Spiritday, 20th of Sunstrong, 4433 (continued)
Before the party settled in for the night, Anmor fully healed the wounds for all the members of the Reprisal Squad. The party setup watches and rested for the remainder of the evening.
Airday, 1st of Thistleburn, 4433
Shortly after sunrise the party was startled to hear a loud crashing sound. Running outside to see what had caused the disturbance, they were shocked to find that the Riftlord’s Palace was lost. Several large blue and green dragons were seen leaving the area.
The party returned underground within the Undercity to discuss how they would proceed while Anmor prepared a . They considered duplicating the key that they already had, thus eliminating the need to obtain the second one held by the fire giant Kagro Thundersmiter. At first glance, it appeared to be an ordinary iron key with stylized vines carved into the handle area. However, after using his and Artificer’s Monocle, Anmor determined that the key was actually magical (faint abjuration) and served as the completion item for an opening ritual. The party determined what magic they had available, they would not be able to replicate the key’s powers. Instead, they decided to use stealth to acquire Kagro’s key.
Ulm cast and on a stone as the party exited the undercity. When the party arrived at the Heroes’ Arch they saw that the courtyard and outer structures of the Riftlord’s Palace were destroyed but some of the underground structures were still intact. Six black dragons dug through the rubble in the courtyard while one large green dragon picked through the stones deeper recesses.
From their vantage point, they did not see the remains of any of the hill giants within the rubble. Feeling some loyalty to the Khargakhan, they decide to explore the inner chambers of palace. Ulm cast allowing the party to wonder past the dragons, unseen. Ulm guided them through the inner chamber to the great hall. The entire complex was empty save for King Achaime Silvereye. The king was alive and still sitting on the throne where he was last seen, drooling and mumbling incoherent.
The party determined that King Silvereye would be safe from the dragons for at least one day (OOC: Knowledge Dungeoneering). Since Charlgar had successfully spread rumors that the Khargakhan stole the key from the Tiamikal Nul-Shada, the party feared it was not safe to take the king with them. They ultimately decided to leave him in his throne room until they after they had dealt with the fire giants.
OOC: We had several discussions about spells and spell effects and we were right about some and wrong about others (i.e. we were 1 for 3), so hopefully, the following helps to clarify things:
1) Spells CANNOT be cast from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane (including Detect Magic); therefore, the party knows that Achaime has a greatsword, but they do not know that it is magical.
Ethereal Jaunt: An ethereal creature is invisible, insubstantial, and capable of moving in any direction, even up or down, albeit at half normal speed. As an insubstantial creature, you can move through solid objects, including living creatures. An ethereal creature can see and hear on the Material Plane, but everything looks gray and ephemeral. Sight and hearing onto the Material Plane are limited to 60 feet.
Force effects and abjurations affect an ethereal creature normally. Their effects extend onto the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, but not vice versa. An ethereal creature can’t attack material creatures, and spells you cast while ethereal affect only other ethereal things. Certain material creatures or objects have attacks or effects that work on the Ethereal Plane.
2) A Wall of Force is Invisible.
Wall of Force: A wall of force spell creates an invisible wall of force. The wall cannot move, it is immune to damage of all kinds, and it is unaffected by most spells, including dispel magic. However, disintegrate immediately destroys it, as does a rod of cancellation, a sphere of annihilation, or a mage’s disjunction spell. Breath weapons and spells cannot pass through the wall in either direction, although dimension door, teleport, and similar effects can bypass the barrier. It blocks ethereal creatures as well as material ones (though ethereal creatures can usually get around the wall by floating under or over it through material floors and ceilings). Gaze attacks can operate through a wall of force.
3) The spell Magic Missile can be used by a Cleric of the Force Domain (Complete Divine, pp 138-139) and therefore is available to Anmor if he can find a corresponding divine scroll.
Finally succumbing to Granuel’s urging, the party decided not to parley with the fire giants, but rather to proceed through the citadel via the Ethereal Plane. They walked directly to the bridgehead, then across the bridge, and up to the gates of the Citadel. As usual, three fire giants stood guard twenty feet above them on the citadel walls.
These double doors are made of stone and stand 20 feet high. The doors are set into the natural stone walls beneath the castle. Bas-relief carvings adorn the doors, depicting dragons falling from the skies, slain by great arrows and rocks, and broken dragon bodies lying on the ground below. Faintly visible above all the other images are five dragon heads, each in a different color (red, green, blue, black, and white), looking on in anguish. The stone of the doors is damp with rivulets of water weeping from the eyes of these dragons.
The party, still on the Ethereal Plane, passed through the double doors (literally). Beyond the doors was a corridor that was fifteen feet wide, extended for approximately forty-five feet, and ended in another set of double doors. The party passed through the second set of double doors and saw a large circular chamber with two alcoves on either side. The chamber was empty but there were scorch marks on the walls. The alcoves spiraled around (like horns) and came to dead ends. Anmor determined that the scorch marks were caused by some sort of magical fire (ex: fire ball or flame strike), but they group was unable to determine the exact purpose of the room.
Seeing no other exits from the chamber, Granuel went back into the wide hallway and began searching for other doors. At about the midpoint of the corridor, he found a pressure trap that the party had avoided earlier by being ethereal. He also found secret doors on either side of the hall adjacent to the trap. The party passed through the door to the left (relative to the way we first entered the citadel). Beyond this door was a winding corridor that ended in stairs leading up to the second level. At the second level there was a large door leading to the battlements and additional stairs leading upward. The party chose to continue up the stairs to the third level.
The stairs opened into a corridor containing arrow slits. Along the corridor was a door to the right, a ladder leading upward, and finally a door at the end. Looking behind the first door, the party saw a room that was roughly 50 feet by 50 feet.
This cavernous hall is dimly lit by two sconces in the west wall and by an iron pot full of glowing coals hanging from the ceiling beams above. The pot sways slightly, casting weird shadows throughout the room. The ceiling slopes downward from the center of the room to a mere fifteen feet at the western end. A stone table surrounded by six giant sized chairs dominate the center of the room.
The party saw a large fire giant lounging in one of the chairs with his feet resting on the table. The fire giant wore a chain shirt and was holding a battleaxe. Chained in the alcove in the south of the room, they saw twelve-headed hydra that had a reddish hue. Anmor determined that the beast was a pyro-hydra. He explained that as such, the hydra could breathe fire and was immune to fire damage. The only way to kill a hydra is to cut off all the heads (OOC: via Sunder attack) and sear the stumps using acid or cold damage. Failure to sear a stump will result in two new heads growing in its place (OOC: in 1d4 rounds). Looking around the room the party saw a door on the western wall leading to what they assumed was a tower leading upward. On the other side of the room was a door leading deeper into the citadel.
The party looked through the door on the west and saw a room befouled by dung and partially eaten humanoid remains. Anmor pointed out that there were partially eaten bugbears and the head of a kobold in the room. A ladder was perched against the far wall, leading upward and there were arrow slits situated around the room.
The group went back into the dining hall and through the through the other door. Beyond this door they found a twenty-foot wide corridor with stairs on the left leading upward and ending in a set of double doors. A second set of stairs led downward and there were two doors in the passageway; one straight ahead and another on the right. They chose to go up the stairs and through the double doors.
Climbing the stairs, the party looked through the double doors into a room situated in the back side of the citadel. The ceiling in this chamber was only ten-feet tall. The room contained nothing except a few flimsy boxes and a few pieces of rude furniture constructed from sticks. Two unlit lanterns hung from the beams of the ceiling. Arrow slits overlooked the back of citadel. The party concluded that this was probably quarters for some of the slaves and therefore was not important to them.
Returning to the corridor, they looked through the door on the right. Inside, they observed a kitchen. A large fireplace containing a spit, large enough to roast an ox upon, dominated the room. Barrels of cheap wine and rancid food stuffs, fit only for the palate of a giant, lined the back of the chamber. Six bugbears scurried about lazily preparing a meal for their giant captors. No exits were seen from this room.
The party continued to the end of the corridor and peered through the final door. Behind it they saw the citadel’s latrines. Two large holes in the floor of the room opened over the canyon while the floors sloped precipitously to the south.
Finding nothing of interest on this level, the Reprisal Squad followed the stairs downward. The stairs ended in a corridor that was ten-feet wide and about twenty-five feet long. On the southern side of the hallway was a closed door. At the end of the hall was an open doorway, behind which was some sort of shrine.
As the party entered the hallway, they were greeted by voice calling out, “I can see you sneaky peoples. You should come out of the Ethereal Plane and play with me. I am going to sound the alarm, so you might as well come out and play.” Though Granuel could not see through its disguise with his normal vision, using the Robe of Eyes he could see a six-armed, half-serpent, half-female. He described this creature to the party and Anmor identified it as a .
DM: I handled this incorrectly. The Robe of Eyes does not grant true seeing. It only allows you to see invisible and ethereal creatures.
Anmor inquired: “Who is speaking” but the creature did not respond. Meanwhile, Chresin moved adjacent to the open doorway to get a better look in the chamber beyond. Granuel warned the party that the creature had moved to the closed door and Ulm dismissed the Etherealness spell. The creature used a spell-like ability to cast a spell. This did not hurt anyone, but it effectively split the party into two groups. Chresin countered with a Swift Dimension Hopping and a Regroup spell, moving Kullen and Granuel adjacent to the still unseen demon.
Anmor used the Nethertome of Trask to cast True Seeing upon himself and immediately saw the creature for what it truly was. This enabled him to use his Dark Knowledge to speak a Dread Secret, (i.e. her name, “Alakora”), and thus stunned the demon. This caused the demon to drop the scimitars it was holding (including the flaming sword). Anmor also shared his knowledge of Marilith demons, indicating that their spell-like abilities include and . Further, he mentioned that they were resistant to normal attacks (OOC: DR 10/Good + Cold Iron) and spells (OOC: SR 25). Ulm (OOC: with the help of two dork cards) successfully cast dispel magic, dismissing a polymorph spell that the demon used to conceal herself in the form of a wasp. After only a few rounds of fighting, the Reprisal Squad sent the demon back to its plane of existence (OOC: During this combat, the party learned that a Marilith also has Fire and Cold Resistance and Electricity Immunity).
OOC: There was one small error in the way we interpreted a spell in this encounter. The Marilith cast Blade Barrier which should have been an “immobile, vertical curtain of whirling blades shaped of pure force” as opposed to a ring of twirling blades. If, on the other hand, the Marilith had used the spell Ring of Blade, the ring would be centered on it as opposed to being placed in the middle of the room.
DM: No error here. The Effect line for Blade Barrier reads “…or a RINGED WALL of whirling blades with a RADIUS of up to 5 ft. per two levels.”
The party went back to the room in which the Marilith had been stationed. They saw chamber that had been rough-hewn from the natural rock. A single fissure on one wall looked out into the canyon, allowing both light and fresh air into the room. The floor was covered with exotic rugs and silken hangings covered much of the walls. A low wooden table, silvery and cracked with age rested by the opposite wall, surrounded by sitting cushions. A large brass hookah rested in the center of the room. In the far corner was a crudely carved stone idol. Anmor told the party that he believed the carving was of the god and creator of the fire giants, Surtr. Ulm searched the room and found a leather purse containing 290 GP and assorted gems worth 600 GP. While the brass hookah, exotic rugs and silken hangings appeared to be valuable, the party did not attempt to deal with their bulk.
This large chamber seems to be a combination of a bedroom and a study. Against the far wall are cushions heaped in a haphazard nest. The walls are covered with strange runes and markings, and a large stack of oversized books lies on a cluttered desk in the north.
Ulm cast on Chresin and an Invisibility Sphere on everyone else. He also cast Silence on a stone and before the party opened the closed door visible from the hallway. Kullen opened the door and the party saw a frost giant leaning over the desk and muttering to himself. The party decided to attempt to talk to the giant before doing anything else. Ulm and Anmor stepped out of the area of silence and cast and , respectively. Though his image, Ulm spoke to the frost giant. He told Vercinabex Tor that Charlgar was dead and that he, Ulm, was now in possession of the key. He tried to convince the giant that the party shared his goals and that they must get the treasure out of the citadel immediately. They parlayed for a few minutes, but ultimately, Ulm failed to convince Vercinabex Tor to work with the party. Instead, the giant cast the spell and disappeared. Anmor advised party that the giant will most likely reappear in the same spot within the ten minutes.
While the giant was gone, Chresin attempted to read the writings on the wall. The remaining party members prepared to attack the giant, upon his return. After a few rounds, Vercinabex reappeared and a brief combat ensued. However, because they were prepared, the fight last only a few seconds before the giant was slain. Anmor cast but was unable to gain anything from Vercinabex. Anmor studied the walls for two to three minutes but soon realized that the notes about the ritual were incomplete. Chresin cast Detect Magic and found the following items on Vercinabex’s corpse and within the room:
- +2 Icyburst Warmace (large)
- Bracers of Armor +6
- Cloak of Charisma +6
- 4 Potions of Cure Serious Wounds (3d8+5)
- Potion of Water Walking
- Small bag with fetishes
- 1,275 GP
- 3,800 SP
- Gems worth 900 GP
- Gold Tableware and Serving pieces 2,500 GP
The stairs descend into an oddly shaped room with a vaulted ceiling approximately forty feet high. Great stone double doors are set into the wall in the northeast and a covered in detailed bas-relief. Depicted on the left-hand door are hundreds of stone giants locked in mortal combat with horrific worm covered undead of all shapes and sizes. The giants appear to be taking the worst of it. Overshadowing it all is the massive trapezohedral monolith. Inside the monolith is a vaguely humanoid form surrounded by dozens of writhing worms. A circle of a dozen small figures stands before the monolith enacting some ritual. The right-hand door shows another group of small human figures. They have gathered in a circle on a ledge overlooking a cliff obviously protecting something in their midst. Over this ledge are dozens of skeletal undead and rearing up in the background is an immense boney creature. Between these undead and the circle stands a group of brave heroes with flags on their backs, single handedly holding off the advancing undead.
The party moved down the spiral stairway, noting two large statues on either side of the doors. Anmor and Ulm crossed the room and examined the carvings. Anmor explained that the image on the left door depicts the material avatar of Yog-Sothoth is trapped within the monolith. He further explained that the ritual that the small figures are performing is likely to summon more of the worm gods servants and ultimately fee him. Ulm explained that the figures on the right door surround a seven-sided container, ornately carved with tiny monsters and skulls. The heroes holding off the undead are a dwarf, gnome, half-orc, and two humans. Their faces are not shown, but their equipment looks very familiar to the party.
As Anmor stepped back from the door, he notices a human ghost floating just behind his shoulder. Though startled at first, Anmor quickly realized that this was the ghost named Alastor whom he and the original party met in the (OOC: ) Alastor shared the following information with the party:
Long have our journeys been since our last meeting. You have come far in your quest to stop the abomination that rises even as we speak, and I have been down long roads in other worlds learning who and what I am. And now, here at this juncture, our paths cross again.
Since you put my bones to rest, I have travelled long through the afterlife and have met many of my distinguished ancestors. It turns out that my line is a long one and curiously intertwined with the forces that aligned against Yog-Sothoth. Each ancestor I encountered shared with me the memories of their struggles.
My oldest ancestor was Almadris Half-Elven. Eight thousand years ago, he served among the hosts of Zanaaphic the All-King of the Spirit Universe when they marched on Kuluth-Mar. There, they thwarted Angall and stopped the first attempt to bring Yog from the Outer Darkness and into your world. It was then that Yog’s material avatar was trapped in the obsidian monolith.
Another of my ancestors was Zosiel, a Dragon Lord of Oricha. I’m sure you know that he fought at the Battle of Night’s Dawning, which took place more than six thousand years ago over the ziggurat that is now home to the Monks of Many Steps in Rastingdrung. Perhaps you also know that it was Demogorgon who was responsible for the ziggurat. His minions built it when he invaded from the south with his lieutenants Miska the Wolf-Spider, Kizarvidexus, and Ogremoch. Their purpose was to complete Angall’s Folly and fully release Yog into the Wilderlands.
But my ancestor and his allies fouled the Demon Lord’s plans when they used the Rod of Sotur. Although the Rod was shattered into Seven Parts, it allowed the Vaati to slay Miska the Wolf-Spider and banished Demogorgon back to the Abyss. There the stopped the second attempt to bring Yog into your world, keeping him trapped in his stony prison.
The Vaati left behind certain guardians to watch and wait for the re-emergence of Chaos One such group of guardians grew powerful and became known as the Order of the Storm. Five thousand years ago, my ancestor Catenae was one of them and because of his memories, I know what happened next.
Drazzaroth, angry at his former enslavement as a mount of the Dragon Lords, stole the obsidian monolith from atop the Spire of Long Shadows and brought it to his lair here in Lighthedge Canyon. Over the centuries, the presence of Yog’s monolith transformed this portion of the canyon into what is know today as Wormcrawl Fissure. Then after Drazzaroth was murdered and returned to unlife by the Worm god, the dracolich raised an undead army and began the most recent attempt to start the Age of Worms. But the Order of the Storm was ready. Somehow, I think you know of the battle that followed.
To my ancestral memories, each of you looks familiar. I think you must be descended from the Heroes of Prophecy who turned the tide that day, for the likeness is uncanny. Therefore, it would seem we are all tied to this struggle. It explains why I was so drawn to Zosiel’s tomb in the Whispering Cairn, until my destiny was fulfilled, and I fell into that trap to await your coming, Mister Dwarf. Likewise, I can smell the mark of destiny on all of you. Your coming here is no accident. Like me, you are all heirs to the legacy of those who have opposed Yog-Sothoth. As such, I have waited here to advise you one more time.
In the room beyond lies Drazzaroth’s phylactery. Yet to reach it, you must to your memories; your souls. Find the ritual of opening and use the vault keys. Yet know also that once these doors are open, the phylactery vault will be open to all. Drazzaroth and his minions will smell his phylactery and they shall come to claim it. You must be quick. If you destroy the phylactery, Drazzaroth can be truly slain, but as his lifeforce escapes, he may be able to reclaim some of it from beyond – destroying the phylactery may make him more dangerous than ever before. Yet I see little choice.
I must go now. You shall not see me again, I think, until you join me on the other side. Good luck my friends, and farewell.
Examining the statues beside the door, Anmor determined that they were not statues at all, but rather were a type of creature known as Raam. They had iron grey skin, giving them the appearance of statues, hairless heads, glassy eyes and craggy features. Anmor explains that they are all that remain of an ancient race of giants have died out due to attrition and their inability to reproduce. They are actually quasi-undead, a Detect Magic spell showed that they radiated a strong aura of necromancy.
After a brief discussion, the party decided to try to scry upon Kagro Thundersmiter, in an attempt to find out shere he was and, if possible, where he was keeping the other key. Ulm cast the spell , causing the hallway leading to the vault to appear empty. Anmor then attempted to cast . Though the spell was cast successfully, the giant’s will power was able to prevent it from functioning properly (OOC: he got a 36 on his Will Save).
The next thing that they tried, however was successful. Anmor cast and determined that Kagro was located in the upper most chamber in the citadel. Not knowing the exact position of the chamber, Chresin cast and took the Reprisal Squad to the roof of the highest tower. This tower was capped by seven-foot tall crenulations. A giant-size ballista and proportionally sized bolts was positioned such that it overlooked the canyon. Near the center of the roof they also found a trap door that was closed but not barred. Anmor cast Detect Magic and determined that there was a magical aura in the room below.
This chamber is decorated like a hunting lodge. Half a dozen dragon skulls of various breeds are mounted on the walls. The furnishings include a table, three chairs, and some shelves, all composed of dragon claws and horns riveted together. The bed is nothing more than a huge mound of hides and furs. A ladder rises to the trap door in the ceiling and there is another trap door opposite the one in the ceiling.
Ulm cast Silence on a coin while others in the party fashioned a make shift screen out of their druidic flags to reduce the light that was sure to enter the room through the opened trap door. Kullen lifted the trap door and the party saw Kagro Thundersmiter pacing about the room, looking out the windows. He did not immediately notice the Reprisal Squad. Chresin cast Dimension Hop silently, causing Kullen and him (along with the silenced coin) to appear in the bedchamber below. A brief, but intense battle followed. Fortunately for the Reprisal Squad, because he was surprised and, due to the Silence spell, unable to call for assistance, Kagro was ultimately defeated.
Searching the room, the party found second key to the vault along with the following magical items:
- Flame tongue dragon fang longsword, medium-size
- +5 Mithril breast plate, large-size
- Cape of the Mountebank (OOC: Dim. Door 1/day, DMG P252, 10,080GP)
- +2 Keen dragon bane greataxe, large-size
- 5 +1 Javelins
- Ring of protection +2
- Ring of resistance +3 (Ulm)
- Amulet of Health +2
- Mantle of Faith (OOC: DR 5/Evil, DMG P261, 76,000 GP)
- 2 Barkskin potions
- 1 Displace potion
- 2 Haste potions
- 3 Cure Serious Wounds (3d8+5)
After identifying all of the magic items, Anmor healed the party. Ulm created another screen, causing an illusion of Kagro pacing within his bedchamber. The party set watches, then rested until the next morning.
Waterday, 2nd of Thistleburn, 4433
The Reprisal Squad was awakened to the sound of dragons attacking the citadel. Peering out the windows, the counted at least 20 dragons of various types repeatedly attacking the citadel and its inhabitants. The party completed their preparations for the day, then Chresin used Dimension Door to transport everyone to the doors leading to the vault. With Anmor carrying one key and Chresin holding the other, the party approached the door. Instantly, they knew the words that were needed to complete the ritual of opening.
We do this of full mind and body, knowing that we are going to unleash knowledge upon the world for which it may not be ready. But it is imperative that we do it now. (OOC: we know what we’re doing … open the damned doors)!
Beyond the double doors, the ceiling of this vaulted chamber is lost in shadow above. Flanking stairs rise ten feet to a platform across the room. Atop is stands the statue of a rampant dragon, wings spread, foreclaws extended, and mouth agape. Its chest is open revealing its rib cage, wherein floats a ruby-red box, its faces carved with leering dragons. Dark striations of rock travel vertically through the walls, creating the illusion of pulsing blood veins in the light given off by the glowing red box. A susurrus echoes through the chamber like dark secrets long hidden. As the doors swing wide, the flickering light pulses once, and then fades.
As soon as the pulse of light faded, the Raam giants came to life and engaged the party. A mighty struggle ensued as the party learned that the creatures were immune to some of their most potent spells (i.e. Immune to electricity, cold, mind effecting spells, flanking, critical hits, and massive damage). Anmor made use of multiple Evasculate spells to both do physical damage to the creatures as well as stun them. A few Flames Strikes and Channeled Pyro-bursts further weaken the creatures. Kullen used his Greataxe of Stuff to make the killing blow on one of the Raams, while Granuel used his special Death Touch ability to finish the second.
Anmor healed Chresin’s ability damage and Chresin took a healing potion as the party surveyed the rest of the room. Moments later as they moved deeper into the chamber, the ancient red dragon, Brazzemal, burst through the stone wall mere feet away from the phylactery, sending rocks and debris flying in all directions. Anmor cast Weird (OOC: plus, we burned two dork cards to overcome SR) and stunned the dragon for one round. Chresin grabbed the phylactery, swift cast Dimension Hop and landed adjacent to the carved double doors, then cast Regroup and brought the rest of the Reprisal Squad out of the chamber.
As he held the phylactery, Chresin felt its evil tendrils trying to reach inside his mind, but he was able to resist its affects (OOC: Will Save). He mentioned this to the other party members and Granuel cast Resistance, Anmor cast Recitation, thus boosting Chresin’s ability to resist. Fortified, Chresin used Dimension Door to move the party to the undercity. Feeling sure that Brazzemal can sense the phylactery, the party decided to teleport back to Ut Prandur. Using the Helm of Teleportation, Granuel ferried the party to safety. Once everyone had safely returned to Ut Prandur, the party immediately destroyed the phylactery.
XP totals at the end of session 35:
* Anmor 171,710
* Ulm and Chresin 169,871
* Granuel 166,473
* Kullen 169,993
Anmor should level up to 19th. Everyone else should level early in Session 36, so come ready.