Monday, November 23, 2009


Having dealt with the Pteraman menace, the party rested overnight on the quiet, lush plain filled with scrub grass and elephant bones. Nothing bothered them in the night, and the only sounds were the occasional hyena or jackal cry. The next morning was clear and bright, and the party completed the rest of the hike to the end of the valley. Beside a small (500 yds around), placid lake fed by a waterfall, there stood a large granite wall surrounding a one story stone building. The gate in front was opened, but the adventurers spent some time investigating the lake (finding nothing but fish and fresh water within), and a large cavern nearby (finding nothing but a few wandering carrion crawlers that were quickly dispatched). Finally, the adventurers entered the stone gate and stood before a large granite building, crumbling in places, with 20 statues surrounding it depicting a creature with the body of a human and the head of an elephant. At that time, they heard something from behind them in the valley….going up on the wall, Kal and Mongo saw in the distance a large bull elephant, seemingly uninjured and not near death, traveling at full speed towards the temple! Fearing the elephant had been summoned by Honapo, they shut and locked the gates, and retreated into an inner courtyard. Soon after, they heard the large elephant slamming into the gate, which shook and cracked, but did not give. Kal attempted to speak to the elephant, and even charm it, but a foreign presence in the elephant’s mind prevented him from learning anything useful. Obviously, the same force that had taken over the temple was able to summon and control elephants….they had to forge ahead unless they wanted to battle the giant pachyderm to the death!

After talking with several coconut bearing trees in the courtyard, Kal learned that no one had left the building in almost 100 years, except for a large elephant-headed man who placed the stone statues around the exterior of the building. Cadelaine was able to force open the door to the building, and a grisly sight met their eyes: a pile of skeletal remains on the inside of the door, with their bones cracked and crushed. Searching the first few rooms on the upper level, the party found nothing but barracks and chambers for the Armec warriors, some dead in their rooms, their skeletons showing they tried to defend themselves from some superior force.
Carefully going from room to room, the party found grim evidence that all the inhabitants had been slain at one time or another, probably by Honapo. In one room a skeleton which looks like he was a warrior of some authority (perhaps a captain of the guard), lay crushed and dead. As his sword and armor were not aged, they were gathered up by the party, as well as a beautiful matched pair of daggers in his footlocker. Throughout the temple, the party attempted to not become tomb robbers as they realized the wealth and items within belonged to the Armec people, so often they bypassed items of wealth and worth….their reward would come later, after clearing the temple and getting back to Port Maugre with the ivory!
One room on the ground floor contained a stairway leading to a lower level, but the group continued to search the upper level to cleanse it of evil. A large barracks was found with dozens of skeletal warriors, and a pitched battle was fought as Endefal could only turn a portion of them. After a long battle, and imaginative use of Cadelaine’s web spells, over 30 of the skeletons lay destroyed across the floor. Another room that appeared to be a priest’s room contained a large snake in the ceiling, which dropped on the unsuspecting Mongo and was quickly killed by Kal and Endefal. A hole was found in the ceiling and the snake had obviously entered through, but it looked too unstable to be used to leave from. In the room, and in a high priest’s room next door, the party came across several small, silver plated ivory tusk replicas studded with sapphires…holy symbols of the Elephant Cult. Mongo felt a sudden pull from the symbols and placed one around his neck, feeling a religious fervor he had never before felt in his young life. The next room appeared to be the original room of Honapo, which was richly decorated and contained a larger and much more valuable holy symbol of the type found in the lesser priests’ quarters. It’s presence here was ominous, as it must prove that Honapo no longer followed the will of the Elephant spirit.

Also in Honapo’s old room the party found a large ivory mace, which Endefal took for himself (and named “Tantor”, by runes written on it’s head), a magic scroll of Protection from Fire, and a notebook written in ancient Delosian. Translating it, Alando said it was Honapo’s journal, and the most important entries were the last ones….Honapo stated he and a small group would be soon exploring a nearby Forbidden City, which rested in a valley in the jungle, where it was rumored many buildings still stood and a large ancient library still held many books and scrolls. Honapo told of his eagerness to investigate the ancient writings, and the party speculated finding a cursed or evil tome, or perhaps an intelligent, evil weapon or item, caused Honapo’s insanity.
Another room contained several holes in the walls, and an unusual plant growing in the room that Kal was wary of. He identified it as a yellow musk creeper, a nasty growth that was known to grow into a person’s brain and take over the body. From the doorway, several vials of oil were thrown at the root bulb, and set alight, which killed the plant. Searching the room only turned up a smattering of ancient gold and silver coins that the party gathered up.
The final room on the level seemed to be some sort of a temple. Two elephant statues stood against a wall, with a golden icon of a elephant headed man between them. In front, a jeweled dagger lay on a low pedestal. Thinking trapped, Cadelaine slowly entered and searched the room, discovering a pit trap by the door, and some sort of trap around the icon and on the pedestal. Leaving the icon for now (concerned the elephant statues would come to life if something on the altar was touched!), Cadelaine carefully tied twine around the hilt of the dagger, then exited the room to yank it off. Sure enough, after leaving the pedestal, a sharp pendulum swung down, which would have struck anyone standing in front of the pedestal. The dagger was small and rusted but had a nice sapphire in the hilt, which Cadelaine soon pried out.

Nothing was left but to explore downwards. Taking the staircase, the party came upon a dark and dusty hallway with many doors leading off it. They soon found the lower level contained the tombs of the Armecs, and they had the unusual habit of burning the bodies (as evidenced by a large room with a pit full of burned bones, and several barrels of a clear substance that burned without smoke). In other rooms they found skulls of the dead arranged in shelves along the walls, some wearing jeweled headbands (that the party left alone out of respect for the dead). One room held many zombies that shuffled to the attack as the door was opened, but it was quickly closed. What looked like a “commoner” crypt with thousands of skulls was discovered, and a “warriors” crypt with many skulls was searched and a single large sapphire was found in the brim of a helm (and taken by the party). A crypt with some sort of symbol inscribed on the door (which Alando identified as a Symbol of Death!) was bypassed for the time being; a narrow, small tomb was then found with a single stone slab and an actual skeleton resting upon it. The skeleton wore nice studded leather and held a beautiful long sword and shield. Reading the inscriptions, Alando stated this was the Tomb of Arm, the warrior-hero of the Armecs that had led them to the valley over 1000 years ago. He had been specially honored with this internment, a tomb of his own and his body intact.

The party very carefully stood outside, reluctant to go inside in case of traps. Finally, after Cadelaine gave the all clear after examining the room, Kal, Endefal and Mongo went inside and began searching the small tomb. Curiosity overcame Mongo, and he grabbed and lifted the sword….with amazing results! Immediately, a voice spoke in his mind saying it was the sword, Sentinel, and he was the ultimate weapon of the Armecs. Saying he was a special defender sword with the power to give flight and detect magic, he urged Mongo to head for the door at the end of the hallway straight away to battle Honapo. Suddenly, upon taking the sword, the three in the tomb noticed a small, one inch tall figure that leapt upon the ground from the arch above the doorway…the figure rapidly grew, until it filled the entire doorway, preventing escape! The large, clay monster began attacking, and swinging the newly acquired Sentinel did not harm the golem at all, bouncing off his hide, as the golem pounded the fighter. Endefal swung the mace Tantor, which put a dent in the figure, as Kal quickly cast Stone Shape on the south wall to form a crude passageway into a crypt beyond! The party members quickly squeezed through the opening, which was too small for the golem to follow through. Sticking an arm through got it broken off due to a strike from Endefal and his mace, so the golem retreated back in the tomb and began pounding on the stone door (which had been quickly shut by Cadelaine and Nadal from the hallway!). Thinking quickly, Endefal ran through the door out into the corridor, and used his Stone Shape spell to blend the edges of the stone door with the wall, trapping the golem. The creature, however, continued to pound on the wall, causing dust and grit to settle down from the roof and the wall to slightly shake, but he had little chance of escaping.

Deciding at this point to rest up and regain spells (and cure themselves) before talking the rooms farther down the corridor, the party made to leave the lower level for up above. However, the sword Sentinel would have none of this! His purpose to destroy Honapo overrode everything else, and he took over Mongo’s mind and body. Suddenly, the ranger got a strange look in his eyes, and sprinted down the corridor to kick open the door at the end! Inside, the party could hear a buzzing sound as a strange mist (which obscured the floor) began drifting out.
At the end of the large room stood what was obviously Honapo, a large figure with the head of a elephant and body of a giant man, wielding a large ivory battleaxe. The imposing figure was surrounded by a couple of dozen flying giant wasps, who the priest obviously controlled.
Endefal attempted to stop Mongo/Sentinel’s mad charge with a charm, but all the charm did was completely subsume Mongo’s personality, and with that the sword took over completely. Activating it’s fly power, Sentinel flew across the room to engage Honapo in hand to hand combat! Caught totally by surprise, the rest of the party began the run down the corridor to help Mongo against the evil priest. However, they were stopped at the door by the attacking wasps, and soon they were caught up in battling the flying insects to try and get inside the room.
The giant wasps proved formidable foes, sometimes stinging an adventurer and paralyzing him, only to have one of the priests cast slow or neutralize poison to get him on his feet again. A stalemate of sorts was thus joined at the entrance to the room, as Mongo and Honapo hacked away at each other furiously. Soon, however, the evil priest’s battleaxe was taking his toll, and Mongo was forced back in danger of death. Ark took the initiative, jumping into the room and running to the combat, and getting close enough to Mongo to throw him a pouch filled with Healing potions. Mongo caught the pouch, and backed off enough to drink them quickly as Ark and then Nadal engaged the elephant priest. Nadal, however, triggered a trip (the misty fog prevented anyone from seeing the floor) and a bear trap snapped on his leg, pinning him. At the same moment, several giant wasps swarmed Ark, sending him to the ground, and to the horror of the party members he was stung again and again, and soon lay dead and unmoving under the mist!

Cadelaine then realized she must use the Wand of Frost otherwise Nadal and Mongo would follow Ark into death. Firing her wand in the air inside the room, she killed a dozen or so of the wasps, and was able to clear a path into the room. Entering, both Kumar and Alando triggered another trap, falling into a pit, as Endefal hit the room and Honapo with Dispel Magic. The spell worked well, dispelling the fog, the wasps, and several protection spells on the Elephant priest. Unfortunately, Honapo countered with his own Dispel Magic in the corridor….which had the unfortunate effect of undoing the Stone Shape on the door of the room holding the clay golem!!! Soon, the party faced danger on two fronts as the golem kicked in the door and emerged into the corridor….

Meanwhile, in the room, Mongo was hit by Honapo hard enough to lift him off the room and slam him against the wall, unconscious. Kal, Endefal, Nadal and Gra Gra the ape swarmed the priest, and after a flurry of blows, brought the evil creature down! At that, the party felt a tremor through them and the temple, as the spirit of the Elephant God, trapped inside the form of Honapo the last century, was released to once again tread the world. Immediately, Honapo turned to dust…..but just as immediately, the clay golem leapt into the room over the pit (landing on the dead Ark and crushing him completely to goo) and began flailing at the party! Only blunt magical weapons would injure the golem, so only a few of the party members could even combat him. Alando was helped out of the pit trap by Cadelaine, and he joined Endefal in swinging his mace at the creation, while Kal threw magical sling stones at the monster.
Alando was quickly beaten to unconsciousness, and Nadal picked up his mace to strike the creature, but soon followed him as a mighty fist struck him and took him out. Only Endefal (who had paused many times to cure himself and drink potions) was still standing to battle the monster hand to hand, but the golem had several pieces missing and was unsteady. Kal kept throwing stones that struck the mark, and finally Endefal struck a blow with Tantor that cracked the golem down the center, destroying it.

At the destruction of the golem, it grew silent within the tomb, and the unconscious party members were bandaged and healed. A decision was made at that point, with such serious injuries among the party, to rest in Honapo’s room and pray for healing. The remains of Ark (crushed beyond recognition) were taken into the cremation room, and the priests gave his remains over to the fire after a short ritual. Brolo’s prediction of a party member’s death had come true; luckily, it had been the once evil ranger (who had proven valuable even in death) and not some other. The Helm of Alignment Change the ranger had wore was bent beyond repair, and could no longer be used to convert their foes, so it was tossed into the same fire that was used to dispose of the ranger's body.