The boss monster was a giant bloated queen tick about the size of a Hum-V and with a psionic kick to boot. Her movement sucked but since she had a free psionic blast each round to stun or knock out an opponent as well as the ability to summon the other ticks in the area if near. She was big, had only a single hit attack though that did considerable damage - but the kicker for everyone was the 5 point damage reduction which made most of the arrows and smaller weapons ineffective to hitting her.
As for the pilgrims and griffons to be found afterwards - all hail the mighty wandering monster tables. :)
Write up follows:
We finished our lunch at the Temple of Odin and once more prepared ourselves for the trip down into the bowels of Glittercap. It took 15 minutes and some shuffling with the ropes to get everyone at the base and once there we headed off to the northeast, walking through the foot deep water till we arrived at the stairs to 2nd level. Detheron had prepared a log of everburning spell on our few remaining torches and we passed them out amongst the group as we headed down.
The rain had let up by this time and the water was barely 2’ deep here now. We looked into the main chamber and saw it was how we left it. The decision was made to go and check out the shrine room once more, to see if Thurin’s charmed will o the wisp was still there. Cautiously we went to the southern door, opened it, and wandered the hall till we arrived at the shrine room.
Peeked in – and nothing. The wisp was gone. Ok. We filed in and went over what our options were and what to do next. Go down the 3rd level and find the Kysoth’s Shield? Seek out the wisp’s? Hunt down the source of the plague? We debated a few minutes over the pro’s and con’s of the options before us.
It was Guyus and his contact with Odin that lead us onward. He felt an evil presence..no two of them…just beyond the northern door. Their taint reminded him of undead. The group decided to take out the undead and do it swiftly and now. We lined up right outside the door, weapons at the ready, and then stormed the hall in an effort to take the undead down.
The hall beyond was circular on the right with about 2’ of water of the floor. A cadaverous dwarf with glowing red eyes was at one corner and in the gloom beyond was the 2nd. A few of us plunged forward but the difficulty of the deep water slowed us down and our first blows fell short, allowing the two wights to close with surprising speed and hit the group. Again, Guyus was protected from the undead’s chilling touch, but the others in the party were not, with Aleron taking the worst of the wights blows, his life force draining from him at a prodigious rate.
It was a few minutes of solid swordplay before the wights died. Healing was dispensed and Aleron was tended to by our healers. From here we had an option, move onward down the corridor or head back. We opted to head on.
The corridor turned eventually to the left and we saw how it rejoined with the main room we had come down, there was a slope of passage up that we could take or head to the left towards the current or moving water. We wanted to get dry so took the rising corridor. We walked two abreast, fighters with spears and shields in the front and back in case any giant ticks came.
And they did. Two of them.
The attacked with shrill screaming and launched themselves at the party but before their assault could amount to anything major, Thurin’s sleep spell but the two ticks down – and then a hack and stab ended them as a threat. Huzzah!
We moved on, taking care as we walked. A feeling was stealing over us, a feeling that maybe something was watching us, was keeping tabs on us. It was unnerving. The corridor turned to the left and we walked that way, and it was here that the smell hit us. It was roiling and fetid and unlike anything we had ever smelled before. And in the great opening before us were three more of the giant ticks and some huge monstrosity that HAD to be the source of the plague.
It was a tick, but large and bloated and covered in cancerous growths. Its back scraped against the ceiling in places and its legs were thick and layered and serrated in places. It had to weigh over half a ton and according to Gwyn – it was talking to him in his brain!!
From what he could tell it was a tick from over 1200 years ago, living on a dog, and then it grew ill and a fire came and the dog fell down the cistern and the tick bounced lower and lower away from the fires and it survived down here in the dark. And it wanted its eggs to grow. But the eggs often died and to date there were only 6 of the younger ticks around. And they needed blood – fresh blood to have a better chance of surviving.
The dwarf was relaying this to us as we were thinking of backing out of the room and making an escape. This was the contagion point –either the mother tick or any of her eggs. Could we fight her? Do we fight her? Can we? We noticed that as we talked about it – the tick queen was realizing our decisions in time with Gwyn’s hearing of it – so damn it – we were out of time.
Sleep spells were fired off, dropping two of the other ticks. Strength spells were cast. Bless spells were cast. Our fighters charged in while Norris was inspiring courage and competence to the party. But the tick queen was more than capable, she let off a psionic blast that awoke the sleeping ticks and stunned some of the party members. Guyus assaulted the queen with Aleron and Havic joining is right afterwards.
The tick’s carapace was thick and most of the bolts and arrows bounced off. And then there was the bite – everyone struck was affected by the plague as if they had suffered for 3 days! Plus the tick queen kept randomly stunning party members. It grew difficult when she summoned a swarm of normal ticks from the surrounding area – thousands of them and sent them at the group. Detheron held them at bay with a quick spell but the group still had to leap away from the burrowing insects.
One by one the party was losing strength and succumbing to the bites of the ticks. But as the last two giant ticks were taken down we were able to concentrate our blows on the tick queen as a group and before too much longer, her body was beaten and battered enough that she slumped over and died at long last.
We looked around and the chamber behind where the tick queen had been standing was the egg chamber – over 60 of the foul ovoids, each about 2’ long, in a stew of yellow and red slurry across the floor. Guyus went in, brought out one of the eggs for the party and then spend the next 15 minutes hacking into each and every over sized tick egg and splitting them open, killing the immature and often still dead tickling inside.
The party was fouled, filthy, and most like brimming with contagion. We had to leave and leave now. We took some of the tick queen’s blood as well as her head, walked back into the water and rubbed most of the filth off of us (as well as a cloudburst spell), and made our way out of Glittercap’s bowels. There was still Kysoth’s shield as well as the undead and the will o the wisps – but we had enough for now and decided that we would come back here at some other time after we took care of the plague in Flatrock. Getting this contagion source back was our first and paramount job now.
It wasn’t until 4:30 when we left Glittercap and started the long walk out of Rakewood. We would not make it to Flatrock tonight, but would easily reach Frink’s homestead by nightfall or shortly afterwards.
Imaging our surprise when we ran into pilgrims walking. 60 of them. They were pilgrims from Flatrock who were taking their chances out in the wilderness. They were heading what they thought was northwest towards the town of Northedge, and doing it this way to avoid the King’s men patrolling the roads turning back people from Flatrock for fear of the plague.
We spent some time explaining who we were (they knew of us and Ludwig as well), what we were doing, and that we had a cure with us in a fashion with the blood, eggs, and tick head. It took some convincing but the pilgrims agreed to head back with us to Flatrock.
But it was near the edge of Rakewood Forest that chance struck again – this time in the form of 6 griffons. The eagle-headed winged lions were terrifying to the throng with us and Detheron used his dwindling spell listing to talk to the chimeric beasts. They were tired and heading north for resting and molting and were tracking some signs of a large herd of man-beasts (the pilgrims) – hoping to pick off a few of the weak ones and then go.
As expected, negotiations broke down and the closest griffons tried to snag some of the pilgrims and fly away. We gave chase and missile weapons flew but it was Detheron suing the Avianstorm whistle that did the trick and THOUSANDS of every damned bird in the nearby area went nuts and filled the air with bleats and cries and songs and wings and whatnot – making visibility difficult and chasing off the griffons that were at the edge of the assault.
We did all snag a large amount of magical scroll writing feathers/quills from the fallen griffons and with lots of cure minor spells we fixed up enough of the pilgrims that we had only lost one.
It was 6 PM when we reached the edge of the Rakewood Forest and started the walk toward Frink’s Homestead to rest for the night.