The group (still down 1 player for this meeting) has hit the 3rd level of the dungeon and had the opportunity to interact with the other 2 factions found in the ziggurat. As explained, the Gormites are priestly, the Madurans are warriors, and the Usimagarians are magic users. In a straight out fight, the Usimagarians would be the most likely to fold except for the 1st round of combat where 13 mages are hurling spells at the group which would wipe most parties out. Once again, the sheer overwhelming power and success of the Sleep spell shows why it is the almost guaranteed 1st spell any decent magic using party member should take early on.
Write up follows:
The corridor opened up to a pair of 10’ tall female statues with crossed spears and masks looking like the statue on top of the pyramid. So this was not the Usimagarians direction but the Madurans. According to Kanadius, the Usimagarians were sort of ok to deal with but the Madurans were militant and not at all in the same league at the Gormites. So we were going to have to tread carefully.
After checking the space out between the statues, Safir informed us that there was a pressure plate between the statues and we’d have to jump over it to avoid any problems. So one by one, we made the jump and then proceeded down the 50’ or so of corridor. The right hand side was lit by candles every 15’ feet and the left hand side showed murals and bas-reliefs of the Goddess Madura and her followers helping to promote peace and growth in old Cyndicia.
The passage ended at a single door which after making sure wasn’t trapped, Volkan was keen to open. So we watched the mage as he tied a rope to the handle and stood back, trying to pull the door open. It was here that we all looked at the mage and pointed out that the hinges were not on this side of the door, no amount of pulling the handle was going to help.
Grumbling at the stupidity of his party, Volkan then untied the rope, took out his staff, and pressed HARD against the door, hoping to open it this way. Again, we watched and then pointed out that the handle needed to be TURNED in order to open the portal. Volkan just looked at the party and pouted as if it were their fault.
He then checked the door and noted that it was locked. So he took out the dart that had bounced off his robes on the 1st floor and got down on his haunches to try and pick the lock when Safir finally had to ask if Volkan had any skill in opening lock already or if he had ever done it successful with an impromptu tool such as a dart. Volkan replied negatively and the archer then shook his head and commented that HE has a set of picks and knew how to work the locks. Why not give him a chance?
Volkan, apparently not the jack of all trades and master at everything he thought he could accomplish, backed away with ill grace and allowed Safir access to the door. And it took Safir less than 30 seconds to open the lock. Sheepishly he backed away and Volkan glowering, opened the door.
The room was very sizable, 40’ square with 15’ ceilings. The walls were covered by white drapery and the floor was covered by a clean green carpet. A carpet! In the northeast corner was a decent sized stone altar with a covering, a statue to Madura, two tall white candles, and in 3 braziers in front of the alter were some burning incense.
Volkan was adamant that we keep the room clean so he took off his boots and Safir did the same. The archer went to the closest corner with his bow nocked and ready while the magic-user checked the room out and Mark and Delsin stayed in the hall with their eyes peeled.
The magic user walked the room first, seeing nothing else of interest except for the Maduran altar. So he approached it with delicate care and then looked it up and down. Statue, candle, braziers. Nothing else. He picked up one of the braziers and was confident there was nothing for it. Putting it back, he walked the room, moving drapes aside and looking at the stone walls behind. Nothing special. Finally he returned to the hall and suggested we move on when Delsin said he wanted to look further.
Volkan did try to stop the fighter but he bulled past and tracking dirt on the carpet with his boots, marched right up to the altar. He didn’t like the look of the braziers so he picked each one up and put it on top of the altar. Then he drew out his sword and started cutting the carpet to look underneath. Nothing. Volkan was hopping up and down about desecrating the place and Delsin looked at the mud he tracked in and the torn carpet – agreeing.
So he pushed the torn carpet back down and put the braziers on it again. He then wandered about, wanting to look behind the drapes one more time; but when he went to the south wall first and pulled the drapery aside, he was met with two spears to the face and a handful of silver mask wearing chainmail adorned, female warriors who were PISSED at the man for 1) being a man, and 2) trashing their altar room.
They inspired him to drop his sword (he did) then more came and told Safir to drop his bow (he did too). Then they looked in the hall and instructed Mark and Volkan to give it up, and they did as well. Captured, we were bound with hands behind us, stripped of our weapon belt, and led through the secret door behind the curtain to a vault and meeting room where eventually 12 of the Maduran warrior women congregated to question us.
Their leader was a sword wielding tall woman named Pandora and she started in on Delsin who answered about his deeds inside but did say “I guess” a few times during it. So she had two of her subordinated beat him about the head until he learned the error of his ways, and was knocked out.
This set the tone and we opted to be honest and forthcoming with Pandora at this point. She told us that the Gormites have a fanciful version of the collapse of Cyndicia, but the Madurans were more honest about it. King Alexander and Queen Zenobia were the last two real rulers of Cyndicia and when the drugs and malaise of Zargon made its way through the populace it was the people giving up on the real world that eventually led to the demise of the proud city.
Zargon is indeed a threat but it will take stalwart arms, the ancient weapons of the Lords of Cyndicia, and the catalyst of heroes from beyond the sands to make it happen. It’s why the three cults have anyone this far up the pyramid and always on alert against the monsters and horrors Zargon has allowed to fill the pyramid.
According to Pandora, the Gormites and Madurans treat this post as an important location, but the Usimagarians look at it as a punishment. The leader of the Usimagarians up here is a fat sicko named Auriga. And that lead us to our mission.
Pandora and the Madurans were pissed at our actions in the altar room. It needed to be cleaned and fixed but we had not the skill to do so. Auriga has a spellbook with a clean and mending spell in it. Our job, to go there the next morning and get the book from Auriga and bring it back here – fix the rug.
If we do that, they’ll let us go on our way unmolested, and if we were serious still about eventually going after Zargon, she promises to have 5 of her warrior women join us in the conflict and assault on the demon.
If we don’t, they’ll most likely beat us, enslave us, and maybe kill us. We assumed.
So we rested that night, they gave us a gruel to eat and some pale beer. The next morn we awoke, studied, readied ourselves, and got the information from Pandora on where Auriga was (the west hall) and where the passage down to the 4th level was (the north hall). We also noted that on the next day, the beetle sacks were still glowing but the glow was slightly faded – letting us know there was a shelf life for the fire beetle bags.
It was after 8 when we went back through the altar room, put our boots back on, and made our way down the hall to the revolving hall. We entered and hit the button of the “west” hall and counted the trundling doors as we passed them by. Eventually the corridor ground to a stop and we opened the door with care.
The hall was long (40’ of so), painted black, and there were time white stars painted on the ceiling to give it the illusion of the night sky. We crept along until coming to the end of the hall where a large door was located with a 4’ diameter white star was closed. Safir checked it out and returned letting us know that it was NOT locked, and there were many voices chanting behind the door as if some religious ceremony was going on.
We cracked the door and looked in. The room was big, 50’x40’, tall, a star shaped altar was near the NW corner, and 13 figures were in here praying around it. We closed the door and whispered a fast plan, everyone getting into position.
Delsin held the door, hand on the handle while Volkan began reciting magical words. The power swelled and just before it hit its crescendo, Volkan motioned to Delsin who thrust the door opened and strode in, clearing the way for the magic-user to finish his spell.
He centered it on the fat man in the robes with the bronze mask of Usimagarius and a wave of dark energy flowed out and struck the person we assumed was Auriga. And he fell over asleep. And then the nearest 4 other supplicants also fell over asleep.
Delsin ran across the chamber sword scything the air as the closest Usimagarian ducked and dodged the flailing fighter. Safir stepped in and took aim, shooting one of the enemy mages, and then Mark charged in, war hammer waving as he stood next to Delsin and accosted the surprised throng. Weapons were thrust and although a few hits were made, nothing that was considered a deadly blow was landed.
And then the Usimagarian’s had their turn.
Spells flew about the chamber. Balls of light, blasts of magic, soaring arcs of black and blue and yellow energy. Delsin was blinded as his helmet was lit, the fighter scrambling to tear it off his head. A bolt of magic scored deep into Safir’s gut. And Volkan was hit with a mind blast that had him convinced one of the Usimagarian’s was his best friend and he should attack Safir! Which he did! Running across the room with dagger flailing as he was Charmed to attack his own group.
Mark managed to land a few lucky blows but the lack of helm, blinded light, and being surrounded had Delsin unable to make a definitive blow until a few minutes into the combat where he managed to kill one of the mages. Safir meanwhile was trying to knock Volkan out with the flat of his sword while the ensorcelled wizard was hoping to stick his dagger into Safir’s internal organs alphabetically.
Our hit points whittled away one by one, and Delsin managed to jump into the sleeping mass and drop Auriga with a single sword swipe at the unconscious mage’s throat. Battered we had managed to drop a number of the Usimagarians and Safir finally got lucky and brained Volkan, our own magic user no longer trying to kill us.
The few sleeping mages remaining woke up and seeing the carnage in the room went hands up and surrendered. With 3 of us vs. the 4 of them, we had an uneasy peace. Volkan was still out and we needed the fat guy, Auriga’s spell book. Asking the cowed mages that had given up, the indicated it was at the base of the altar. Looking at it, Delsin could see where two finger holes were located to shove the small door in the base open. He inserted his fingers and shifted the wooden door when he felt a pin prick and jumped back.
His fingers were burning from the poison and the Usimagarians that were left dove down to grab their knives and assault the group, assuming the fighter was knocked out or dead.
So it was combat again except this time we weren’t taking prisoners. Swords and bows flashed and the Usimagarians tried to hold their own but daggers and robes failed in time and the fight eventually came to the end. Volkan awoke, no longer until the Charm of the long dead magic user. We looked them over, glancing in the altar to see what was there.
A mace covered with runes and arcanic markings of Gorm was obvious in addition there was a rosewood box about 2’ long and thin. We opened it up and saw it had a wand in it. Volkan gave it a look over and was able to tell that it was a wand of magic detection and had 5 charges left. As for Auriga’s spellbook, it was on his person in a messenger bag.
We opted to return to Pandora now, where we would cast the mending spell and fix the rug before returning here to see what else might still be discovered in the Usimagarian’s area.