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The Cabal of Eight Pt.18: Two Birds

The young mages, Fauna the druidess (played by Jenn), Szoosha the black-scale naga fire elementalistWith naga bar marked (played by Isis), Excor the mage (played by Cris), and Gornix the wizard (played by Gil), walked into the Red Helm tavern. They noticed a wizard in powder-blue robes by the windows smoking a pipe. Noteworthy as he seemed out of place. Disregarding this Fauna immediately jaunted up to the bartender and paid him to let them know when the Bronzehead thugs on their tails entered the premises.

The young mages then went to the table farthest west in front of the windows below the booths so they could clearly see the streets outside. The table was empty and adjacent to the table with the blue wizard with another table in between, that table with a handful of drunken townsmen. Not long after the spring-bell rang as the Bronzeheads entered led by Drazra, the Bronzehead that they had waylaid little more than a week ago (see The Cabal of Eight Pt. 7: A Red Rat) and took his dagger. Behind him were the staff-wielding thug (see The Cabal of Eight Pt.10: Tunnel Rats) and two other brawny street toughs with short-swords at their hips, chainmail shirts across their chests, and bronze open helms on their heads.

Of course the group of thugs quickly moved across the floor to the mages’ table. Due to the tavern’s floor plan the bartender was unable to warn the mages ahead of time. Thus the lowly bartender walked up behind the thugs as they took the bench at the PCs table pointing at the thugs and mouthing “they’re here” to Fauna followed by a thumbs up before he retreated back to the bar.

Jenn: “Well. That was helpful.”

Drazra (with a crocodile smile): “Well, well, well. We have some unfinished business don’t we? I’m gonna mop the floor with all of yous’ and leave behind a big mess as I’m gonna be moppin’ your blood all over the place. Haw, haw.”

Szoo: “Ah geesh, oh boy! Um, um! … HERE!”

Szoosha unsheathed and slid Drazra’s dagger across the ale-damp wood to him. He snatched it up and inspected it a little bit surprised. Satisfied it was indeed his dagger, his eyes narrowed as he buckled it to his hip.

Drazra: “Well then. I guess this is a good as time as any to give you your bill. Seein’ how you’re now under the protection of the Bronzeheads. You owe us, uh, how about 30 silver pieces a week.” He leaned back and folded his arms with snide arrogance.

Gil: “What!? He’s not going to leave us alone? He has his dagger what does he want!?”

Jenn (to the GM, me): “Well if we pay him will he leave us alone?”

Cris: “No! They’re not gonna leave us alone! They’re gonna charge us protection money because we’re a bunch of weak @$$ mages! … At least they think so.” After checking his sheets, “and I kinda am right now”.

Cris’s outburst gave Isis an idea and thus Szoosha offered the Amber Bee to the Bronzeheads as a “first installment” as he pulled it from the scroll in which it had been enwrapped. The young thug snatched the gem up and with a “that’ll do … for NOW” he took it to the window.

Drazra admired his prize as he turned it in the direct sunlight. He was absolutely sure it wasn’t a forgery or costume jewelry. A mysterious thud hit the window glass surprising the thug shocking him from his reverie. The mages surmised, correctly, that it was an invisible imp hopping onto the outside window pane when it saw the gem glistening like wet honey in the light. Undaunted Drazra led his men out of the tavern. He took a moment to glance back at the young mages before leaving.

Drazra: “Be seeing you around … haw, haw.”

Fauna (to herself): “Not likely.”

Isis: “Sis! Sssh!”

The GM (me): *roll* *roll*

Jenn: “See its fine he didn’t hear me!”

A few minutes after the thugs shuffled out of the tavern with their prize the mages got up and began to go up upstairs to the cabal room, the next meeting was actually on the morrow. Suddenly they heard a ruckus explode unexpectedly outside and spotted the thugs through a window running aimlessly away dodging through the street traffic apparently dodging invisible attackers swooping down on their heads. The mages laughed to themselves as they walked upstairs though they also spotted the blue robed wizard eyeballing them from the side of his face and scrawling in a ledger.

Gornix: “What is that guy’s problem?”

Excor: “Probably some mage guild $#!^ right there.”

Gil (checking his notes): “Oh right the other guild had blue robes … the sapphire guild?”

The mages went upstairs to the cabal room. They settled in and after deciding to wait for the cabal meeting before starting anything else Gornix and Excor decided to trade spells. The pair spent some time exchanging and copying exchanged spells into their respective grimoires. After that, Fauna, Gornix, and Excor begin to decipher and read the first section of Vordan’s Tome (see The Cabal of Eight Pt.8: A Second Meeting). Szoo spent his time gazing out onto the street from the window and happened to see the blue wizard talking with some city guards in front of the tavern. So he decided to go downstairs to get some drinks for the group and maybe spy a little, Excor tossed him a gold piece.

Szoo slithered downstairs and bellied up to the bar, ordered a round of ale. He noticed a half-naga with a recurve bow on his back was drinking there. The half-naga struck up a conversation with Szoo, his name was Ssskrha. The both of them bonded over being outcasts of naga society, one of impure blood and the other cursed with black scales. Ssskrha told him about a naga place, a hookah bar called Ahsh Khhas’ Coil. The stranger said he might have a job “worthy of a black scale” and to meet him later that evening at said hookah bar. After agreeing to meet him Szoo slithered back upstairs with a tray of frothing mugs.

Meanwhile upstairs the others began to read the first section of Vordan’s Tome. Both Excor and Gornix were deciphering and then reading the text to Fauna in case she had any insights. It was a collection of various notes and sections of other books and journals bound into a single book, a codex. It had 12 distinct sections or chapters written in Magical Script all in the same hand. They looked at the very first page of the book and noted that it bore a personal sigil of Vordan the Magnificent and a spell ward of stun bolt, which was triggered when touched.

The first section was a Botanical Treatise. It was heavily illustrated with approximately 20 different plants and herbs native to Ezmeria (basically grants a +2 misc. bonus to I.D. flora and to the Holistic Medicine skill). The three were so entranced that they continued until the sun went down.

The second section of the tome was a collection of out of order diary entries most about the day-to-day misgivings of Vordan. Along with a few awkward entries about an unnamed woman that he was fixated on. A few bad love poems with clumsy erotic overtones followed that, presumably about the same woman. They continued on to the third section, even Szoo was paying attention at this point.

Isis: “Well, YEAH! I mean that was GREAT! ‘Clumsy erotic overtones’! Great!”

This third section was an Alchemical Treatise. It included some uninteresting talk and speculation as well as illustrations of chemical glassware. It also talked about potion components and mentioned Mind Root and Mind Trap Flowers in conjunction with Mystic Lotus pollen. On a mismatched page Vordan rambled about wine. He appreciated Assassin Vine berry wine but only from the ‘darkest of berries’. They also were able to find a potion formula scrawled in this section, Bear’s Endurance (the section also grants a +1 to the Alchemy skill when referred to while performing the skill). By this time Szoo had fetched 2 more rounds and the others decided to stop, the time being around 2 pm. They all went their separate ways with Szoo heading to the Hookah Bar.

On the way out Excor lent Gornix 185 gold pieces for spell components (Gornix was broke) and went to the bazaar to purchase said components. They left to their separate apartments.

Fauna went to the bazaar shortly thereafter. She picked up her custom green with gold trim robes ordered 8 days prior. She then looked around for healing salves. She found a small niche shop and recognized the merchant giving her a secret handshake so she just improvised it back (natural 20) and mentioned that he had recognized her as the groundskeeper’s friend. He gave her a deal on the healing slaves and she quickly excused herself and left.

Szoo had navigated the maze of city streets through the inner gates into the far northeastern corner of the South Market District. It was early evening as he neared his destination. The place was a fair-sized cubic-rectangular building near the 3 big civic grain-stores not far from Excor’s apartment building.

Where the plaster was falling away revealed that the building was constructed of large age-beaten limestone blocks. It was older than the other newer adobe, plaster, and wood buildings especially those that made use of concrete like the apartment blocks. The serpentine split-tongue script was engraved around the circular doorway, too bad Szoo was illiterate.

So the young elementalist slid into a sea of fragrant pipe-fog through the saloon doors. It was spacious within with a tiled floor and the pale plastered walls undulated creating fair-sized niches where the floor sank into a bowl shape with a small table and hookah-pipe standing at center. Some were pillow lined, most were occupied. Brass oil lamps and large finely wrought censers hung from the ceiling by thin chains populating the ceiling like swamp moss from the branches of water-rooted oaks. Directly opposite the entrance was a large mural of the city. It depicted Ezmer encompassed by the neck, body, and tail of a yellow-green dragon. Finally, to the left of and perpendicular to the entrance was the bar tended by a Scael Naga with silvery light green scales spotted with the occasional black patch. Ssskrha, already bellied up, hailed Szoosha over.

Various mixes of pipe-weeds, herbs, and powders populated the shelves behind the bar and it’s tender. In addition, the place served weak ale, grog, and ‘grey-milk’. Grey-milk was soured ale watered down and mixed with herbs. Ssskrha paid for Szoo to use a finely wrought brass long-stemmed pipe from behind the bar. The elementalist selected a 10 gold piece priced ‘special gold blend’ to smoke. Szoo was surprisingly forthcoming with information on himself to his new friend despite his typical paranoia.

Szoo drew in a full lung of the gold blend. He was dizzied temporarily but enjoyed its visual effects. He carried on with some more small-talk while colored lights popped in his eyes. So of course He ordered a drink, and then drew another hit. However, the second toke was one toke over the line for the young mage. He blacked out just as he blew the smoke from his lungs.

It was the burning white light of the morning sun directly on his face that woke the young black-scaled naga. He found himself on the deck of a High-Born ship. A gold scaled High-Born naga crewman was standing over him.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.17: Enter the Wasp

It was two days after their return from the Under-City Vault and the young mages were on their wayHeraldry Wasp Shield to Bumble’s house in the Western Cliffs District of the city of Ezmer. They had already delivered the mysterious Dungeon Heart gem to the ratling antiquarian Afsik the strange in his sea-salted, musty, crowded shop in the Harbor District the previous day. They were hoping to gain an audience with Bumble’s master, Xanto the Wasp.

It was the 18th of Early Summer and the better part of the officially nameless cabal stopped at the gates that led into the Western Cliffs District. The guards didn’t want to let them through as they “didn’t appear the sort to be let through”. After some haggling, failed attempts at charming the guards, and bluffing at being “couriers”, the downtrodden mages turned to leave but the lead guard held out his hand and coughed lightly.

Fauna (played by Jenn) the only one to take the hint, dropped a platinum piece into his grubby palm.

Lead Guard: “Well. Since yer a mage…”

Cris (Excor’s player): “Whoah! What’re giving him a PLATINUM for!”

However many objections the others had to such a significant bribe, it expedited Fauna in her goal to fetch Ilna, aka Bumble, and bring her back to the gate to meet with them. Of course, it took zero time for them to convince Bumble to lead them back to her master, known as the Wasp. He lived in a small cottage behind her family’s estate across a small but verdant garden.

The cottage was a small longhouse after the Westlander fashion of old with a high thatched roof though with a small covered porch before the heavy dark-wood front door. Bunches of creeping vines and dark ivy covered most of the plastered walls and kept the small porch dark, damp, and fragrant with the musk of decaying vegetation. Bumble rapped on the door.

Suddenly, in mid-knock the door was thrown open and Bumble’s master, Xanto the Wasp, thrust himself over the threshold, inflated chest first. He was an older effete gentleman of the Ivoran persuasion. He had on plain yellow patterned silk robes with a jeweled necklace dangling over his breast and a precious ring on each finger. His hair and pointed beard were jet black with white streaks over the temples. His hair and beard slicked with scented oil, a pair of bejeweled red felt slippers on his feet.

Xanto the Wasp (pointing a long mandarin-nailed finger at Bumble’s nose): “What is the meaning of all…” he made an emphatic gesture with his left hand, “this!”

Bumble was speechless and couldn’t stop nervously shrugging. The others were at once appalled and entertained by the scurrilous dandy before them.

The Wasp: “Don’t you magelings know who I am! I am Xanto the Great! Known as the Wasp for my …”, he relaxed his stance and dropped his arms that had been outstretched to the sky and assumed a more friendly position, “deadly demeanor and rapier wit!” His left hand bent at the elbow, fingers rigid and apart, and his hand shot up.

Gil (Gornix’s player): “Guys! We can’t trust him he’s in on this! Remember the last game and the mushroom…”

Cris: “No. That was another campaign, our guys, these guys don’t know any of that!”

Gornix (to the Wasp): “Well, can we come in?”

The Wasp (looking outraged): “Why of course NOT! What would appearances dictate ME the mighty Wasp; slayer of dragons, CONQUER-OR of the millennium mushroom! A MAN whose reputation extends from Hirok-Nor to Skullhead!”

His mouth opened wide and they could all hear the air suck in as he took in a massive breath in preparation for a monumental and scathing screed on how such a man as he should have his important work interrupted, to be so inconvenienced.

Fauna (unimpressed; Jenn rolled her eyes): “We have the Amber Bee; some demons have attacked us and are chasing us. I just spotted a red wing beating on the other side of your cottage’s roof.”

The Wasp (immediately ushering them into his abode): “Quick! Quick! Come in my friends my good good young friends!”

Jenn (to me, the GM): “Y’know he reminds me of that guy… y’know THAT guy from that documentary we watched about that band you like?”

The GM: “IGGY POP!?”

Jenn: “Yeah that guy.”

Cris: “Nooo! Naw. I imagine him more like Alice Cooper all dandied-out with the black eye-makeup on!”

As soon as she could fit a word in edgewise, Bumble grudgingly admitted to taking his gold bee and amber ‘paperweight’ and that her friends may be in some sort of trouble because of it. The Wasp chided Bumble and knuckled her scalp. She voicelessly yelled in pain. He snatched up the Amber Bee and pointed to a parchment laid out over a desk at the other end of the small room.

Jenn: “Hey! I don’t like how he’s treating Bumble!”

Isis (Szoosha’s player): “Geez sis, why don’t you marry her already!”

Xanto went on to tell them that the one sending the red imps, or rather fire imps, was one Haxat the Great an outlaw demon-summoner from Skullhead. As he placed the ‘paperweight’ onto the parchment within the circle of carefully drawn runes he explained that the scroll shields the Amber Bee from magical detection and scrying attempts. He turned suddenly and boxed Bumble’s ears for good measure. She was now grabbing her ears and silently enduring the pain with a pained grimace.

Jenn (to the GM, me): “Ooh! If he does that again! Fauna is making an angry face at the Wasp!”

The Wasp turned back to the desk and rolled the gold bee up in the runic parchment and held the scroll out to Szoo who immediately took it in hand. Excor immediately turned and left not wanting anything to do with “that thing”.

Gil: “No! What’re you doing!? Don’t take that!”

Isis: “SOR-REE! He just handed it to me so I took it!”

Szoo tried to hand it back to the wiry wizard. He held up his hands and shook his head.

The Wasp (waving): “Well! I’m sorry my young friends! I wish you all the best of luck! Goodbye!”

All were magically expelled save Bumble. They found themselves teleported to the overgrown front porch of the Wasp’s cottage. The front door was behind them and shut tight. They could hear multiple locks locking and bolts thrown on the other side. Then they heard the Wasp excoriating his young pupil at the top of his lungs.

Jenn: “Aww! Poor Bumble, I feel so bad for her.”

Isis: “Jeez Jenn!”

The young mages decided to gather their wits over some ale at the Red Helm and so made it straight for the tavern. They met back up with Excor and noticed shortly after reaching the West Quarter that they were being followed.  A small group of thugs and rogues that was being led by the Bronzehead they had waylaid a week ago (see The Cabal of Eight Pt.6: Gold Devil & Pt.7: A Red Rat) was directly behind them. There were also a few red imps in the air trialing them staying hid near the tops of the buildings. Luckily, neither group seemed aware of the other.

Isis: “Oh man! Oh man! This is making me nervous! I mean this is SO suspenseful!”

To Be Continued…

 

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…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.12: The Under-City Vaults Pt.2

Szoosha the black scaled Naga (played by Isis) continued to lead the group into a smaller chamber The vault map with each dooradjacent to the spider-gallery they had just survived. He burned away the cobwebs that choked this room as well to reveal a roughly 10 x 10 room, barren with a floor strewn with dirt. To the north was another stone staircase winding down.

The naga continued carefully down the steps and around a corner to come to a short hallway which turned west sharply just ahead. Excor (played by Cris) put his lit torch in the iron torch-loop set into the wall at the bottom of the steps before lighting another. There were spider webs covering the ceiling. Szoo set them on fire and after the flash fire a couple of hand sized spiders, burnt crispy, dropped to the floor.

Excor: “HEY! Let us know when you’re gonna do something like THAT!”

Shrugging, Szoosha continued ahead while the rest of the group tried to organize themselves. He saw an open archway to the north from which he could see a constant white light shining from beyond the chamber through it. He could also make out the backlit and squatting form at the center of the room ahead. As that did not move he looked to the west and saw a closed solid bronze door bearing the same strange face in relief at its center. This time the face had two opal eyes.

Having come to a fork in the road the group of young mages debated as to which way to go. The form that Szoo first saw in the other chamber was a kneeling behemoth of bronze plate-mail with a large spiked mace in one gauntlet and a standard flanged mace in the other. The mass of bronze was on one knee and was lacking a head. In place of the neck was a gaping hole rimmed with corrosion that also opened partway onto the chest.

Excor: “If we go that way that thing will get up and KILL us! It’s some kind of construct or golem or something weird. Our magic might not do anything to it!”

Gornix (played by Gil): “How do you know?”

Excor: “Because I do! I know!”

In a similar fashion, they discussed the bronze door to the west, whether to open it and/or pry loose the gems. In turns, they checked the door and trying to sense magic on it. None could get a solid read on it other than it lacked a lock. So they continued arguing about what to do for about a half an hour. Eventually a frustrated Szoo simply opened the door.

Behind the bronze door was a 5 x 5 closet with a shelved alcove in each of its three walls stocked with various vials, jars and bottles. Each sealed with a preservation spell in wax. They found a jar of Mandrake Root, a jar of 6 Blue Lotus Seeds, a jar of 3 Grey Lotus Seeds, a jar of Purple Lotus Seeds, a jar of 8 Mantrap Seeds, a packet of 3 Dragon Teeth, and 4 potions of Healing.

Finding that they had only one way left to go and perhaps emboldened by the extra healing juice they continued north. The chamber before them was about 15 feet by 15 feet with a thick round stone support pillar in each corner. To the west in this room was another bronze door with the same face save the glittering ruby eyes. In the east lay an open but dark passageway. To the north was an archway from behind which a brilliant light source blazed into their eyes. The source, a large blood-red ruby on a white marble pedestal.

Szoosha began to move past the squatting armor towards the brilliant archway. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he caught some movement from within the neck hollow. He leapt to the side. The thing that burbled and oozed from the corroded hollow appeared as a semi-gelatinous blob of blood red slime with several dark patches over it akin to scabs. It was a Red Ichor, a type of slime monster (see MMII).

Athfonia (played by Perla) readied her spear to jab at it if got close to her. Excor shot a bolt of lightning at it with the copper spike to some effect. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile dealing some damage to the strange creature. Fauna (played by Jenn) moved past the squatting armor hoping to be out of the ooze’s path. Szoo threw a blast of fire at it reducing it to a crystalized heap of granules.

Afterward, Excor looted the solid bronze maces with Szoo volunteering to carry one in his pack. Fauna wandered over to the archway. She saw runes carved into the greenish stone all around the edges. After a group-inspection they worked out a constant Wall of Force with no apparent way through filled the archway.

Through the impassible archway they could see their prize, the so-called Dungeon Heart only a few feet away. The chamber where the treasure rested was diamond shaped. Its floor, walls, and domed ceiling were constructed of a polished green marble. There were other archways possibly leading into it to the north, east, and south but in between these were large bronze reliefs of the same face with open, gaping mouths.

After some belly-aching, the group decided to inspect the bronze door in the west wall leaving the dark passage for another time. The door was the same as the previous doors save for the ruby eyes. It also visibly lacked any locking mechanisms but shut tight. It also seemed warded against any kind of magical attempts to see through it or “ghosting”. However, there was a riddle inscribed on it in Ivoran:

I consume all that I touch, without a mouth I roar, by my black touch only I may open this door.

Szoo solved it immediately and conjured some fire, touched the flame to the door, and it opened just as quickly. Szoo slithered into the dark room beyond. It instantly lit up with a magical light its source not readily apparent. The chamber walls, floor, and ceiling were covered in polished white marble tile. An empty wall niche laid to the south, to the north another bronze door, and in the west a narrow short hallway continued west with empty niches and an archway opening north lay at its end.

They inspected the bronze door recessed into the center north wall. It was solid bronze with the relief of the same face though this time with sapphire eyes. In addition, this door was also shut tight with no apparent locking mechanism. The riddle inscribed on it read thusly:

A proper guest knows how to open me.

So Gornix tried to talk to the door receiving no response. Excor used his Social Aptitude skill but to no avail. They stood there for a while trying to figure out the riddle. Still perplexed Gornix then tried to charm the door open. They were truly stumped this time.

The players sat there for a while scratching their heads until Cris excused himself from the table to go to the bathroom. Isis, Jenn, and Gil threw out a few wild guesses before falling into quiet contemplation.

Cris (on his way back to the table from the bathroom): “KNOCK on it! I KNOCK on the door!”

The door swung open after Excor’s rapping.

Cris: “Ha ha! It came to me while I was standin’ there pi$$!n’ ‘We should knock on it!’”

As a group, the young mages moved north into the newly revealed chamber. This chamber was very similar to the previous as its walls, celling, and floor were of white marble. It also lit up with magic light as they entered. To the north was a small empty niche in the wall and to the west, a short hallway that opened to the south. However, to the east was a recessed archway through which blazed a familiar white light.

As soon as the last mage in line, Excor, stepped over the threshold, the door slammed shut and a strange creature materialized at the center of the brightly lit room. This creature was a large serpent whose body split at its rear into six separate tails. Two of these were wielding a club and a spiked mace. The others were lashing the air like whips.

Isis: “What the HELL is that THING!?”

To Be Continued…

 

The Cabal of Eight – Pt.11: The Under-City Vaults Pt.1

The Underlings, after a confusing and circuitous route, led the young mages to the goal. They were in a large sewer tunnel on a narrow walkway above a flowing river of filth. They showed the mages a small hole bored through the slimy brick and mortar wall. Beneath was a thick oak double-door its bronze hardware severely corroded. Fortunately the ratlings had also tunneled through the moldy wood.

The mages also noticed a bricked up archway in the same sewer wall about 5 feet over. Shrugging all climbed through the ratlings’ hole. Beyond was a 10 ft. wide hall. It was damp and smelled of a strange mixture of foul sewer gas and a dry mustiness. Offset from each other and along either of the western and eastern walls were verdigris covered bronze faces with gaping mouths from which orifices dangled spider-webs and streams of slime dripped.

The bronze faces were a stylized representation of a human (the mages hoped) with a strangely blank, stony expression. Ahead of the group at the other end of the hallway was a set of bronze double-doors scaly with green corrosion and each with the same strange face on it though the mouths closed into a straight stern line and fist-sized diamonds set in the eye sockets. However, the face on the left door was missing one of its precious eyes. The damage on the old bronze was obviously new. As a result of the mages noticing this, the ratling leader felt the need to speak.

Dusk (the ratling gang-leader): “One of ours did that. He tried to pry the gem. It’s just cut glass filled with acid. It broke and destroyed one of his arms. Leave the gems alone.”

Excor (to Dusk): “You SURE there’s no traps here?”

Dusk: “Oh yeah, don’t touch the door, a lightning bolt killed another of ours.”

Cris (Excor’s Player)(in a mocking tone directed at me the GM): “Oh yeah, huh? Forgot to tell us about THAT huh!? Yeah I bet damned little ratling.”

So, the mages carefully studied the doors. They were airtight, and shut-tight with no evidence of any locking mechanism. However, they did find an inscription on each of the doors that read:

Often silent, sometimes gentle, and others a hurricane, cities fall to me and only I can open these doors.

Of course, they easily solved the riddle. Athfonia (played by Perla) cast Wind Rush blowing the doors open. It was as the group began to move over the threshold that Excor remembered that he was still badly wounded from the previous two skirmishes. Consequently, he took the center position within their group formation.

Gornix (played by Gil): “Well that was easy.”

Cris: “It was supposed to be. Just keep a lookout. You never know what could happen!”

Szoosha the Black Scael Naga Fire Elementalist (played by Isis) conjured a flame into his palm for light since Excor had lit a torch. They moved into a small 10 by 10 chamber with an empty alcove in the north and eastern walls. In the west was narrow archway opening onto stone steps going down. The floor was a thick layer of dirt and dust possibly over stone. The room choked with dusty cobwebs that dangled from the domed ceiling.

Cris: “Spider webs huh? So there’s giant spiders down here huh?”

Gil: “How do you know?”

Cris: “There’s always spiders.”

The noses and eyes of all of the mages began to burn due to the swamp gas that had collected in the small room possibly over centuries. Suddenly, Szoo’s flame and Excor’s torch exploded with a blinding blast of flame.

Fortunately, no one was injured perhaps though slightly singed. They waited for a few seconds and sniffed at the air before relighting their lights. Meanwhile Gornix lit the crystal on his staff (the crystal being enchanted with the Torch Light cantrip) ‘just in case’. They elected Szoo to lead them for the time being. The naga’s Detection skill was the highest of the group, which wasn’t saying much. Needless to say Szoo was a bit reluctant.

Szoo: “Me!? What about the ratlings!?”

Dusk (waving from the hallway): “Ha! Yer on yer own. We’ll wait for ya here for a couple a’ days before leaving!”

Isis: “What!? They’ll just leave us here!”

Cris: “No. If we don’t come back they’ll assume we’re dead and they won’t come down and check.”

Isis: “Oh. That makes sense.”

After some prodding Szoo reluctantly began to lead the group down the long case of stone steps that sank down into darkness. The room that dimly unfolded before him had a 12 ft. high vaulted ceiling and four thick stone columns standing along its center. There were multiple empty wall niches and a thick netting of dirty spiders’ webs strewn over the whole drastically obscuring his vision. The room also stank strongly of sewer gas.

Isis (Szoo’s player)(referring to the spider webs): “I set them on FIRE! I like to BURN things!”

So of course Szoo threw fire at the cobwebs and not only did most of the webs in the room burst into intense blindingly bright flames but a pocket of sewer gas exploded as well. Szoo was slightly injured by the blast. Webs continued to veil the vaulted ceiling and the far corners of the room however.

The other mages moved into the room one at a time until all of them gathered at one end of the gallery. They slowly began to move forward to the other when Gornix spotted something and alerted the others. It was a large spider’s egg suspended and pulsating between the second and third pillars at about the center of the room.

Excor: “$#!t! BURN it! BURN it now!”

Excor glanced at the niches in the walls nervously. All the while something in the webs above crept over them. Suddenly, a giant black spider dropped onto Szoo’s shoulders sinking its fangs into the naga mage’s scaly flesh. The spider’s venom paralyzed Szoosha as well injuring him.

Szoo: “Um. Guys? I’m a little HURT here!”

Gornix cast Illuminate lighting up most of the room and revealing two more giant black spiders scuttling on the ceiling towards them. Athfonia cast Neutralize Poison on Szoosha in time to negate both the paralysis and the damaging effects of the venom. The third spider leapt at Gornix biting him injecting its paralyzing toxin into his bloodstream. The second spider leapt at Excor but failed critically falling to the floor injuring itself. Excor blasted the second spider with his copper spike further injuring it. The first spider grappled with Szoosha. Szoo tried to shape-shift out of the grapple but failed. Fauna cast Neutralize Poison on Gornix.

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at number three. It tried to dodge but got hit anyway suffering moderate injury. The second spider flipped over and sank its black verminous fangs into Excor paralyzing him. The first spider maintained its grip on Szoo and tried to bite him but missed by a hair’s breadth. After that scare, Szoo was able, just barely, to break the grapple and throw the thing off of him.

Gornix let loose more chrono-missiles at number three horribly wounding it. In response, the creature spat webbing at the salt-lotus mage but missed. The second spider crawled onto Excor’s boneless body and number one spat webs at Szoo fortunately also missing its target.

Gornix (using his Spell Slinger feat) cast more chrono-missiles at the third spider. Its verminous body bursting splattering custard-colored crud everywhere as a result.  Its black legs curled and it crumpled into a hideous black ball.

Gornix then cast Neutralize Poison on Excor. Fauna dropped her lantern and whipped her staff at the nearest spider. The staff flying from her hands to clatter into a niche. Spider number two grappled Excor as he tried to move. Spider number one tried to grapple with Szoo but failed to gain a grip. Szoo called forth his flaming naginata. Athfonia pierced the first spider’s abdomen with her spear. Excor tried desperately to break spider number two’s grip.

Cris: “Man, if that thing bites me one more time I’m dust!”

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile on number-two wounding it badly and drew his scimitar. Spider number-two tried to gain a grip in order to try to bite but failed (N1) and fell from Excor. Spider number-one bit Szoo after the naga failed to dodge paralyzing him with its venom his fire weapon fluttering out of existence. This caused Szoo to make a recovery roll to prevent from being killed by the damaging effects of the spider’s poison.

Finally Gornix stepped into the fray and slashed at the second spider hacking the already badly wounded spider in two with his sword. Athfonia lunged at the last spider with her spear impaling it through its abdomen killing it. She pulled her viscera greased spear from its still twitching corpse.

With the battle over Excor cast Neutralize Poison on Szoo and Close Wounds on himself. Athfonia cast Heal Other on both Excor and Szoosha. After first aid, their attentions turned towards the pulsating giant spiders’ egg still in the room. Surprisingly it hadn’t burst during the commotion of the fight. Apparently, it was not yet ready to hatch and release its swarm of deadly young spiders.

Szoo: “I should set it on FIRE!”

The rest of the group (collectively): “NO!”

Therefore, they left the egg unmolested and continued on with a somewhat disappointed Szoosha in the lead. The rest kept their eyes glued to the ceiling as they proceeded.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.10: Tunnel Rats

In front of the heavy just shut door of the Pesters’ Guild, Gornix (played by Gil) introduced Doubab the ratter to the group. After a short time he agreed to guide them into the rat fights underneath the Ruined Wall. It would be in a few hours at sundown that evening. As they departed their guide on their way to kill the last remaining few hours at the Red Helm Fauna (played by Jenn) pulled a bundle of rat-tails from her cloak.

It was the bunch that the pickpocket (see The Cabal of Eight Pt. 6: Gold Devil) had dropped when Fauna caught him trying to pick the golden bee. The bunch tied with a broad yellow ribbon. As she handed it to Doubab, “for your troubles” Excor (played by Cris) and Athfonia (played by Perla) saw a slight change pass over his already pinched features. They walked back across the city to the Red Helm tavern to wait until near sundown.

Later, as they stumbled out of the Helm’s door into the street they realized something. They were still wounded from their fight with the red imps. Gornix tucked a dusty carved-glass bottle of whiskey he had bought from the bartender for 8 gp into his robes. He cast Close Wounds on Szoosha (played by Isis). Excor followed suit casting Close Wounds on Fauna who had just chugged a full tankard before hitting the door.

They tried to avoid the main streets deciding to weave through the alleyways as they headed east towards their appointment. This was due to their fearing that jumping one of the city’s criminals might have dire consequences. They reached a fairly wide, round mini-plaza as the building dwarfing aqueducts worked their way north to a public fountain across from the Old Amphitheater. The place was quiet, dark, and deserted save for the small clumps of garbage that lay everywhere. Some of the lighter bits of the detritus stirred and slid across the old paving in a chill evening breeze.

It was when they neared a massive arch that three thugs stepped from behind the wall. One armed with a pair of knives, one in each hand, another with a crude wooden cudgel and the apparent leader was armed with a quarter staff. All were wearing scavenged soft leather armor reinforced with a maddening number of studs and rivets.

Staff-Bearing Thug: “So what do we have here? Y’know we followed you guys for quite a while. You remember what you Did! You robbed a Bronzehead, now’s yer gonna give us back his dagger and suffer the consequences!”

Athfonia immediately tried to cast Call Lightning but failed. Excor drew his copper spike and zapped the Cudgel bearing thug hurting him. Gornix tried to summon an earth elemental but failed. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor (Fire) on himself. Fauna cast Sleep on the Pole-Fighter but to no effect. The Pole-Fighter ran up critically striking Fauna with one end of his staff. Fortunately Fauna parried the other with her dagger. The knife-fighter slashed at Szoosha but was unable to penetrate the Naga’s fiery armor. The cudgel-thug attacked Excor but missed with a clumsy swing.

Gornix cast Summon Elemental IV summoning two medium sized earth elementals which erupted from the ground right next to two of the young thugs. The first humanoid rock creature snatched up the pole-fighter in an unbreakable grip. The second monster body slammed the knife-fighter wounding him badly after the mugger failed his dodge. Szoo summoned forth his fire naginata and slashed at the cudgel thug opening his belly killing him. Meanwhile the thug-leader, the pole-fighter, strained desperately trying to break the stony grip that held him fast. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile on the knife-fighter wounding him horribly.

On Gornix’s orders one of the elementals squeezed the pole-fighter. The thug-leader screamed at a high pitch and they could hear some of his ribs crack as blood ran from his nose and mouth. The second elemental slammed into the already wounded knife-fighter. His corpse reduced to a wad of blood-soaked rags flew about 20 feet through the air ultimately splattering all over the wall of a nearby building. The pole-fighter began pathetically begging for his life and crying that he “didn’t want to die”.

After a brief interrogation Gornix got the name of the Bronzehead whose knife they took when they tried to capture him (see The Cabal of Eight Pt. 7: A Red Rat). It was “Drazra”. These three were just wannabe’s that Drazra had recruited to get his dagger back and teach the four mages that accosted him a lesson. After a brief speech on the perils of street life by Gornix, they let the beaten and bleeding pole-fighter limp away into the shadows of the darkening city. After Excor and Szoo looted the corpses they continued on their way to the Rat Fights.

They eventually met Doubab in a small building-locked plaza in front of the ragged end of the Ruined Wall. The old archer galleries served as an enclosed and self-governed town within the city. There was a long line of people representative of all of the social strata of Ezmer. They were waiting their turn to walk under makeshift stone archway. It seemed to lead through a flickering firelight to a stair down under the open face of the Ruined Wall. A pair of chain-shirted Bronzehead thugs were acting as security and charging a door fee.

Doubab the ratter shuffled them into line and eventually down into the excavated pits in and below the foundation of the old wall. Of course, after they each paid the 1 silver piece cover charge. They walked down into a large rectangular chamber with a terraced floor at four different levels. The rats were unleashed on each other in a small depression packed with cages and trainers at the deepest level over which all the other levels looked over.

There were several open archways some undoubtedly led into the sewer system underneath the city. A few had doors which perhaps led to the upper levels of the Ruined Wall. Each guarded by an armored Bronzehead.  On the top tier floor were the betting tables with a visible and small force of well-armed thugs. The golden light of torches, braziers, and oil lamps permeated the place as did the overpowering scent of strong incense leaking from large brass censers hovering like a thick fog over the slight moist stench of the city sewers.

Fauna spotted a fat merchant in blue robes running a table that she recognized from the Druid Cult (see The Cabal of Eight Pt.2: Wagon Ho!) by his golden necklace, a jeweled dragonfly. She leaned in and eventually clued him in on how she recognized him. He referred to her as “little sister” and warned her not to be too public about their “thing”. She walked away and they both nodded as she departed.

Szoo (to Fauna): “What the hell was THAT?!”

Fauna (with a sly smile): “Oh nothing.”

Cris (Excor’s Player)(sarcastically): “Oh yeah, nothing! Right. It’s her little stupid cult thing! Yeah, nothing. Don’t get mixed up in that s#!*!”

The young mages gathered about the edge of the second from the bottom tier to watch the sport.

Fauna (after the first match): “This is DISGUSTING guys! I refuse to watch this!”

Excor: “Why? You knew what this was. It’s called the rat fights! The RAT FIGHTS!”

At about the third match, the match announced to pit the Pesters’ Guild Rat named ‘Old Man’ against ‘a promising newcomer’ named ‘Gnaw-Skull’ owned by the Underlings. The Old Man was a rather large rat missing large patches of hair and its body a scorecard in scars of its brutal career. While the Underlings’ rat was a slightly smaller black rat with long yellow teeth. The Old Man was fat and calm as the cages were held and paraded for the benefit of the gamblers. In contrast Gnaw-Skull was hostile to its handler through the woven wood bars of its cage.

Hence Excor and Szoo rushed to the tables to place their bets on the ‘Old Man’ whom the odds favored by a mile. Predictably the Old Man tore Gnaw-Skull apart in record time. As a result, the Underlings, a group of sketchy looking and filthy ratlings wearing crude leather armor and armed with fairly nice daggers and short-swords, were in an uproar. Excor and Szoo won 1 silver piece each.

The Underlings were preparing to cut their losses and leave when the mages decided to approach the one that appeared to be their leader. As a result of Excor dropping Afsik’s name their leader, a ratling with an eye-patch and whitening gray fur, approached from a dark corner of the pits. He lit his pipe while appraising the young mages one at a time with his blood-shot eye.

Dusk: “I’m Dusk, the ratling yer lookin’ fer. Afsik’s got faith enough in ya to send you ta us then I guess we’ll take you. Now. Follow us magelings.”

Gornix was going to say goodbye to Doubab but his contact to the Pesters’ Guild seemed utterly consumed in the sport of the rat-fights. So he decided to simply leave with the rest of the cabal mages. They were led down into one of the large lower archways and continued around a bend until the air signaled that they had left the fighting pits.

At first it was a relief from the pungent scented smoke until the cool air became even more pungent with the metallic smell of fresh, wet sewage. The only light came from Fauna’s lantern which she had lit as they disembarked and the glowing crystal on top of Gornix’s staff.

Dusk: “Oh yeah, if ya see a fog creepin’ over the waters or clingin’ to the ceiling don’t stick yer face in it.”

Szoo: “Why?”

Dusk: “Its sewer gas and it’ll kill ya. It’s flammable too.”

Fauna: “Great.”

To Be Continued…

 

The Cabal of Eight Pt.9: Imp Attack!

Szoo (played by Isis), Gornix (played by Gil), led by Excor (played by Cris) left the Red Helm after Impbreakfast and ‘swooped’ by the Grove to ‘scoop up’ the druidess Fauna (played by Jenn). They were on their way to see Afsik the strange the antiquarian at his shop in the Harbor District.

Szoo, Gornix, and Fauna related the previous night’s shenanigans to Excor. Bumble was fine the stun bolt to the head had just knocked her out. They had ‘confiscated’ the book ‘for her safety’. Excor couldn’t wait to ‘dig through that book’ when he got the chance.

Excor: “Vordan‘s tome huh?” Cris scratched the name into his notebook.

It was not long before they were walking into the tiny shop stuffed with every kind of knickknack, odd-and-end, and curious object. All of it was obviously very old and most was not very well cared for. Some however, did appear to be some sort of plunder. All was covered in dust, cobwebs, and all the iron was rusty and the bronze covered in verdigris.

The dark shop was damp and smelled strongly of a salty must that collects in derelict buildings close to the sea. A sudden disembodied exclamation from the piles of junk surprised the young mages, “What’re ya here for?”

Excor: “Belrae sent us; we were told there’s a job here?”

Afsik: “Oh yeah. Ya look like mages, yes. Okay. Sure you don’t wanna buy nuthin’, no? No. Okay, well then…”

They heard a couple of unseen objects fall to the floor. Glimpses of the shadowy figure of a rat leapt back and forth through the tangle of junk. A ratling, landed with a light thud on top of an old trunk before them. His light brown fur tinged with white especially that on his face. He was also a bit more rotund than most other ratlings that they had heretofore seen.

Afsik: “I do have some work. It is dangerous and requires you to go below the city to the sewers.”

Excor: “What does it pay?”

Afsik: “500 gold pieces each. I’ll pay half upfront. Yes?”

Excor (looking back at the rest): “Sounds good to me.”

They had accepted Afsik’s job, they were to seek out something called the “Dungeon Heart”, a red gem that shone with white light, and bring it back to the ratling antiquarian. They were to contact the Underlings, a ratling gang with control of the Ezmer sewers who would guide them to its location. Their Underling contact was one named ‘Dusk’. They were going to have to go to the rat fights held under the Ruined Wall in the demesne of the Bronzeheads to meet the ratlings.

They decided to seek out Gornix’s contact, Doubab of the Pesters’ Guild. The guild was a frequent participant in the rat fights that occurred every other week under the old wall. As the group left the small, dusty shop the tall figure of a young woman jogged towards them from the east. It was Athfonia (played by Perla). She had been sleeping on the beach near the lumber mill essentially ‘bumming it’ around the Harbor District of Ezmer.

So Gornix, Excor, Fauna, Szoo, and Athfonia together at last, began their long walk to the Pesters’ Guild House to see Doubab, Excor’s contact. Hopefully he could guide them to the rat fights helping to avoid any potential fatal pitfalls.

They wended their way along the foot of the beach cliff that stood between the Harbor District and the city proper. They walked up the ramp towards and then through the Four Gate Tower at the top along with an increasing flow of foot and light wagon traffic. Their path took them along the Outer Rung, a wide avenue that ran straight over the face of the Slavers’ Quarter. One side of the wide street lined with pens, pits and slave-marts, the other, shops and other common places of business.

They continued through the increasing press of traffic until they reached a public fountain that lay along their road. They turned off into the small circular paved plaza that surrounded it to refresh themselves. The plaza was mildly crowded with several folks sitting along the high stone curbing of the massive fountain. Some were dipping their buckets or jacks others were wetting rags and wiping themselves down.

A short distance across from the fountain some carriages had stopped in front of a large multistory shop of some sort. Painted on the sides of three of these carriages was an orange escutcheon bearing a barrel and a grain sack as charges with oak leaves and an acorn at helm. A family motto scrawled in Hyvalian characters along the bottom. The young mages saw a man in his late forties with a cruel expression stamped deep into his sunbaked features make his way to the central carriage dressed in finery of the most current fashion. Several armed footmen also in fine threads and arming doublets the orange shield emblazoned on their chests accompanied him.

Gornix: “Wow. Who is this guy?”

Excor: “According to the motto, the family Nezorik?”

Fauna: “Why does that sound familiar?”

As they gawked, a sturdy but short girl dressed in a fine silk and lace gown followed her elder. The girl turned and seeming to recognize them shouted “Hey Guys” and proceeded to jog clumsily to them waving her arm as if they couldn’t already see her. She tripped a few times but the pair of footmen accompanying her were able to prevent her from eating the age-worn paving.

The Players (pretty much all at once): “Bumble!?”

Of course, she was wondering what they were up to and was begging to come along. Excor was extra charming as he chatted her up finding out the older gentleman was her father. Baerox was his name. They were there to bid at one of the slave-marts. However, that ‘was sooo boring’.

Bumble: “Father wants a real fighter. He wants to get into the games.”

The group eventually decided to take her along. Of course, they had to allow her footmen to accompany them due to her father’s distant orders. Bumble had one of her footmen act as the back and forth messenger. They were on their way again just before high noon.

As they continued, Bumble and her men began to lag behind, the footmen duty bound to keep pace with Ilna. They had just made it about a block past the city offices and turned onto a narrow street that took them into the East District.

Isis (Szoo’s player; looking at the group copy of the city map): “You can sure tell this is the POOR district!”

Suddenly Bumble screamed and her guards shouted as they surrounded her. There were four red bat-winged imps snatching with their horny claws at bumble’s dress.

Fauna: “CRAP! I gave her the BEE back!”

Jenn: “She didn’t give it back to her father?”

The GM (me): “Apparently not.”

Fauna cast Wind Rush sending the nearest imp careening into Bumble knocking her to the ground and the imp out. Imp number four reared and blew its fiery breath at the young mages. Szoosha making a simultaneous attack diverted the flames with his elemental power. Excor pulled his copper spike, a level one rod of Lightning Bolts, from under his robes and blasted the grounded imp hurting it. Athfonia cast Throw Flames but to no effect. The imps were fire imps. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at the grounded imp hurting it badly. Imp number two burst into flames and clawed at Gornix narrowly missing. Number three also burst into flames and raked Excor with its claws wounding him.

Bumble’s footmen had already dragged her from the fray and were running away as fast as they could whilst dragging their burden. Imp number four cast a curse in Gornix’s direction but he was able to resist. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor on Excor. The flames engulfed his body before hardening into a glowing glass-like material. He was wounded more than he had at first realized. Gornix attempted to cast Chrono-Missile yet again but the magic went out of his control. The resulting explosion blasted them horribly injuring all and killing Imp number four. The hideous hoof-footed creature screamed as it disappeared in a puff of flame and fetid sulfurous smoke.

Fauna, Szoo, and Athfonia were stunned by the blast (making Recovery checks to keep from dying). Gornix moved to Fauna and cast Close Wounds. Imp number one came to; he had completely avoided the magic explosion by a razor thin margin, and snatched something up as he snickered maniacally. Excor tried to blast number one with his spike but the creature was completely unharmed. The remaining two other imps leapt up from the ground to which they had been thrown. Gornix let loose more chrono-missiles at number one but did no damage. So Szoo summoned up his fire naginata and stabbed number one killing it instantly. As a result, Gornix jumped to where it had been laying and snatched up the gold bee trapped in amber stuffing it in his robes.

Gornix then cast Ghost Form on himself. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor on Fauna to protect her. Fauna tried to cast Lightning Bolt at number three but the magic got out of her control and instead healed the creature slightly. Athfonia applied her Heal Other spell to Szoo. Number three surged at the black scaled Naga and scratched him. Number two followed suit and also scratched Szoo with its claws. Excor leveled his copper spike at Number two and blasted it away back to whatever fiery hell it came from. Gornix unleashed a Lightning Bolt at the last remaining imp blasting away most of the flesh from its chest. Immediately Szoo slashed at the creature cutting it. The little monster backed off and disappeared in a puff of acrid yellow smoke. Finally, Gornix cast Close Wounds on himself.

Afterwards they assessed the situation and finding the battle done decided to carry on. Bumble and her footmen were long gone.

Fauna: “Aww man. We got the BEE again.”

Excor: “We better keep it. Something wants it bad so it’s some weird artifact or something.”

Szoo: “Those things were tough!”

Excor: “Yeah, whatever summoned ‘em is probably tougher!”

Fauna: “Well, here YOU take it.”

Excor: “What are you kidding!? I don’t want that THING!”

They double timed it to the guild house and were soon playing a game of door tag with the unseen doorman through a shudder-slit in a heavy oak and iron door.

Isis: “Y’know I don’t think we’re in the MOOD for THIS!”

To Be Continued…