tag
FacebookPinterestLinkedInEmailRSS

The Cabal of Eight Pt.16: Fight for Sleep

The young mages had split their take from the Under-City Vaults and looked to hide the undivided booty someplace in the cabal room. After thoroughly searching the chamber Gornix (played by Gil) was able to find a small alcove behind a false brick in the hearth. They stashed a bag of gems (3 diamonds, 3 sapphires, 2 jade pieces, 1 emerald, and 3 moonstones) there along with some dragon’s teeth and the lotus seeds.

While they had done this they failed to notice that the amazon Athfonia (played by Perla) had slipped away just after they split the talons. The Ferenoi had absconded with her fair share of the gems and currency so the young mages simply shrugged her absence off.

Concerning the gear, Excor (played by Cris) took the Platinum Key encrusted with diamonds (Level 12, Knock 3/day used by inserting and turning the key, Passdoor 1/day used by tapping the key on the door), 1 healing potion, and the Jet Amulet (Level 5, Shield at will 1/day). The Jet Amulet won in a roll-off between Cris and Jenn.

Fauna (played by Jenn) took the polished bronze dagger with the carved jade grip (Level 8, +2 magic modifier, +4 to Luck level while being wielded), the mantrap seeds, the mandrake root, 1 Neutralize Poison Potion, and 1 Heal All Potion.

Gornix took the Electrum Ring with black enameled runes (Level 20, Call Nature’s Ally [Eagle] 2/day) and a Heal All Potion. Excor put the heavy bronze spiked mace under his chair as nobody wanted to actually continue carrying the weapon around.

Szoosha (played by Isis) took possession of the ruby-studded Copper Bracers inlaid with silver (Level 16, Armor Bane at will 1/day, +2 magic modifier to hand strikes and to bracer parry), 1 Neutralize Poison Potion, and 1 Claws of the Beast Potion.

Equipped with their new gear and their purses fattened with their shares of the loot the young mages decided to accompany Gornix to his apartment since he was still carrying the Amber Bee. It was still night though the wee hours. Black storm clouds filled the sky.

As the small group of mages walked through the city streets the lighting flashed and thunder cracked across the sky. They were about half-way to Gornix’s apartment when Fauna spotted the dark outlines of four winged imps following them.

Fauna: “Guys! We have company!”

Excor pulled his Copper Spike and shot a lightning bolt at the lead red imp barely scratching it. The third imp flew up to Gornix to smash its tiny split-hooves into his face as lightning flashed the sky. Fortunately he parried. The first imp exhaled a cone of fire catching both Fauna and Szoosha in the area of effect. Fauna lucked out and took no damage (Natural 20) but Szoo was badly burned and stunned by the blast (forced a Recovery roll so he didn’t die).

The second red imp did the same catching Szoo and Excor in its fiery breath. Szoo dropped into unconsciousness from the burns. Excor lucked out and took no damage (Natural 20’d it as well). Fauna forced her Heal All potion down the Naga’s throat. The fourth imp blasted its fire breath at the young mages singing them all. Gornix whacked imp number three with his staff but dealt no damage.

The first imp kicked Excor in the head drawing some blood. The second imp kicked Fauna in the face whom walked right into the blow while trying to avoid (she rolled a Natural 1). Fauna was stunned and bleeding from the monster’s nasty hooves, she was forced into a Recovery roll to stay on her feet. As Szoo got up imp number four kicked him in the face with a critical blow (N20) horribly injuring the black-scaled naga. Gornix unleashed Chrono-Missile at number three, twice, significantly wounding the small demon.

Imp number one burst into flames (it’s Blazing Aura [fire] ability) as did number four. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor [fire] on himself. The flames coursed over his scaly flesh and hardened into strange looking plates of a mystical nature. Excor leveled his spike at number one slightly nicking the demon with his lightning bolt. Imp number two and three ignited their blazing auras as well. Gornix blasted the third imp again with his chrono-missiles horribly wounding it. The first imp kicked at Excor’s head drawing some blood.

Cris: “Damn these things! I’m hurt BAD!”

The fourth imp tried to kick Szoo in the head but missed. Excor quickened a lightning bolt on imp number one but only slightly scratched it again. Szoo cranked back his staff, swung a mighty blow at imp number four, and nearly threw his weapon away as lightning flashed overhead. Luckily he snatched it back before it fully escaped his grip. Fauna slung a lightning bolt at number two dealing some damage to the little monster. Number two responded with a fearsome face kick but was parried easily by Fauna. Gornix again shot chrono-missiles at number three finally blasting it into oblivion. He then cast close wounds on himself.

Fauna cast another lightning bolt at number two dealing some damage to it. Number four tried to fly over and kick Szoo in the head again but locked its hooves with his staff. Excor leveled his spike at number one hurting it some with an electrical bolt. Number two tried to smash Fauna in the face again but she parried. Number one tried to cast Pox on Excor but he was able to resist the curse. Gornix took some time to check his array of wizardly knowledge about the imps (his Dark Knowledge Wizard specialist class ability) shouting out to the others where the creatures’ weaknesses lay. Szoo kept the fourth imp’s tiny hooves locked with his staff.

Jenn: “Gawd! These things are tough!”

Cris:  “Yeah! No duh! These are TOUGH, there’s still THREE of ‘em! I’m BAD with hit points how’re you?”

Jenn: “I’m hurt!”

Fauna cast a lightning bolt at number two severely wounding it. Imp number four tried to break the lock with Szoo but couldn’t break loose. Number two tried to kick at Fauna but missed horribly and fell to the ground from the air. Number one tried again to stamp its hooves into Excor’s forehead but was parried due to pure luck (Cris rolled a natural 20 parry). Gornix swung his staff at the imp on the ground but missed. Szoo maintained his lock on imp number four. Gornix made another swing with his staff before the fallen imp could leap into the air and bashed its skull.

Gornix swung again at number two’s head cracking its dome. Fauna cast lightning bolt at number two but the creature avoided the bolt. Number two leapt into the air and kicked at Gornix but missed. Excor used his spike again at number one adding to its multiple abrasions. Number one failed to cast Pox at Excor. Number four failed to break Szoo’s lock. Szoo, overpowering imp four, swung his staff and slammed imp four into the ground.

Gornix swung his staff at number two again but the blow was easily parried. Fauna launched another lightning bolt at imp number two and finally blasted it to bits. Number one kicked at Excor again but missed. Imp number four tried to break the naga’s grapple again but again found itself too weak. Szoo maintained his grip. Gornix used his electrum ring to summon an eagle and sent it to attack number one. It missed.

Isis: “Ugh! I want to STAB this guy so BAD!”

The Other Players (in unison): “NO! Maintain your grapple!”

Excor leveled his copper spike at number one again but did no damage. Gornix attempted to perform a coup-de-grace on number four but he only slightly wounded it. As a result of Gornix’s strike it got free of Szoo’s grip. Imp number four jumped up into the air and took wing. Fauna cast a lightning bolt at number four dealing some damage. Szoosha dropped his staff and unsheathed his dagger. Number one tried to kick Excor again and again missed.

Gornix cast chrono-missile at number four which it tried and failed to dodge. It was somewhat wounded now. Fauna tried but failed to cast lightning bolt. Szoo tried to stab number four but wound up flinging his dagger about 10 ft. away. Number one again tried and failed to kick Excor in the chops. Gornix’s eagle struck at number one again but its talons were parried. Gornix then pegged number four with some more chrono-missiles.

Cris: “S#@%! I’m on K.O. points!”

Excor cast Close Wounds on himself. Gornix’s eagle again struck at number one but missed. Gornix let loose another barrage of chrono-missiles at number one finally blasting it from the stormy sky. Fauna cast lightning bolt on number four wounding it. Number four went to kick Gornix in the face and he took the damage and simul-attacked (using his Battle Magic feat) with the chrono-missile spell finally killing it. Excor found Szoo’s lost dagger. All were badly wounded, nearly out of magic and the vitality needed to work it.

The mages limped back to Gornix’s apartment as fast as they could. They barricaded the door and secured the window shudders. Gornix cast Close Wounds on himself and Fauna applied healing salve to everyone including herself. They figured they were safe enough to not set a watch, as if they could if they wanted to.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.15: The Dungeon’s Heart

All of them gathered into the central chamber of the under-city vaults cast in the strange white glow of the blood red gem known as the Dungeon Heart. None of them wanted to stay behind for caution’s sake in case the others should discover any treasures apart from the McGuffin.

This chamber, the gem heart’s cell, was an octagonal chamber its floor, walls, and domed ceiling constructed wholly of green marble. Large bronze reliefs of the same face that had plagued them throughout the vault took up the walls to the Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest each with an open gaping maw. The Dungeon Heart sat upon its white marble pedestal at only an arm’s length.

Cris (at the GM, me): “You Sonuvab!*@#! If we try to take the gem something’s coming out of those mouths Huh? What sand or poison gas! Or ACID!”

Strangely enough he didn’t name the most probable thing that would kill them, sewer water.

Cris (directed at Gil): “Dude check for traps.”

Therefore Gornix (played by Gil) checked and easily spotted a pressure sensitive trigger underneath the gem. If they tried to lift it from the pedestal it would spring a trap. He then prepared to disable it then got a better idea. Rather he appraised the gem and found it to be a fake. It was cut glass and filled with some sort of liquid. In actuality, it was an alchemical trap. If the fragile glass gem was broken or cracked the liquid would instantly turn into a deadly fume gassing the thieves.

Gornix: “Okay, the gem is a decoy! Hmmm.”

The young wizard inspected the false gem and its pedestal a bit closer. It took little time for him to detect that the pedestal itself slid to one side revealing a secret door in the floor. So he unilaterally decided to move it on his own and saw a ladder going straight down into the hidden chamber below.

Excor (played by Cris)(at Gornix): “Aww man! Don’t, no! *Sigh* There could’ve been a trap.”

Gornix (looking down into the secret chamber): “But there wasn’t so let’s go!”

Excor: “Okay. You first.”

So Gornix led the crew down into the hidden chamber. This chamber was a large octagonal chamber. Finely carven runes covered the walls. Not an inch of the immaculate green marble walls were unwarded.  It had human sized niches carved in each of its eight walls and six thick green marble pillars supporting its middle. At the southern half of the room between four of those pillars sat a short white marble pedestal and on it sat the true Dungeon Heart which lit this room. Immediately Gornix saw two bronze chests against the western wall.

Suddenly, a blast of air from nowhere buffeted Fauna throwing her to the floor. The young mages saw what appeared to be three dusty whirlwinds take form before their eyes. Each had a yellow glowing pair of its own. They were inferior air elementals.

Fauna leapt up from the ground. Athfonia (played by Perla) readied her spear to defend any attacks against her. Szoo (played by Isis) summoned forth his flaming pole-arm. Gornix summoned three inferior earth elementals which immediately attacked the air elementals. As soon as they met, all were annihilated.

Szoo: “Well that was EASY!”

With the last of their foes obliterated, the young mages went about collecting their prize. Gornix checked the gem for traps before picking it up and pocketing it. They then turned their attentions to the chests. Gornix immediately tried to pry one open with his dagger but only succeeded in bending the blade. Athfonia on the other hand cast Bull’s Strength on herself and easily pried open both bronze chests.

Inside of the first chest, they found 5 gold talons, 2 potions of Heal All, 1 potion of Neutralize Poison, 1 Scroll with Curse: Sleep Walking on it, a Platinum Skeleton Key encrusted with diamonds, and a polished bronze dagger with a carved jade grip. Under all of these was another scroll.

On this, only the title could be made out, it read: The White-Light Ruby. The scroll was written in spider-runes, blobs of black ink that moved and swirled about the page changing form. It was nigh impossible to decipher. Gornix snatched it up and stared at it intently hoping to luck out and read it.

In the second chest they found 5 silver talons, a bag of gems (3 diamonds, 6 emeralds, 3 sapphires, 12 pieces of jade, 8 moonstones), 1 potion of healing, 1 potion of neutralize poison, 1 potion of claws of the beast, a bag of coins (100 gp, 150 sp, 10 pp, 8 bt [bronze thorns], 100 cp, and 20 star pieces), a scroll of Wild Spell, a Jet Amulet, an Electrum Ring with Black Enameled Runes, and Ruby-studded Copper Bracers inlaid with silver.

They quickly packed up their booty and high-tailed it out of the hidden chamber. Above they found the walls of force that had served to seal off this chamber through all but one archway were gone. They also noticed that the place seemed darker, and quieter. The plaster on some walls was actively falling off onto the floor and slime seemed be seeping in were there was none before.

Fauna: “Man, let’s get outta here!”

It wasn’t long before they met back up with their ratling allies who had a fully equipped delving party ready to go clean up after they emerged. It wasn’t long until the ratlings quickly guided them through the maze of Ezmer’s sewers. They emerged from a manhole not far from the Red Helm Tavern.

Excor (to Fauna):  “Did you get the path back to the dungeon memorized?”

Fauna: “Yup.”

They promptly limped back to the tavern only to find it closed. It was late at night after all. Therefore it took some pounding on the door for the irate bartender to answer through the delivery slit. Of course, he wouldn’t let them in until they bribed him with 6 gold pieces. Hence the dirty mages went up to the cabal room to identify and split the take.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.14: The Under-City Vaults Pt.4

They stood around the smoking wreckage of the animated bronze brazier. The accursed thing had Lesser Chimerablasted them with fire missiles and slammed its metal body against them like a bludgeon. Athfonia (Played by Perla) had taken up the large flanged bronze mace (see Cabal of Eight Pt.12: The Under-City Vaults Pt.2). Fauna (Played by Jenn) and Excor (Played by Cris) had leveled lightning bolts at it but it was finally blasted to bits by Gornix’s (Played by Gil) Chrono-Missiles.  Standing around the ruined construct they realized that they all were “out of spells” and badly hurt. They needed to rest.

They contemplated the wall of force that filled the green arch in the chamber’s west wall. It was all that separated them from their quarry. A dark set of steps that angled down through the doorway in the north but they “weren’t ready for that yet”. The Dungeon Heart’s proximity was wearing on them. They considered a Mini-Portal but realized that even if the spell worked the gem was still too far away. In addition, both Excor and Gornix, the only two left with the ability to cast any spells in that vein, had already spent almost all of their K.O. points to continue casting spells beyond their limits.

Cris: “Man. If I cast another spell I’m down!”

Gil (disappointedly): “Yeah, me too.”

After quite some time they decided to go back to the chamber with the heavy table where the books on it had attacked them (see Cabal of Eight Pt.13: The Under-City Vaults Pt.3)(R12 on the map). They were going to barricade the north passage in that room using the heavy table within.

After backtracking and barricading themselves in, they set down their bedrolls and Fauna applied healing salves to both Excor and Gornix to speed healing. Athfonia used her last few spells to cast Heal Other on Fauna, Excor, and Gornix. They took watch in shifts and slept. Surprisingly they got a peaceful full ‘night’s’ rest. They choked down some trail rations, moved the heavy table aside, and continued north to the dark staircase with renewed vigor.

Fortunately, Gornix was able to discern, by jabbing it with his staff, that the first step was hinged and would give way if more than around 10 lbs. of pressure were applied to it. They continued with Gornix in the lead. He tapped every step so they proceeded somewhat slowly down the first flight. Then arriving on a landing they proceeded by the same method down the next short flight down heading east. Just before he stepped into the chamber before him, Gornix smelled the strong scent of concentrated sewer gas.

Szoosha (pushing past Gornix): “I got this!”

The naga threw flames into the chamber setting the air alight. They could hear the hiss-thump of the fire evacuating into a larger chamber beyond.

The newly singed chamber was barren with a domed ceiling where traces of paint could still be seen. The air was heavy and damp tinged with the stench of sewer water and sea brine. An empty niche lay to the east and a passage lay open to the north. The smooth stone walls were covered in perspiration and exhibited a high water mark at the waist.

They took the north passage finding themselves moving into a large cavern where the southern walls were roughly hewn as was the doorway that exited into it. On either side of the doorway were empty torch sconces still burning with illusory torchlight lending an eerie atmosphere to the natural cavern. The entire north part of the cavern sunk into water, a brackish impenetrable green and pungent mix of seawater and sewage. Before that, a trash strewn gravel beach. Across the water to the far west, they could see torchlight through a doorway atop a stone platform just above the water line.

Gornix decided to “scout out” the shoreline to try detecting any threats. Athfonia figured it a good idea to follow him. A soon as he got close to the water a large lump of blue-green slime slopped out of the water and tried to engulf him.

Athfonia, still wielding the bronze mace, struck the gelatinous thing with some effect. The creature shot out a tentacle at Athfonia but it fortunately missed. Gornix cast chrono-missile at it dealing some damage and then quickened a Ghost Form spell to protect himself. Fauna cast a lightning bolt at it dealing a little damage and Excor hit it with a bolt from his copper spike but it dealt no damage. The creature again tried to engulf Gornix but passed right through his incorporeal form. Gornix then leveled a chrono-missile at it and a lightning bolt dealing a bit of damage to it.

The sea-slime tried to engulf Athfonia but the amazon nimbly dodged it. Excor hit it with another bolt from his spike this time dealing some damage to it and Gornix finished it with another Chrono-missile. Afterwards as the slime melted into the gravel, they realized some of them would be swimming from this point over to the landing.

Gornix: “So. Who goes first?”

Szoo volunteered to swim himself and Fauna (who couldn’t swim) to the landing. He transformed into a large sea turtle, fauna put her cloak into his beak, and they were off. The others watched as they disappeared under the dirty water. It was a little while until they realized the druidess and black-scale naga were in trouble as they failed to surface.

Under the dark waters, a strong current had snatched a hold of the sea turtle and was dragging him straight down into an unknown abyss. The current might pull them out into the ocean somewhere near the harbor or it could drag them down into a deep complex of sea caves where the daylight has never and will never shine. Suddenly, Szoo felt a strong grip on his shell. He and his passenger were pulled up until they finally broke the water’s surface.

Athfonia had dove into the drink and miraculously blindly grabbed (Perla rolled a Natural 20) a hold of the sea turtle and was able to swim them to the platform. Gornix and Excor had already flown over each using the Nature’s Ability spell.

Fauna decided to lead, in part to get the furthest away from the water, and began using her staff to tap her way up the steps into flickering firelight. The steps went up and the passage bent at a landing lit with magic firelight that danced just above empty iron torch sconces. They continued around the bend arriving in an unlighted and barren chamber approximately 10 foot by 15. The painted plaster disintegrated off onto the floor from the sweaty and water-stained walls. There was only a single passage open to the south.

After Gornix searched for hidden compartments and secret doors (he found nothing), he decided to take lead. They moved into the next chamber via a short passageway. Gornix cautiously entered followed by each of the others except Excor. The young mages gathered into a group at the western end of the room leaving Excor in the hallway.

The rusted iron candle sconces around the top edge of the walls burst to light with flickering magic flames that were obviously illusory. The candle flames burned sans any candles and flickered within dense tangles of spider webs without ever setting them alight.

The chamber was startlingly dry with the floor covered in a thick layer of gray dust and cobwebs wafting and dangling from every surface. Above there was a 12 foot high vaulted ceiling and a thick round stone pillar at the west and east ends. Empty niches lined the walls each tall enough for an adult human. At the center of the room sat a large statue similar to another one they had already left behind in the other part of the dungeon. It too appeared as a crouching lion with a scorpion’s tail. However, it was larger and covered in layers of dust and cobwebs so that they couldn’t even determine from what material it had been made. On the floor around it was inscribed a magic circle glowing with uncanny blue light. Beyond that in the east wall was an archway that led into yet another chamber.

Excor curious at the mention of a magic circle moved into the room and identified the spell at a distance. Some sort of suspended animation spell. He was sure it was currently active. Therefore, desperate to check for secret compartments at the other end of the room Gornix circumnavigated the magic circle.

The others began to follow with Excor at the rear. The eerie blue light from the magic circle went out. Suddenly, the room exploded with dust blinding Excor and Gornix. The creature that stood at the center of the room appeared as an ultra-red lion but with a scorpion’s tail and a similarly armored back. Its bulging eyes burned green like fiendish emeralds each as big as a fist. The magic circle had been holding a minor chimera in suspended animation. Their trespass had awakened the guardian creature.

Fauna paralyzed and speechless with fear found her inner strength and shook it off. Excor splashed his face with his water-skin to wash out his eyes. Athfonia immediately cast Lightning Bolt at the monster singing its blood red hair black. Gornix stumbling blindly backward away from the creature splashed water from his water-skin into his eyes. Szoosha took no action, as he stood there terrified in the face of the beast. The chimera jabbed Athfonia with its tail stinger wounding and poisoning her.

Fauna swung at the creature with her staff but it bounced harmlessly from its weird hide. Gornix cast neutralize poison on Athfonia. Szoosha also found his inner strength and shook off the horror pulling his superior quality dagger. The monster raked Athfonia with its black claws tearing open a nasty and bloody wound in her side. This forced the Ferenoi to make a recovery check to prevent death. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile wounding it. The chimera snapped its powerful jaws at Fauna whom parried the bite with her staff (barely).

Fauna cast Lighting Bolt on the monster but it resisted the effects of the spell. Szoo slashed at the monster with his dagger notching its hide. Excor shot an electrical bolt from his copper spike but the creature resisted that spell as well. The monster’s deadly tail struck Szoo in the chest. The naga was able to resist the primary effects of its venom. Gornix summoned three medium sized earth elementals their stone bodies rising from the floor as if from smoke. They instantly snatched the beast in their stony grip. The young mages essentially beat it to death after with their staffs.

With the beast dead Gornix immediately ordered his elementals through the archway and into the eastern chamber from which they could see the glare of a familiar glow. The white light of the Dungeon Heart. Meanwhile Excor tried but failed to sever the scorpion tail from the chimera. He was distracted from his work when in the other chamber one of the elementals fell into a trap door at the center of the room.

Gil: “But the other two are fine right?”

Seeing that the other two of his elementals hadn’t triggered any traps. Gornix guided the rest of the young mages into the eastern chamber careful to take the same path.

They moved carefully into the next chamber. It was decked out in all white marble tiling. The only features of note being an empty niche in the north wall and a familiar green marble archway in the south. Through this green archway they could see their prize glittering in the green cell. Fauna used her staff to check to see if yet another Wall of Force would block their progress.

Fauna (stirring the air): “It’s CLEAR!”

To Be Continued…

 

The Cabal of Eight Pt.13: The Under-City Vaults Pt.3

Athfonia (played by Perla) lunged with her spear at the monster but missed. Excor (played by Cris), The vault map with each doorwhom was only about 5 feet from it, cast Spook. Fortunately the spell took hold and the creature was loath to approach much less attack him. Fauna (played by Jenn) tried to cast Sleep on the serpent but it was of no use. Gornix (played by Gil) cast Invisible to Sight on himself. Szoosha (played by Isis) summoned forth his flaming naginata and struck the serpentine creature wounding it. The serpent monster swung the spiked mace enwrapped in one of its 3 tails. Gornix parried the blow easily.

Surprised as to the ineffectiveness of his invisibility spell, Gornix drew his short-sword then cast Brighten Blade on it. Szoosha swung his flaming weapon at the monster but it parried the burning blade with its mace. The black scaled naga then took a few steps back to try to get beyond the serpent’s reach. The monster struck at Gornix with its fangs but it missed.

The young wizard replied with his gleaming sword but also missed. Then the creature struck at Szoo with its venomous fangs and sank its teeth deep into the naga’s flesh. Its poison weakened Szoo and made even the slightest movement agony. It then swung the club in another of its tails at Fauna who parried it with her dagger. It then struck at her trying to poison her as well. Fortunately for Fauna it missed.

Its third tail cracked at Athfonia like a bullwhip but the amazon knocked it aside with her spear.

The creature bit Gornix. Excor meanwhile cast Neutralize Poison on Szoo. Fauna tried to cast Throw Fire at the beast but the spell fizzled. Gornix struck despite the venom coursing through his veins hacking a bloody wound into its side. The young mage seemed unaffected by the poison (he had natural 20’d the save). Athfonia cast Neutralize Poison on Fauna. Szoosha stabbed the snake-monster wounding it again. No longer affected by Excor’s Spook spell, the monster swung its mace at him. It missed. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at the creature injuring it. He then quickened another round of chrono-missiles blasting the man-sized snake to bits.

The strange three-tailed snake-thing and its weapons disappeared in a flash of magic light. This was when Fauna realized that she hadn’t recovered her staff. She never picked it back up after fumbling it in the fight with the spiders (see Pt.11: The Under-City Vaults Pt.1).  So she backtracked it to the gallery with Szoo in tow easily finding her weapon in a wall niche tangled in cobwebs and insect husks.

Gornix cautiously moved down the short hallway to the west to peer into the chamber to its south. The room was decked out entirely in polished white marble tiles with an archway in its south wall that presumably exited into a short hallway on the other side. Against the west wall however was a statue.

The statue was of an ancient and stern-faced aged wizard balancing on his staff and though it was just painted marble it had a life-like semblance. Tipping the black lacquered staff in its right hand was a sparkling red gem possibly a ruby. The statue’s left arm was out stretched with his left thumb pointed to the floor.

Gornix and Excor debated as to whether or not the gem or even the staff might be worth the risk of an obvious trap. While they did this Athfonia unilaterally decided to march in there and snatch the gem herself. Needless to say as soon as she got to the center of the room about 5 ft. from Gornix the floor dropped open. Beneath the surprised Ferenoi was a deep pit filled with a pungent mixture of salty seawater and wretched sewer wash. Just above the putrid brine protruded the tips of corroded and rusted iron spikes. Her quick reflexes allowed her to gain a fleeting grip with her fingertips on the edge. Gornix immediately jumped forward and grabbed her wrists helping her up from the foul mouth of the pit.

They decided the room and its potential treasures weren’t worth the risk. The majority of the group was puzzled as to how to bypass the trapdoor room when Excor simply pushed the closed bronze riddle-door open.

Excor: “It only locks from the other side man! Ha ha ha!”

It was then the druid and the naga rejoined the group.

The group backtracked through the room with the ruined bronze armor into the hall to the east of that chamber. They moved through a small square chamber (room 12 on the map) with cobwebs adorning its ceiling and dirt strewn across its floor. Continuing east they moved into a larger chamber (room 13).

As soon as Gornix, who was leading the group now, stepped across the threshold the chamber was magically lit. The chamber was fairly clean with only a marble tile floor, empty niches in the north and south wall, and an open passage continuing east. Dominating the center of the room was a large superior quality red coral statue of a roaring lion with a scorpion’s tail. In each of its eyes was set sparkling emeralds each as big as a fist.

Excor immediately tried to pry out the left eye with his dagger but found he was simply too weak to do so. Fauna was trying at the right but she too wasn’t strong enough. Pushing them both out of the way Athfonia pulling out her dagger gave a try to each but also failed.

Meanwhile Gornix looked into the eastern chamber and saw that this chamber was torchlit with an illusion from the torch sconces so that the long disintegrated tapestry and portrait frame still cast shadows on the walls. There was an open archway to the north. At the center of the room sat a superior quality carved oak table with a high backed chair behind it. Atop the table were set four thick heavy bound books.

Fauna failed twice more to pry the emeralds from the red lion’s eyes. Gornix meanwhile tempted by the massive tomes on the table moved into the eastern chamber keeping his eyes open for any obvious traps.

Gornix: “I’m staying alert and walk in but I don’t touch the books!”

Cris (to me, the GM): “Books huh? I follow Gornix!”

Fauna, taking prying at least one gem as a challenge, forced her dagger point into a near non-existent seam between the gem and the red coral. Athfonia backed away cautiously and silently, careful to leave at least 5 feet between her and Fauna. Eventually Fauna, nearly breaking her dagger, broke the right emerald free. The cold gem plopped into her palm and she was struck in the face with poisonous powder.

Fortunately the druidess suffered only some stiffness in her joints and muscles being able to resist the meaner effects of the toxin. Meanwhile in the eastern chamber Excor upon seeing the tomes on the table immediately snatched at the closest one.

Gil (face palming): “You could not resist could you?!”

Cris: “Hey man! We’re wizards! Those’re books! So sue me! Am I right!?”

Athfonia and Fauna stumbled into the room the moment Excor put his hand on a book. Seeing all of the books beginning to stir Athfonia cast a spell.

The Ferenoi cast Throw Flames at the stack of books but the fiery ray missed. Fauna also cast Throw Flames scorching the first book as it took flight. All four books took flight in the air and flapping their covers much like wings sprayed the group with pages and shards of paper as sharp as razors. Excor took some minor damage but the wounds began bleeding uncontrollably. Athfonia managed to avoid the storm of leaves. Two of the books peppered Gornix. He also took some slashes from the enchanted paper and began to gush blood all over the dusty floor.

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile blasting the second book to ashes. Szoosha readied in case anything would emerge from the north archway. The first book slammed into Excor bruising him somewhat. A third flew at Athfonia but missed her by a hair. The fourth flew at Gornix barely missing him. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile two more times each time blasting a flying book to pieces. Using his spell-slinger feat Gornix cast a final Chrono-Missile eliminating the final book.

With the immediate threat vanquished Excor tried to perform first aid to stop Gornix’s bleeding but failed. As Gornix saw that he was bleeding out fast he grudgingly cast Close Wounds on himself instantly stopping the blood.

Gil (in response to Jenn): “You know I’m just trying to preserve some spells for the rest of the dungeon.”

Gornix then cast a couple more Close Wound spells on himself as he realized how bad his wounds really were. Gornix then led them under the north archway into a short hallway that ran west for ten feet into another chamber similar in size to the previous (room 15). Again the chamber lit up magically as he stepped into it.

In a niche in the northern wall stood a bronze-wood statue of an Arborean with its hands outstretched and cupped together but with the fingers spread apart. It posed as if pleading for something. Opposite the statue was a marble font with fresh clean water in it that stood in a niche. On the edge of the font was a plain bronze goblet. At the foot of the font was a bucket of loose soil. To the west was a solid bronze door with the same strangely-stern face in relief at its center.

This face however had a right eye of brown agate and the left of sapphire. Just above the face and its jeweled eyes was inscribed the words:

I open for those that feed the beggar.

All but Fauna were puzzled. She took the goblet scooped up the water, poured it in the bucket of soil, and scooped up the mud dumping it into the hands of the statue. The door opened.

Excor immediately went to pry the sapphire from the door but failed. He got Athfonia to do his dirty work and she easily popped the sapphire from its fitting. Surprisingly, this did not trigger a trap. Excor gazed into the next room.

He saw that the room was magically lit with no apparent source and its ceiling, walls, and floor were of polished white marble. At rooms center stood a bronze brazier burning with orange flames. Around its sides were the reliefs of roaring lion heads in all eight directions of the compass. It also had four tall jointed legs that ended in leonine paws. In the south wall was an empty niche. To the north were stone steps through an archway that sank down into darkness. From that passage a pungent and damp breeze blew. To the west however was an archway of familiar green stone. Through it he could see the Dungeon Heart Shinning in its green chamber.

Excor (exhaling in relief): “Okay! I think this is it!”

Before he entered Excor tried to sense if there was any magic emanating from the brazier but his wizard’s sense failed him. He then tried to disbelieve the brazier believing it an illusion. It was real. Gornix in turn tried to sense magic on it and also failed. Feeling a bit impatient Excor just walked in. As nothing happened to him Gornix followed.

While the rest of the group shuffled carefully into the room Gornix cautiously felt out the Wall of Force filling this green arch as well. He looked into the Dungeon Heart’s cell.

Gornix: “There’s another archway we haven’t been to. In the… North.”

As soon as Szoosha, the last in line, slithered across the threshold the orange flames of the lion brazier blazed, its leg joints squealed, and it sprang to life.

To Be Continued…