Sunday, September 19, 2010


After an uneasy night of rest, the party healed up and began further exploration of the caverns they were in. Checking the door in the south of the crystal ball room, they found it went south and then over 100 yards to the east. They went along, with Cadelaine using her new Wand of Secret Doors and Trap Detection to check the long hallway (with nothing found). They entered a door at the end of the corridor, which led to a room filled with all sorts of what looked like burial urns, most broken, some still filled with ashes of what appeared to be past priests of the reptillion god. Searching around, the party located 4 urns which were unbroken and looked valuable, as Alando read the runes on the outside and said they appeared to be reptilian high priests inside and the urns must be brought back to the priest of Vistna.

Searching the room, Cadelaine discovered on the north wall a portion that appeared to be an old door that had been bricked over. Eschewing stealth, Mongo simply kicked the barrier down and broke through. A dark corridor lay ahead, which led to a long abandoned and dusty room filled with heaps of rubbish and debris. Carefully entering, Mongo tossed a few silver pieces ahead of him at the suspicious heaps of debris. At that, two rose up, which turned out to be pathwork warriors wearing nothing yet looking fierce and strong. Endefal attempted to turn the creatures, to no avail! They fell upon Endefal and Mongo, striking terrible blows with their fists. Mongo and Kal quickly disposed of one, while Endefal aided by the animals Gra-Gra and Simba destroyed the other. Looking at the beings closely, Alando announced they appeared to be flesh golems, left here centuries ago to guard something. A corridor continued to the north, and a strange glow came from a room beyond.

Carefully treading down the corridor, they found it dead end to a remarkable sight. In a large 40x40 room, atop a pedestal at the north end, stood a large green crystal. Within, seemingly asleep, was a large, 10 ft tall lizardman with wings….the same being seen on the walls of the crystal ball chamber! There was writing on the pedestal, and around the pedestal, heaps of gold, silver, scrolls, and other treasure. The party carefully advanced into the room, and suddenly, the lizard creature’s eyes opened, displaying a look of sheer malevolence. Tulu the fighter screamed with terror and ran out the corridor to huddle in the room beyond. Seeing the creature did not look friendly, Mongo sent two arrows at it (which stuck in the crystal), and Endefal attempted a whirlchain spell that simply bounced off the green crystal. Inside the crystal, the being smiled horribly, and began casting a spell. A small ball of fire appeared within, and then the creature disappeared (apparently teleporting away). At the sight of the small ball of fire floating in the green sphere, Mongo shouted for the party to run as fast as possible, while he stood in front hoping his Ring of Fire Resistance would help him survive. As the party crowded the corridor, Gra-Gra the ape stood staring at the ball of fire (perhaps wondering if it would taste good…). At that moment, the ball of fire exploded with fire, blowing apart the crystal sphere, and sending gouts of fire across the room and through the corridor, knocking everyone to the ground!

As the flames died down, everyone had taken damage, and some were badly burned. Kal checked his animal companions, and while the lion Simba was injured, the unfortunate Gra-Gra had been blown to bits, a casualty of what appeared to have been a delayed blast fireball. The party pulled themselves into the room, and curing began on the burns of everyone. It was decided then that the party must rest and heal, as injuries were heavy. However, before Endefal and Kal could Stone Shape the corridor shut, a howling noise came from down the corridor….suddenly, a whirlwind (air elemental) roared into the room to attack! Mongo was struck and thrown across the room, while Nadal and Kal struck at the creature to try and disrupt it. As they battled the being, Mongo picked himself up, came back to combat, and destroyed the elemental with several swift strokes of his magical swords.

At the short respite in combat, Endefal and Kal quickly stone shaped the corridor shut using rocks and stones from this chamber. Hoping the strange lizard creature wouldn’t teleport back and destroy them, they were at least protected by anything that attempted to enter through the now blocked corridor.

Binding and healing their burns, the party realized that they would have to have a proper mourning for the ape Gra-Gra at a later time. Nadal said a few words, honoring the ape as a true battle ally, and what was left of the ape was wrapped in a cloak and placed within the magical bag of holding for a proper burial later.

The room was searched, the explosion had scattered melted gold and silver across the room, along with a golden crown, scepter and platinum medallion. A sword, wand, potion bottle, and several scrolls were also rescued from the destruction; Alando cast Detect Magic and Detect Curse upon them before they were examined more closely. The scrolls were found to contain many mage spells of very high level (18th) and were given to Cadelaine, for use later. The Wand was found to be a Wand of Paralyzation, and this was also given to Cadelaine to use, and the potion was one of Fire Resistance. The other items were placed away, except for the scepter which Alando examined after seeing the runes along the sides told of some creature called “The Immortal King”. While looking at it he realized the bottom of the scepter could be removed, and inside several ancient vellum sheets (somehow resisting all aging) slid out. Alando then used spells and knowledge to translate the scrolls during the night, and what he found both frightened and disturbed him……

As he explained to the party, the vellum sheets contained a history of a being called The Immortal King, the giant winged lizardman they had just accidentally released. In the prehistory of the world, before even Lyrian times, reptilian beings ruled the earth over the humans, dwarves, elves and other humanoids. As the centuries passed, the reptiles became less focused and more chaotic, and lost control of much of what the ruled. Even before the Cataclysm, the Reptillions had retreated to the dark corners of the earth, mostly in underground caverns where they could breed and worship Set, hoping for another chance to seize power in the world above. In these dank, dark places society for the serpentmen and others continued as before, degenerate and evil. Near the surface they built temples such as this one, where sometimes humans of ill repute or seeking forbidden knowledge could be corrupted into breeding with serpent and lizard people, creating half-breeds.

Finding places of arcane potency where the fabric of the multiverse converges, the Reptillions built “Sanctuaries” such as this, where their dark magicks could tap into areas of natural power.

This practice changed with the coming of the Immortal King. When the Immortal King took complete control…he subverted the theology and made himslef the link between the Reptillions and Set. Over time, sojourns to temples near the surface were forbidden. Thus the Immortal King became a demigod as more and more Reptillions worshipped him. After creating another paradise and sending his people to it, the Immortal King retreated to this temple to rest. Believing that his people would awaken him in a thousand years, he allowed himself to fall into a comatose sleep. This occurred 4,000 years ago.

Alando then explained apparently the Immortal King was a lich of great power, and now that he was awakened, would begin summoning other scaly beings to worship him and begin once again his conquest of the outer world. From Kitanga, to Delos, then perhaps the world beyond, nothing would stop his ambitious plans. Alando explained that they only had one chance: attack now before The Immortal King gathered his followers or ancient magic, and destroy him utterly….even if it mean their own destruction, for the thought of such a powerful being controlling armies of serpentmen, lizardmen and worse was too terrible a though. Agreeing, the party decided to rest for the night, and began making plans for confronting and hopefully defeating the now-awakened demi-god.

The night spent in the dusty, deserted tomb of the Immortal King was not pleasant. Scattered melted globs of gold and silver were throughout the room, and it was quite uncomfortable as well as frightening as the group wondered if the reptillion lich like creature would return. After a few hours, they heard something at the door trying to get in. A window was stone shaped in the door, and the party saw a mixed group of undead outside the door trying to get in….a half dozen skeletons, some of the deadly gem-eyed skeletons, and two undead wights. Endefal was able to destroy the skeletons with his religious turning ability, as well as scatter most of the gem eyed skeletons. The clerics brought down the stone door to attack the undead creatures, destroying them in short order (but not before Kal was struck by a wight, causing him to feel weakened). Carefully the party retraced their steps until they reached the crystal ball room, where Alando grasped the ball and immediately began thinking of the whereabouts of the Immortal King. Soon, his visage swum into being on the crystal’s face, and they saw him upstairs at the stone altar where they had battled the troglodytes, surrounded by over a dozen lizardman warriors, a shadow like being, and a mummy holding a glowing black sword.

Quickly making plans, the party resolved to make use of the high level scrolls they had found in the lair of the Immortal King. Outside of the temple area, Cadelaine cast Haste on the party from one scroll, then began casting Conjure Elemental to summon a creature from the Plane of Fire. After he was formed, and protection spells such as Bless, Protection from Fire, and Protection from Enemies were cast, the party rushed out hasted to do battle. Kal also cast a Giant Insect spell and several ants also charged and attacked the lizardmen. Then Kal changing into an elephant as they reached the first wave of lizardmen, the druid stomping and throwing them with his feet and tusks.

Immediately several spells were cast on the Immortal King, mostly Dispel Magic, which had instant results as a Mirror Image he had cast vanished. However, his superior spell use had immediate results…Mongo leapt forward with his ring to do battle, struck the lich many times (which were absorbed by a Stoneskin), and then was immediately held fast by a giant hand conjured by the reptile lich. Then, a Chain Lightning spell cast by the Immortal King ripped through foe and ally alike, striking several party members and killing a few lizardmen. The Fire Elemental and Elephant Kal rushed ahead to do battle to the mummy and shadow creature, exchanging blows. Simba, Tulu, Kumar and Epi battled the lizardmen, while Endefal began casting spells at the lich, mostly to no avail. Sholo ran forward to attack the Immortal King hand to hand, hasted, but his blows also did no damage to the protected reptile king. Nadal also ran past the lizardmen to do battle with the mummy and his dangerous, crackling black sword.

Kal in elephant form managed to smash the undead duo several times, but he and Nadal were struck by the mummy’s deadly black sword. After landing a blow that destroyed the shadow wraith, Nadal went down screaming and was paralyzed by the mummy’s sword but Kal managed to knock the mummy and sword off Nadal before his life force was drained. Meanwhile, ignoring the blows falling around him, the Immortal King hit the area with a Dispel Magic and took off most of the protection spells of the party, and also banished the fire elemental from the prime material plane. Endefal, finding little success except with Fist of Faith, then cast a Dimensional Anchor spell on the lich, binding him to the temple floor in case he again tried to teleport out of combat. Win or lose, live or die, the Immortal King would not be able to leave!

Slowly, the opponents of the party were worn down and destroyed, but the superior spell casting ability of the Immortal King began to triumph. An Ice Storm hit the area, not harming the undead, but killing an unconscious Kal who had been struck down by the mummy, the large hail stones crushing in his skull. Simba was knocked unconscious by the ice and Kumar barely hung onto life as he fell to the ground. Nadal could barely move as the paralyzing sword of the mummy had hurt him badly, but Endefal came to his rescue. Using Fist of Faith to destroy the mummy, he spread a healing ointment on the already festering wound of Nadal to bring him back from almost certain death. Sholo continued to batter the Immortal King and managed to strike a few blows here and there.

Suddenly, Cadelaine and Alando appeared at the back of the temple, and Cadelaine used one of the highly powerful spells from the scrolls to strike the Immortal King with a Magic Missile spell! Clearly injured, the Immortal King sent a lightning bolt at Cadelaine, but Alando unselfishly through himself in front of it, taking it’s full brunt. He fell to the ground at death’s door, unconscious, and Cadelaine was also injured. However, again she sent another Magic Missile spell from the scrolls against the reptillion lich, staggering him. Having worn their way pas the Stoneskin, the Immortal King was beginning to take damage and appeared to be heavily damaged. He tried to strike Sholo but to no avail, and Endefal added his mace to the fray by striking the lich king again. Then, Cadelaine finished off the menace with one last Magic Missile spell, this time from here personally memorized spells. The Immortal King was finally defeated! His body exploded into dust, and his robes lay in a pile on the altar. The cost, however, was high, as Kal lay dead, and a few others (Simba, Nadal, Kumar, Alando) were barely alive with heavy wounds. Epy and Tulu had managed to finish up destroying the lizard men, so all the foes had been defeated. However, the party would have to rest immediately, for as long as it took them to heal up enough to move around and defend themselves in combat. The highly defensible secret shaft that had taken them down to this level was right in front of them, and Endefal used Stone shape to open the passageway, then close it behind them after everyone had been dragged or dragged themselves inside.

Inside the circular room and hallway, healing spells were used but with Kal and Alando out of action there wasn’t much to be cast. Using a scroll that Alando had kept for emergencies, Endefal cast Raise Dead on Kal and soon the elf’s wounds began to knit themselves and the druid opened his eyes and looked around, surprised to find himself once more among the living! Everyone else was bandaged and stablilzed, with Endefal casting Cure Disease on everyone unlucky enough to have been struck by the mummy. Barely able to function, the party made quick plans for the night, with Wyvern Watch being cast, and soon the more injured members of the party were asleep and healing from the tremendous battle they had just won.

The only items retrieved from the battleground were the Immortal King’s spellbook, a massive, ancient thing laying in the ashes of the dead lich, and the crackling black magical sword wielded by the mummy. Both items were carefully handled and brought into the hideout, to be carefully examined when the party was healed and ready for any type of foul magicks.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


After a night spent in the damp, unpleasant secret room, a decision was made to investigate the two other passages out of the room….one a narrow (5 ft) set of stairs leading down, the other a tunnel leading up (the way Epy had entered with her fellow spy a millennium ago). It was decided to take the stairway down, to see what lay below the secret room….perhaps it was a way to the underground city of the beastmen, or something else entirely.

Traveling single file down the dusty stairway, lit by the continual light torch and continual light stone, the party soon came to a four way passage, with other stairways leading in other directions. Not wanting to get lost, the party continued ahead into a long abandoned room with two doors. Searching carefully, Cadeliane opened one door, which led to an incredible sight: a gigantic (100 x 60 ) temple area, with several unusual features. One by one the party cautiously entered the room, which had an odd set of lizardman footprints leading inside and atop the altar at the south end of the room.

The room was thoroughly searched, which took quite awhile due to it’s great size. Another doorway was found on the north end of the room, along with a staircase to the north that led up. To the south, a giant altar with faded tapestries was at the top of a set of stairs. To the west, four odd archways stood, with a blank wall behind them, and a stone set in front of each with a fist sized circle in the top.

Carefully examining the archways, Alando could just make out several ancient writings, which seemed to point to the archways being gates of some sort to other locations. Two told of transportation to some kind of entrance, one to a temple, and the other to somewhere atop a faraway plateau. Obviously requiring some sort of gems to activate, the gates were harmless and non-functioning for now, until the trigger item (something fitting inside the stone in front) could be found.

Examining the altar area turned up nothing except faded, rotting tapestries, and some lizardman footprints in the dust leading to a secret door in the south wall. Carefully going inside, the group found another large room, this one with a giant stone pedestal in the center, which held a large crystal ball type item. On the walls were painted scenes of reptillions ruling the world, dominated by a golden lizardman with a crown and golden wings ruling over all.

The pedestal and ball was looked at with suspicion, as the lizardman footprints came to a stop right in front. Unable to restrain himself, Alando reached out to touch the glass, and immediately the ball lit up with some sort of eternal light. Experimenting with the item, it looked to be a stationary crystal ball, with the ability to look for anyone and anything the one touching it desired!

Taking turns, several members of the party touched the ball and saw glimpses of things and people important to them. Mongo saw his family, the ones still living, being held in a giant salt mine, while his brother was outside the mine somewhere in the jungle with several other hard eyed warrior types; Sholo glanced inside to look at his tribesmen in the Valley of the Elephant, rebuilding their village and helping House Valaryan harvest the scattered ivory; Tulu saw his brother somewhere in the dungeon, conversing with rat-like beings, he himself now half-rat, half-human in form; Endefal sought the Necromancer Horan, and found him writing something in a large journal in what looked like a spacious and well kept study area; Kal spied upon the dragon of the swamp, seeing the massive frog-like being under the dark and scummy waters of the lake being worshiped by several surviving frogmen, sitting atop a pile of glittering and gleaming treasure; Alando tried to find Ardu, and located him enslaved in some large city dominated by ziggurats, where large, bull headed beings seemed to rule, whipping the slaves into action (and causing Endefal’s blood to boil). Using the crystal ball to look at the cave where they had left the totem pole many days ago, they saw it had been cut down and burned, evidence that the frogmen, lizardmen, or both had found the hideout and exacted some revenge. Epy, sadly, had no visions as she tried to glance within the crystal ball…everyone and everyplace she had ever known was gone in the intervening 1000 years since her capture.

Further searching of the room revealed a door going south, but more interestingly, a secret panel in the east wall covered by a layer of bricks, built from this side. Using stone shape, Kal moved the bricks enough to glance into the room next door…..a large room with glowing violet walls, like those of the mage’s tomb, plus the legs of a large stone statue, very much like the one in the mage’s tomb. The room, however, was NOT the mage’s tomb, despite it’s similarities. Wanting to enter the room and find out more, Endefal first reached inside the room to stone shape the statue’s legs to the floor so it could not attack them…but the spell did nothing but awaken the giant stone golem, which turned with flashing eyes, ready for battle! Atop it’s head gleamed a black iron crown with three large gems set inside, which flashed brightly, blinding Nadal. The golems fist smashed through the wall, slapping Endefal, and the golem then breathed a gout of fire that caught Endefal, Mongo and Cadelaine in its blast!

Kal and Nadal (still blinded), managed to make their way past the monstrosity, while Mongo called upon the power of Sentinel to fly in the air to harass the giant stone golem from above. Blows by Kal and Nadal glanced off it, indicating their weapons had no power, and a Fist of Suffering spell cast by Endefal at the golem had no effect. However, both of Mongo’s swords did, and he struck the golem again and again, cracking the stony surface, taking fire breath after fire breath as his Ring of Fire Resistance protected him from the worst of it. Cadelaine managed to nick the creature with a thrown +2 dagger, and Alando suddenly realized he held a Rod of Smiting, with extra powers vs golems! The priest waded into combat, but he was a scholar unused to combat and only managed to strike one of it’s legs once. Meanwhile, the deadly golem continued striking out with his fists and breathing fire everywhere in front of him. A couple of blows managed to destroy the golelms crown, which stopped the blinding effect of the gems, and soon Nadal could see again and attacked the golem with his +2 magical spear instead of sword…which worked quite well! Endefal assisted as he could, with the spells Prayer and Protection from Enemies ’10 on Mongo.

The battle went on quite awhile, with the party just dodging certain doom on several occasions, the golem’s fists tearing a huge hole in the wall separating the two rooms as it swung and missed at the party members. Everyone but Alando, Mongo, Kal, Nadal and Endefal had by this time retreated to a far corner of the crystal ball room to escape the fists and fire breath of the stone golem. Finally, a flurry of Mongo’s blows cracked the golem’s head in two, and it crumbled into loose rocks as it finally collapsed, destroyed. Endefal and Alando were severely injured by the thing’s blows, and rest was called for. One gem from the crown survived, and Cadelaine took it for the group as it appeared to be worth quite a bit.
The room was quite unusual, it contained a large pool of fresh water (waterskins were refilled, and several cave fish and crustaceans were caught for food when it was determined by Kal that the water was pure and nothing deadly lurked within) that was filled from some underwater spring. Swimmers searched the bottom thoroughly but nothing of interest was found within. A bridge over the water led to a door on the east wall, when opened with Stone Shape it was found to go into the Mage’s tomb area, right behind the stone statue in THAT room. Leaving that golem for now, the party retreated back into the chamber, and made ready to rest that night due to the heavy injuries suffered battling the stone golem. For the first time in days a bath was taken and clothes were washed in the cold fresh water, and a proper meal was created by Endefal using Create Food and Water (since their rations were now down to very little).

From the night before Alando had identified one of the wands and found it a Wand of Secret Door and Trap Detection; this day, he identified another item as a Medallion of ESP (which turned out instead to be a medallion of thought projection, because after donning the jewelry everyone in the room could see what Alando thought of Cadelaine taking a bath in the pure water pool…including the very embarrassed Cadelaine!) Several items still stood to be identified, but Alando realized now he must go carefully as at least one of the eight items taken from the Mage’s tomb was revealed to be cursed, so others might be also. Mongo and Epy seemed to have formed some kind of bond, and they soon paired off together in the far darkness of the chamber as the rest of the party pretended not to notice….

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


The night passed uneventfully, as the large chasm across the temple prevented the undead and carrion crawlers from the other side from attacking them. Cadelaine’s fever got worse during the night, indicating some sort of infection, and she missed the disease preventing magic item she had lost in the lightning bolt that had struck her earlier in the week. In the morning, Endefal cast Cure Disease of Cadelaine which cured her completely. During the week, Kumar had also developed a disease, some sort of skin scabies that covered his body with sores. Examining him, Endefal said although painful and disfiguring, the scabies would not permanently harm the priest and he could probably shake it off given time.

Meanwhile, that night Alando read through as much of the papyrus scrolls as he could from the stone box they had found in the room of corpses. He found much of interest, including the name of the Forbidden City (Kitanga), and a partial lineage of the dynasty that had ruled 1000 years ago before the fall of the city. Many references were found to battles with the evil snakemen, and other evils such as the attack of creatures from below the earth, including intelligent lizardmen and others. Given more time, Alando would have to study these priceless papers to learn more knowledge about the city and the temple they were now exploring.

The next morning, as much curing as the party had was performed, with several individuals still injured. Nevertheless, the party tied a rope and went down one by one, to stand once again in front of the secret door, now sealed by Kal’s Stone Shape spell. Preparing themselves for conflict, Endefal Stone shaped the door open once more, and the party pushed into the temple area!

Immediately, the party came into conflict with the many trogs all through the area. Dozens of them filled the area, including the area by the door and the raised temple area. Cadelaine used her wand to shoot a fireball into the temple, immediately blowing a dozen trogs to pieces and injuring half a dozen more. Mongo leapt to the attack with his Ring of Jumping and began hacking through the creatures, as Nadal, Kal, Sholo, Endefal, and the beasts Simba and Gra Gra went to the attack. Immediately, dozens of the creatures surrounded the party, as Cadelaine slipped by invisibly to find a place to observe the battle and contribute as she could. She managed to backstab a leader type and Endefal finished him off, and then cast a Web spell that entangled a few of them (and unfortunately caught a cursing Nadal also).

The battle went on for nearly half an hour, as almost 50 trogs were eventually killed in a huge orgy of combat. Cadelaine had to let loose another fireball with her wand to clear out another ten or so, and at one point Kumar, Cadelaine, Endefal and Mongo disturbed a gargantuan spider than had a web at the far end of the chamber, but the giant arachnid was also dealt with fatally.

After the long battle was finished, piles of bodies lay strewn across the chamber, none left alive for questioning or capture. Everyone had some kind of wound, and the party healing was quickly used up. A statue in a corner of the chamber was of some sort of human/bat creature, and an inscription on it’s base led the party to believe it might assist them in some way. Touching the statue, several members of the party were cured of their wounds, and Kumar’s disease was wiped away. Investigating the large temple area, a statue of some sort of native woman dominated the area, but no clue to her identity could be found. A secret door was located at the base of the raised altar leading down, but before it could be investigated, the area in front of the female statue glowed, and 8 trogs appeared from thin air, as if teleported in! Combat again began, with Nadal, Mongo, Cadelaine and the animals finishing off the unexpected arrival. It appeared that this was the explanation for the many trogs that seemed to keep filling the temple area….they were teleporting back and forth between some unknown base in another location. An attempt was made to destroy the base of the altar where the trogs had teleported in from, but the spell failed to affect the obviously magical stone. While Sholo, Tula, Simba and Gra-Gra stayed behind at the altar to watch for further trogs appearing, Nadal, Mongo, Alando, Cadelaine, Kumar, Endefal and Kal began searching the various corridors leading out of the temple area.

A large opening to the SW seemed to be the actual entrance to the temple, a set of stairs led down to a large chamber with a huge pile of rubble infested by rats. Noticing several carrion crawler corpses, the party realized that this area led upward to the crevice near where they had spent the night. To the south, barracks of the trogs were found, quite foul in their stench. Past these rooms, a secret door led to a stairway down. This area seemed to be long abandoned and forgotten, as thick dust and grime lay upon the floor.

Continuing down into the dark with only the continual light torch to guide them, they came to a short dead in corridor. In quick succession Cadelaine located three secret doors, one at each end of the hall and one in the center of the west wall. Intrigued by the fact that the secret door in the west wall seemed to radiate some kind of cold, Cadelaine opened it to reveal a bizarre scene. A small room covered in frost and ice, up to a foot high, as far back as the light would go. Suspecting some sort of trapped room, the party dithered around at the entrance for quite some time. Finally, using a scroll, Endefal cast Endure Cold on himself and Mongo and carefully entered the room, watching for some sort of trap (Endefal had cast Find Traps, but nothing registered).

As they entered, they quickly saw two bodies on the ground, a man and a woman, both Delosian natives, and frozen solid. Just then the far wall twisted and became a face, which blew a giant breath of freezing cold air on the duo (which was prevented from harming them by the Endure Cold). Quickly, Kal jumped into the room to help them, and the three of them struck the wall with their weapons. The wall tried to breathe again, but several chunks hacked out of the stone seemed to “kill” the wall, and the face disappeared. Immediately, the room went back to a normal temperature, and the ice began melting.

Examining the room, they found a secret door in one corner that they left alone for the time being, and a set of stone handrails in another corner leading up to another level. Suddenly, they noticed the figure of the frozen woman beginning to stir! Endefal and Kumar applied healing, and soon the beautiful lady in black leather opened her eyes. She spoke ancient Delosian, which only Alando and Kal could understand (Kal’s spear translating for him), while Mongo’s sword Sentinel could somewhat understand the ancient dialect she spoke. Her companion, however, was dead, unfortunately not kept alive as she was through the magical cold.

Her name, she said, was Epicaste (Epy for short) and she was a member of the King’s secret police (King Amon, who Alando noted had ruled about 1000 years earlier per the records he had read through), the Golden Falcons. She said that she and her companion (Durnae) had been below searching for a way to the lair of the beastmen that had taken over the temples below the city of Kitanga. They had found about this secret room, and tried to use it as a shortcut, but were struck down. She said that they needed to immediately continue her mission, attacking the beastmen and reporting back to the King. Mongo tried to explain the situation to her….she had been “asleep” for a millennium, and her mission was long gone as was her king…but in typical Mongo fashion, nothing much understandable was communicated to the puzzled Epy. She finally was made to realize that she had been in some sort of suspended animation for a long, long time….so long her original mission was not pertinent, as the king she served and everyone she had ever known was now dead. Resigned to this, yet perhaps still a bit suspicious, she said she would accompany the party for the time being until she could get a chance to return to the surface. Epy showed quite a bit of curiosity regarding the white skinned members of the group, especially Kal the elf. Talking to Mongo, she seemed to regard the ranger and Kumar as the party leaders, and the lighter skinned non-natives as slaves or servants of the two Delosians. The concept of the foreigners to Delos, as well as the demi-humans (she had never seen or heard of “elves” before), was beyond her grasp at the moment, Alando and the others realized. Better to let her think what she wanted and try to explain more thoroughly at a later time.

Having rescued Epy, the party indicated that they were exploring this sub-level, and she was welcome to accompany them as she wished. She told them she was a spy by nature, and very good at moving silently and hiding from view. Endefal asked her if she knew anything about the secret doors at the ends of the passage, and she noted that legend said some famous Kitangan mages were buried in a tomb nearby.

With this, the party entered the passage at the south, and found a very large room with eight large sarcophagi…and a giant stone statue at one end! The other end contained what appeared to be a pool of water and a set of stairs leading up to a door. The walls glowed with a weird violet-red light, casting an eerie tinge across the room.

Carefully entering the room, and entirely avoiding the statue, the party examined all the eight tombs. Momentarily worried about odd sounds and noises they heard, they soon realized it was but a feature of the tomb made to make tomb robbers nervous and paranoid. Each large stone sarcophagus (from the writing outside, translated by Alando) had a long dead mage inside. Apparently back in the old days each mage was known by the name of a magical beast, as the tombs had written on them names such as “The Manticore”, “The Sphinx”, and “The Harpy”. Each sarcophagi also had a small stone statue atop it, with gems for eyes, but these were left alone as the party did not want to trigger some sort of guardian (specifically, the stone statue) if they were unlucky.

The pool of water was examined, and two large diamonds were found inside. Not wanting to touch them, the party thought of ways to get at the gems. They finally had Kal stone shape the stone pool, creating a hole in the side that leaked the water out on the floor. At this, Cadelaine took the diamonds, only to have the large stone statue quickly stride over, and in a booming voice (which Alando translated) told her to hand him the gems. Doing so, the statue placed them back in the now empty pool, and stomped back to his spot at the far end of the room.

Leaving well enough along, the party concentrated on the door at the top of the stairs. Opening it from the inside (from which is was sealed) they found a room filled with 20 skeletons standing along the walls, all with black gems for eyes! Mongo and Endefal looked inside, and saw a stairway leading up from the north, and a ledge above the door they had just exited with two large stone gargoyles atop it. Figuring that at some point the skeletons would attack, they immediately entered, and were attack by the nearly two dozen skeletons! Attempting to destroy them with his holy power, Endefal was surprised to find he only turned them, with 7 stepping back against the wall, leaving seven for battle…and these skeletons with the glowing gem eyes seem unnaturally strong, as well as magically hasted, as they moved supernaturally fast and attacked much faster than a normal skeleton! A long battle followed, with Mongo and Endefal backing into the tomb so Kal and Cadelaine could assist. While a Snare spell cast by Kal caught the first to enter, the other dozen had to be dealt with, and were quite difficult to overcome. Finally, the skeletons lay broken to pieces on the floor, with the gem eyes dissolving as the skeletons were destroyed. Not wanting to deal with anything else outside the tomb, the party then decided to brave the possible attack of the stone statue by opening the lids of the sarcophagi an looking for treasure.

Luckily enough, opening and looting the tombs caused no reaction from the stone creature. In each tomb, an item (later confirmed as magical by Alando) was taken, and the final tally was two wands, three rings, a cloak, a medallion, and a set of bracers. Not wishing to press their luck any farther for the day, the group retreated to the corridor. Summoning the members of the party upstairs at the temple, they decided to spend the night in the no longer frozen, but now very wet, room that Epy was found in. For her part, she dragged the body of her companion to the now opened tomb and placed him inside. For good or bad, she had decided to follow the group that had rescued her, especially attracted to the rugged looks of Mongo.

That evening as the party set up camp, Alando again read through the ancient papyruses that he had found. More information was discovered, including the fact that King Amon had decided to send troops to attack the “beastmen” that had somehow inhabited a giant city on a level below their own. From the presence of the lizardmen and trogs, apparently the beastmen still existed below, perhaps in their kingdom a way out of this underworld could be found?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Only one incident occurred during the evening, where footsteps were heard in the outside corridor, and the next morning the room that held the bonesnapper at the end of the hallway found opened. Venturing near to once again shut it, the twins Ular and Tula were surprised by the reptilian creature, yet they managed to kill it with the help of Cadelaine’s magic missiles. The bonesnapper’s lair was searched, and nothing of value was discovered except for filth from the creature.

The party continued on to the stone bridge leading from the chapel over the dark crevice. The bridge led to a dark tunnel, so Cadelaine turned invisible and crossed the unlit stone bridge (which was slick and had no handholds) in total darkness so as not to upset the bats. Carefully investigating the hallway, she came to a t-section that was lit by torches and contained four of the guards with the usual greasepaint and bronzed plate armor. Sneaking back to the group, as they discussed what to do, the lizardman prisoner took that moment to jump off the bridge into the darkness! A splash was heard far below, and it was decided that he wasn’t worth pursuing (and may have been killed by the great fall into the underground river). At any length, he was now gone and they wouldn’t have to spend time taking care of him.

Still in darkness, the party slowly made it’s way across the 50 foot stone bridge. At a halfway point, a trap was triggered by Mongo’s weight, and he fell threw a pit in the bridge to freefall until he triggered his sword Sentinel to fly him back to the bridge. Now carefully avoiding the open section of the bridge, the party slowly made it to the tunnel where Cadelaine and Mongo quietly moved within….just as three of the guards came around the corner, curious to the small noises they had been hearing! Endefal hit the area with a Silence /15, as Kumar used Hold Person on the three guards. They were quickly disposed of, however, not before the 4th guard rushed to the west end of the corridor and shouted for help! Mongo and Kal used their Rings of Jumping to leap into the room for combat. They killed the three guards within, but not before one of the guards pulled down a lever that opened a barred entrance in the rear of the room. Immediately, a gigantic roar was heard, and an albino lion came bounding out of the darkness! Kal immediately threw a Hold Animal, and after securing the great cat, a Charm Mammal was used to entice the lion to follow it’s new master….Kal.

Meanwhile, at the east end of the hall a door had been thrown open, and hordes of white painted warriors began pouring out of the entrance into the hallway. Nadal, Gra-Gra and Sholo began battling the warriors, with Mongo and Endefal leaping into the fray to help. Using his innate Sanctuary power, Endefal pushed past the dozens of warriors around the corner to see the extent of the horde. However, once discerning that the opponents were coming out of two rooms of barracks and numbered nearly 30, he was set on by a quartet that had noticed him, and driven to the ground.

Meanwhile, Mongo, Nadal and Sholo began making slow and steady progress through the warriors, and soon the hallway was full of dead bodies, blood, brains, gore and literally painted floor to ceiling with body tissues. At one point Gra Gra, heavily injured was forced to leap out of the fray and to his master Kal for healing, bleeding from almost a dozen spear thrusts. Seeing Endefal brought down, Mongo again leaped forward using his ring to land atop the foes, striking out with both swords to clear a path for the priest. Fighting from the rear, with Sholo and Nadal from the front, they caught the screaming warriors in a vise and slowly tightened it. Almost 20 minutes later, the four party members stared at each other as the last opponent fell. The hallway had become a butcher’s shop as 27 dead warriors lay strewn in pieces across the 60 or so feet of the corridor. In the frenzy of battle the companions had neglected to keep anyone alive for questioning, but at least at this point the way was clear to explore further on down the passageway.

First, however, the room they had found guarded by the warriors had to be searched, as the party had located two locked chests within. Cadelaine examined them carefully and noted glyphs on each chest, looking menacing. The chest being made of heavy stone, Endefal used his Stone Shape spell to refashion on opening in the front, avoiding the glyphs’ and avoiding actually opening the lids of both chests. It seemed to be the right move since neither glyph was set off. Several items were pulled from inside both chests, including a sack of ancient gold and platinum pieces; a sack of 50 low quality gems; a jeweled ceremonial mace; a ruby encrusted, skull shaped goblet; and most interestingly of all a platinum box that contained two glass eyes that Alando detected as radiating magic.

After searching the room thoroughly, Kal introduced the newest member of the group: the albino lion Simba, who came from a long line of lions bred by the underground warriors as protectors and guardians. Simba was the last of his kind, and while suspicious of the party (he had been trained to attack and kill anyone not wearing the ceremonial greasepaint or bronze armor) he has placated by the charm and the thought of exploring outside his long lived in lair. Kal made a mental note to use Animal Friendship on the great cat before the charm wore off, so as to totally befriend the beast.

Investigating past the mass slaughter of the native warriors (where Endefal, following his custom, had created a gigantic pyramid of heads from the downed warriors), the party found two large, dirty barracks type rooms, as well as a set of stairs leading down. The stairs eventually led to a gigantic room, with several intriguing features. First, the large room (over 140 ft long and 60 ft wide) appeared to be some sort of temple, and was rent in the center by a large, 25 ft wide crack that like the other crevices found so far led into darkness. On the far side of the caverns sat a massive altar, while in the near side there lay hundreds and hundreds of bodies in various states of decay, putting off a charnel odor of awful proportions. The bodies were piled sometimes as much as 10 feet high on this side of the crevice, although the party could discern a pathway leading out and to the left among the piles of dead.

Alando stated that this was a tenet of the religion of Ert, to let bodies decay naturally and not cremate or bury them, and judging from the amount of bodies (about 400, it was reckoned) this must be the burial area of Ertian worshippers for quite awhile. As the party stepped into the chamber, the symbols of Ert on the back of their hands began to lightly glow.

Wary of battling undead, Endefal led the small group of Cadelaine, Mongo and Nadal down the pathway to end near the crevice and a large stone box. Using her abilities Cadelaine was able to pick the lock and remove several items: a wooden box containing two diamonds, a jeweled statuette of a woman; and a giant sheaf of old papers with ancient writing upon them. During this endeavor, carrion crawlers began crawling over the edge from the crevice to do battle with the explorers; luckily, no one was struck down by the tentacles of the creatures, and seven of the giant bugs were killed.

As Nadal, Mongo and Endefal battled the crawlers, Sholo entered the room to assist, but as he passed between two pillars the light of the room dimmed and a rustling was heard. Suddenly, the dead began rising from where they lay! 40 skeletons rose from the ground and began attacking. Endefal managed to destroy seven of them, while Kumar and Alando turned another 14, but that still left 19 to fight. The party ran with all haste out of the room, just as another 40 skeletons rose from the ground! This was beginning to have the looks of something very deadly, so Cadelaine pulled her Wand of Fire out and sent a fireball into the room (as the party ran down the hall). The explosion destroyed over 40 of the skeletons, and the others did not give chase. Alando theorized the fact that Sholo did not have a mark to Ert on his hand must have somehow activated the undead.

During the excitement, suddenly Tulu spoke up that his brother Ular was nowhere to be found! Frantically, he ran back down the hallway to locate him, but nothing was seen….except for a large rat in the hallway that scampered away. Ular wasn’t found, and it looked like perhaps he had contacted lycanthropy from the wererats that had bitten him earlier….and the stress of the undead attacking had caused him to change. Tulu was understandable upset and inconsolable, as he had never known a time without his twin brother by his side.

Venturing back down the passageway, the party saw that there were now no skeletons standing in the room as the stench of burning flesh filled their nostrils. Wanting to avoid the undead and search the opposite side of the room, Mongo and Kal (in giant bat form) flew the party over the crevice one by one until everyone stood on the north side of the chasm staring at the odd altar.

Investigating around the alter, several small holes were found in the floor surrounding the area, Flying to the altar, Mongo set off some sort of trap….suddenly, a demonic, laughing figure rose from flames at the altar, as more jets of flame shot up through the small holes surrounding it! Throwing holy water on the demonic face, the vial broke and splashed water…on what Mongo then saw was a stone statue! Very realistic, it was undoubtedly placed as some sort of fake guardian of the area…..soon it began to lower into the ground inside a circular tube.

Deciding to investigate further, Endefal stone shaped the opening to give them access below. Flying down, Mongo found a long disused room with the idol statue sitting on a pillar of stone. Nothing else was in the room except for a tunnel that led to a dead end…and a secret door, as Cadelaine discovered.

Soon, a rope was tied at the top and the entire party was lowered or climbed down the shaft, with Kal having to carefully take Simba (who did not want to enter the deep dark hole) until all stood in the dusty circular room below the earth. Trying the secret door, Cadelaine opened it to see a giant cavern filled with a large pedestal about 50x40 filled with pillars…and troglodytes! 14 of the monstrosities guarded the pedestal with their large javelins. The entire chamber was huge and she could not see the back of it in the dim light. Thinking this would be a good situation to thin out the monstrous ranks without being seen, Cadelaine used her Wand of Fire to shoot a fireball into the midst of the trogs! The fireball exploded, almost killing all the amphibious beings. As they lay groaning in pain and screaming out into the dark, Cadelaine hit them with another fireball, killing all of them!

Unfortunately, an alarm had gone up and obviously a trog guard from another part of the cavern had seen the flash, for as Cadelaine leaned out to fire her wand again, a shower of javelins flew at her from the darkness! Two struck her solidly, knocking her unconscious and causing her to collapse, dropping the wand! Cadelaine was quickly dragged inside as Alando pulled her down the corridor to stabilize her, and as Endefal opened the secret door to grab the wand, troglodytes lay in wait to attack! Mongo and Kal (who had shape changed into a crocodile) joined the battle, pushing the trogs outside the tunnel and into the cavern. Soon, Nadal, Sholo, Gra Gra and Simba joined in as almost 20 trogs went to the attack, the amphibious monstrosities clawing and biting at the party members. Two large subterranean lizards were sent into combat by the trogs, but were killed by Mongo with help from Kal and Endefal. Meanwhile, the stench of the trogs at separate times caused Kumar and Endefal to fall on all fours to vomit themselves empty, as the rest of the party managed to avoid their fate.

The combat was ongoing when shouts were heard back in the cavern…Alando and Desteri were battling each other! Kumar rushed back to pull his friend Alando away, but not before Desteri had struck him a nasty blow. It seemed that Alando had caught the fighter searching the body of the unconscious Cadelaine, ostensibly to search for healing potions or magic items he could use in the fight. Meanwhile, outside the cavern the battled raged and the party began to despair they would be intact at the end of the combat as the enraged trogs proved dangerous foes. Finally, though, the group had hacked through 18 of the creatures, and the entire chamber was once again quiet and deathly still. Wanting to leave before more reinforcements came, the party quickly hustled down the tunnel to the idol chamber, Kal sealing the secret door behind them using Stone Shape. When the bloodied party reached the idol chamber, Alando tattled on Desteri’s actions, and as Desteri tried to defend himself, Mongo decided he had heard and seen enough from the mercenary fighter over the last few days…a few quick strokes, and the headless body of Desteri, slowly toppled to the ground, blood spilling from his neck stump onto the dusty floor. Alando and Kumar paused to take anything of value off the mercenary fighter’s body, and Nadal spit on the corpse and said good riddance. Cadelaine was flown up the shaft to the altar room, and one by one (nervously watching the tunnel for signs of pursuit) the rest of the party followed, most climbing the rope or being hauled upwards. Once safe, the party pulled up the rope itself…unless the trogs or their allies could fly, their escape seemed to have been effected without pursuit.

Resting in the large altar room and avoiding the holes the flame jets shot through, the party made plans to spend the night…..a few of the party were heavily injured, and the priests were entirely out of healing magic. With the shaft below being nearly impassible, and the crevice to the south being a good buffer from what might come there, this seemed to be the best place to make rest and discuss the plans for the morrow. Cadelaine was tended to, with Alando taking care of her by bandaging and dressing her terrible wounds at the tips of the javelins, but he soon noticed that the javelins must have been dipped in something….the half elven mage/thief had developed a fever, and already looked quite ill.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Deciding to try and rescue whoever was unfortunate enough to be sacrificed under the knives of the priests of Ert, the party left the unconscious Desteri, the twins Ular and Tula, and the still-tied up lizardman behind in the chapel as they forged ahead. Crossing the two rope bridges in utter darkness so as to prevent agitating the bats (and giving away their position), the party used directions from the charmed warrior to move ahead. Coming to a t-section on the swaying rope bridge, the charmed warrior told the party that to the south lay a hidden guard, while to the north was the worship area where the sacrifices were to be made. Not wanting to leave anything behind them unguarded, Kal sent the warrior to the south to talk to the guard and perhaps lure him out so the party could deal with him.

Several minutes passed, Cadelaine had heard whispered conversation from the south but now nothing. Fearing something had happened, Cadelaine snuck invisibly to the end of the rope bridge where it led into a dark, dank cavern. Using her infravision she could barely make out the outlines of a tunnel that ended in a crude set of stairs which seemed to be blocked off by piles of boulders and rubble. On the floor in front of the rubble lay the now dead body of the warrior. Quickly examining the body she found he had a stab wound in the back and a slashed throat. Not wanting to hang around in the dark much more, she snuck back to the group and whispered what she had found.

Leaving Nadal, Sholo, Alando and Kumar behind at the rope bridge to watch, Endefal, Kal, Gra Gra, Mongo and Cadelaine went forward into the tunnel. Using a continual light wand, they searched the area and while they saw lots of rat tracks, they didn’t see anything else. Cadelaine soon found a loose stone that seemed to lead to a secret area. She carefully opened the entrance and it led to a stench filled small stone cave filled with waste. Suddenly, a giant rat tried to run past Cadelaine and through the tunnel to the piled rubble up the staircase! Taking swings a the rat, he was struck by Mongo and Endefal before being snatched up and crushed by Gra-Gra. At this, the rat changed form and became a dead human in a loincloth….obviously a wererat! The only thing of value upon him was a potion bottle, which Endefal determined held a potion of invisibility.

Inside the hidden cave the party found rat holes and an old short sword. They reasoned the charmed warrior much have been killed by the wererat guard, but nothing else of value was located in the chamber. Returning to the others on the rope bridge, they were dismayed to hear loud chanting coming from the north, indicating the ceremony the charmed warrior had spoken of was soon to begin. Mongo sipped the invisibility potion, and long with an invisible Cadelaine they moved quietly ahead and soon faced two white painted guards in a hallway lit by torches. Quickly, Mongo disposed of both guards using the element of surprise, and they faced a door in front of them and some kind of religious ceremony down the hallway to the west.

Just as the rest of the party arrived, the door in front of them was flung open to reveal a group of four guards and two priests! Battled was joined as Endefal and Mongo were held by priest spells. Pushing into the room before them, which was some kind of priest and guard barracks, Kal summoned insects on one priest and attacked the other. The one priest fell to the ground and although he tried to get the insects off he was soon consumed by them; the other priest was run through by Kal’s spear. As the fighters began stabbing the held figures of Endefal and Mongo they were attacked by Nadal, Gra Gra and Cadelaine. A Charm Person by Kal took out one of the guards, and soon the other three lay dead. Dragging the bodies indoors, the group questioned the charmed warrior underneath a large black marble statue of Ert. All the warrior could give the party was that the high priest Tavos had three other priests, six guards and a group of worshippers at the temple to watch the sacrifice of three slaves.

Quickly going into action, Cadelaine cast Fly on Mongo, who flew down the hall. Flying into the temple area, he saw that it was simply part of an other temple overlooking another giant crevice that led down to the lower level. The roughly 60x60 area had a large bloodstained stone surrounded by six pillars, dangerously overlooking the dark blackness of the depths. Mongo immediately focused on the high priest and his upraised dagger, poised to plunge into a sacrifice! He swung a mighty blow that injured the priest, stopping the sacrifice. At that, the rest of the party burst into the area and the battle was joined!

Immediately, Cadelaine cast Web on half the area, capturing six worshippers and a guard, while the rest of the party laid into the nearby worshippers. Suddenly, all the remaining ten worshippers changed shape into ratmen form, as they revealed they were lycanthropes. The high priest yelled with a strange language into the darkness, and a second later Endefal’s mace slammed into him. Dying, the priest toppled over the edge into the darkness below. Endefal and Mongo were then hit by Faerie Fire, and the guards rushed up to engage them only to be met by Kumar and his warclub. Meanwhile, Kal (in crocodile form), Gra Gra, Nadal, and Sholo began hacking through nearly a dozen of the foaming mad ratmen.

As the battled continued, the high priest’s entreaty to the dark was answered, as five giant bats flew to the attack. Mongo, Endefal and Kumar were all snatched into the air and flown over the blackness, where Mongo and Kumar were dropped! Endefal managed to swing up upon his bat and bashed him into flying back over the ledge, bashing against the wall and dropping the priest. Mongo, after being dropped by the bat, flew underneath Kumar and grabbed him and flew him back to the ledge and the continuing battle. Other bats flew low and began slashing at party members. Cadelaine pulled her wand of lightning and blasted one with a bolt, and as the bat fluttered around she blasted it again and it dropped, on fire, into the darkness of the crevice.

Seeing a move to be made, Kal changed into a giant bat and flew among the creatures, using their language to tell them to retreat back to their stalactite homes since the high priest was dead. They flew confused, Kal’s entreaties in their language causing them to be uncertain. Meanwhile, Mongo managed to hack through the remaining two priests, ending their threat, while Endefal and Kumar fought against the guards back to back, managing to kill two.

The battle against the wererats slowly turned the party’s way, as Nadal, Sholo, Gra Gra, and even Alando (who swung the Rod of Smiting better and more tellingly than any weapon he had yet wielded) cutting a swatch through the lycanthropes. After a bit more fighting, all opponents lay dead, the last one beheaded by Cadelaine as she backstabbed the last guard. After seeing this, the remaining giant bats, some wounded by Mongo and missile fire, flew back to their homes in the darkness. With only the creatures in the web left, it was lit afire, and the burned lycanthropes were quickly dealt with, leaving bodies all around. The three sacrificial slaves were rescued, and Mongo flew into the crevice to retrieve the body of the high priest. Finding him floating in an underground stream, he grabbed him and flew him back to the ledge to be searched. Unfortunately, nothing of value was found on any of the priests, guards or worshippers, and the party went back down the hall where they could cure themselves.

Back in the corridor, they noticed that the heavily barred door at the east end had been opened, and a large bonesnapper was dining on the guard Kal had charmed, who had obviously panicked and tried to release the creature only to fall it’s victim. As the creature fed on the guard, the door was once again quickly locked and barred to prevent the creature from leaving.

Since the party was at this point heavily injured and nearly without spells, the decided to stay in the priest/guard barracks for the night, but not before Endefal and Kumar destroyed the statue to Ert and defiled the sacred altar with holy water. Tulu, Ular, Desteri and the lizardman were gathered from the far chapel to join the party as they made ready to spend the night in the chamber. Making camp and setting guards, wounds were bandaged, and the party made ready to rest another night in the underground chambers of the worshippers of Ert.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The party spent an uncomfortable yet relatively safe night in the chapel of Ert in the depths of the Forbidden City underground. Awakening the next morning, the party talked amongst themselves until finally choosing the secret passage in one corner of the chapel as their way further into the dungeon. There were three other ways to go (North, South, or outside the chapel a hallway to the north and west) but upon examining the hallway within the secret passage, Cadelaine and Mongo noted that the dust was thick and nothing had passed this way for many years, if not decades (if not centuries!). Perhaps some long forgotten wealth was at the end of this forgotten hallway…..?
Forming up, the party began heading cautiously down the hall, with continual light devices lighting the way, and Cadelaine checking for any traps. The hallway ended about 50 feet in at the appearance of a large room, but the first thing to be seen was eight walking undead, eyes blazing with evil intelligence, surrounding a withered priest like zombie in the middle of the room. The priest began speaking in Ancient Delosian, which only Alando and Kal could understand. In a hollow and cracked voice, the zombie stated that his name was Macreus, high priest of Ert, and what was the year? Barely understanding him, Kal told him the year, which seemed to agitate the undead priest. He then asked the party if they served the serpentmen. After a bit of awkward back and forth, it seemed that Macreus had sealed himself within this passage several hundred years ago, awaiting an attack by serpentmen that had apparently never reached his secluded corner. His mutterings spoke of insanity, and Mongo, Nadal and Endefal moved up in anticipation of combat. Kal then preemptively cast a Faerie Fire on the first few zombies, and trying to turn the zombies, both Endefal and Alando failed, Then a spoken spell by Macreus caused Nadal, Endefal and Kal to freeze as they were Held! Immediately, the first line of ju-ju zombies moved forward for combat with the helpless group. Cadelaine fired a Magic Missile at one to find the spell had absolutely no effect.
With only seconds to think, Cadelaine pulled forth her Wand of Fire and commanded it to form a Wall of Fire right in front of the advancing zombies! With his ring of fire resistance, Mongo leapt through the wall with minimal damage and began fighting. Alando cast a Dispel Magic, which dissolved the hold spell but did not bring down the Wall of Fire. The first two zombies passed through the wall and were quickly taken care of by Kal, Endefal and Nadal.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall Mongo began chopping through the zombies by himself, as no one was willing to pass through the Wall of Fire to assist him. Finally, Nadal subjected himself to the flames as he passed through to help the ranger. He took some damage, but was soon also in combat, making his way to the zombie priest Macreus.
With use of Fist of Faith, Endefal cleared a path, and was able to battle Macreus. A blow to the zombie caused a huge puff of a horrible looking dust to fly out of his body, and coming into contact with the pestilent substance caused Mongo to go to the floor, retching. By this time, Nadal and Kal had entered the room as the Wall of Fire had gone out, and they were able to lend their weapons to the fight. Attempting to sneak forward invisibly, Cadelaine found herself suddenly visible and quickly retreated before being struck by the zombie priest. Quicker than he hoped, Endefal brought down Macreus, and the priest dissolved into dust. The rest of the ju-ju zombies were brought down soon after. As Mongo began to feel funny and blood began to run out of his nose, Endefal quickly cast a Cure Disease on the ranger, which seemed to arrest the awful illness the dust had given him.
Searching the room, the party found nothing of interest except for a passage that went further south. Going south aways, Cadelaine found an unusual pit trap that the party was able to bypass on their way down the corridor. After almost 100 feet, they reached the end of the passageway….which ended in a dark, gaping crevice! On the small ledge, the party was just able to make out a rope bridge far to the southwest, as well as a ceiling of stalactites, and to the east, another small ledge that seemed to lead to another dark passageway.
As the party debated their actions, the now un-charmed Desteri (Alando’s Dispel Magic earlier had taken the charm off the mercenary fighter) began throwing torches into the darkness, discovering the level below was about 50 feet or so….then, hearing noises in the dark, he launched a flaming vial of oil into the darkness. Suddenly, a large mass that was unidentifiably in the darkness responded with a thrown boulder, which caught Desteri in the chest and threw him back. Several other throws followed, but none were close.
After this, Mongo took the continual light wand from Endefal and using the power of his sword Sentinel, began flying around the darkness to discover the area of the chasm. He managed to check out the rope bridge, which connected two corridors farther to the SW, and landed on the other ledge nearby. Unfortunately, the light buzzing about attracted the attention of almost a dozen giant bats, which attack Mongo as he flew about. Mongo was bit a couple of times, but managed to fly back to the ledge where the party waited. As the bats followed, They were peppered with missile fire from Desteri, And Cadelaine, and Kal quickly threw a Hold Animals spell that caught four of the animals, sending them to their doom as they suddenly stopped moving and dropped like rocks to crash on the floor of the level below. More missile fire deterred the other bats, who quickly flew up among the stalactites to hide
Discussion of a way to go followed, with the party eventually decided on checking out the ledge and passageway to the immediate west. Using her ring of feather falling to prevent trouble, Cadelaine used a rope tied by a flying Mongo to easily traverse the short distance. Shining her torch inside, Cadelaine saw the edge of a room which was covered by yellow mold! The mold also seemed to cover several skeletons and a large chest-like object. Kal used his shape changing ability to fly over, and with his extensive knowledge of fungi pronounced it as yellow mold, very deadly, but susceptible to fire. Without much hesitation, Cadelaine threw a vial of oil into the mass of the mold and followed it with her lit torch. In the conflagration that followed, the skeletons tried to rise but were destroyed, and the fire burned out every scrap of the mold, revealing a large stone chest.
Soon, the rest of the party used the attached rope to hug the side of the chasm and cross over to the new area. Searching the room, nothing except for the stone chest was found, and it was opened by Cadelaine revealing a mace, rod and a gem. Desteri stepped up and greedily grabbed the rod, which had a skull-head on one end. Nothing happened to him, and Alando cast Detect Magic which showed the rod as magical (but none of the other items). Taking the items, the party vowed to watch Desteri and his new “prize” closely to see if any bad effects overtook him.
At the other end of the room was a large stone door with a heavy stone bar on this side to prevent entry. As the bar was easily lifted, the door opened and the party continued down the corridor north. They soon came upon another set of doors in the east side of the corridor. Not wanting to open the doors, Endefal used Stone Shape to fashion a hole inside one of the doors so they could look within, then shaped it to make it large enough to possibly enter.
Inside was quite a sight. In the large round room was a red tile hexagon, in the middle was a floating, flaming skull that intently watched them! Cadelaine looked inside and noticed a trap attacked to the door, a wire that ran to the ceiling and triggered a ballista bolt if the door had been opened. Entering instead through the hold in the door, Cadelaine was able to disarm the trap, and the party then concentrated on finding out the purpose of the floating skull.
Soon after the party entered the room (everyone but Desteri, Kumar, the twins Ular and Tula, who refused to enter the cursed area, along with their prisoner the still tied up lizard man), the skull spoke to them saying he would answer a single “yea” or “nay” question if asked. Several half assed and useless questions were spoken, none answered with any significance. Finally, Alando asked if Ardu was still alive somewhere within the city and the answer was “Yes”. Then, he was asked if Ardu was under ground and the answer was again “Yes”. Not much info to go on, but it was more than they had up until that time.
As the questions wound down, the skull spoke and said that for the price of a question, their souls were now Ert’s own!!! Suddenly, a small skull appeared on the back of each character’s left hand, much to the consternation of everyone (especially the priests, who were worried this would put them in bad with their own gods). Continuing to travel north in the corridor, they found the passageway led back to the Chapel of Ert through the south door.
Again talking about their choice of direction (either through the north door or back down the passageway to the chasm and the rope bridge), it was decided that they brave the chasm and see where the rope bridge Mongo had seen would lead. When they reached the ledge, they worked out a system where party members armed with missile weapons would watch for the giant bats, while one by one Mongo would ferry party members across using his fly ability.
After a few nervous minutes where a few giant bats flew around but did not attack, the party was flown across to the rope bridge. The bridge seemed new and very solidly constructed, 40 feet long with new strong hemp and closely set wooden boards, and including a “handrail”. One end (to the west) led to another cavern, and beyond that, another rope bridge. To the west, the rope bridge led to another ledge and a passageway lit by torches.
Choosing the west, Cadelaine invisibly snuck forward and rounded a corner, seeing a small chapel with a statue, basin, and several hanging draperies. Also within were six warrior types armed with spears and knives. They were painted on their entire bodies with black and white paint, resembling living skeletons. They seemed to be guarding the chamber, and Cadelaine notice that a doorway to the west was set with strong iron bars that were set into the stone. Sneaking back, she told the party of what they had seen. Throwing caution to the wind, the party rushed the six guards, counting on their excessive numbers to help them triumph. In quick order the guardians were killed, except for one charmed by Kal and commanded to join him. Questioning of the guard told the party this was a worship area to Ert, and to the east there existed a larger chapel where a large ceremony was going to take place later, which included sacrifice and summoning some kind of creature. Resolving to check that out, the party began searching the area, Desteri, ignoring any warning, went to the statue of Ert and removed two gems that were the eyes of the statue. Removing the gems, the statue exploded in fire, and not only flames but some sort of curse from beyond hit Desteri at the same time.
As Desteri stumbled about, the black tapestries were removed, and behind them were found a dozen one foot tall, ugly and evil looking wooden dolls that resembled some sort of fetishes. Asking Mongo about the dolls, Mongo revealed they were known as Kani Dolls, and were often animated with evil spirits to guard areas or stalk individuals. The charmed guardian was filled with fear as he saw the dolls, going to the corner and quivering in fear at the “devil dolls”. Ignoring more entreaties, Desteri grabbed one of the dolls to place it within his pack, pricking his finger on something sharp upon the doll. Immediately the dozen dolls came to life and began swarming the mercenary fighter! The evil little dolls began biting and biting the fighter, and several were destroyed by Endefal, Mongo and Kal as they tried to kill Desteri. Finally, one doll jumped to Desteri’s throat, ripping it out and causing the fighter to fall unconscious as the doll continued to chew! Mongo took the fighter by his legs, and by swinging him around, caused the dolls attached to Desteri to fly off across the room, where they were quickly crushed or destroyed by party members. After the battle, Endefal bandaged Desteri’s throat, and Nadal (who had not helped the beleaguered fighter) said that the greedy bastard had gotten what he deserved…
As Desteri lay unconscious, Alando used that time to take the Rod that Desteri for himself. Using his ability to identify magic items, Alando announced it was a Rod of Smiting, and keeping it as his own he gave his own magical mace to Kumar so the priest of Attar would finally have a magical weapon to use. The gem eyes of the statue were also removed from Desteri, and the party vowed to curb the excesses of the grabby fighter from here on out.
After the party searched the room and rested, Kal questioned the charmed guardian about what lay beyond the barred chamber to the west. The frightened native said that a “giant demon” dwelled at the bottom of a set of stairs through the other chamber. The bars had been placed to not only prevent anyone from entering the lair of the “demon” but to prevent the demon from attacking anyone within.
Examining the room revealed nothing else, and with only one way to go (back west to the rope bridge and the Chapel of Ert beyond) the now even larger group prepared to do battle if the priesthood was indeed going to sacrifice innocents to their god….


The next morning, the party was somewhat at a loss for any further action. They had been in the Forbidden City over a week and all that they had accomplished was to set almost every group in the city against them! At this point there didn’t seem to be a lot to go on….the group had managed to alienate every group they had come upon, that or make them dire enemies. Not having a lot of direction, Alando cast an Augury that seemed to say their destiny lay to the “south”. With nothing more to go on, the party began heading that way in hope of enlightenment.
As the party very carefully and quietly crossed a large avenue, They were suddenly set upon by a gigantic Rhinoceros beetle that happened to be lumbering down the street! The large creature attacked hungrily, as Nadal and Mongo stood to protect the rest of the party with Cadelaine hitting the giant beetle with magic missiles. As the group battled the insect, soon several giant wasps began also attacking, attracted by the movement. Everyone at that point was engaged in the battle, either hand to hand or missile weapons. Soon, five giant wasps lay dead and after a long battle the rhino beetle finally was chopped to pieces despite heavy injuries to Endefal, Nadal and Mongo.
The party quickly moved to the south after the long and noisy battle, and found a quiet set of ruins to heal up and prepare. Suddenly, the lycanthrope warriors from the day before, Damu and Jamal, appeared before them! They said that they had spoken with the rest of their group, and decided that it was imperative that they show the party the trail through the sewer system that led to the serpentmen’s lair.
Agreeing to follow them, the wererats led the party to the large temple of the bat the party had passed the day before, and through a long, dank stairway that led down. The smell of bat guano and decay was strong, and several rats scurried around in the darkness as Damu and Jamal led them to a large entry chamber. Saying this was part of a larger temple, the wererats led the party down a large corridor to the west, saying that it eventually led to a sewer line that led to the serpentmen’s camp.
As the party pulled out their continual light objects and followed the guides into the gloom of the corridor, they were surprised after fifty feet to come to a solid stone wall! Ominously, at this they heard a loud sliding noise and a boom, and saw the eastern entrance had been shut off by a stone wall. With a bad feeling, the party turned to Damu. Apologetically, Damu explained that a meeting of the wererats had concluded the party could better serve their needs as lycanthropes themselves….their power added to the existing rats could swing the battle between the serpentmen and wererats towards the rats! At that, several rats in the chamber changed formed into ratmen, and these (along with a horde of giant rats) began to attack!
Quickly, Cadelaine used her Web spell to entangle almost all the giant rats at the end of the corridor. A desperate battle followed with the ratmen (Damu and Jamal themselves turning into rat form and escaping) attacking and attempting to bite the party members to infect them with lycanthropy. Through the battle, only Ular and Cadelaine were bit, and several of the ratmen were killed, Finally, the battle turned in the party’s favor and the surviving ratmen turned into rats and escaped into holes in the walls. Five ratmen lay dead in the chamber, and searching by Cadelaine revealed a hidden catch that raised the stone wall at the east end.
Attempting to retrace their steps, to their dismay the party found their exit was blocked by a huge iron wall that had apparently been triggered to fall by the wererats. Attempting to use Stone Shape to go around the iron wall was ineffective as the stone walls themselves were constructed of some sort of unique material that resisted the spell.
After a quick conference, the party resigned themselves to further exploration into the underworld to find another way out of this trap that they had walked into. Exploring the nearby chambers, it was discovered that the temple was one to Ert, the Delosian God of the Dead, and it looked to be long abandoned. One chamber held a stone statue to Ert that was left alone, while another contained a quartet of lizardmen who were apparently capturing giant centipedes for food. The lizardmen were quickly killed, except for one that was Held by Alando and then tied up by the party for questioning. Dragging the captive lizardman behind them, the party went through a secret door in one of the tombs and came upon a group of underground froglike beings…known as troglodytes….who attempted to spring a ambush on the characters. Kal, Endefal, Mongo and Nadal entered combat with the primitive beings, their stench sometimes driving them back. A judicious use of another Web spell by Cadelaine that captured three of the amphibious creatures and led to a easy end to the battle. All the trogs lay dead, and another secret passage lay exposed in a hallway the trogs had sprung their ambush in.
Carefully investigating the passageway, the party saw no evidence anyone or anything had passed this way in a long, long time. At the end of a corridor, a large ancient iron door led into a large room that looked like some sort of worship area to Ert. There were several pillars, pews, a large altar at the front, several slumped figures in the pews and four large urns from which some sort of odd smoke oozed forth from! The chamber was lit by a continual light spell in the center, and it was quite an eerie and spooky looking scene.
Slowly, several members of the party came into the room to examine the figures. Unfortunately, at this, several of the figures sprung up and began to attack….they were undead wights, hungry for life energy! Endefal and Alando attempted to turn them to no avail, and the party found themselves facing eight of the beasts. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the greenish smoke began causing party members to fall unconscious one by one! This made the battle even more desperate. Alando was struck a couple of times, which caused him to lose some of his health and energy, but after a long battle that involved collapsed characters being dragged out of the room by non-combatants until they awoke, only to re-enter and then sometimes fall back asleep, Alando found out pouring holy water in the urns caused the smoke to stop rising. After the smoke was stopped, the battle was fought on more equal terms, and Nadal, Endefal, Mongo, Kal, and Cadelaine soon had destroyed all the undead.
Afterwards, the party decided to search the room, and discovered two large doors to the north and south, and a secret passage in the SE corner that led to a long deserted passageway. Binding their wounds and curing themselves, the group decided the hidden chapel would be a good place to rest and recover, hidden as it was, as long as no more undead came within. Posting guards, the party uneasily set up camp for the night. As they rested Alando examined a pendent taken from all eight of the destroyed wights, a skull shaped ceramic piece of jewelry on a chain that was a holy symbol of Ert, God of the Dead. Thinking they might come in handy, he placed all eight of the symbols within a pouch for perhaps further use….

Friday, April 30, 2010


Using Stone Shape, Endefal fashioned a proper door from the secret room to the outer room, making the area they would rest in more secure. After a few hours, the rain died down and finally stopped, and the group began taking guard shifts as the others rested. As the group fitfully tried to rest in their dirty but secure hideaway inside one of the ruins, Mongo heard sounds of furtive searching right outside the room. Peeking through the cracks in the wall, he spotted two natives talking in Delosian, surrounded by a dozen or so giant rats, which seemed to do the native’s bidding! He heard enough to realize the natives were looking for the party, as they had witnessed the destruction of the snakemen, and had even hunted down and killed the one escaping snakeman. They spoke vaguely of allying with the party, as apparently the snakemen were also enemies of their “group”. Walking out through the door weaponless, Mongo presented himself to the two startled natives, saying he would like to talk and parley with him. Several other party members also emerged, and the native types introduced themselves as Damu and Jamal, with Damu doing most of the talking.

Soon, gathered around a small fire in the main room, Damu explained the circumstances of who and what he was. Very quickly the group grasped the fact that Damu and Jamal were lycanthropes, obviously wererats. Damu did not deny this and explained it was the only reason they had survived so long in the city, as they used the underground sewers to travel across the ruined landscape. He said most were bit while they were enslaved, and the bites allowing the change to rat form allowed them to escape the clutches of the snakemen. However, he stated, snakes and rats are natural enemies, and they hunted each other through the jungle ruins of the Forbidden City. Damu stated that this was why the snakemen traveled in groups within the city, a snakeman traveling alone would be quickly ambushed and killed by many wererats and giant rats.

Mongo and the party members asked the duo many questions about the ruins, mostly if they knew where the “headquarters” of the serpentmen was, and if there was an underground way there. Damu stated that the sewers were very dangerous to travel unless one was in rat form, and that close to the western edge of the city the tunnels were guarded by weird fungoid ghouls that prevented most passage. He said he suspected the main lair of the serpent men was beyond these guards. When asked about the Necromancer Horan, Damu stated that he never bothered them, so the wererats left him alone. Asked about the swamp dragon, Damu said he rarely left the swamp, and he had personally never actually seen the giant reptile. Further conversation during the night (only interrupted by Damu pausing to go outside and kill several fire beetles for their light glands, which he said they could use for trade goods) let the party know the wererats worshiped at an old temple of the city dedicated to the bat cult (a bat, he said, is a rat with wings, so what is holier?). Also, he knew of the humans and “mongrelmen” camped at the far west side of the city, as he traded with them often, and said he would bring the party there on the morrow. For his efforts, the party gave Damu some odds and ends for trade, including a mace, some sling bullets, and some arrows with steel heads. They also asked him about ways out of the city, and he mentioned three: a switchback trail to the west always guarded by snakemen; a tall tree in the south of the city that was several hundred feet high and grew near the cliff wall; and a possible tunnel to the north in a lizardman’s cave that was rumored to lead further north and eventually emerge from the city somewhere in the jungle….

The only sinister feeling the party got from Damu was his continually asking the party members if they too wished to be turned into wererats, with Damu offering to do the deed himself, saying it would greatly help them traverse the city and avoid capture. He seemed a bit too eager to do this, and asked continually about Cadelaine (who stayed invisible all night) since he had seen her earlier when she was visible, telling her that she was very beautiful and lovely…coming from the native wererat these words did not fill her with joy.

The next morning, Damu offered to guide the party to the mongrelmen camp by the most secretive and expedient way. They took him up on his offer, as he also told them he could get them past the guards who didn’t let anyone else in due to fear of the serpentmen and others. When asked why the serpent men didn’t either attack and kill or enslave the mongrelmen, Damu said they were not “real” people and the serpentmen seemed to disdain sacrificing them. Apparently, an attack on them would result in too many losses (the mongrelmen were over 100 strong) and so they were ignored in their corner of the ruined city.

Damu led the party on a twisting, hidden path through the city, pausing at one point to show them the magnificent ruins of the Bat God temple, which still rose high in the sky with two giant stone bats on either side of the entrance, a large opening which seemed to go inside the earth. Finally, the party came upon a block long area with piled rubble, and ten horribly deformed guards came out, spears in hand , and asked what the business of Damu and this strange group was!

Damu vouched for the party, saying they were travelers to the city and wished to trade with the mongrelmen and their leader. An old, robe covered shaman came shuffling out of the rubble and cast two spells on the party; Alando identified them as Detect Evil and Know Alignment. Apparently the party passed, as she then motioned the guards to let the party through. The party was escorted inside a long tunnel of rubble, with various mongrelmen hiding in all corners waiting to ambush any intruders. They finally exited the tunnel to a large open area with many hovels built from rubble and wreckage. In the center of the area stood three stone buildings. Towards the edge of the camp was a cooking area with several cooking pits and many unidentifiable pieces of meat hanging from hooks. Nearby was a meager vegetable garden and several scraggly fruit trees. As the party entered and several of the curious creatures pointed, whispered and began following them around, they saw an area off to one end through an archway that looked cleaner and more “civilized”. Out of this area came, surprisingly, a female elf, a human fighter, and several other non-mongrelmen!

Before they could talk with the human and elf, the leader of the mongrelmen emerged from one of the stone buildings. He was a massive specimen with many scars and wielding a large two handed sword. Speaking in a halting voice, he told them they would have to trade something of use before being allowed to enter the area. Endefal and Alando got down to haggling. For two blankets, a steel dagger, some sling bullets, and a few cowrie shells, the party was able to get a magic potion (Alando identified it as Water Breathing) and get into the chief’s good will. The chief told Mongo he wanted to wrestle him, and Damu whispered that wrestling the chief was the only way to earn his respect. However, he said the wrestling could wait until nightfall and the feast they would have in the party’s honor.

Leaving the mongrelmen portion of the camp, the party passed through the archway and entered a new world. Here, apparently, were many escaped slaves and members of ill-fated expeditions that had never been able to escape the valley. The elven female identified herself as Arathea, and said she was the leader of the group. She introduced the fighter at her side as Desteri, and said they were glad to see this party as they were anxious to leave this forsaken hell hole and get back to Port Maugre, where she had much gold and gems awaiting her return (and which she would gladly give to her rescuers). Soon, several other members of the small group came up and introduced themselves: Barren, a human mage who begged the party to take him with them; he said he would loyally serve whoever supplied him with a spellbook, as he had none and could only learn spells through Aratheas’ spell book; Gart, a priest of Vistna, who was ecstatic upon seeing Alando and bade him come talk to him privately, as he had several books and more he had located in the ruins during his many years here; Tulu and Ular, twin Ashante warriors who seemed happy and cheerful and strangely deferential to Aratheas; Lithy, a female halfling who seem rather wary of the party and stayed away from the group; Aster, a dwarven warrior missing a leg from the knee down, who seemed quite ill with some sort of coughing disease, and Desteri, who seemed to be Aratheas’ bodyguard and gave the party dirty looks, never leaving her side.

The party began mingling with the individuals and heard all their stories, as the lost explorers were quite eager to hear news from outside the city. Alando cast Detect Evil on the group, but got no strong detection of any type from any of the inhabitants. Alando got together with Gart, who told him he had been trapped here after an expedition of Vistnan priests was destroyed while exploring the city a couple of years earlier. They only survivor, and two powerless to escape alone, Gart had stumbled upon the mongrelmen encampment and showed them his healing powers, which gave them a reason to take him in. Gart had decided to stay as his healing powers, as well as a daily Create Water spell, helped the inhabitants survive. He also found many old books and such in the rubble, and read and translated them in his spare time. He was preparing a package for someone to deliver to the Vistnan temple in Port Maugre, and in answer to his prayers, another priest of Vistna had arrived! Alando offered to take the package back to civilization, and tell the priests at his temple that one of their own was still in the city.

As the priests talked, Endefal began talking to the dwarven warrior, who boasted that he by himself had killed a giant snaked the last week, even missing a leg! He seemed like he had once been a formidable warrior before the loss of his leg. He told Endefal and Kumar that he had been a mercenary guard of a merchant train that had gone too near the city and been attacked by serpentmen and their tasloi allies. In the battle his foot had been bitten by a snake, and the wound began to swell and fester. Delirious, he somehow found himself wandering in the Forbidden City days later, and was found by Mongrelmen and brought to the camp. The wound being beyond Gart’s ability to heal, he had to amputate instead, and now the dwarven fighter had to get around with a “peg leg” instead of a real one. Listening to Aster’s story, Endefal could hear a rasping far back in the dwarves’ throat. He asked him if the dwarf felt out of sorts, and Aster confirmed that he was often weak and had a bad cold. Casting cure disease on the dwarf, suddenly the warrior could breathe fine, and his sickness immediately disappeared! Extremely grateful, Aster thanked the priest of Attar, and said if only some way could be found of regenerating his leg, he would loyally follow and serve the priest. Endefal and Kumar however did not have this level of healing on a scroll, but they told the dwarven warrior they would return to heal him should they ever run across such healing.

Mongo was speaking with the native twins, who were eager to talk with a fellow Ashante warrior. They said they had been captured by slavers but escaped and came to the city, and helped out the group with their fishing and hunting skills. Mongo asked them if they wished to leave, but they said that they wished to do whatever Aratheas wanted them to. Suspicious, Mongo began questioning them further and soon decided that the female elf may have charmed the twins.

As for the elven mage, she greeted the party and asked them if there was any spot for herself and her bodyguard Desteri in the group, as they wished to escape this disgusting place and head back to civilization. Aratheas was beautiful and apparently a powerful mage, but something about her seem to grate on the party’s nerves. She seemed very imperious, and would only address the elven druid Kal and not the others of the party, assuming as an elf he was the leader. Barren, the human mage, whispered to the other party members that Aratheas was a egomaniacal bitch, and that she had tried to escape with other groups but had always been booted out of the group because of her imperious ways. He said she had charmed Desteri to serve and protect her, and lorded herself over the group because of her power. Incensed that beings were serving her against her will, Kumar and Endefal began casting Free Will spells on all the beings in the camp. Soon, Desteri and the twins had their own free will, and the human fighter Desteri was not happy! He yelled and insulted Aratheas because he now realized his feelings for her were a lie created by the charm. At the sudden loss of power, Aratheas sulked and pouted, upset at losing her charmed servants.

As this drama went on, Cadelaine decided to do a little sneaking about and searching. Still invisible (she had never appeared during the entire day to anyone), she snuck inside the largest area there in what was apparently Aratheas’ and Desteri’s quarters. Searching around, she managed to find a something buried beneath the ground under the blankets piled in the room, and inside found a container. Wary of runes written on the surface, Cadelaine used a long held scroll of Erase to destroy the runes, and then opened the box. Inside, she found three large diamonds, which she quickly pocketed, and a large spellbook…obviously Aratheas! Slipping the book into her backpack, Cadelaine covered the area best she could and snuck back out of the room.

Outside, Endefal was lecturing Aratheas on the folly of charming people to serve against their will. Obviously upset, Aratheas stomped off to her quarters. After she left, Barren again begged the party for a chance to leave with them, saying if only someone gave him a spellbook, he would serve them loyally. He said he was here because of an ill fated expedition to the swamp dragon’s cave, where the rest of his party had died under the jaws of crocodiles, with himself the only survivor (but at the cost of his spellbook). Meanwhile, Mongo had managed to convince the now un-charmed Ashante brothers that they should leave when he left, and the cheerful duo agreed they would love to finally make their way back to their tribe now that they suddenly did not wish to stay with the pretty elven lady any longer! Gart turned down the party’s offer to leave, as he said he was needed to help the mongrelmen survive, and the halfling Lithy said she was too frightened of the creatures of the city to ever leave. Aster said he wished he could leave but without his leg he would only slow the party down. Desteri said that now that the elven bitch didn’t have a hold on him, he was free to go as he pleased. He said he was a mercenary fighter hired to guard a caravan that had been captured (and escaped) from the serpentmen, and since that was months ago he was free to go with the party for a share of treasure or a flat payment.

Suddenly, a screaming was heard from Aratheas’ cave! She came storming out, holding an old looking scepter in her hand, demanding that whoever had stolen her spellbook give it back. Barren began laughing at her and said now she would see what life was like without a spellbook! Nearly incoherent with rage, she stated Barren must have stolen it, and it must be returned or he would die. Endefal quickly pulled out his Wand of Negation and zapped her scepter, but Aratheas in her rage didn’t even notice. Screaming something in elven, she pointed at the still chuckling Barren, and a lightning bolt zapped forth to incinerate him on the spot! All around stared in horror as the charred body of the mage fell to the ground, and at that the invisible Cadelaine attempted to stab the enraged mage. Unfortunately, Cadelaine barely scraped Aratheas, who turned in her fury and pointed a finger at Cadelaine, with another bolt flying out to slam the half elf hard against the rubble, knocked her unconscious! At this, the party sprang into action, with both Endefal and Kumar hitting the out of control mage with Fists of Faith, killing her on the spot. Alando quickly rushed to Cadelaine’s side, as smoke rose from the unconscious body. The bolt had struck her at a length of no more than five feet, melting several of her magical items (including her charm against disease and stone of silence) that had hung around her neck, as well as snapping her bow in half with the force of the bolt. Alando ministered to her as Kal and the rest took her scepter and other items from her body. Of the unfortunate Barren, nothing could be done, as he had been killed instantly and was far beyond any help.

At this commotion, the mongrelman leader and four huge bodyguards pushed into the enclosure, demanding to know what had happened. Seeing the dead bodies, especially that of Aratheas, the mongrelman leader went berserk. Saying they would pay for killing the “pretty lady”, he and his cohorts began swinging at Mongo, who stood in their way. The twins Tulu and Ular said they knew of a back way out, one they took when they went hunting or fishing, and the party (grateful they wouldn’t have to hack their way past 100 attacking mongrelmen) began heading out through the opening, with Mongo taking several savage blows as he covered for them. The wererat Damu was nowhere to be seen, but there was no time to look for him as the party (along with Desteri and the twins) quickly made their way out of the back entrance and across the rubble to the north.

After several minutes of running, they noticed only lackluster pursuit (mostly rocks and such being thrown), and the twins said they knew of a safe place to rest. Heading north, the small group found themselves in an enclosure open to the sky that looked a hundred yards or so around that was thickly grown with vegetation. Wary of the growth, the party was assured by Tulu and Ular that the area was safe, as they came here often. Sure enough, slipping through the very thick foliage about 50 yards, they came upon a beautiful, placid pool of what looked like fresh water in a small clearing inside the trees and vines.

The brothers said they often came here to fish and hunt (they said several birds and small mammals were within the wooded areas, and fish in the pool) and that they had never had an encounter with a monster within the area. Suspecting some greater power held sway here. Kal examined the foliage and found nothing of a poisonous or deadly nature, and that the water was fresh and pure, and the fruit and berries that grew within the garden like area were good and tasty. Questioning the brothers further, they admitted that a “beautiful lady, covered with a feathered cloak” would sometimes emerge from the water when they slept to talk to them. They had dreams about her they said, and the dreams seemed to make them fully rested.

Kal knew of certain creatures of the wood that may be protecting a place like this, but whether evil or benign it was often hard to say. However, since the being had treated the twins well, Kal suspected the spirit of this jungle area meant them no harm. Wishing to avoid a possible conflict, he found Desteri peeing against a tree and quickly charmed him, telling him not to despoil the forest, and to keep quiet…while apparently an accomplished and skilled fighter, his conversation since he had been rescued was mostly profanity laced cursing along with lewd and disgusting comments about women, especially the unconscious Cadelaine who was being carried along by Alando. Kal began to feel just a bit more understanding as to why Aratheas had charmed the noisy, not so smart fighting man…..better to have him under control than running around upsetting whatever spirit of the jungled lived here.

With Cadelaine barely conscious after the electrocution, Alando volunteered to take care of here while the others patrolled the area looking to see if there was anything they needed to guard against. Kal commanded the charmed Desteri to also stay, and the rest of the party went through the area to the other side and searched the rubble there. They found a building with trees and plants growing out through the center, complete with a skeletal body hanging from a limb. The party was suddenly attacked by deathfangs, undead flying snakes, but they were quickly disposed of with Endefal’s turning ability and Kal’s entangle spell. Nadal took possession of the dead warrior’s sword, which gleamed like it was new, indicated it was magic (a fact Alando verified when they brought it back to the hidden pool).

Returning to the pool as evening fell, the party soon fell into a deep, restful sleep. After awhile Kal awakened to find everyone around him overcome by sleep. He looked out in the moonlight and saw a beautiful maiden, clad in a white feathered cloak, emerge from the water and walk towards him. She smiled and introduced herself as Safania, and told Kal that she was the guardian of the pool and this area of the city. She said she was a swanmay, a magical creature that had lived for centuries here in the city, ever since it’s “fall”. She wouldn’t elaborate much, except for telling Kal that the once great city fell due to worship of “devils”, which could have been literal or figurative, and the machinations of the serpent men. She said her only purpose was to guard this area, and she had done so successfully for hundreds of years, destroying all invaders. Now inhabitants of the city knew better than to enter her grove, and this was one place in the city where beings could rest without fear of harm. She told Kal she only asked that the adventurers respect the woods and pond, and not to defile or desecrate the area in any way, and they would be free to drink the water, eat the fruit, and hunt some of the animals within. Kal asked her if any other beings like her inhabited the city, and Safania said she only knew of one, a water naga that once inhabited the lake on the east side of the city before it became the large swamp it was now. Safania said she had no contact with the naga in many, many years, and did not know if she still lived within the swamp. However, if she did, Safania told Kal she would also be an ally if approached with friendship.

Kal vouched for the behavior of the party, and told Safania he would make sure the adventurers obeyed her rules while in the sacred area. He noticed the holy symbol of Sybaris, god of lakes and streams (a servant of Kal’s god Faerel, but he did not mention that fact) hung around her neck and suspected she was a high level priest of that god, long forgotten here in the jungle city. After speaking with her, Kal went and laid down with his fellows and also fell into a deep sleep, after watching the woman change into a large swan and swim off across the pond….

The next morning, which was clear and warm, saw the party well rested and healed up after the most restful and deep sleep that had experienced since entering the city over two weeks earlier. Kal told the party what he had experienced that evening, and the group agreed this “safe place” must be protected at all costs. It would be a perfect base for rest and replenishment while exploring the rest of the city.

The little group had grown with the addition of the warriors Desteri, Tulu and Ular, and along with Kal, Endefal, Mongo, Cadelaine, Alando, Kumar, Sholo, Nadal and Gra-Gra, they were now a formidable fighting force. However, they faced even more enemies as they had angered the swamp dragon and his minions, the Necromancer Horan and his undead, the mongrelmen, and of course the evil serpent men. Perhaps only the wererats, along with the swanmay, had become allies of the group. They seemed to be no closer to rescuing their friend Ardu and time could be running out.
Alando faced the party and stated “We can’t keep running around with no goal or purpose. Today I have prayed for spells of guidance and divination, and we need to ask the right questions to find out what our next steps are here….”