Our long time friend came back after a year off more than ready to play again. Normally I would hesitate to "drop" a character in and do it in such an obvious way, but it's been a long time since I've done it and sure enough, it was worth it. So there was an enigmatic wizard guy willing to teleport Detheron and his two fighter-type companions to where "gwyn" was to help out. Cost 500 crowns and was a one way journey -and voila - we now have a 16 person party!!
What this means also though is that certain things planned for the group are less of a problem than originally expected - and the one who came back was a powerful 7th level druid.
Once they get past all the "animals" I think their feeling of "easy" will fade rapidly.
Write up follows:
Brother Beren finished a quick prayer and his last heal sloughed most of the dead skin from Gwyn’s form. It was at that point we heard a strange cry of trumpets and then a blast of rainbow filled the room and with a BAMPF and an outrushing of air, three figures slammed to the dungeon floor with a trio of groans and stood up slowly.
Two were clad in platemail and sported a menagerie of weapons and gear, the last was wearing antler designed leather armor and clutched a darkwood staff in his left hand, eyes looking around wildly as we took in the dim confined of the ogre chamber. He settled on Gwyn and Beren, and then broke into a grin. “Gwynhuwyver?”
The dwarf looked over the other man and smiled into his beard in return, “Detheron?” One of the two men stepped in front of the druid but Detheron explained that Gwyn was a friend and the one they had come to help/rescue. Introductions were given (Rahyk and Guyus were the fighter and paladin with Detheron) and then we heard a brief tale from our druidic friend as to what happened.
Detheron eventually had gone to Principia and gotten the unicorn head, replaced the horn, and Goloriana’s sister was reborn. There was a semi-drugged girl there that was Vanir’s daughter. The unicorn’s sister said the girl was innocent and not wanting to leave her there, Detheron took her away and back to Orihalcus, hiding her with Deidra at the Orhpanage. He spoke with Sir Walter Slaine, learned about Karis’ break with the party and his leaving. He then went to find the party and upon getting to Eider learned that the group was not there anymore. Trail led to Cymbarton. Before leaving he rehooked up with Zoltan who filled in much of the party’s recent adventures and helped Detheron find two new companions to travel with: Rahyk and Guyus.
At Cymbarton he learned the party was looking for something called a Sun Sphere but scrying on Gwyn was not resulting in a clean distinction of where our dwarven companion was now. He was given some cryptic infor on going to Ponyboro and once there met with Lord Daernhorse who told us that yesterday Gwyn and a large party had gone off to find Double Dagger Dungeon in the Dusty Moutnains. The same guides who brought them out before took them to Malak’s Peak and from here Detheron, Rahyk and Guyus followed the druid’s memories to Fulgore Keep.
The Keep was still being used as a meeting ground from smugglers but as for the party – not there. Then some bandit came in, claiming he was a leader of some group that had gotten wasted by an adventuring party and he was let go. On hearing the description of the group Detheron felt it was his friends and wanted to go and save them/help out. The bandit named Canian would not reveal the dungeon entrance and just before getting totally pissed, a wild haired and drugged up stinking figure waddled forward and asked for 500 crowns to help out and send Detheron to his friend. The money was paid and a teleport spell followed and here the druid, fighter, and paladin now were sent here.
The group rejoined the main party and introductions were given all across the board. Explanation of where we were was given and the group began digging through the dead ogres and troglodytes to find what treasure they could find. During this time there was talk about the door the trogs had run through which was revealed to be slightly open as if jammed like that. Cadassial was nominated to step forward and check it out, the thief returning shortly to let us know it was covered with a thick mud about 4’ mark and lower which is what made it difficult to close. There were some muddy prints on this side of the door. No obvious traps but there was the sound of water on the other side – faint trickling.
Rahyk went next, taking one of the loose dozen or so obsidian headed harpoons from the floor, pushing the heavy stone portal open. At that point, he took out his small mirror and used it to try and look in the next chamber. It was a wide hall that opened up to a decent sized chamber with a glowing blue floor. At that point a harpoon was thrown, followed by another one. He backed away quick and we heard a strange chanting inside followed by a voice telling us to leave – it was holy ground.
We said we didn’t want to enter just looking for the stairs. Voice said they would willingly die to protect the holy ground. Then it was our gods are better than your gods conversation. Eventually the trogs inside said there were stairs past the ogres and we could/should go there.
Detheron called out a short detect magic spell and revealed that one of the harpoons was glowing and that there was some sort of big magic on the other side of the wall. Gwyn took the magic harpoon and we left the trog area, moving north toward the ogre room.
Once in the ogre room we gave the room a complete once over, finding nothing else of interest except that the ogre’s cooking area with the 80 gallon cauldron was heated up by long log like deposits of compressed coal. He doused them under the soup pot and then dumped the pot over them to choke out the oxygen. Cadassial was once more nominated to check out the next door out of here and after giving it a once over and two thumbs up for issues and trap, Norris opened it and we looked beyond. An iron spike was driven under the door to the hall, making any attempt to follow us that much more difficult.
The corridor was choked with refuse and garbage from busted glass and shattered bits of wood and stone. A path roughly 3’ wide was clear up the middle as it wound its way north and then turned to the east. The bard worked his way through until he was sure that it continued on to some open space. Then he returned and we spoke about the way ahead.
Marching order was reset, this time introducing Thodrek, Rahky, Guyus, and Gwyn as the forerunners. We meandered our way along until just shy of the next room there was some heated discussion in the floor. It was during this time that our voices began raising and before we knew it, something began running down the hall at us. Rotting forms with sharp claws and canine teeth, loping and leaping and gibbering. Ghouls.
As they struck at us their claws and bites could not find purchase under the armor and shields of our fighters. A few tried to approach Guyus but the Paladin’s faith was so strong the ghouls could not touch him. Some tried to jump over the party but landed cruelly on Rahyk and Gwyn’s upraised spears. And then Brother Beren called out to Tyr and a shaft of hot white light blossomed forth and obliterated the lead 3 ghouls. It was a matter of moments after that when Rahyk plied spear to ghoul and took out the last of them.
We wiped the gore from us and then pressed on. The refuse and trash continued in here but became more sparse. A door was along the north eastern corner a single lock on it, the lock picked and forced open by an iron spike. Cadassial and Norris once more checked out the portal and were convinced it was clear of issues. The door opened, showing stairs heading down.
The party continued on, Thodrek and Guyus in the front, Gwyn and Rahyk following. It was when the paladin and dwarf stepped on one of the steps near the top that they heard it go “click”. Looking at one another…they fell forward as the stairs ran flat, forming a slick and polished ramp. Gwyn managed to snag the edge of the door frame but Rahyk just missed it by a few inches – and then Norris made to grab Rahyk. And Norris lost his grip and started to slide so Detheron tried to help but got tangled up and HE went down as well!.
It was just shy of the bottom that Thodrek and Guyus triggered a second pressure plate and a triple row of iron shaft set at a 30 degree angle snapped up – and the paladin and dwarf plowed into the punji stakes, Thodrek taking an almost critical amount of damage. And then Rahyk and Detheron and Norris hit, the bard barely able to jump over the mass of bodies and taking only some bumps for his efforts but the druid and fighter taking more damage while also hitting and hurting the dwarf and paladin.
Brother Beren helped Gwyn out of the hole and some calls were given back and forth – asserting that some of the group was hurt but no one was dead – and the stairs were a trap, there was no way to the 6th level. Damned trogs lied to us! Detheron helped to extricate those below while Norris looked around – spotting a lever on the back wall in the down position. The party hollered at him not to touch it. Beren unrolled the 50’ rope ladder we were carrying and with Gwyn and Soren’s aid, drove a spike into the floor and fastened the ladder there.
Thodrek was pretty bad off and Detheron cast a heal on him, bringing the fighter back up to better spirits. Norris was told under no uncertain terms NOT to touch the lever, the bard declaring that the lever existed – and it existed so it could be pulled. The party pulled themselves out of the stairs – and when they got near the top of the stair, saw ANOTHER lever there, this one in the upright position and visible where it was not visible before.
Norris grabbed his lever, and strove to push it up…until finally it snapped into place.
And dropped the ceiling on top of him.
Buried under half a metric ton of shattered rock and fallen stone, we were a bit stunned at the turn of events. Detheron and Rahyk worked on getting the bard out from under the rubble while Brother Beren was working on Thodrek’s many wounds with bandages and poultices. Stone by stone, the mass of rubble was moved away while Norris did his best to remain alert under the rock.
And then we heard someone try to force their way past the door to the ogre room. Banging and banging…and then it stopped for a minute or two – and then resumed MUCH louder and forceful. Damn it – something was coming.
We drew up into the hall, Guyus and Gwyn taking point with Malak and Jerold – then every missile using person behind. The door was forced open and we heard movement. Something got closer and then we saw a trog head peer around and back up. Some strange chanting followed and then the same voice we talked to before shouted out, “You not dead yet? We come to loot your dead bodies before you stand up like zombies!”
We argued back and forth. They lied. Trogs admitted it. If ogres didn’t kill us, ghouls or trap would have. We told them we would get them. They said their god was better than ours. Rahyk left Detheron to finish getting Norris out, the fighter running up the sloping steps to help out the party (oh, and that other lever at the top of the steps? It reset the slope back into steps again).
The trog said the breath of pestilence was coming for us and coming now – and then some chanting and sickly greenish fumes came around the corner, slithered across the floor, and headed towards the group. Do we back up? Some sort of spell? What do we do? The fighter soaked his shirt with spirits, wrapped it around his face, and then walked into the fumes.
And no, it wasn’t poisonous.
We charged through the trick and attacked the trogs who hurled harpoons at us and tried to take us down. There was 7 of them in the hall and one of them was obviously the shaman. Spells were tossed back and forth and then Gwyn went to throw his harpoon, the magic one we grabbed before, at one of the distant trogs.
And he turned around for some inexplicable reason and hurled it point blank at Aghmar the mage. Aghmar screamed in pain and was in shock…so was Gwyn and so was the group! Malak helped pull the harpoon out and the mage grew angered at the dwarf who did sheepishly apologize and said the spear MADE him turn and throw it at his friend. Aghmar called out some sort of burning man spell and sent it after the last of the trogs – causing them to turn and run in fear.
Guyus gave chase, cutting one down and then hurling his sword at the shaman before he could dodge through the door. Rahyk followed right behind and then Gwyn came last. The dwarf kicked out at the shaman, buckling the trog’s knee sideways and dropping him. Some cord was produced and the trog was trussed up. We questioned him then, threatening him with serious bodily harm if he did not tell us what we wanted to know. There was a set of stairs through the beast section and the place they had come from holy ground. During all this Detheron cast a dispel magic on the harpoon Malak was carrying and once the cursed effect was temporarily negated, Guyus beat it a few times until it snapped.
Satisfied for now, we shoved him under the overturned cauldron and regrouped before heading towards the trogs’ chamber.
The mud coated door was still partially opened and we pushed it all the way. A short hall ran north to a sizeable natural grotto with a 30’ glowing blue oval pond in the middle about 4’ deep at the center and the bottom covered with numerous small white rocks. Along the walls were fanciful designs and depictions of some colossal lizardlike being with a number of kneeling trogs at its feet. There was an altar near the south corner that gave most of the party a faint shudder on being near. Detheron called out another Detect magic spell and the entire pool glowed red as well as a small aura near the altar. Guyus tried to detect evil but only got a latent sensation near the altar, the pool was normal.
We debated on what to do for a few minutes until the druid stuck his hand down into the pool to gather up a handful of rocks on the bottom. At that point all his wounds healed and he felt healed! Thodrek volunteered to go next, the dwarf also healing. One by one the rest of the party stuck their hands in the pool, watching as their wounds and even debilitating effects from the trog’s stink glands faded away. Only Guyus, Rahyk, and Gwyn avoided touching the water’s surface, sure that something was going to go wrong.
And it did. When Brother Beren went to stick a flask into the water to fill it after already healing himself, the water had an opposite effect on him, causing terrible sores and bleeding to course up his arm and wounding him for 10 points. He dropped the vial and staggered back and the group realized that touching the water was a one time thing. No one wanted to risk it again after that.
As the group was leaving, Guyus and Brother Beren then went to the altar and after blessing it and dousing it with holy water, started dismantling it, one rock and stick at a time. The group left quickly at this (one of them mentioning, “I don’t mess with the gods”) and as the altar came apart, the pool grew dimmer and dimmer until it finally went dark and the magic in the water faded entirely.
It was after 4 now and we wanted to press on a little bit. With the area of level 5 marked as “Humanoid” now resolved, we went back to the main room and looked at the other 2 choices: Other and Beasts. The trog had mentioned a set of stairs at the Beast section so it was there next. Detheron called to Frey to try and detect animals on the other side of the door – and he felt 2 reptilian beings very close by and a much larger one some 100’ past.
Should we go in with swords drawn? What we settled on was Deth and Soren trying to charm the lizards first and if that failed, the fighters would hack them down. The door was thrown open and we beheld two 14’ long giant lizards with thick muscled maws. The spells were shot and one of the lizards was charmed. That had Rahyk beat the heck out of the 2nd one and the fight ended quickly.
Detheron spoke to the one lizard and learned some of the layout. It had no name, but there was a giant constrictor past here named Chirkus. Beyond that there was eventually a pair of bears. All of these beings had been fed the Animus potion so we were anticipating larger than normal enemies to fight. Our druid accepted the giant lizard as a travelling companion and we readied ourselves to go down and either confront the huge snake – or find a place to rest and do it tomorrow.