The stinking remains of the disembodied zombie-head oozed in its wall niche and the floor was strewn with the shattered fragments of skulls. The slayers were all somewhat wounded, some more than others, and as they saw only a single path before them they decided to continue on.
Cris [Vorwulf’s Player]: “Man, we’ve got no choice! It’s this or the end of the world!”
Gil [Grom’s Player]: “You think no one else will stop him?”
Jenn [Magiia’s Player]: “It’s up to us then. Let’s go!”
Vorwulf crept up to the start of the short north-running hall. At the end of the bend of the L-shaped passage he could spy a door and stopped to see if he could spot any traps. There was something not right about the skull decoration on the door. The door at the end of the hall was another iron-banded heavy wood door with no visible locks with a white enameled sculpture of a skull affixed to the center of its face. He withdrew so Olf, the Arborean healer, could use his telekinesis to open the door in order to bypass any potential magical traps (those activated by touch anyway). The fighters and the Blue-Hand were whispering amongst themselves while they waited for the slayers to give the go-ahead. The door creaked open arthritically on rusted hinges but to no other incident. Vorwulf, being somewhat cautious tossed a copper piece into the dim, mystically lit room to see “if anything happens”. When nothing did the ranger/dragon-slayer led the war-party in.
The atmosphere within was damp and smelled strongly of mold and mustiness. Heaped into the center of the room were the decayed remains of a large leather chair and a small table. A fresh but cold breeze blew in from behind a fancy but badly corroded vent-grating in the north wall just above the open door. To the south-east in the eastern wall was a stone step rising to the next floor. Standing in a large niche indented into the south wall was another statue portraying the beautified countenance of Parkannis Blackbrow, a large superior quality multi-faceted crystal orb held in an outstretched polished white-marble hand but this one was glowing with a fairly strong pale blue light. The statues sapphire eyes sparkled poisonously and held high in the other cold, white hand as if ready to strike was a solid gold javelin artfully styled into a lightning bolt. Along the eastern wall of the musty 15 ft. square chamber hung a large bronze shield with a large eye motif at its center with a large fist-sized sapphire as its pupil. The shield hung between two sets of crossed battle axes and great swords. As soon as the slayers were within the eerie chamber the crossed weapons on the east wall shot from their hooks and flew at them as the shield-eye began to flicker then strobe with angry blue light.
It didn’t take long for the adventurers to smash the flying weapons to shivers, less than 1 melee round, though Maggi’s armor took another couple of dings. The light in the shields eye winked out and the chamber was again filled with the soft blue glow from the large crystal. Again, they began to move through the room in a southeasterly direction towards the steps. Suddenly the shields eye blazed and Vorwulf’s heavy astral-driftmetal battle-axe was surrounded by an angry blue aura and seemed to wriggle like a living thing in his hands for a few moments but he was able to maintain his grip and the shield eye again blinked out. He motioned for the rest to follow; the Blue-Hand motioned the rest of the party to temporarily sheath their weapons as they moved past the sorcerous shield. Grom however, walked over to the statue, the glowing crystal having caught his eye. He pulled out his dagger and began to work on prying the crystal from the statues hand carefully as not to damage the treasure. He was concentrating on his efforts and didn’t notice when the last of the fighters walked up the steps out of sight. Soon after, the shaman heard the crash of breaking wood from above echoing down the steps.
After about a minute he finally yanked the crystal free. Its glow intensified. He heard a soft male voice whisper into his left ear with a slight but perceptible effeminacy.
Parkannis [the lich]: “SO why do you and your companions harry me barbarian? They and you are very skilled, powerful; and may have a place with my army. You can be rich and powerful serving the rightful lord of these lands.”
Grom [looking up at the 8 ft. tall statue]: “Um. Uh. We come in peace?”
Jenn snickered (she does that a lot).
Grom jumped back when he felt a hand land lightly on his left shoulder.
Gil: “Aw sh*t!”
Parkannis: “DO NOT insult me you savage!”
Grom backed towards the southeast easing towards the stairs but afraid to turn his back on the enemy mage. Parkannis, appearing as a beautiful youth with long gleaming black hair fixed by a glittering gold circlet with a single black pearl, his turquoise gold trimmed blue robe flapped when his raised his arms in the air revealing a pair of solid gold bracers studded with diamonds and emeralds on his wrists, the 3 rings on each hand shone in the reflected light of the statues crystal the light of which suddenly diminished before it went out entirely leaving Grom in a dark room under the flickering flame-light of his closed lantern which was fastened to his belt. The youth slowly followed after Grom at a leisurely pace gliding along the floor with a certain amount of measured grace ultimately leaving only a slight space between himself and the shaman.
Parkannis: “You think you can break into my HOME and disturb my RESOURCES and thwart MY right to reclaim MY lands. I AM MAGNIFICENT; I AM FURST, I AM PARKANNIS THE BLACK, and you are NOTHING!”
A golden spear stabbed through the apparent body of Parkannis towards the shaman as the image of Parkannis (for that was what it was; an illusion) dispersing it as smoke though no doubt Grom had been conversing with the authentic Parkannis, revealing the white statue made in its image wielding the gold lightning bolt lance as its weapon.
Gil/Grom: “Uh, guys?”
Cris: “Dude, we’re busy! You gotta deal with it yerself!”
Maggi had kicked down the door revealing a fairly large and hideously underused dining room, fully set and decorated, and the 3 iron bone skeletons attendant within that sizeable chamber.
Cris: “Three! THREE! REALLY!”
Me [the GM]: “Well, only one has six-arms.”
Cris scowled at me as he picked up his D20 and began to roll initiative.
A brief battle ensued with Vorwulf and Maggi slinging powerful blow after powerful blow at the iron skellies and Olf catching the third skeleton in a telekinetic grapple after buffeting it from atop the long table. The six-armed skeleton scored a lucky slash with the serrated blade of one of its falchions on Vorwulf wounding him horribly. Magiia took her share of the wounds and found herself at the same level of physical damage that she had been at before the scant healing that she had received previously.
Meanwhile, on the floor below in the eye-shield chamber, after avoiding a jab of the golden lightning lance, now crackling with electricity, Grom quickened a Bull’s Strength spell on himself and whipped out his Mace of Supernatural Power. A blast of magical energy shot from the statues sapphire eyes.
Gil: “I just remembered. I have this Ring of Eldritch Aura so it has to get through my Magic Resistance first.”
Which it didn’t.
Cris: “This guy! Uh! Oh I forgot I have this THING that will completely wipe that out!”
Grom quickly pummeled the animated statue to dust. He snatched up the sapphire eyes from the shattered head and wrapped the crystal he had taken from the statues hand in a rag and dropped it into the Bag of Holding on his hip when he noticed a pale blue light shining within his backpack; the other crystal was glowing. In it he could see a clear vision of Parkannis pacing back and forth presumably at the top battlements of the tower. He pulled off a fur he was wearing from his shoulders and wrapped that crystal up as well stuffing it back into his pack. He jaunted up the steps to rejoin his companions the sound of ringing steel rising with every step.
To Be Continued…