinitus drops the two bodies and tears him apart, nearly killing him in a few seconds. Verrick does drop unconscious and bloody on the ground, however. Kale and Aramil still refuse to give up and it looks grim when the demon positions a particularly powerful unholy blight in the middle of them, killing Verrick outright and wounding Aramil and Kale badly. They finally decide to flee, though Aramil foolishly taunts the demon some more, watching it depart through the Water Temple carrying the corpses of Shangor and Sylvan, most likely towards the Outer Fane.

Brother of Venom
(2/1/04 10:05 am)
Session Thirty-Nine (Part 4/4)
The Unexpected Help
The confusion on Aldoroc eventually wears off, and the three remaining companions pick up Verrick’s body. They encourage Bucky to help carry him back to Rastor, where they decide to rest for the night. They are stunned and depressed, still not fully comprehending the absolute ferocity in which they were defeated. They were ambushed by a well-prepared and powerful opponent and were soundly routed. It was only the ulterior motive of the demon which forestalled complete annihilation. However, that doesn’t bring Shangor, Sylvan, and Verrick back.

Rerrid and the dwarves of Rastor offer little advice. The cleric holds a brief and tearful service for the fallen heroes, with most of the townspeople joining in. Seamus gives a brief eulogy to his friend Shangor and, in typical dwarven fashion, drinks until he passes out on a log.

Aramil is woken in the middle of the night by a voice speaking in abyssal. “Hey, wake up. Are you Aramil?” The dragon disciple opens his eyes, peering about. His eye of awareness helps him notice someone invisible nearby, but he does not pinpoint the target. Suddenly, a quasit appears out of nowhere, dismissing its invisibility. The tiny red winged demon drops a leather sack by the golden elf. “I was told to give you this and wait for a response. There’s a note inside.”

Aramil wakes up Kale and Aldoroc, and then opens the sack. The note has a large smear of blood on it, but he reads it to himself.

I had hoped not to have to take such a direct action. Here you will find three greater arrows of slaying humans and some other useful items. The bodies are in the Stalagos near the Air Bridge. Use this note with my blood to scry me if you need to. Do not let the messenger live.


Aramil calmly hands the note to Kale, but the ranger cannot read draconic. Aramil then wordlessly tries to grab the quasit, but fails. Before the demon can fly away or turn invisible, however, Aramil blasts it with a magic missile, ending its miserable life.

The next morning, the trio journeys to the Northern Bridge Complex and finds the bloated bodies of their comrades weighed down in the water by the bridge. On the opposite side of the walkway, they find most of their equipment, the remainder apparently having been taken. They gather everything and return to Rastor, sending for Rerrid. They hand him the scroll of raise dead, which he successfully uses to bring Shangor back to the world of the living. The next day, Shangor raises Sylvan. The following day, Sylvan teleports to Khorasan with Shangor and the lifeless body of Verrick.

The grand druid in the capital city of Karacul reincarnates Verrick. Perhaps fate takes hold, or maybe Obad-Hai has a cosmic sense of humor, because Verrick returns in the body of a female halfling, almost identically the same size as Verilia, but with a darker complexion.

Beaten, but not down, the adventurers return to Rastor and prepare to continue their tireless assault on the Temple of All Consumption. They vow not to let the evil cultists get the better of them again.

Prince Imrahil
Tolling Bell Cultist
(2/3/04 10:34 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Nine (Part 4/4)
Awesome updates! Man, that fight with the Glabrezu sounded BRUTAL- I guess sometimes discretion is the better part of valor!

Hey, where does the party stand, level-wise? I only have a vague notion of where they are based upon their spells, but with all of the dying and whatnot, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where they are.

Great campaign log- one of the most entertaining reads on the boards!

DM: You come to a fork in the road.
PC: I pick it up and put it in my pocket.

Brother of Venom
(2/4/04 6:32 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Nine (Part 4/4)
During that fight, it was

Kale Fletcher - human Fighter 6/Ranger 4
Verilia "Verrick" Bluepipe - dwarven (halfling) Druid 11 of Obad-Hai
Buckey - light warhorse animal companion
Aramil - elven Sorcerer 8/Dragon Discple (gold) 3
Sylvan - elven wizard 11
Ace - tiny viper familiar of Sylvan
Aldoroc - human fighter 11
Shangor - dwarven cleric 11 of Moradin

After the night, Kale went up to Ranger 5. I use alternate death rules (now), so the three who died have a 'permanent' negative level. It'll be session 43 on Saturday and they are still level 11 across the board.

Tolling Bell Cultist
(2/4/04 3:05 pm)
Wow. That was hideous. I'm curious, did any of the OF spellcasters buff the glaberazu? If so...with what?

Great write-up I2K.

Brother of Venom
(2/5/04 7:10 am)
Re: Wow.
When Infinitus was ready for the ambush, he teleported back to Hedrack, who buffed him with freedom of movement (to avoid the broken black tentacles spell), water walking, magic circle against good, bear's endurance, bull's strength, and one more 2nd level spell I think. Infinitus then teleported to the Water Temple and the smackdown began. :)

Crimson Coil Cultist
(2/5/04 7:21 am)
Re: Wow.
Wow, indeed. You're much crueler than I was. I played both Infinitus and Hedrack as way too cocky to bother buffing for that fight.

Now that Varachan's been rescued from the OF by the party, I think Hedrack will start taking a different attitude towards the party, IMC.

Brother of Venom
(2/5/04 7:54 am)
Re: Wow.
Well, I had motivation. 1. The party is very strong and wiped out all the other assault groups. 2. Infinitus is not one for combat and included it as part of his bargain, particularly when Hedrack told him what details he knew about the party (widely circulated by now). 3. The party has been traveling through the CRM the same way now for a few weeks. Very predictable, and not very smart.

Oh yeah, the other buff was spell immunity.

Brother of Venom
(2/9/04 7:24 pm)
Session Forty (Part 1/4)
The Analysis of the Demonstone
Shangor straps on his heavy steel shield, and returns his holy warhammer to the loop on his belt. With his thick fingers on his hips, he gazes sternly at his companions and says, “Aye, lads,” and with a pointed look at Verilia, “and lass, are ye ready to clean up the mines once and fer all?”

Kale and Aldoroc nod almost as one. Aramil and Sylvan also mumble agreement, but Verilia looks up in anticipation, “You mean, we get to kill someone?” She grins almost evilly.

Kale notices Verilia absent-mindedly rubbing the demon-shaped luckstone. Concern shows on his face. He and Verilia have been through a lot together, more so than the other companions, and they are quite good friends. From the original four, her brother Milo stayed behind in Tahmista and the monk Keth was killed by the grell in the moat house. Then returned as a ghoul. The ranger tries to suppress that particularly painful memory. “Verilia, while Sylvan took you to Khorasan to get reincarnated, we placed Bucky in Tal’s stables. You should retrieve him. He didn’t seem to like being bear Tal and Wormspike, and I know how much you hate Tal after poisoning you.”

Horseflesh tastes good! Boiled in its own blood, with entrails, yum, yum!

Verilia blinks at Kale, almost not recognizing the name of her animal companion. “Oh, Bucky.” She shakes her head, “Nah. He’ll be…safer in the stable. Tal’s a good guy, he knows what he’s doing.”

Kale elbows Sylvan in the ribs and whispers, “We should keep an eye on her. I don’t think she casting with all her components, if you know what I mean.”

Sylvan looks bewildered, “She learned some metamagic?”

Kale furrows his brow, “No, you idiot, something’s affecting her. I think that luckstone is cursed. Can you use that recently acquired analyze dweomer spell on it?”

Sylvan says, “Oh, right. Of course.” He turns to the halfling druid, “Hey, Verilia, can I borrow your luckstone?”

The druid looks at him suspiciously, caressing the statue. “Why?”

The elven wizard answers, “I’d like to examine it.”

Verilia studies him for a few moments, then shrugs and hands it to him, “Okay.”

Jab a sharp stick into his eye!

Aramil produces a number of other items, handing them all over to Sylvan. “While you’re at it, check these out, too.”

Sylvan sits down at the table and casts the spell. He readily describes the abilities of the other magical items, but fails to discern any properties of the demon statue, drawing a complete blank. He looks astonished and comments to his companions, “My spell failed.”

Shangor asks, “Failed? But, lad, what d’ye think would cause such failure?”

Sylvan says, “Only two things. One is that the item is sentient and managed to resist the spell, but I would typically get some sort of indication if that occurred. I got no such indication. The other is if the item were extremely powerful, something made beyond mortal ken.”

Aramil’s eyes brighten, almost as much as Verilia’s. Aramil says, “An artifact?” He inspects the statue more closely. “How intriguing.”

Verilia snatches the artifact from his hands. “Artifact or not, it’s mine, so that’s enough playing with my…my precious.”

Brother of Venom
(2/9/04 7:27 pm)
Session Forty (Part 2/4)
The Fungus Cove
The heroes journey back to the crater ridge mines and reenter through the main gate on the northwestern slope. They proceed in the same direction where Infinitus ambushed them. This time, however, they cross the pool far more carefully, and Shangor gives everyone the water walking ability. The boats were completely destroyed after passing through Verrick’s wall of fire, so the water walking is necessary. No one had taken the time to put out the fire, possibly saving the boats, being otherwise preoccupied at the time. The boats now sit at the eastern end of the pool, charred lumps of partially submerged wood.

In the bugbear tunnels, Kale suggests that Verilia scry for the dwarven paladins Bertrand and Alyssa. The dwarves are still missing since the day of the attack on Rastor by the orcs, trolls, and spider eaters. Because the poor temple of Moradin still has no font, Shangor cannot do the scrying himself, but the natural pool of water in the bugbear caves will work for Verilia, like it did before when she attempt to scry Hedrack.

Verilia enters the cave, but orders everyone else out. “I cannot concentrate with you all yammering in my ear. After I find them, I will come back out and tell you the results. Stay here and watch for trouble.”

Drown them! Drown them all!

The druid unexpectedly giggles and then walks to the side of the pool and begins casting her spell. She comes back out ten minutes later and sighs. “The spell failed. I didn’t get the indication that they resisted, so I can only assume they are dead.” She puts her hand to her mouth as if tired, but really only suppressing a grin. “Sorry, Shangor.”

Shangor glances at Sylvan and Aramil, seeing a similar look of surprise in their eyes. Only ten minutes? He nods at Verilia, “It’s okay, lass. Ye’ve given it yer best shot, haven’t ye?”

Verilia smiles at the cleric, “Aye, that I did!”

Choke him with his own beard!

Aldoroc hefts his battleaxe, not understanding the looks between the spellcasters of the party. “Well, then, let’s continue.”

They stop in at the bolthole for some biscuits and cool, refreshing water. The Earth Bridge Complex remains eerily silent and the large reinforced double doors leading to the lake are smashed, one lying across the bridge and one partially in the water. Something huge clawed them open, apparently from the outside in. Something big must have come in, but Kale cannot distinguish the tracks.

The Fire Temple is similarly quiet, except for the roaring of the flames in the pit, amazingly still burning. Sylvan frowns at the fleeting memories of throwing his brother in the pit, but then grins at the knowledge that the Fire Temple no longer exists. The Elder Elemental Eye is not supposed to exist, or so some strange memory reveals, but certainly this temple doesn’t.

They rush through the smoke-clouded room, remembering the instructions from Virith from what seems so long ago. Instead of continuing into the southern passages, they turn left. They encounter a couple of remaining steam and magma mephits, but these elemental creatures are very receptive to negotiation. Verilia steps forward and rudely requires that they hand over all their treasure or be killed. The mephits immediately comply and then retreat to a steam-filled chamber to the north.

As the heroes approach the demesne of Tarren, they notice quite a proliferation of molds, lichens, and fungi. The underground plant life has expanded rapidly and taken over much of the passageway north of Tarren’s caves. Additionally, the druid has apparently acquired workers in the form of roughly shaped humanoids composed of twigs, moss, and lichens. The twig blights scramble over the rough rock walls like spiders, working to encourage the growth of the vegetation and to replant them as necessary further up the passage.

A vaguely humanoid shape shambles out of the eastern cave and turns south, away from the party. The mound of fungus barely resembles one of the elves that were turned over to Tarren weeks ago. It pays the party no mind, if it even has one, and walks effortlessly through the growing plants, a small twig blight hanging onto its back as if on a joy ride. Following the elf, a middle-aged human with black hair and a wild goatee walks out, carrying a double armful of moss. Upon seeing the party, he stops. “You must be the ones Tarren told me about.”

Verilia finds it difficult to take her eyes off the fascinating twig blights. She whispers to herself, “I wonder how they are made?”

Break it! Tear it apart!

The dragon disciple growls deep within his throat. He is the only one to have heard of the twig blights and the destruction they wreak upon civilized society. Until now the creatures have been confined to a small town on the western continent called Oakhurst. He stares at the mysterious druid, “Yes, we must be. Who are you?” To himself, he thinks, And give me a good reason not to kill you.

“My name is Belak. I am a former disciple of Tarren’s, long ago. I was administering a project of his in a far away town. The business was…lost, so I gathered what items I could and fled, er, came here at his call.”

Verilia loses interest in the conversation and starts examining the newly grown fungi and molds. Kale asks, “What business was that? Does it have anything to do with the Temple of All Consumption?”

A thin, almost whiny voice interrupts from the side chamber, accompanied by the low rumble of a large bear, “It doesn’t. And it’s private business, if you don’t mind.” Another human druid walks out amongst the subterranean plants. The foliage seemingly moves aside at his passage. The human seems almost ageless, but appears to be in his mid thirties. He is handsome, though thin and pale, probably from not seeing too much sun. “Welcome back. We have not been properly introduced. My name is Tarren. The bear’s name is Kiibo.” He gestures at the caves, “If you don’t harm the plant life, Kiibo will not harm you.” He offers up fungal refreshments and not surprisingly, there are no takers except Verilia. “I offer thanks for the destruction of the Fire Temple and particularly for the gift of the three living elves.”

With a smile, Tarren plops a long thin piece of yellowish mold into his mouth. It almost resembles the size and shape of a finger. An elven finger.

Brother of Venom
(2/9/04 7:29 pm)
Session Forty (Part 3/4)
The Spectre of the Past
Tarren and the heroes talk for about a half hour, but the party must eventually move on. The druid leads them safely through his fungal cove, which stretches just beyond the spherical chamber formerly inhabited by the destrachan, the corpse of which is now a mushroom flowerbed. They plod on through the forge and warily approach the open, smashed doors of the arena, only to find a veritable explosion of bodies. One human guard, still wearing the symbol of the Air Temple, lies amid the rubble of the wall opposite the double doors to the pit. Shangor surmises that the guard was thrown at great velocity, and with obvious great force. “It is not the speed at which ye is thrown that kills ye. It is the sudden stop.”

In addition to the bodies of humanoids, including an ogre, the heroes find two broken gargoyles and one massive gargoyle, ripped apart like dolls in the hands of a grumpy dwarf. The ranger pokes around on the floor, staying away from the coagulated pools of drying blood. “Oh, oh.”

Aramil turns anxiously to Kale. “What do you mean, ‘oh oh’?”

Aldoroc readies his battleaxe and Sylvan says, “I hate it when someone says, ‘oh oh’.”

Kale explains, “I can see the tracks more clearly in this spot. I’ve been concentrating my abilities more recently on evil outsiders and these tracks were, well, it’s not 100 percent, you realize, but I think they were made by Infinitus.”

A gasp radiates from the others. Except, of course, for Verilia, who is busy poking her dagger at one of the corpses, apparently collecting finger samples. She licks her lips in pleasure.

Body parts, body parts! So much to choose from! Yum!

Aramil casts shield while Sylvan casts mage armor and then they both cast false life. There is nothing to do other than wait for the inevitable attack, though, so they continue searching through the ruins, finding nothing. Even a chest buried in the trash heaps in the adjoining room has been looted, as if the glabrezu knew precisely where to look.

Ahead down the corridor they see the open reinforced steel doors of the barbican. Open is a loose term, the doors actually having been ripped from their hinges by powerful claws. A passage to the south leads up a flight of stairs to a closed door. Kale walks up the stairs and opens the door. He finds an empty chamber with a window overlooking the mountainside, a small wooden bench in front of it. The room appears unused, contrary to the remainder of the temple.

When Kale goes to look out the window, a ghostly shape materializes out of the floor in front of him. It reaches an incorporeal hand through his chest and grabs his still beating heart. He screams out in agony as the monster drains his life energy. Kale draws his two weapons to attack, but the spectre hits him again, draining even more energy. The ranger’s companions quickly come to the rescue, assailing the undead with magic missiles and a spiritual weapon. It escapes briefly into the floor, only to reappear in the wall beside Shangor and get pummeled by the force spells and lucky strikes by Aldoroc and Kale. When the creature is finally destroyed, Shangor takes out a scroll of restoration and uses it on Kale.

Aramil performs a quick search of the room and surprisingly finds an obsidian wand stuck in between the boards of the bench. It radiates only a faint evocation aura, but it might be useful nonetheless. Kale heals himself with his wand of cure light wounds and then they leave the dusty chamber. The Air Temple complex otherwise appears to be empty of anything but unmoving corpses. A high sniper’s perch about five feet from the thirty-five foot ceiling in the main entrance shows a long corridor and flights of stairs heading west, and two big double doors leading outside. The doors resemble the ones on the main gate, but these are slightly bigger and appear to have seen more use. The barbican’s eastern and southern exits seem to have been forced open, but the north exit is still barred. It’s evident that Infinitus made his way from the east, turning south at the barbican and continued west.

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