Dark Temple

Ziggurat

AS THE SWIFT DECIMATION OF NORKERS GRINDED to a halt, none were able to withstand the terrible might of the entirety of the group. Storm turned toward Valtor and hissed emphatically ‘mage, clear the area of these norkers if you’d be so kind!’ Valtor said ‘it’s beneath me but since you’ve asked politely I will do it’ and he summoned an eldritch entity that collected and deposited the slain Norkers into a pit which it dug in a span of a mere minute. ‘seems my improved unseen servant spell is of a modicum of use’ the fat Elf smiled pleased with his magics outcome. ‘Go there boy and scour the woods for anything of value’ he said, ‘scrawny waif you must eat like a little girl, when we return to town I will stuff ye like a half starved halfling’ he said, pointing towards the bloodied soil where the norkers had fallen. When you finished sweeping the vicinity you noted Valtor consoling the little boy and girl who were splashed with Norker blood. The Elf chanted softly and touched the children when they were cleansed by cantrips he effected. A moment later he said ‘what good is a boy without a bit o’ candy to fill the heart with gladness?’ and with some sleight of hand made a bar of chocolate errupt out of the lads pocket. The child devoured the choclate and shared it with his sister, and both were smiling broadly as if their demeanors changed instantly. ‘you’ve some talent with younglings, mage’ Liera remarked. ‘Oh, I’m just a fool for love’ Valtor said with a feigned sneer. ‘As am I’ Ash said, ‘and love seems to fester in the air here’ he said with a dry chuckle. ‘Knock it off you fools’ Kessa disrupted, moving toward the group and her eyes locked upon you, Morga directly behind. She leaned in and knelt to a knee, saying ‘judging by the tracks and recent signs of activity, I’d estimate a great deal more Norkers, and Hobs within that foul looking place’ ‘What do you propose then?’ Storm echoed everyones immediate thoughts. ‘We’re not storming the citadel, if thats what you mean’ Kessa said. ‘That’d be folly’ Valtor chimned in. ‘Love’s folly they say, especially when you storm its gates’ Ash remarked. ‘spare us your prattle, priest!’ Valtor hissed at him in admonishment. Kessa: “I’m not entirely certain on a plan just yet’ Morga: “Allow me my sister” she came forth and stole the seat, ‘Storm and the Elves ride in through the main entrance, the wizard here will create light to blind our enemies with. The little fox here will find us another entrance inside, with me, Kessa, and the dark one beside. Their without their gate guard, and will be taken by our bold raid if we move fast. I’ve an idea but it will require loss of life I fear, but a life worth losing. One of the pack horses, and one of the Norker corpses’ Valtor smiled deviously, ‘Nyriddian, I’m beginning to like the way you think’ he grinned mischieviously at her, producing two pouches that reeked of sulfur and bat guano, ‘black powder. I procurred much of it thanks to Turd, whose tribe used it for excavations and mining. Of course the dumbshit Goblins stole it from Dwarves, who in turn stole it from the Gnomes. No secrets ever safe, eh heh heh. We can set a Norder corpse with numerous black pouches and set a horse into the belly of that ziggurat. Then when its set off, which it will full attack, if we’re repressed we fall back into the woods” Storm’s eyes intensified, ‘alas I’ve been scouring this forest for a blasted meterorite my house smith told me that fell into these dark woods, perhaps its these shadowy skulkers who stole it for themselves. I must declare if you should find it it would be very meaningful to me and my house, and I will be truly indebted to you”

Then, Kessa made as though preparing to approach you, suddenly and deliberately going to Storm and kissing him her eyes boring into you as if upset about something. Storm wore a stupid grin momentarily ‘for luck’ she purred into his ear, ‘who knows this might prove against us’

SEPTUL: well this little hellion’s perturbed about something. You sure have a way with women, boy. And much to learn!

AS THE PARTY SENT IT’S SUICIDE PACK HORSE INTO THE GUTS OF THE OMINOUS BLACK ZIGGURAT, a terrible loud explosion caused the whole foundation to vibrate for a few seconds as Storm’s group braved the main entrance, and the twang of bows resonated. You, Morga, Zor, and Kessa came in from the top of a long pair of side steps, gaining a door there. Five Hobgoblin sentries were engrossed in a game of bone dice when you took them completely by surprise.

You swung your sword at the first Hobgoblin, which sprang back in terror from the glinting steel then dove in and thrust your offhand dagger into Hobgoblin #2 (critical) injuring it as your blade tore into its gut. The 3rd Hobgoblin’s head came rolling off as Morga decapitated it with a curvaceous shortsword. Zor and Kessa swung multiple times with their blades missing, and frustrated.

AS THE FOUR OF YOU SWUNG MULTIPLE TIMES, FAILING TO STRIKE THE SENTRIES Hobgoblin #2 croaked ‘sound the alarm!’ and Hobgoblin #3 shot down the corridor in flight. Kessa hissed at you ‘get after him!’ before it could sprint away you hurled the shortsword, impaling the Hob straight through the small of its back (backstab) killing it with brutal precision.

MORGA EVISCERATED HOB #2, and stole #4 with a snap of her chainwhip the mace head crushing the Hobgoblin’s warhelm inwardly and shattering its skull, she laughed with triumphant ellation at the damning blow, ‘take that you foul scum!’  the 5th Hobgoblin broke from his fellows and bolted for escape. Zor fired at it with one of his hand xbows and it plopped straight to the ground, snoring.

You seem to have gained entry to a dark elongated corridor which stretches towards a distant + intersection. The passageway is shaped like in a triangular manner with smooth opaque walls, and you see a rune shaped like a peculiar rose-like tentacle whip. Zor said to you in a low whisper ‘thats the symbol of the elder elemental God, a daemon some drow venerate as their patron demon, particularly male drow that hold no true power in Llolth’s demon webs’

 

37 comments
graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The mouthpiece was more utilitarian than aesthetic. When you placed it on, you realized several things immediately, also realizing that it was Septul’s subtle influence that brought instant awareness of these many fine details: the mouthpiece masked your breathing sounds confining them from within, it also seemed to generate clean air within it that bore a near flowery aroma. This cleaner air had an invigorating effect, sharpening your awareness significantly. Further, you could actually talk but it sounded nothing more than a whisper to the hearer, as Gwen observed. You realize you could remain underwater or in airless pockets for extensive periods, and be impervious to gaseous traps.

‘Suits you actually, makes you look more terrifying’ Gwen said with a laugh.

She slowly nursed a glass of expensive wine, feigning a frown ‘Oh what, you’re so eager to be rid of me so quickly?! You little bugger it’s another woman isn’t it!?’ she snarled dramatically, feigning anger then laughed, ‘Kyrillia’s cause? I’m not entirely sure what her cause is. Well, I’d always fancied wielding a proper brand. Me daddies a blacksmith fore his business ran dry. Bloody Elsmyrian steel nothing can compare to it. Tell me more about your adventures...’ she caressed your naked chest and fondled Septul quizzically, enamored with it ‘it looks fit for a king to wear, you devil you how on Earth did you ever aquire it? Forget it, i don’t think I want to know! Save the story for more...romantic setting’

When Gwen slept after a mere glass of expensive wine, you stole from the room through the window. You ran rooftop to rooftop, coming upon a distant tower you somehow knew was Thrag’s personal tower. Scaling it was not much of a challenge, when you gained height there were fewer handholds and the walls were smooth. As you studied the top turrets you realized it will require a longer time to properly gain it.

The climb was a pain in the ass, but you managed it despite its incredible difficulty. When you neared the top, you heard a distinctive whistling alerting you to a guard. Your spectral vision came to life and you noted the two stationary guards hunched over a game of craps, drinking and gambling. Both had a pair of guard dogs who were even more bored than their masters, lazing about uninterested in their masters uninteresting game of chance.

When your foot touched the ground, you snagged a tripwire that rang a series of small windchime bells nearby.

Guard #1: “What in the bloody hell?”

Guard #2: “Ah relax would’cha? It was prob that worthless cat, or the wind it gets pretty fierce up this high’

Guard #1: “Cat aint worthless, she’s a natural born mouser’

Guard #2: *farts obnoxiously loud* ‘well bugger off and go check it out, for fooks sake why do you think I got you this job! So I can take it easy!’

Guard #1: “Ah very well, have to take a shit anyhow. Mind the fort’

Guard #2: “Bring a bit o’ bacon and some fresh beer while yer at it eh?”

Guard #1: “Why yes mi’lord, a splendid idea. Perhaps I’ll bring ya back a cheap whore to fuck while I’m at it!’

SEPTUL:Lord Thrag is one of the more loathed of houselords for his various perversions. His weakness is women, as well as his intense greed. If you were to rob him properly many other houselords would lavish you with respect and admiration. It’s known he keeps a dungeon-harem where he takes his sex slaves and ‘breaks’ them in. Slavery is outlawed in Nyr, and highly punishable by royal decree.


While the guardsmen prattled, you moved towards an unguarded door facing the coast to the north. Within a few minutes, you had the lock opened and slipped through, just as a guard was slowly turning the corner.

“Thought I saw something” he muttered, then you heard the same guard fishing for a keyring.

“Damn it which key was it now?” you heard the man through the open window to the right of the door.

GUARD ROOM:

You stealthed inside of a tower guard-room, furnished with a wooden desk, a weapon rack, a cloak mounted on the wall, and some sort of log book on the desk with various notes written in it. There's a single square shaped trapdoor in the floor with an iron loop for a handle as well as a rope ladder thats next to it. You struggled fiercely but managed to pry it open using your legs and pulling hard. Leaping through and closing it quietly you slipped into a circular passageway. When you landed the new boots you wore absorbed the brunt of the impact and doubly soaked up any damning sounds you might have ordinarily generated.

As you fell quietly, you spotted the back of a soldier walking away from you a dagger toss ahead. Another was coming your way from the opposite direction! You slipped into the shadowy section of the wall and stood perfectly frozen when the guard and even his shepard walked right past you entirely. Though you were motionless, the tip of your shortsword made a click against the stone wall. The guardsman drew his sword instantly, growling ‘whose there?!’ then, questioning his own sanity sheathed his weapon, ‘damned rats’ and continued along, 'where'd that fucken cat disappear to?' the guard said to himself.

As you followed after the guard you came across a door where a 3rd guard was posted and stationary. Meanwhile, the trapdoor above crept open and the ladder dropped. The guardsman from the roof slid down and walked right past you as you became one with the wall. The inky black cloak of Ash’s seemed to be a portable curtain of darkness entirely.

When the guard reached the door he barked a command to one of the other guards ‘go down to the kitchen and bring a bit o’ bacon, some beer and be quick about it! Oh, send one o’ yer little shit for brain ‘squires’ to fetch us a proper whore, we’ll pitch in for her. Go try the Banshee, ask for Numaress or Helena. Those sordid sluts seem to delight my cock rather than coin, heh heh’

The same guardsman returned toward the rope ladder,  turning ‘and be quick about it!’ then began climbing up the ladder.

One of the two hall guards said ‘come on with me, need your help fetching one o’ the barrels of beer from the winecellar, and I have to take a monstrous shit’

The two guards sauntered off leaving one at the door. The guardsman stood taut and alert, ‘nobodies going to get past Duncan!’

Septul had exerted her dominance over the man who was entangled in her infuence, you saw for a moment a red aura of crimson light surround the guardsmans head and he clutched at it in agony for a spell before succumbing to her will. The guardsman smiled and beckoned you over toward him, greeting you with a grin ‘ah, good to see you. Listen, go on in, have yourself a time. Don’t worry about a thing, nobodies getting past me. Just try to keep things down, though I somehow doubt you will you cheeky bastard! Mainly for me, or I might get jealous hahaha’

When you stole into the bedchamber, with a guard at your command you came into a luxurious, kingly loft fitted with a sea of plush cushions and exotic easternese rugs. There, laying lazily in a four poster king sized bed with her back toward you was a full figured goddess with long wavy tresses of dark coffee colored hair, and a body that would bring most kings to their knees. She was clad scantily save for a jeweled thong-like cloth and bra-top. When you dared draw closer, a black panther came out of the shadows and caught you off guard. The adult feline drew you into a corner with deliberate terseness in its poise, prepped to spring upon you at any given moment. The woman spun about, her gleaming eyes eying you with a cross of curiosity and bewilderment 'just who in the nine hells are you!?'


Whisper
Whisper

Whisper hugged the chamber maid closer to him while the pair lay together in his bed.  He looked over to the rack of potions, the pair of assassin's boots, and the black dagger he had taken from the parties meeting earlier.  So, it would seem from what he learned from Gwen that the wolves were already on his trail.  "It might become dangerous to know me Gwen.  If you want to get out of Southern Cross and find another place to live let me know now and I'll get you the coin to do just that.  If you wish to stick around and aid myself and Lady Kyrillia's cause though we'd be in your debt."  

Rising from the bed he tossed a few slices of cold roast beef onto a slice of bread from a platter of food near the bed and began chewing on the open faced sandwich.  He organized his equipment, placed the lock pick tools into the soles of the boots and some spare daggers into their sides.  He opened the locker that contained Ash's equipment and got out the cloak since his had been destroyed.  With a shake the pitch black cloak seemed to float about with a brief life of its own.  Whisper's keen eyes took in the odd mouth covering that had belonged to the assassin.  Picking up the strange piece of equipment he decided to wear it once he got to Lord Thrag's residence.  It would cover his face partially and might prove useful as a disguise when he got to Lord Thrag's residence.  Septul's power to charm was going to come in handy in this endeavor as well, she was his most powerful weapon and ally to date and he thanked her silently for her aid.  Finishing his second sandwich and draining his snifter of Jez`zurian Cognac, he wondered for a few moments if his employer had spoken with the bar keep of the Sundered Sword Inn about stocking a few bottles of Jez'zurian liquor.  "Find the halfling Spider and describe the Jez`zur travelers to him.  Keep an eye out for others, there will surely be more coming.  Always steer them to him, and I will compensate the both of you well for doing this."  Whisper felt refreshed and ready for some mischief...

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Ash: 'You'll know her when you lay eyes upon her, stealer of womens underclothes!' he chuckled, 'she's a brunette woman with a curvaceous supple body, immodestly clad as she is slightly vain but no more than the average woman. Lord Thrag keeps her incarcerated in a high chamber in his personal tower. She's suffered for so long without proper love, you'll feed her body its proper nourishment in that regard. Bore her from her imprisonment. You shouldn't worry too much about anything else, his soldiers are drunken oafs who couldn't capture a common cut purse. “

Kyrillia shook her head in disbelief, a smile briefly played upon her face 'Ash, you certainly enjoy tasking the poor boy with mischief. I'll overlook it this time, if it'll further immerse you in our company'

'Oh it shall my dear. You know I love my games of love. Whisper is a thief of love, just as I am its killer' he grinned in mischief. He patted your head jokingly, ‘can’t keep a young reckless fool caged up, his loins may burst. This work in the interest of love is noble is it not, mi’lady?” he grinned as he plucked grapes from a tray and threw them into his mouth with dextrous hands.

Kyrillia shrugged, chuckling ‘Have at it. We move quickly against Kraybor. He's in a position of significant power and the most damning place to have an enemy on the inside. If its true that he's behind recent events, we can rest certain that these latest uprisings are but the first glimmers of a larger play unraveling. We must exclude Storm of it, this affects him too personally. He may be swayed by his uncle's manipulations. Ash stay close and keep watch over Storm, make sure he doesn't learn of our plans.

We need to inform the queen of Kraybor's treason, she'll be the only one who can help us dismantle his considerable power. The queensguard won't let us get too near her unfortunately without Storm. Ah, I shall task him to deliver a letter to her to keep him out of our moves against Kraybor" Kyrillia said, 'the only hitch is he'll need protection. Kraybor will undoubtedly anticipate such an attempt. Zor, Kessa you two will accompany him and ensure he makes it there safely. Travel by way of ship. Morga and Whisper will venture to Lor to investigate and discover any counter plans against us that he may have hatched. I’ll require some more time at least to further scrutinize this information Whisper’s provided. If we hadn’t gotten our hands on this when we did we would be completely clueless to the real threat’

Zor: “Lady Kyrillia, there is more. Kraybor’s not merely a citylord, he’s also an apprentice magic-user to a demi-lich of unknown name, though I heard ‘Zygyiar’ I believe it to be an alias, Lich’s are loath to revealing their true selves from their mortal existence. Perhaps you may have known him by his real name in life, Dezroi Canth. A thousand years ago he was king of the Suel slave empire before its imminent collapse. I was but a young prince then, but the drow have many surface spies and the affairs of the surface world are regularly reported. He was known then, ambitious and sophisticated in his evils’

Afterwards you left to rest and reflect, managed to track down and find Gwen who seemed upset and gave you the cold shoulder at first, thinking you had left her or something had happened to you. After some fun and relaxation, she conveys a sizable deal about the going ons around town.

Gwen: “There were some travelers from Jez’zur tossing about ample coin asking peculiar questions, their style of speech betrayed them as highborn, or life amongst highborn rather. Some of them tried to maintain this fascade but you could tell they were of blueblood descent. As I served them their supper meal in their quarters I overheard a pair talking about titles, about a young fool of a Lord, and desperately finding him before others do. A pair of dark haired ones, one a young girl and the other a boy obviously brother and sister. They were courteous and kind to me, and quick of reflex. I had clumsily dropped a cup and before it hit the ground the girl snatched it out of the air’

Whisper
Whisper

Whisper smiled and jokingly responded to the cleric.  "The husband's of Southern Cross will sleep easier from now on since Ash Elkoroth will no longer be using his fabled cloak and boots to silently steal the heart's of their women folk.  Why I'd wager that they'll be lining up to buy us drinks and meals until the end of our days for saving their marriages.  All kidding aside I'll gladly toil endlessly to free your damsel in distress Ash.  If you could give me the details you are able to concerning this poor woman it shall make my job all the easier.  After all, I'd hate to return with Lord Thrag's cook by mistake!  I'd also wager that the potion in the potion rack on the table labeled 'escape' would make my task much easier."  He said as he rubbed his jaw wondering what he had gotten himself into when he agreed to the task from Lady Kyrillia to find the group a cleric ...

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Ash laughed "your offer is both amusing and insulting Dreygar can keep my previous possessions! I'm an assassin no more, only an assassin of love. There is one task with which you must fulfill to procure my supreme skills. A lady of longing suffers in Lord Thrags tower. Steal into her chambers and seduce her, and effect her escape. Then you will have earned my friendship, boy."

Whisper
Whisper

Whisper quietly spoke to Ash, attempting to gauge how long the cleric might be in their midst.  "If your plans are to join with us for a spell I might be able to locate your old equipment that was taken by Lord Dreygar upon your arrival in Southern Cross.  If not, you have my gratitude for mending my wounds several times over."  Whisper wondered to himself should the child foretold to be the avatar of Tharizdun be located why wouldn't they just dispatch the child?  Or why wouldn't someone who came across one of the gems just up and destroy it?  All seemed like awful easy solutions to nullifying the prophecy, it couldn't be that simple right?  Perhaps Septul had more bits of knowledge concerning this supposed prophecy?

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Kyrillia gesticulated her hands, face, and fingers tracing runes in the air when all of the deposited loot floated into the air and remained perfectly in place. Glowing blue and white runes hovered over each item, and she purred forth littanies of arcane syllables infusing divination spells into the items.

Without invitation Valtor followed suit and joined in this activity, Morga stood back and seemed both repulsed and curious. Her dark eyes met yours, and she grinned mischieviously towards you with a fierce feline sparkle in her eyes.

flask of crimson liquid: potion of regeneration

flask of black liquid: pepperfire potion, explodes in a destructive engulfing flames when hurled in a grenade blast radius, equal to a fireball of 9th level spellcaster ability.

crystal flask full of swirling blue foamy liquid: potion of poison gaseous form, x3 uses. You become a gas cloud of poisonous animated smog for the duration of the effects, which are at the 12th level of power. You can also switch from corporeal to non at will.

#1 ring of feather fall

#2 ring of protection from normal missiles
cloak of poison (disguised to appear as a cloak of displacement)

black imperial assassin boots: blade tips in front toe that are toe sprung, also has sheathes on outer and inner portion, hallow boot heel to hide small thieves tools and other effects, +5% move silently, adhesive tactile footing +5% climb walls

Elven Imperial Bracers:
when worn, you’re ambidextrous. You gain an upgrade to throwing ranged weapon number of attacks per round, and your hands are protected from incurring damage from weapons that return to your grasp. You can detect secret doors by touch.

longsword #1: +1 masterwork longsword, 'scalpel', adamantium, virtually indestructable. Exudes acid on command x3/day for an additional 2d4+1 hp dmg per blow for 4-8 rounds.


longsword #2: +1 masterwork longsword of piercing, 'widowmaker', ignores armor class. Confers back protection to wielder.

four of the scrolls were detailed treasure maps of various locations in deep wilderness southeast of Nyr.

Kyrillia: hmmmm...these documents, maps, and other such materials appear to outline the works at the ziggurat. They suggest that Yarish and Lord Salzor were taking orders from Storm’s uncle, Kraybor. I never did care much for that detestable brute, the world is a brighter place for his overdue departure from it.  It seems this Yarish was building an army of sahaugin he created from lizard men in his insidious experiments. When you destroyed the ziggurat it caused such a ripple effect in the planes that portals to other worlds were momentarily torn assunder and shredded the fabric of this reality. They were preparing to poison the underworld river in order to cripple the garrison stationed in Southern Cross, while his army sacked the city. However, the grimmer objective is not this.

This Cerranis had been using the black empire to gather destitute orphans and looking for particular birthmarks. The ones that lacked this particular mark were damned to the chained God’s altar for ritual sacrifice. According to this meticulous journal, there is but one they neglected to explore. It lies in the Gate Mountains, the northern most peak called Hydra. Therein lies a monastery of the order of Dis, a monkhood of benevolent pacifist warrior monks. The child with the special birthmark would then be singled out and condemned to being possessed by an avatar of Tharizdun. However, for such a ritual to come to full manifestation all 333 gems of Tharizdun must be gathered in their totality. If they are, then all that we know is subject to complete and total destruction. It will be the end of all days’

Whisper
Whisper

Whisper's wounds had mended but the bit of sleep had done little to refresh him.  The rogue placed all of the documents, maps, and parchments obtained within the black temple onto Lady Kyrillia's table.  The remaining potions(short the healing potion which he kept for himself) from Cerranis, a flask filled with crimson glowing liquid,a flask with black liquid, a pair of rings, boots with triggered dagger holsters, the ornate cloak with tentacles and a cat maw hood, a black dagger, a pair of long swords, a pair of leather inlaid with silver wrist bracers (the silver components are inlaid with elvish runes), and a crystal flask full of swirling blue foamy liquid.  All of these things were laid onto the same table with care while the amulet was safely tucked beneath his armor while doing this.  With a nod to Kyrillia, Whisper hoped to take his leave to seek out Gwen for a bath, a meal, some fun, and a whole lot of rest.  His cut of the loot and his pay would surely come at some point later.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The dark elf clasped you on the shoulder, ‘Sha’klah, the orc smelling man was preparing to finish you off. I dropped him with my crossbows, fortunately for you! We brought him aboard, then he became cross and riled. I kicked him overboard, and then I glimpsed a monstrous creature engorge itself upon his flesh. Valtor calls it a Giant Ghar fish. This beast swiftly tore the smelly man to shreds. I didn’t quite understand this fool, we freed him from death only for him to hastily succumb to its cruel embrace. Humans are far more chaotic than we drow’

YOU SLEPT BLITHFULLY AS BEST YOU POSSIBLY COULD, but after an hour a slight case of seasickness stirred you awake, and you vomited out of the port-window. You were in a dark shadowy cabin, and it seemed someone had removed your armor for you and placed you in the net-mesh hammock that served as a bed. The dock ward of Southern Cross came into view, with several ships out of port venturing to their destinations, small galleys and frigates mostly, a Nyrian war barge was patrolling the coastal water dutifully.

The party disembarked and speedily strolled into the city proper, bypassing the dock gate. Dreygar ordered men ahead of him, ‘secure the keep, first free the men in the dungeon for surely some would have been insubordinate towards peculiar orders. Send Dothane and Jagrull to me at once. Storm come with me!’

Storm turned toward Morga and you, ‘see you two soon back at the Inn’

When the party knocked, and the double doors swung open to her personal quarters she was sleeping suspended in midair above a bed. Her musclebound bodyguard Kael bade for the party to be seated. After a long minute of silence she woke and stirred back to life, an infectious smile brightened her smooth face.

“Welcome back!” she said with a radiant smile, ‘Congradulations are in order, please be seated. No need for a report, Whisper. I scryed the entire mission at length. It’s vital for me to see how the group operates as a unit, and in this case apart. While the splinter group idea seems to have succeeded, I do not condole it. It’s been a painpoint in many such bands in the past, and I’ve had spent a considerable fortune having Lorian priests analyze the flaws of parties in the past. Beside betrayals, splitting up was one of the worse blunders to have caused premature death’

When Kyrillia’s eyes met Bane’s, the sorceress was not surprised, ‘Ah, you are Sybil’s protector, last of the Watchers. You’re welcome here, Bane. But know your place. This is not the northlands, and your lady’s influence remains in the northlands. Now, speak of these dragoneggs thats drawn far too much excitement of late”

Bane removing his hood respectfully, revealing a ruggedly handsome man with alert, almond shaped eyes, a hawk like nose and dark brown hair that was wavy and up to his neckline. The archer said ‘Oh, where to start with that one. Think I’ll help myself to a cup o’ the good stuff first, mi’lady’ after having a deep swill of meade that was on the table, he wiped his mouth zestfully, ‘your pardon lady, I’ve had not but shit and torture to dine upon in the last week’ he greedily devoured a leg of mutton like a voracious man possessed of hunger, ‘well then, the eggs were brought to this world by a Lorian priestess, at least thats what I’ve been told on good trust. Since it has, the queen has moved the Watchers into play to aquire them. Of course, the Black Empire and the cult of darkness have also made aggressive actions to achieve the same ends. Her majesty has made it her mandate to have the wryms hatched, and protected until grown to adulthood. But only in deepest discretion. Every two bit merc throughout the thirteen realms will strive to slaughter these creatures just to boast the title of dragonslayer.”

Kyrillia:“And where pray tell are these eggs? Have they been qualified in their authenticity? It would be the greatest sham if they were mere frauds. I’ve known master thieves to deploy such ruses merely for bragging rights’

‘They were hidden right in the abyss for 1,000 years on an uncharted layer. So said one of our agents, a fellow ranger’

Kyrillia: “If the black cloaks have the eggs, and are seabourne presently I shant expend any of my own here in this room, especially since they’ve just struck a decisive blow against a larger enemy force. A blade grows dull when bloodied and dinted does it not? However, I will dispatch a shadow worker whose skills are quite in demand. He will bring me these eggs, and for half the cost’

Bane: “And how pray tell do I know he won’t turn around and sell them on the black market?!”

Kyrillia: “you don’t, but I do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested it in the first place. This man has never failed me, and always gets the job done even at his own peril. I’ve seen him journey half way across the world to kill a man I paid him to have killed. Or to save a person I had him save, and for no more than our agreed price. He is an artiste. He can withstand all manner of things, he is a dhampir. He's even lost his own head, and miraculously came back to life”

The ranger sighed audibly, ‘indeed, I wish I had more faith in your dhampir than you obviously do. I cannot fail her majesty’

Kyrillia: “And you shant. Your eggs will be returned within a weeks time, now go and have some pleasures, partake in the cities hospitality’



Whisper
Whisper

(2*)
Whisper squinted into the darkness that was enveloping the shore looking about for Slag on the banks as the tiny boats made their get way aided by the currents of the river.  The ramblings of the bossy ranger they had freed angered the wounded rogue who just wanted to sleep, "When we arrive in Southern Cross Bane, plead your case to Lady Kyrillia.  Until then could you kindly let those of us who need rest to do so?"  Should he not spot the dirty bastard's corpse he will ask Lord Zor in the drow tongue if the man who cut him down was slain and if so whatever debt the drow felt he owed had been repaid in full.  Whisper then just hopes to hunker lower into the boat and close his eyes and give into exhaustion, letting Septul's regenerative powers overcome the poison and wounds.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

THE CLAMOURING OF BATTLE ENSUED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE AREA. YOU DEFTLY WOVE THROUGH THE IMPENDING MELEE UNSCATHED and pursued the fleeting smelly man. When you caught up to him, he spun as your blade tried to pierce through his back and stabbed out with a dagger (-3 hp dmg) his yellow decaying teeth momentarily displayed, ‘I’ve been searching the high hells for you, shitheel! I already killed your sister and raped her corpse, now I’ll do the same to yours!’ he snarled. You felt sluggish, something caused you to be sickly and weak. Through sheer grit you maintained your handle on your sword, it became heavy in your hand. He stabbed once more, the tip of his dagger sunk into you (-3 hp dmg) countering with a swift stroke of your gleaming shortsword he ducked out of the way, and you plunged your offhand dagger into him (-6 hp dmg, critical) he backed off as you swung both blades at him simutaneously. The horrid smeller snarled and plunged his dagger into your stomach (-16 hp dmg) shoving you down to the ground. As you collapsed to the ground two barbed darts pierced the wretched smelly man in the chest. He fell atop of you, snoring blissfully as you passed out from deep injury. For a time you slept...

You felt hands prodding you, hoisting you up and warm energy course through your body reparing your injuries and causing a burning fever to momentarily wash over you. When you roused your eyes were greeted with Kessa, Valtor, and Zor. Ash was tending to Lord Dreygar and Storm who appeared badly injured, and the huge armored black warrior laid dead on the ground, his two drow and four dwarven guard were similarly slaughtered. Bane was examining them and shot one with a sheaf arrow to put it out of commission.

Kessa and Morga were dripping with blood, not their own. Ash was visibly repulsed by the sight of them and volunteered his cloak to cleanse them, and Valtor spent several cantrips to further remove the blood from their faces. At least 40 of Dreygar’s soldiers were dumping the bodies of black guard and hobgoblins into the underworld river. Further down the passageway where the temple had beem, you made out what appeared to be an inky black nothingness consuming the foundation of the temple and it was rapidly coming in your direction. Zor noted it as well, and soon the entire party was running out of the structure and leaping into canoes and a river barge.

Zor: “So ends Yarish’s insidious plans. He powered this ziggurat by connecting it to numerous planes of existence. Though completely mad, there was significant brilliance to his works. Not even my ilk inured to the arcane had such creativity’

Valtor: “This chained God clearly corrupted his mind, Kyrillia will be deeply intrigued by today's events. Whisper, you’ll convey the report of today's events. I grew weary of our first missions agonizing length. The lovesick idiot can assist you, or have your drow friend do it though I question his ability to write in the common script. Bane, I greet you. I am the mighty Valtor, quick of wit and short of patience, long in years and wide in profound counsel. That there is my bungling servant Turd. Pay him no heed he’s blessed by servitude of his benevolent master’

Turd: ‘master greatest, master best! Good to Turd, be nice preasseeeee!!!’

Valtor: “Go and keep watch in the fore, ya landlubbing ninny!’

Bane scowled, ‘well, never imagined a Goblin as a pet. I had half a mind of killing it when we first came across it, but I stayed my hand. Curious how an Elf came about having a Goblin servant!’ the ranger casually said, then politely excused himself to the fore of the barge. The archer turned to Kessa and you, 'I owe you two, more than you can possibly know. I lost a great deal of good friends to these scum' he patted you both on the shoulder in a warm embrace, 'I admire the way you operate. What do you call yourselves?"

Valtor laughed, "call ourselves? We're not a guild my friend'

'Who do you work for, Lord Dreygar?' Bane asked.

"Lady Kyrillia of Harkonia" the mage said simply.

"Ah! That explains much. Only a Harkonian would have the wit and imagination to forge such a team as this. The queen has tried, with variable results. Thats why the Watcher's were created. We enjoyed great adventures together, until the Black Empire's treachery"

The ranger closed his eyes in solemn thought, then he turned to address the entire party, 'On behalf of her highness the queen I commission you all to undertake an important mission of the highest secrecy and gravity. This goes beyond the promise of personal gain, this is about loyalty and for the common weal. I can't force you to go, but trust me its for the security of the entire kingdom that you do. Three dragon eggs were stolen by black imperials a week ago. I tracked the thieves to Yarish's ziggurat but one of the slaves I encountered conveyed to me that the spies went up river to Southern Cross and from there may have chartered ship to some choice destination. Knowing the black cloaks, I would venture to say they had some diversionary course to shrug off any shadows. The eggs are silver, copper, and gold, last of their ilk in the entire world. Only a handful of wryms exists and they are of the elder evil bent. I have a instinct these spies are making for an island off coast in the sea of planes, but it is only a hunch"

REACTION






Whisper
Whisper

Whisper drew his short sword and tried to follow after this Slag fellow into the darkness.  'Septul, I pray your hunger is not satisfied quite yet.'  He intended to cut the man down out of sight of the rest of the party for her to consume his memories if at all possible.  If her power to consume Slag was drained for the day he would instead focus his efforts on stopping those with the barrels of poison.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Valtor: “you’re an exceedingly exceptional thief my young friend’ the elf said jubilantly, chuckling, ‘suppose I mighten be owing you a few markers aye? Heh heh you filthy little bugger trying to get a debt on the deadliest wizard in the inner kingdoms!’ he chuckled at his boast. Kessa and Morga snickered at the Elf’s prideful declaration.

Kessa accepted the quiver of javelins, smiling warmly ‘you certainly have a way with women’ she said jokingly, ‘these are like jewels to an Elsmyrian lady did you not know?’ she briefly snatched one of the javelins, ‘hmmm it has a thunderbolt engraved on it’

Ash: "by the Goddess seems that there's far too much love in the air, you could cut it with a rusted dag!' he laughed.

Kessa sneered mockingly at the cleric, 'why I do detect a slight hint of jealousy, love priest!' 

'And why not? You are certainly a prized woman, as is Morga there...my artist soul craves to possess her on paper'

Morga: "you shant possess Morga, priest. She's far too much for the likes of you!' the huntress chided, 'you seem lacking in the stamina for a Nyriddian woman. You look more like the man who fancies these summer blooded bitches' 

Ash shrugged, preoccupying himself with praying.

Valtor: ‘it’s a javelin of lightening, my dear. When you loose it against a foe it will become lightening. Do not squander it so frivolously! It is a mighty gift this rascal bequeathed so recklessly, and foolishly I might add’

Kessa plucked one from the quiver and handed it to you, ‘place this beneath your cloak in hiding, you never know when it might come in handy’ she said insistently.

The stinky fellow's offensive odorous stench was clearly unlike any ordinary foulness produced from lack of bathing, it seemed to be unique unto himself. It was unbearable, and even Valtor’s goblin smelled better than this man! The man was freed and he thanked everyone profusely, slovenly like a whipped escaped slave would.

Dreygar: “They’ve since been released, some black guard had them locked in pens near the entrance. A she-elf we freed agreed to bore them to Southern Cross by way of river, on an elven gondolan’

The party sped off towards the western door, speedily. The door lead to a rectangular corridor that stretched for  an entire mile, and the scent of fresh air could be detected. As the main tunnel came to a junction, the passage ahead deposited into a dock area on the underworld river. Several small river craft were docked there, and you saw several hobgoblins and black guardsmen carrying wooden barrels with them.


From the side passages, came a dark ominous giant of a man, nearly 8 ft in height! Clad in a suit of black armor, a claymore twice the size of a man in his grasp that he totes in one hand, and a shield in the opposite. He bore massive shoulders and arms the thickness of tree trunks.Behind him were two drow elves, and six gray dwarves! In the right hand tunnel were twenty Hobgoblins prepared for a fight.

Lord Dreygar called for a halt, recognition of the black armored knight evidenced in his eyes, and startlement. Just then, six canoes full of Southern Cross soldiers appeared in sight and stormed the docks, heralded by a storm of arrows that diminished the hobgoblin and black guardsmen who were furiously working the barrels.

Dreygar: “Lord Salzor! Fine company you keep! And what pray tell you are doing here in this den of vileness?!” he shouted in challenge.

The towering armored man laughed defiantly, ‘why, I’ve come to put an end to your tawdry triumphs, at the behest of your own brother no less! Destroy them all!’ the man roared commandingly.

Ash began chanting swiftly, he flung holy water and anointed the heads of the entire party when a fire briefly flickered on top of your head and you felt a righteous energy surge through you.

These new enemies were better prepared. The black knight leaped forward in a impetuous spring, lost his footing to Dreygar’s delight, ‘come nephew, this black mountain requires many climbers’

Dreygar’s sword glinted as he swung, missing then spun and brought his two handed sword down on the black knight’s body the blade penetrated deeply leaving a substantial wound in its place. The knight howled furiously.

The gray bearded Duergar and Drow fire off crossbows at the party. Because of the bad angle the group receives a ac bonus of -4. The projectiles all miss. The Hobgoblin brigade unleashes a volley and only Dreygar receives a laughable injury, though he seems none at all phased.

Storm: “Uncle, lets take traitorous scum together. I’ll bring his ugly head to the queen as a gift’

Morga and Kessa leaped at the Hobgoblins. Meanwhile during the ensuing chaos you saw the stinky man trying to sneak quietly and move in the shadows toward the docks. Zor unleashed a hand xbow bolt into each drow. The first deftly ducked the bolt, the second was stuck with mastery in the solar plexus and collapses to the ground, instantly asleep. Zor tossed the two hand x-bows and replaced them with his chosen blades. The black knight spat on the unconscious drow, 'you damned idiot!'

The black war knight’s deep voice said ‘once the poison flows upstream to your city, the Sahaugin will slaughter its inhabitants like wolves do sheep. Our imposter Dreygar will make sure your boys back home will drink plenty of water after a night of heavy revelry they must be quite parched’

‘Traitorous cur! I’ll have your head for this!’ Dreygar snarled.

Lord Salzor: “Don’t act so surprised you witless fool! Your role in all of this is watered down grog! While you labored intensely to bring the southlands peace and prosperity, making the queen richer your brother reaped the all rewards. Kraybor has the vision to bring Nyr into its golden era. Not whimpering to kiss the collective arses of elves and dwarves! With the royal armada at my command we will wipe out all who defy us!”

Bane looses an arrow into the throng of Hobgoblins, which detonates in a fiery blast killing 10 of them in scorching fire.

Storm:
“press on! We must prevent them from dumping those barrels into the underworld!’

Whisper
Whisper

(29*)
Whisper flipped a small sack containing the cube from the wizard's wardrobe, 2 scroll tubes made of elven bone and 2 pouches of spell components to Valtor.  "I found this among the wizard's sanctum, might be of use in a pinch.".  Guessing that Valtor had depleted his spells the bits he'd found might indeed prove helpful in saving all of their skins down the road.  Whisper silently approached the group speaking among themselves and asked quietly from behind the right shoulder of Lord Dreygar.  "What of the children digging for a supposed hidden jewel of power somewhere beneath us?"  Whether going after the hobgoblins or the mining children mattered little with him as long as it was not to be done alone.  He rinsed his hands with some water from his water skin and had a bit to eat as he scanned those who stood with him.  His traveling companions had again prevailed in another tough fought battle.  They were a mighty bunch and fortune had smiled on him to be allied with them.  While waiting for a final plans to be made he looked about for the dirty man he had noted before.  His own nose suddenly made him keenly aware as Kessa drew near that the two of them were likely as dirty and foul smelling as the fella he'd spied.  "We make it out of here in one piece Kessa and I'll cover the tab for a day at the finest bath in Southern Cross."  He smiled at the dangerous ranger as he unshouldered the quiver of javelins and offered it to her.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Kessa drank the potion, her body was surrounded by shimmering blue armor shaped light.

Bane took the arrows, then clasped a hand on your shoulder ‘no need, I can free your friends bonds from here with a single arrow shot. Your beautiful friend here, she seems capable of handling herself in a fair fight. You’re a thief are you not? Get yourself to that altar where your friend is bound before the cleric can complete his ritual. With an empty altar, he will become the sacrifice. Kessa, let not a hair be touched on those childrens heads. We must discover why the black empire has vested so much interest in these orphans”

You and Kessa scaled down a rope lifted by Bane. The archer-ranger retracted the rope as the pair of you crept closer toward the ensuing ritual. As chanting reverberated throughout the temple, the advanced cleric poured black liquid into Storm’s mouth and chanted loudly ‘Lord of Entropy, prepare this flesh for slaughter. Erase his name from the book of life and cast his soul to the place of obliteration, that none may remember who or what he was”

As you drew close to the pillar where Valtor was bound, you see his bindings have been severed. The mage leaned against the pillar and held the rope up, his eyes were wide in suprise, ‘I thought you were surely dead’ he whispered. Next to him was his Goblin companion, who stood there bewildered and confused.

Then, Kessa flung her spear across the temple smiting the cleric tearing a deep wound through his left shoulder. This cleric ran toward the black sphere and it immediately ignited to life, the cleric began chanting in a fury, ‘Lord Master, your enemies have come to defy your power. Give me the power to smite them!’

Before the altar a shimmering black scythe materialized there and floated toward Kessa to attack her. The scythe swipes twice at the Elsmyrian who swung and manuevered out of the way.

By this time, you were already at the altar and stole right up to the cleric who had begun working another spell, when you plunged your sword into the small of his back. He gave one final gasp and forced himself to arch his neck over his shoulder and have a glance at your face, ‘you! you were in my dream! who in the nine hells are you!? I curse you, you foul bastard!’ he groaned and died immediately as you ripped out your weapon and kicked him forward, his body tipped over the side of a dark well and he fell face first into it.

As one the acolytes ceased their chanting and rose up, drawing maces and began spellcasting when four explosive arrows tore into four different acolytes at the same time spreading a blast of wildfire throughout the area. Nearly all of the clerics were engulfed in a fiery blaze, four immediately fled and ran towards a door to the east. Bane shot down two of the four, but the other two made good on their escape.

Next to Storm is another man you’ve never seen before, a filthy man who exuded an offensive odor that appears to be dirtier than a orc.

Out of the black spherical eye shot two darkening bolts that formed into two giant black scorpions. The scorpions clattered up the stairs leading to the altar and prepared to skewer you!

The first scorpion’s pincers snapped at you excitedly, missing then its treacherous barbed tail lashed out and pricks you with its stinger (-12 hp dmg) its venom injects into you, eating away at your innards (-6 hp dmg) the second black emperor scorpion’s tail blurred at you like a crackling bullwhip, this time you checked with your sword and slashed the monstrous scorps tail, severing it from the rest of its tail. With your off hand you stabbed black scorpion #1 in its right pincer claw (-2 hp dmg)

Two arrows from Banes bow sunk into the first scorp, nailing its tail to its abdomen it died as the second arrow plunged through its head.

The second scorpion rushed in fearlessly, its pincers snapping trying to snag you between them. You ducked the first and rolled beneath it to avoid the second pincer from hurting you. You eviscerate the black scorpion from beneath it (-7 hp) scoring it sufficiently to end its menace once and for all. As it died its armor like husk fell on top of you, and you rolled out of its way narrowly avoiding being flattened.

Kessa lurked nearby, two dead lizard men at her feet. The children, mostly boys were cheering you on excitedly and she looked flustered trying to keep them at bay, 'yay! Take that you monsters!' one of the young filthy orphans cried out excitedly.

It wasn’t long after that the rest of the group was similarly equipped, and Ash placed a hand on you funneling that familiar tingling warm energy into your body (+15 hp dmg) then said ‘you look less than your usual tenacious self, kid’ and he placed his holy symbol on your forehead pressing it there chanting ‘fill this no good dirty scoundrel with the bounty of your love, my mistress, for all are under your purview” and the venom in your blood was eradicated.

Morga: "We're not out of the thick yet, fox"

Storm: "hurry, there is still time. To the docks! There are hobgoblins still under orders to dump poisonous filthy into the river!'

Lord Dreygar: "Let us move then, quickly'

Kessa: "the elves?"

Storm: "We lost them in the initial assault, but they saved us from being overwhelmed by Norkers"

Valtor: "The youngsters need protection, Ash and I will follow'

Storm, Morga, Kessa, Zor ready themselves when Bane appeared, the group reaching for their weapons, 'Who's that?!' 

Bane: "I'm a servant of the queen, Storm Telemvor! And by her authority I charge you to slaughter the hobs before they can make good on their plans!'

When Bane studied Ash more closely he looked to be in disbelief, and knocked four arrows leveling them at the cleric 'You! You're a spy for the black scum!' the ranger hissed angrily, 'by authority of the queen I sentence you to death'

Lord Dreygar intervened, stepping in front of the archers bow 'wait, he's been pardoned of his crimes by her highness. He offered us valuable insights into the enemy, things even our top spies hadn't known before and hes no longer a imperial. He's since defected, and he's needed! Our list of allies grows thinner by the day. Strange times give rise to stranger allies, and Is ay take what comes and to hell with the past!'

Bane: 'Are you mad?! This bastard assassinated over twenty officers of the royal army before the black cloaks stormed Nyr, you should know most of them were your own officers! His head ought to be on a pike along your castle walls mi'lord'

Lord Dreygar: "And so should yours, were you not an assassin for the Watchers? We all play our out the hands we're dealt in times of war. But I vouch for his character, and he's since changed from his former loyalties. The black guard are nothing more than brainwashed slaves, once you lure them from that their handlers they're quite ordinary. Although I do admit I have a mind to have this castrated for bedding all the beauties at the Banshee so shamelessly' 

'I was a eunuch before, but since had my manhood restored to me' Ash said with a chuckle, 'one of the mercies of my fickle mistress. Can't rightly serve the power of love without the greatest weapon that I wield eh? heh heh" he said with a chuckle, looking at Morga speculatively. She glared at him defensively.

DECISION





Whisper
Whisper


(?)
Whisper's wounds had been mended as much as the amulet was capable of as they crept about in the gloom and foulness.  He un-shouldered Arbane's quiver of arrows and handed them to former prisoner who was lethal with a bow.  "Spell laden arrows."  He fished out Cerranis's potions and handed the armor potion to Kessa, "Potion of Armor for you.  Give me the sack of weapons, I shall imbibe one of these other potions and work to free our bound friends."  Whisper questioned Septul for the powers of the escape, hiding, and ghostly essence potions were before he defaulted to the potion of invisibility and set out.  The rogue had weighed the option to betray or to just walk away from his companions however he had seen how potent they were and how inept these enemies were.  He needed powerful allies and by aiding their escape he assuredly would have that aid owed to him.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

IT WAS TOO LATE, THE EVIL PRIEST HAD EGRESSED THE TORTURE CHAMBER.

KESSA helped the freed prisoner to his feet, assisting him to a table at the far end of the chamber. He hastily grabbed for a flask then drained the contents like a dehydrated man in the desert would water. Instantaneously he regained his rejuvenation and vigor, then abruptly hugged Kessa tightly and gave her a deep kiss from the overabundance of adrenalized euphoria. Kessa was gesturing for you to ‘get down here!’ with as much subtle facial expressions as she could, and she said ‘do that again and I’ll put you back in that chair, fool!’

The female ranger leveled the edge of sorrowful man’s tip against the audacious prisoners neck, ‘first, before you go rumaging through these things which are not all entirely yours who exactly are you? And what are you doing here?”

The man held his hands up, ‘I’m Bane Callister, ranger of the north, servant of the queen and  last of the Watchers. Formerly a royal assassin, but the queen had more use of me as a Watcher on accusations of being a scoundrel. I serve another lady as well, the white witch’

Kessa relaxed her weapon,’very well, we will have to figure all you said here at some other time...by Wrath’s crown, those are my friends weapons!’ she grabbed a familiar bastard sword, a chainwhip, Valtor’s many rings, Zor’s twin hand xbows and his drow designed swords. The man named Bane said ‘quickly, toss all of these into a sack. I heard one of the men shout for the alarm, we must hurry!’

The three of you fled via the adjunct ventillation shaft and you closed the grate as they both leaped up the door burst forth and in poured five men and 10 kobolds, ‘search the area they couldn’t have gone far!’ one of the robed men barked.

You came to the T-junction in the ventillation shaft, Kessa opted for the left. At the end of it, another light revealed another room. She peered down intently, and she saw the evil priest you saw earlier there, his pale face and eyes animated ‘find them quickly, before they can escape. We can’t afford to have these upstarts escape to warn the others. Take twenty acolytes and seal the main door, we must push the sacrifice immediately. Tharizdun’s insatiable hunger must be fed by the destruction of souls.’

‘consider it done, master’ the acolyte bowed low and sped off.

‘soon my vile lord you will feast on fresh souls, and this world must die’ he said.

Bane kicked the grate in, and it nearly fell atop of the alert cleric. The cleric drew a tentacle whip that sprung to life its tendrils animated like some monstrous creature from the depths.
The cleric’s face was aghast in horror at the sight of his tormented prisoner now free and armed. Bane unleashed four arrows into the cleric disrupting a spell from being unleashed, they sunk deeply into his chest. The cleric still drew breath, but Kessa crept down like an acrobat and stabbed the cleric in the head with her spear, and he collapsed dead as a doorknob. She reached further and used her spear tip to finagle a keyring of skeleton keys. Bane spat at the dead form of the cleric, ‘I told you I’d be the end of you’ he smiled a mirthless bitter smile.

Backtracking towards the right hand ventillation shaft, this one seemed to stretch in a long winding leg when you stopped and noticed a grate where crimson light flowed out of, and you heard rythmic chanting pouring out of. This is what you beheld:

a large temple loomed below, where you saw 15 pillars aligned in rows of 2 that marked a path to a dias where resided an altar. Hovering above the altar a pedestal containing a sphere that was filled with a milky white cloud of gaseous vapors. Bound to each pillar were Ash, Valtor, Morga, Zor, and to the altar was Storm. 25 human acolytes stood kneeling and chanting in a rythmic unerving dark devotional, and they uttered Tharizduns name in reverence. Two lizard men guarded a group of young children nearby keeping them cowed and well behaved.

A black clad cleric emerged from a curtained doorway, he was clutching the sphere and it sparked to life, resembling a monstrous black eye. The advanced priest called out ‘My Lord Tharizdun, supreme master of enduring darkness. We offer the souls of your mightiest enemies to appease thy infernal hunger. And the souls of young brats unworthy of your possession, the sons and daughters of the destitute richly deserving in complete destruction. Blight all traces of their ever existing from the memories of the multiverse’

The cleric smeared blood on Storm’s forehead and cheeks, the fighter spat in his face angrily ‘Wrath claim you, vile one’ the cleric was unphased, smiling perversely despite spittle marring his visage ‘your doom is at hand, you should feel honored though you are assuredly a worthy fool you’ve been bestowed a rare honor few can brag. Your death will herald the new future of this world, every death my dark master grows stronger. As your foolish ilk struggle to thwart our designs, five others spring up to take up new works. You cannot fight the inevitable. Men are weak, they will succumb to the flimsiest temptation and give in to the slightest deceptions. I yearn for the world to be reborn, how could I suffer it so? It is cursed with aliveness, when death is far prettier’

‘You have us, let the children go what do you need them for?!” Storm bellowed.

black cleric: “We long scoured for one of the brats with the unique mark, a birth mark well hidden. It marks the ones who yield a special destiny separate from average mortals. You have it, your friends have it. But, as you can see you did not know you had it. One of these destitute whelps have a certain birthmark, and it is a unique signifier that our master may dwell inside of its earthly form. Once reborn of flesh, Tharizdun’s child will set into motion the new age for this world. A second coming darkness, and the sun will be blotted from the skies forever. However, that will come to pass as soon as we’ve gathered all of the gems we seek. No matter, we will continue our hunt and sacrifice the unworthy to appease our Lords appetite for destruction’

‘you’re mad!’ Storm hissed. The cleric chuckled, ‘some might see it as such, what matter does it make? The liars who write your crafted histories will be wiped out, until all life is gone and reality has no memory of ever having existed’

Whisper
Whisper

(17*)
Whisper's wounds had mended while tracking the voices through the vile filth.  From his vantage point above he targeted the kobolds wth his daggers.  Kessa and the prisoner might need his aid in gaining the ventilation shaft to escape since the door and passage seemed unlikely to be used as a possible escape.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

THE GRATE TO THE ADJUNCT VENTILLATION SHAFT was rusted shut, for the steam and moisture more than likey sealed it over time. With Kessa’s aid it was removed. The steam carried with it the horrible stench of urine, decay, and unspeakable things. Kessa replaced the grate and it made a slight grind noise, nothing too damning.


The shaft plunged downward, with no handholds it was simple to use limbs to make the descent. Once you gain the end, it was but a 6 foot drop into a larger rectangular metal passageway filled with steam, the walls were sweating with moisture from the humidity. Northward the passage ended in a T-junction, and in the floor was a square shaped vent grate where pale yellow light flowed from. As you drew closer the source of the voices became clearer.

AS both of you peered into a spacious metallic torture chamber the first thing you note was a wooden chair where a man was bound, bloodied and battered beyond recognition. His wrists were bound tightly to the armwrests by wires, his torso was also bound to the chair. In his tighs were numerous metal implements inserted into the flesh. Two Kobolds hovered near him, the green skinned goblinoids had horns crowning their heads and a cross between a dog and a reptille’s head. Their eyes relished the mans torment with stupid evil glee.

A man stood before the bound prisoner, he was tall and had a gray palour, clad in immaculate ebony robes. The prisoner spat blood at him, which struck the pale skinned clerics face. He seemed aghast but held his composure with an iron will, not reacting in the slightest except to produce a silken cloth and wipe himself of the offensive spittle, he smiled perversely “such bravado is anticipated from a impudent fool, lowborn descendent of sheep herders. It is gratifying that you’ve stooped to such immature antics. When a man is thoroughly defeated, I oft wonder what would break first his body or his spirit. I made certain your world was completely crushed, your order of royal protectors disbanded, all your friends and kinfolk wiped out. It is the blessed work of Tharizdun. Now that you’ve been baptized in complete destruction, reduced to a pitiable state as is only fitting you are prepared to serve the chained God as his rightful champion. The only healing for your cheap soul is to go out into the world and wreak the sweet oblivion I’ve bestowed upon you, so that all may know the truth of his dark doctrine’

The prisoner laughed, ‘you underestimate the resourcefulness of the queen I serve, dark scum. True, you’ve done exceedingly well in your treacherous works to destroy the Watchers, but it has been rendered such in the past and made stronger than before many times. Mark my words we will rise, and the humble upstarts of farmers sons, tradesmen, craftsmen and carpenters will bring you low, to sufficiently humiliate you and the sad addled fools that follow you. Even if you were to aquire the three hundred thirty three gems, that last gem will elude you. As I have it you’re still painfully hunting for the first. Had you the wit and cunning you brag in your hubris you’d be seeking the one hundreth for your master by now. I question the intelligence of a God that seeks complete annihilation, especially of himself! Why does he not do us all the favor of destroying himself. Now who’s the fool?”

“Silence cretin!” the pale faced cleric bellowed, “I tire of this, I’ve not come to bandicry with a rebel. Since you’ve drained what scant time I had into getting you to cooperate, die with your secret then. May it rot alongside you in the abyss”

The cleric facially gestured for his kobold tormentors to exit the room with him, when a single zombie slithered sluggishly into the torture chamber. Its outer layer of flesh flayed completely off its body. The cleric smiled evily, ‘I pray you appreciate this end, it took considerable energies finding a befitting death, sufficiently horrible for me and you, me all the more”

The door slammed shut and you heard it lock with a click.

SEPTUL: what are we doing here? odds of rescuing this prisoner are against you master. The grate will make noise, alerting any outside the door. By the time you and Kessa take the room, guards will come while the zombie consumes what little life the doomed ranger clings to. 

Kessa visibly tensed up, her corded compact muscles flexed and were deceptively invisible. Before you could act she kicked in the grate until it fell below and she leaped into the chamber one of her palms hitting the floor to stay her descent. 'Have at thee!!!' she viciously snarled, and in a single terrible blow sliced the head of the zombie in half with a downward arc of her spear that cut all the way down the middle of the undead. Using her foot to kick the spear into a twirl she immediately launched the spear straight at the door as she heard it being unlocked by someone on the opposite side trying to quickly unlock the door. The spear pierced the wood and impaled two guards at the same time on the other end. The guards appeared to be hooded humans, unarmored.

'sound the alarm!' you heard a third man in the passage outside the room cry out emphatically.



Whisper
Whisper

(13*)
Whisper guessed that the ranger being carved up currently was likely the one the demi-lich had referred to earlier.  The ranger possibly had information that was valuable concerning this hive of enemies.  Whisper tried to better gauge the ventilation grate and the shaft behind it from where he was.  He motioned to Kessa to keep a watchful eye out while he did so, no sense in getting ambushed.

 OC: He's not about to leave Kessa's side to learn more but if they both can sneak in perhaps it would be worth while.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

 SEPTUL: These aren’t lizard men, they’re sahaugin. They’re quite evil, to them you’re nothing but meat to be devoured, and they’re quite adept at killing of men.

Two of the four sahaugin flung a weighed net at you and Kessa, which ensnared both of you perfectly. As the net enclosed, you spliced open the top tearing a sizable hole which to escape. Kessa shot through the hole, and you followed right after her. Sahaugin #1 fired a crossbow that shot a harpoon-bolt grazing your ankle (-3 hp dmg) your blood darkening the murky waters.

Quickly you both gained a good pocket of air, spinning in a 360 to study the details of your surroundings. It seemed to be an underground cistern, where to the north you spotted iron rungs that lead up to a grate some 20’ above you. The surface of the water here was full of floating dead corpses of men, orcs, elves, lizard men, and other sahaugin. Kessa: “quickly make for the rungs, the place is swarming with these vile creatures!’ as both of you swam you found purchase atop a large stone foundation block. Scaling the rungs and making it to the top, you saw the grate was closed by a large padlock. Four Sahaugin sprang out of the water, clambered atop the block and started fearlessly climbing the rungs their cold eyes regarding you as a sumptious meal.

Success! You picked the padlock with the tip of your handy dagger, both of you escaping through the grate and slamming it shut. Inside of a rounded passageway which felt steamy and reeked of urine, excrement, and rust. The passage continued straight north as far as you could see, with one singular tertiary passage veering to the right approximately 25-30 paces straight ahead. A shallow sliver of running water filled the ground here and you made splashy noises as you walked or clattering as your feet navigated the metallic passageway.

Proceeding along you came to a immediate halt, detecting a neck high tripwire 6 ft above ground. The hammer would have swung a lucern hammer towards your head if you triggered it but ducking it was sufficient to circumventing its treachery. When you made the mouth of the tertiary pasage your foot snagged a near invisible tripwire when, ahead out of a hole in the ceiling dropped a ginormous boulder that came rolling down the tunnel towards you like a massive bowling ball. You and Kessa leap into the tertiary tunnel, in time to hear the sahaugin bursting through the grate and their gurggling noises as the massive metal sphere crushed them.

Kessa took a spell to lurch over and vomit a gallon of water, hacking it all up. She looked at you “I pray the others have survived the fall. Lets move fast, I yearn to be free of this horrid place’

50 paces down the passageway you came to a section where voices were heard through a ventillation grate in the left wall:

A haughty, sly toned voice: “The collapse of the ziggurat above is of little gravity, ranger. Soon you too will taste deaths bittersweet kiss, I envy thee. But for now I need to know what you’ve done with those eggs, and how much the Watchers know concerning our operations throughout the southlands. You might as well tell me, unless you want me to torture you some more. I only gave you a minor demonstration of my kobolds proficiency in the arts. I think you ought be baptized in their dark sacraments. So, where are they and where are they headed?'

*sound of spitting*  "I'll never tell you, demon kissing fleabag. But the eggs will never fall into your hands, that I can assure you"

The raspy voiced speaker at the other end of the ventillation shaft continued his voice sounded to you to be controlled, methodical, emotionless, manipulative:  “All hope is lost my foolish friend, the Watcher’s have been completely decimated. You’re the last of them, beside your foolish mentor the white whore of the north. She too will be dealt with come long. All events have transpired according to my design, and you what has the fruits of your exertions yielded? Look at me when I speak to you! Your noble brotherhood of sword wielding drunkards and thieves have met their humiliating defeat, dying in their sleep from some cheap whore or in the taverns they rot in. And our forces have grown stronger, while yours were devoured from within like an incurable disease. You thought the Empire had conveniently fled your northern cities, it was but to strike the cold icy dagger of despair in your impudent queens soul. Meanwhile our spies have meticulously tracked the dragon eggs given you by your dead spy Pride Yorkesdale. Granted we lost him for a time but he was easily disposed as he came closer to discovering our secrets. Why he didn’t even so much as put up a fight. He died quickly, cooly, entirely without incident. Oh yes, my friend fight me, fight your way tooth and nail kicking and screaming on your journey to the higher hells’

The voice of the other man shot back angrily: “you bloody swine! You and all of your shadow skulkers will be uprooted, your hiding holes discovered and your plots brought to ruinous end! You know how many I ended with my own bow? Far too many to count. Imagine an army of similar rangers and swordsmen breaking down every base of operation. Your sad religion will be crushed, and the queen will raise an army of paladins to erradicate all of the chained God’s children!’

Whisper
Whisper

(15*)
Whisper growled in the common tongue as he readied his short sword to defend himself, willing the blade to illuminate the area better while inching closer to Kessa for protection...  "Yarrish has been slain, his torturing of your people has ended.  We wish to bring this news to your king to avoid the battle with Southern Cross that will cost both of our people's many lives."

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

SEPTUL: who it is? No, what it is is a demi lich. At times when a lich has been destroyed, they stand a chance of returning in a lesser manifestation of their previous selves. They are none the less dangerous and terrible in aspect. I suspect this one is the wizard’s master you destroyed.

The key fit the invisible chests padlock after a failed attempt to pick it open. It wasn’t the garden variety padlock but seemed more resilient towards picking. As the invisible container flew open, a cloud of stink enveloped you but seems to have lost its potency in its discharge. You cough momentarily, eyes slightly reddened then the air clears.

Inside the chest:

a beautiful black cloak, hood that a taxidermist transformed out of a mighty cat-beast, and tentacles of some kind form the straps to fastening it across your chest.

  • 2 scrolltubes made of elven bone
  • 2 pouches of spell components
  • a flask filled with crimson glowing liquid
  • a flask with black liquid
  • quiver of 10 javelins


pair of black boots with sheathes that can house a dagger woven into them, you note the tips held a hidden spring blade that shoots out when you depress a toe-region

The entire ziggurat began shaking violently now, when the entire floor and ceiling collapsed! You were falling for an eternity through a dark bottomless abyss. You grabbed hold of Kessa’s hand and the two of you plummeted until you fell into a deep body of water. Directly above, a large portion of what was the floor of Yarish’s inner sanctum followed you along and was pressing down on you menacingly. As it fell, it pinned you to the bottom of the pool, and Kessa’s ankle was trapped directly beneath it. It was then you saw two sahaugin with their eyes beaming a crimson red moving in towards another person who fell into the pool after you. The sahaugin eviscerate the doomed human, skewering him with thier tridents then devouring him with fangs and claws.

With combined strength both of you manage to hoist the large stony flooring fragment upward enough for her to loosen her foot. Four more sahaugin appear to the east, and they begin swimming straight for you!

DECISION

Whisper
Whisper


(14*)
Whisper ignored the blinded skull's request to interact and motioned for Kessa to rifle through the dead mage's wardrobe.  He flashed her a sly wink and smile while holding a finger to his lips knowing that fiery and lethal woman could be as silent as the wind if she wished to be.  He bent down and went about trying the small silver key or to pick the lock on the invisible chest he had stumbled onto.  Whisper was not foolish enough to think he could pass his voice off as Yarish's from the brief interaction with the dangerous mage in the battle before.  Better to leave the mysterious being with questions and no answers for the time being.  'Septul, do you have any insight on who that might be?'  He knew they had to be off soon but the chance to gain more insight and knowledge about these dangerous foes was tempting enough to stick around for a few more brief moments.

OC: Is the chest too large to move or is it small enough and light enough to be portable?

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Kessa says to you “you did exceptionally well my quick footed friend, if you hadn’t taken out Yarish one of us may have died. Cerannis was a difficult advesary, he fought with cunning and skill, I’ve never seen a being move so quickly. If Morga hadn’t been by my side we would have never prevailed. Ash aided us greatly, his power enhanced our weapons. Remind me to thank him later’

When you reach the throne, Kessa asked ‘which button?’ when you indicated the inner sanctum, she depressed it with a dagger. The throne began moving backward and part of the wall recinded to reveal a tunnel-shaft that declined in a downward slope. “Quickly!” she gasped, grabbing you by the arm and leaping down sliding as one might surfboard down a slippery slope. When you gained the throne-chair you realize it somehow unfolded into a platform, and your keen eyes deduced it had collapsable, movable parts ingeniously modular like so many traps you were accustomed to seeking out.

“You know, we’ll be well rewarded for our work done against Yarish and his pet creature Cerranis” Kessa said to you, noticing that some of your injuries were already vanishing ‘your wounds heal quickly, like the half man we fought’ she shrugged it off.

When the lift came to an end, you entered into dark smooth walled chamber. Deeper within rested a master four poster bed, covered with kingly comforter and a sea of pillows. The floor adorned with a huge bear rug. A massive fireplace was full of scorching flames that casted dancing shadows along the walls. The shadows continuously danced and came to life, in the form of men and mastiffs. Over your heads erupted darkness that blotted your vision entirely. ‘The master sent us fresh mortals...how very kind’

Then four shades materialized around you and Kessa. Kessa leaped to the attack, snarling in fury ‘have at thee shadow demons!’ she growled and swiped the first of these shadowed soldiers her spear impaled straight through its chest and it issued a hellish hissing. Kessa laughed and used her leg to free her spear up, ‘your master is dead you fools, and now you go to limbo courtesy of sorrowful man’

‘who is this sorrowful man?’ one of the shades hisses.

‘It is the name of my spear, and a well earned one’ Kessa spat defiantly unfastening the strap on her scimitar.

‘Well isn't that clever, by come morning if you aint the sorriest piece of ass you'll sure be the soarest. finish her!' shade #2 hissed.

Shade #3 looses a shadow magic missile that tore into you, scalding your flesh in shadow flames (-5 hp dmg)

The shades gained the upper hand, their speed was envious. While several took treacherous turns attacking, the last dove in and slashed at you with a mighty blow. The blade cut into you and felt cold (-6 hp dmg)

You counter with your shortsword, stepping forth and dipping low for a deceptive strike to shade #2’s midsection disemboweling the shade warrior, it fell to the ground in horror of its fate and died. Kessa hurled sorrowful man with damning accuracy straight through into #4 and skewered it into its chest as she ripped out her scimitar, ‘by Azonia’s kiss you vile abberants will wreath in your filthy hell’

‘We will take you there, you stinking bitch’ shade #1 rasped.

Shade #1 tore into you with its longsword and you fell to the ground hard. This was becoming all too familiar for you...


You heard Kessa gasp as shade #2 scored a direct hit, viciously slashing at the Elsmyrian with a brutal counter. Kessa groaned as she braced under the blow.

You awoke to the sounds of hissing noises, realized they were voices in the shadows. You overheard the two shades nearby, they had Kessa tied by her ankles upside down, and the first shade was fixated with interrogating her. They had brused and bloodied her with torture, evidently ‘tell us why you are here, sweet meat and we will end you quickly. Do you really expect us to believe that your weakling companion singlehanded slayed our mighty master?  Impudent bitch!’ they backhanded her once again.

They had a mastiff with them, it was drooling at the sight of Kessa’s naked bloodied and brusied body.

You quaff one of the healing potions (+10 hp restored)

‘I told you before, your master is no more. Why you find that difficult to fathom is beyond my simple brain. He seems to have lost his head’

‘she speaks truth, I can no longer feel our link to him!’ shade #2 cried, aghast.

‘fool! It’s a Elsmyrian trick, kill the cunt she’ll be repurposed as our bed slave’

‘spendid idea, haven’t fooked a proper bitch in a long time. I’m going to fuck you into the ground, lass’ shade #2 laughed with evil mirth, ‘and when you’re begging like a true bitch in heat, our nice dog there will fook you as well if you beg it to’ somehow Kessa mustered the energy to spit at one of her tormentors. The shades began kicking her hard and laughing, ‘you kilt me friend, bitch’ the second shade dipped to a knee looking upside down at her ‘I’m going to rape the dogshit out of you and when I’m in you deep, I’ll cut you from neck to your pussy with me dirk. I keep it quite sharp, see I aint such a bad fellow now am I?’ he broke for a moment and said ‘go and make sure that other bastards dead, see what he had on him, now git. Time for me to introduce this lovely lass to my other weapon my enormous cock’

You must have slept for quite a number of minutes. As the second shade slowly came toward you, a rumbling sound shook the very foundation of the entire structure. The shade struggled to maintain its balance 'what in the bloody hell!' it hissed astonished. A planar vortex erupted, and a large ginormous monstrous hand reached out and snatched the two shades up. They cried in hopeless despair as whatever took them laughed at their pitiable struggling, their inescapable doom. The vortex was sucking some of the items throughout the massive bedchamber into it. You and Kessa were hurled toward it. Your sword fell and snagged behind the bedpost, the thin invisible wire snagged you and prevented you from being sucked in. The planar gate suddenly sealed itself shut.

When you got to Kessa, she was weak and scarcely alive. You revived her with one of your vials of accelerated healing. The ziggurat was rumbling every ten seconds.

'Quickly, fetch those papers off of that desk!' as you ran toward the desk to retrieve a leatherbound journal, some documents and what looked to be a map you stumbled over an invisible object. You groped in the dark and felt the outline of an invisible chest. You take note of a closet to your right, inside of which was a arcane robe, some silk underclothes, and what appeared to be a rune cube.

Then, as you stood drinking all of this in...

A horrific aspect of a human skull with orange flames filling its black sockets hovered over the desk. It spoke then: "My apprentice, I've felt a disruption in the planes. Someone or something has disrupted the flow of power funneling into the ziggurat. You must correct this blunder immediately, you realize the invaluable resources it affords 'us'? 

Due to this dwindling power I can only hear you but not see you. One of my slaves, the mayor of Harby has proven himself a liability. He's eliminated a powerful obstacle in our path, but has drawn attention to our secret works. Send Cerannis to dispose of him and eliminate all traces that lead to our involvement. If he's not dealt with swiftly the one he killed with soon draw many powerful enemies against us, particularly the Watchers and the meddlesome elves. All this danger to our plans at the cost of a worthless life of a meddlesome ranger!'












graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

SEPTUL: that would be required if this one was older, more mature and experienced. This one however while certainly spirited lacks the regenerative capabilities to regain life. The acid would be a waste, one you should not so frivolously squander.

Lord Dreygar: “Yarish was a mad one, indeed. He ressurected this ziggurat and had been duping lizard men to him with promises of transforming them into Sahaugin, but usually these experiments resulted in failure. These two were the result of a hundred botched experiments of his. He’s been hellbent on depositing alchemiac waste into the underworld river, maligning the garrison in Southern Cross. I know he was plotting to have me murdered in my sleep, but after I sent his assassins heads back to him he had one of his agents lay a charm spell on me. It was my brother Kraybor, Storm! He was the one who had enspelled my mind! In my place an imposter, a changeling under Kraybor’s orders.

Quickly, all of you. The room adjacent to this, it contains machinery that empowers the entire ziggurat with its unatural energies. If you destroy the pipes in the room it will end the mad ones vile works throughout. There are still forces scattered in the guts of this horrible place, by the queens scepter we must prevail!’

As the party prepared to follow the regained Dreygar, he singled you out and placed a restraining hand on your chest ‘you, while we go to finish what we’ve started you should search this place for any evidence. The queen would have great need of fresh intelligence. Kessa accompany him! Meet out in the hall. Valtor, I pray ye’ve a fireball spell handy. We’re going to need it’

 

Whisper
Whisper

(12*)
Whisper limped over to the body of Cerannis over which stood a tired looking Morga and Kessa.  He spit out a mix of blood and bile onto the floor clearing his mouth.  "Lord Dreygar, tell Storm what you know of the sahaugin attack and the poisoning plot against Southern Cross.  All, be wary of the buttons on the throne!  Four are traps while one leads to somewhere labeled the inner sanctum."  He retrieved one of the vials of acid he had obtained a while back from the dead female rogue and paused by the corpse momentarily.  He questioned Septul silently, 'Septul you have my thanks for turning the tide of the battle in our favor.  I am guessing that Cerannis here isn't properly dead given that he's some sort of vampire kin.  Will this acid finish him for good or do you know how to get rid of this dangerous bastard permanently?'

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator



The amulet grew warm as mystic sparkling energy leaped out of it, awashing Sahaugin #1 who under Septul’s silent control ran towards its counterpart making gurgling noises that was its native tongue.

As your invisibility faded, Yarish stood up and plucked a bit of butter from his beltpouch causing the steps before his throne to be limned with a vat of slick black grease. Despite this your agile footwork found traction on the slippery slick stairs as you ran at the sorcerer, who sneered contemptuously ‘Ah, I see you’ve brought me the amulet. You see? Even those who defy Yarish are made to serve his designs!’

When you came at the throne, you body vaulted over the magic-user and tried to wrap the garrotte around his neck, but he unintentionally avoided your attack.

Yarish flung a globule of energy at you, as it struck it enveloped you in a swiftly sealing bubble. You tore a hole through it and leaped through the hole escaping it from entrapping you within.

The sorcerer chuckled, ‘amusing, I can see now how you’ve managed to appropriate the amulet where others have failed miserably. Give it to me and I will permit you to die’

A volley of elvish arrows flew out at the sorcerer intent on ending his life, out of 18 arrows two managed to come close to him and when they did they stopped just shy of piercing his flesh and clattered harmlessly to the ground.

This time you managed to bring the invisible chord to wrap around Yarish’s neck, and as you pulled on it tightly he dropped to a knee and his face became red as he struggled to gasp for air. With limited options Yarish produced a black serrated dagger and thrust it hilt deep into your right knee (-4 hp dmg) where you felt a hot surge of venom flood your body (poisoned) the poison burns inside of you (-8 hp dmg) causing you to hack up blood. A moment later, you pulled hard on the invisible wire which tore through Yarish’s neck and decapitates him. His head drops and bounces down the steps of his throne. A fount of blood ruptured from his headless body and splayed across your face and torso.

Yarish’s eyes were still animated, and he whispered something that resonated in your ears through windspeech:

you think you’ve won? you little miscreant! Before the poison weakens your precious city, an army of my unstoppable aquatic sahaugin will slaughter its inhabitants. The brats we’ve procurred will help us find the first of the 333 gems beneath this structure. Once the first is uncovered, the rest will soon follow. Your days are numbered my friend!’

Within mere moments, as you looked up and around you saw Lord Dreygar with a dazed look on his face, Morga and Kessa hovered triumphantly over Cerannis’s dead corpse, Leira’s elves plugging the charmed Sahaugin with a volley of arrows as the battle was finally over.

You notice several buttons crafted into the right armrest on the throne-chair. Several runes are visible on the buttons, at first you cannot read them when a moment later they're translated:


button #1: inner sanctum #2: poison darts button #3: trapdoor button #4: rust monster button #5: alarm

Whisper
Whisper

(24*)
Whisper goes into a graceful tumble across the steps in an effort to get to the mage's back, a move that none could see.(Non Weapon Prof: Tumbling/Acrobatics)  As he approached he had noted the pair of monstrous beasts near the mage and he sent a plea to Septul in his thoughts.  'Septul, if you have a charm left bring one of those lizard beasts under your power and have him turn upon his companion.'

OC: in the process of maneuvering behind the mage: Whisper would like to drop the dagger, toss the short sword to his free hand causing enough of the invisible tether to be extracted from his gauntlet to create a garrotte.  If a spell component pouch is visible his dextrous hands will try to obtain that otherwise he will try to strangle the mage. 

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Storm’s face blanched, and he said ‘That’s impossible’ he said angrily. Valtor patted him on the back, ‘there may be more to this puzzle than meets the eye. Perhaps he is under an enchantment’

Ash said ‘hold still all of you’, he chanted softly and laid a hand on Valtor, Storm, Kessa, Morga, you, and Zor. As his hand clamped on your shoulder a spike of warm energy flooded through your entire body, ‘Prysila give me the power to heal these beloved servants of your magnificent glory’ (+11 hp) ‘Prysila be praised, her love has washed away your injuries’  the cleric’s whispered.

Kessa: “My thanks, cleric’

‘And mine’ Storm said solemnly, turning to Valtor and Ash ‘any ideas feel free to share them with us’

Valtor grinned devilishly, his eyes turned towards you, ‘melgor imbrixill’ he touched you and your skin and body dematerialized from visibility. He said “it’s wise you should ask me that. We go in, the elves will concentrate all of their arrows at the wizard to distract him, Whisper position yourself close to the mage, but do not attack outright. Look for a pouch that smells of disguisting things, like bat guano and odd herbs, spices. Wait for the moment he is in the midst of spell binding then have at him. Brace yourself the spells disruption may yield erratic effects. Kessa and Morga contend with Cerannis, and I will aid Storm against his traitorous uncle. My suggestion spell will rally him to our cause. Zor, some darkness would be most appreciated’

Zor: "Aye, you shall have it" the drow said, pulling his hood low over his head. He ripped out his two hand x-bows.

The motion sensing door slithered open eerily in a spiral fashion as the party stormed into a large chamber:

You were within a spacious large room that bespoke of lavishness and rich trappings. To your right a sea of pillows, where sat two naked slave girls who looked to have smoked too much mind altering smoke. In the center of the chamber against the far wall stood an apprent magic-user clad in black arcane robes. He had a permanent scowl on his face, and saucer like eyes that were radiant blue. His head was filled with mid length black hair. A staircase lead up to the throne-chair he was seated on and at the base of the steps were two monstrous looking things, they appeared as lizard-like creatures but more menacing and fearsome. http://scarlorpbem.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/sahuagin.gif

To the right was Lord Dreygar, who calmly drew a weapon. To the left, a shadowy dark warrior who removed his hood to reveal a immaculate disarmingly handsome man whose face betrayed no emotion. He wore a smug smile, and as the party entered he nodded his head in a greeting of acknowledgement and then withdrew two long slender blades snapping them into one singular double ended sword. “And so Lord Zor, fool thou art you managed to masterfully do as I bade and bring the Harkonnian whore’s minions into my trap! I told you before I will have use of you whether you will it or not!’

Valtor wove his hands together then out of them flew two arcing spheres of pulsating green energy that shot out at the throned wizard. The mage smiled and laughs in mockery when the spell backfired, tearing into the big bellied Elf. ‘I am Yarish, fools. Your miserable lives are at an end, and this structure your tomb!’

When you stealthfully drew close towards the steps that lead to the throne, Cerannis leaped in front of you slicing at you with his double ended weapon. The first you jumped and as your feet came back down you ducked his second swing, ‘I can see you little man, and I see you’ve brought me a mighty gift!’ his dark eyes fell upon Septul and he bore the telltale eyeteeth of a vampire, only shorter in size.

SEPTUL: A dhampir, they can invisible things. This one is highly trained to kill'

Instantly your trusted shortsword was in your hand, and your dagger in your off. Storm and Dreygar squared off, Kessa and Morga sprang up next to you and said ‘Go and deal with the mage, Whisper we have this one!’

Cerannis sneered, ‘indeed! come then and have your fill of my prowess, Elsmyrian whore!’

DECISION

Whisper
Whisper

(10*)
Whisper held a finger to his mouth as he carefully retreated down the short corridor towards all of his companions urging them all to be quiet.  He was cautious not to get too close to the first door he had come across, not wishing to chance opening it and having to deal with what lie behind it.  He had three healing potions remaining and by the looks of Storm and Valtor they could use a bit of healing, he would keep the last potion for himself.  When at their sides he hurriedly explained what he had discovered.  "Five voices beyond the far door, likely leadership since they were discussing plans to poison the rivers and weaken Southern Cross and its army.  Sorry Storm, but the one voice I could clearly make out is Lord Dreygar.  Apparently he covets Kyrillia's position of power and hopes that his new masters will reward him well in return for his aid."  His dextrous hands presented both Storm and Valtor with a healing potion a each.  "Healing potions, drink them now and then let us strike quickly.  Avoid the near door upon your approach."  Whisper retreats back down the hall to the first door, intending to lay traps that would impede anyone on the other side of the door as best he could without causing it to open(remaining caltrops and marbles at the least carefully laid in front of the door...).

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

SEPTUL: there are two portals on this level, one leads to the maze level which is a trap. The two portals alternate, so there is a chance you will be taken there, and a chance you shant’

You find yourself back on your feet, Kessa helped you up. After a few minutes of pause for rest, you were feeling reinvigorated. Kessa, Morga, and Zor were all injured. When you provided them with a vial each they thanked you profusely and clasped you on the shoulder in deep appreciation. You fully heal by the time the party emerges out of the other side of the portal.

Zor: ‘Sha’klah, next time I will defend you better these lizard folk, Cerranis recruited them recently, duping them into serving his cause against the humans. We can dissuade their king from serving him, if we happen upon him’

Morga: ‘lets go, I’m growing restless! If these are all the resistance we can expect its time to face against their master once and for all’

Kessa: “That sounds like my kind of plan, lets move!’

The portal took you to a single triangular corridor, black opaque walls smooth and flawless. Orbs of soft dim continual light illuminated the passageway. You noted two single doors, to your right and one 20 paces ahead to the left. There were two V shaped inversions in the wall one immediately on your right side. When you inspected it, you noticed the floor within the V was surrounded by a half inch border where you sensed air emenating from a shaft. When you touched the floor it slowly, soundlessly disappeared into the ground. It was a one person elevator.

Kessa turned to you, ‘go spy ahead, see what you can discover. We’ll await your signal’

SEPTUL: “I sense your intent but you have expended my dweomer for the day. It will take a full night for them to replenish, so no need to gain live prey’

Zor says to you “be weary of the doors, if you draw too close to them they will open of their own accord, but only when your feet draw near. If you press an ear to them they will not, however’

DOOR #1: you stealthfully glided as soundlessly as you could up to the door, planting an ear to it. It was a spiral shaped inlaid groove which would slither open from the center and seem to melt as it switched to the open position. It was a vestige of Dwarven and Gnomic engineering.

As you pressed your ear straining to hear anything of relevance, you heard something muffled beyond but nothing you could make out distinctly.

You pressed down the short corridor, got to the door and again pressed an ear. You felt a tingling in your eyes when you could suddenly see through the door! Inside were five figures. One was a tall figure of a man who wore a bastard sword at his side, another was a slimmer less imposing figure clad in hood and cloak, and the third was a hooded being seated on a throne like chair, flanked by two unusually large lizard men.

You overheard multiple voices beyond speaking in a heated exchange:

voice #1 sounded raspy and arrogant, like a wisened old man speaking from a well of vast experience ‘well then, I’ve been most busy. How goes our plans?’

voice #2 responded, and held a familiar voice when you realized as you studied the yellow outline of the voice’s speaker that it was Lord Dreygar!  “All goes according to your plans, master. I’ve sent the Harkonian’s spy on a mission to recover the amulet you seek. The lad thinks he is gaining elvish medicine on my behalf, a little heroic motivation goes a long way. Once he’s delivered it to my agent in Southern Cross he will kill the thief and deliver it to me. With her bands thief gone, Lady Kyrillia’s force will be easy enough to dispense with. My men will lead them into a trap and slaughter them’

‘What of your nephew? He may pose a threat’ voice #1 spoke.

‘Leave him to me’ Lord Dreygar said.

A third voice chimned in, smooth and eloquent, almost perfect in pitch and tone ‘we will poison the underworld river in approximately two hours. The poison will reach Southern Cross in four hours, maybe more or less than this. These Dwarven Engineers are not broken in, and we haven’t time to properly train them on their ettiquette. I’ll have them flogged once their role is played, or feed your vile beasts with them. The poison ought to cripple Southern Crosses army, then none will be able to contend our forces. We will destroy them all’

It was then that Storm, Valtor, Ash, and 9 Elves including Leira materialized out of the portal you just emerged from. Two elves were bloodied, and Leira had a piece of arrow stuck in her hip. Valtor’s hair stood high and his face was covered in black ash. Storm was bleeding from several arrow wounds, and the left side of his arm was scalded from flames, his armor torn or broken in several places.

voice #1 said ‘excellent, both of you. Once the poison reaches the city, I will send forth my unstoppable aquatic mutants to crush them and seize the city once and for all. Then these rabble will be too heavily laden by their despair their eyes will be focused on rebuilding efforts, licking their wounds and other bleeding heart sentimentalities. Bring some of the little guttersnipes Hendrag is hoarding to my lab, I need to test my latest discoveries’

Whisper
Whisper

(3*)

Whisper coughed and took in his surroundings having just come to.  'Septul?  Which way now?' he thought as he tried to better understand what had transpired.


OC: is the PC capable of moving my himself?  How bad off are the others?  Are there any survivors from the opponents or are they fleeing?  A wounded enemy survivor would be a good way for Septul and him to regain some vigor.  He will share his healing potions with those who need them, he realizes he is dependent on them for his survival!

 

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

THE ARROW THROWN answered back as the triangular shaped portal ignited to life, causing a white field of energy to transform into blue. The group entered and came to a similar level you were on previously. You headed forth and easily spotted the same trap as the previous level you left at the intersection, when...

Straight ahead materialized five tall lizard men, each equipped with spears. To your right, five cowled men and women, 3 of which were males and 2 female humans each brandishing a single mace. To your far left, five hobgoblins. One of the robed humans cried out ‘ah, it is our old friend the Drow Zor! Thank you for bringing these sacrifices for the altar! Their souls will slake the thirst of our dark God!’

Zor: “I pity you crazed fools, but I will destroy you so your madness dies with you!’

The Hobgoblins began unleashing crossbow fire into the party,

Hobgoblin #1 fired a perfect shot straight into your belly (-16 hp dmg)

Zor and Morga took bolts as well, Zor’s equally as painful as your own

one of the hooded human men spoke in a shrill voice ‘Zor, it’s not too late to turn back to our cause. These friends of yours are destined for death, why do you thwart Tharizdun’s imminent return!?’

A lizard man stole up to you slashing at you with a scimitar ‘die puny human!’ it hisses, it struck you down with a stroke of its scimitar (-3 hp dmg). You fell to the ground and went unconscious, hearing in the back of your mind the clamouring of blades striking blades, warcries and chanting of dark prayers. When you came around, feeling the injuries rapidly repairing themselves (+3 hp restored) Kessa, Zor, and Morga were moving with Zor having carried you towards one of the other teleporters. The drow elf said 'these are cultists of the elder elemental eye, but in reality I believe that Tharizdun and the elder eye ARE one. I cannot be certain. Last time I was here, Ceranis was enlisting the aid of a local tribe of Lizardmen, whom his mysterious master craved to experiment on and enhance the lizard folk to more formidable variants like Sahaugin'

Morga: "Enough prattle dark one, nows not the time. We're here for other things'

Kessa: "aye, lets make haste I grow weary of being inside this place'


Whisper
Whisper

(19*)
Whisper replied to Lord Zor, "Let us avoid the maze then, the eastern portal shall take us a level below where we stand.  There may be a dangerous guardian below, be wary when we go through."  Whisper turned to look at Morga with a smile, "Valtor might take offense to such views.  Trust me, the hole I crawled out of a few hours ago was an old Lorian temple with a few dusty old tomes yet intact.  One book had a few bits of information about this particular temple."  The lies to his current companion hopefully caused her to reconsider.  They did not have time to dally about this citadel, they needed to move.  He silently thanked Septul for the priceless guidance and insight as he cautiously made his way towards the east portal.  Whisper briefly considered asking the wise spirit how she knew of such information but then quit thinking about it.  It simply did not matter to the task at hand and he needed his focus to avoid any other traps or guards that may be about.  He promised her the chance to feed on the minions of Ceranis or better yet Ceranis himself!  Should the portal require something to be thrown into it to activate it, he will try tossing an arrow into it since he has plenty more where that came from in his quiver.

OC: Do these non magical, but still fire inflicted, wounds heal?  Trying to get straight what heals and what doesn't.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Zor: “Aye, it tis my wily friend. This boss is a tricky devil, and his mysterious master hides in his chambers somewhere on this level. A mad wizard that experiments on creatures. Expect mostly Hobs, they won’t attack if they see me. Ceranis has some human acolytes as well, the ones who comb the woods maligning any they find, and seizing the ones they deem appropriate for ritual sacrifice. They are mad things, crazed lunatics addled in the mind’

Morga said ‘you two talk too much, nows time for action! Let’s get on with it then boys. You cutey stay behind me and nothing can go wrong you little devil, you’re with Morga! Blahahah’ she slaps you hard on the back. Zor looks at her and smiles, perplexed, ‘you certainly are one spirited woman’

You stealthed forward as the eyes and ears of your group, and as all of you did so the door behind you slithered shut blotting out the sun’s luminicous rays. As you gained the intersection your foot depressed a round pressure plate that sunk 2 inches into the ground when: a flaming crossbow bolt shoots out at you from all four directions!

arrow #1: you’re struck but your agile moves lessen the blow (-4 hp fire dmg) the firey projectile scalds your left arm, ouch!

flame arrow #2: Morga is hit, grunts and curses

flame arrow #3 & 4 thuds into Kessa ‘damnation!’ she hissed.

The triangular passageway to the left and right continued as far as the eye could see, larger than the exterior of the ziggurat. To your right at the end you saw something that looked like a dias, and the same straight ahead. When you reached the closer of the two, straight ahead.

Zor said: ‘sha’klah, tis a portal there. They activate if you throw an object into them. However from what I recall last time there’s one which leads to a level containing a maze of some sort, where many who lacked the wit to escape were trapped. One of these goes to that maze, and another to Ceranis’s lair, or his elusive master maybe.’

Septul: this portal leads to the maze, the east portal to a level below this one. From there, a guarded portal that will bore you to a secret level inaccessible through ordinary means other than teleport without error spells. It might prove useful to enter the maze, and see what we can find.

Morga: "I shant venture through there, I heard far too many tavern tales warning about the treachery of mages and their artiface. For all we know this could take us into the abyss'

Zor: 'I assure you there's naught to fear, they're perfectly safe. You'll feel a slight prick but only for an eyeblink and it is gone'

Whisper
Whisper

(23)
Whisper kept his short sword at the ready while he kept a keen eye out for traps.  Since they were in the dark elf lands currently it made sense that ruins that are supposedly long abandoned may have their markings on them.  That didn't make it any less unnerving for the young rogue, especially after seeing Zor's prowess first hand now a few times over.  If they should come across any sort of sizable drow force it might be time to retreat.  "Was this the temple that you visited earlier Lord Zor?"  He had wondered why the rest of the team had not sought out his input while making their plans...