Magiia stood over the flinders of her axe lying scattered over the two halves of the severed zombie head. She tossed the splintered haft to the floor. The wooden clunk echoed down the empty dark halls.
Jenn (Magiia’s Player): “I want my axe back.”
The GM (me): “You broke it. There’s nothing I can do. You did 90-something points to a 2-hit-point zombie-head.”
Jenn (pointing to Cris): “Yeah but he was hitting ‘em too!”
The GM (me): “I gave you both one. The clanging of your weapons hitting the stone? I told you guys you were lucky not to break your weapons.”
Jenn: “Damn. I’m gonna miss that axe.”
Mourning her axe Maggi followed the shaman as he ran into the library from the steps. She whipped out her sword and casually hacked a skull that leapt off of a table in two while it was still in mid-air. Grom and Maggi eyeballed the octagonal chamber. The floor was covered in a moth-eaten carpet which squished with dampness as they tread over it. In the south by the entrance to the chamber sat the polished table which had served as the platform for the leaping skull. The heavy oak table was inlaid with amber and had gold leafing under its polished surface but was otherwise barren. The walls were covered in dark wood paneling with high shelves built into the three western walls. To the north in a large niche stood yet another statue of Parkannis which was 10 ft. tall and chiseled from pure white alabaster with a golden circlet resting on its brow bearing a blue-steel wand shaped like a human femur in one hand at the end of an outstretched arm and a finely carved life-sized obsidian skull in the other.
Grom became obsessed with taking both the wand and skull from the statue. He yanked on the arm with the skull, it moved and all heard a loud click and a slight creak as if something were opened. The shaman didn’t hear it and failing to get the skull he tried the blue-steel bone wand and found it was also too firmly attached for him to pry form the statue. While Maggi stepped in and began ripping the treasures from the stone hands, Vorwulf carefully worked his way around the room clockwise from the south trying to find what he believed to have been a secret door opening somewhere in the room.
He saw that the shelves of the library contained about 3 master booklots on exactly what one would expect of a lich; the books were of Alchemy, Spellcraft, and Necrology. When he made it past the amazon and shaman, still working the statue over, he found the door behind a false panel. The shaman after packing away the skull and wand, neither of which seemed to be magical, he helped Vorwulf grab up the newly discovered loot. They had found scrolls of cone of frost, craft ring of invisibility, and teleportation along with a magic scroll of mass teleportation (Creator Level 12 with a single remaining charge) on a small scroll-rack.
The shaman suddenly and desperately began checking his bags finally exhaling in relief as he pulled out a small corked glass vial containing the snail named Kyrahma (see The Dragonslayers II Pt.14: Betrayal!).
Gil (Grom’s Player): “I pull her out one-time every day to give her some air.” He thought he might have left her in his backpack (see Dragonslayers III Pt.13).
The shaman put the snail in its bottle, corked it and then back into his Bag of Holding as he followed the others when they turned their attentions to the other end of the hallway. They realized it was an arcane laboratory.
The chamber was lit dimly with the strange mystical light emanating from three fire gems (an emerald, ruby, and tourmaline) sitting on a hard-worn table at the center of the room among the equivalent of 2 alchemist kits worth of lab glassware. They quickly cleared the table of 6 empty potion bottles, a crystal ball that proved to be magic, a gold oil lamb with a bottle of oil, and of course the gems. They left behind the small iron cauldron and the alchemy hardware. In the northwest corner was a set of steps winding down. In the east wall was a hinged grating which covered what appeared to be a waste chute and below that squatted a locked bronze banded chest. To the south a short hall connected the lab to a small room, a potion store, which had a bronze grate in place of most of its east wall through which they could see a wide deep shaft, the chain-tackle that ran from above into its depths tinkled in a cold draft.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “So this runs down to the well huh?”
The GM (me): “Yup, you guys could’ve climbed straight up to the third floor.”
Cris: “Not with all those people with us.”
The GM: “Yeah. You would’ve lost a few.” I mimed a guy falling to the bottom of the shaft into the well screaming.
Another passage opened to the east and bent sharply south that southward passage, half of its west wall was another grating bordering the shaft, terminating in a stair which wound down to the floor below. In the southwest corner a small wood cabinet was set on the wall, it was apparently locked as well. A small niche was in the north wall and sheltered a small high quality ivory figurine of a skeleton embracing a naked woman, the woman was painted in living colors. All of this was under the gaze of a wall portrait of Parkannis surrounded by the instruments of wizardry next to a black mirror which reflected a human skeleton to the south. Patches of the portrait were falling away from the wall.
Vorwulf immediately tried to pry open the chest but failed and so left it to Maggi. Inside was a red bottle with a ruby stopper (apparently empty), various disgusting spell components, 4 pieces of obsidian craved into little skulls, a coin purse made of chromatic yellow dragon-hide with 50 silver pieces inside, 6 empty bottles, and a small astrolabe. As they took what they wanted to keep Vor snatched up the red bottle and immediately felt as if his very life-force were being drawn into it. He then could see a small bit of blood at its bottom. He wrapped it in a rag and stowed it away. Afterwards, Magiia turned her attention to the small wall cabinet which she easily just pulled open. That was then a swarm of crawling claws, animated severed humanoid hands, poured out of it and all over her grabbing and scratching at her armor. Grom hit her and the swarm with a blast of hurricane force wind which Maggi, maintaining her balance, was able to endure blowing off all of the crawling hands into the short hallway to the west. After that she and Vor made quick work of the little monsters expertly dicing them into a scattered mess of fleshy bits and wriggling wormy fingers. All that was in the cabinet were 3 superior quality gold rings and a dragon-ivory wand of ‘maximize spell’ which the shaman took.
They went into the potion-store and found 2 potions of adhesion, clairvoyance and comprehend languages and 2 bottles of oil of animate dead. Vorwulf found another secret compartment which contained 3 gruesome wands made from human femurs, a gold rod wrapped with copper tipped with a large diamond, and 1 ebony staff with white skull topper with tourmaline eyes (very similar to the one that Zancor had back in Merdna). They went back to the laboratory and went down using the steps in its northwest corner.
They began moving from room to room clearing the way of various “ghoulies” and other hazards as they wandered through the confusing jumble of rooms, dead-ends and multiple staircases. Vorwulf locked a black pudding in the latrine, they fought a mace-wielding wraith in an apparent scrying chamber which had a single black pedestal at its center with a crystal ball and bronze bowl atop it and three of its four walls had polished obsidian insets which eerily reflected the living visage of the hideous wraith. They happened upon 5 guardian-zombies in an apparent zombie barracks where they looted a blood-metal longsword with a silver guard and citrine pommel and a blue-steel pike off of a weapons rack. Vorwulf found yet another secret compartment there; it was armed with a trap which due to time had long since ceased to function. Within was a suit of black full-plate armor with a great helm the visor of which was shaped like a maniacal vampire baring its fangs; next to that was a black bearded-axe. They eventually ended up in room which opened up like a balcony out onto the entry chamber visible below, a single beam of cold sunlight shining through the oculus in the domed ceiling cutting through the dimness to the floor. They sat there debating on what to do for long while by the wooden railing while the beam of sunlight grew weaker and weaker. Finally they decided to go back up to the kitchen to eat, have the shaman rub some healing salve on their wounds, and catch a little sleep.
Come sometime the next afternoon they again found themselves leaning on the balcony railing. Earlier they had discovered a supply closet where Parkannis stored his spell components and the second set of steps in the laboratory dead-ended. The shelves were lined with bottles of revolting spell components (all fresh of course) including a jar of mummia, a bottle of necroplasm which slurped around in the jar of its own accord, and a jar of blood that was still warm to the touch.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Alright that’s it. We gotta find a way outta here.”
The players and their characters consulted their running maps of the place. They all came to the same conclusion pretty quickly. They were hopelessly lost. They couldn’t retrace their steps because they didn’t want to end up in that “tesseract thing” again so instead they stood there racking their brains.
Grom: “Oh yeah! Hey guys I can fly!” The others just grumbled.
So, for the next 4 hours while the oculus sunbeam slowly dimmed and began to disappear, Grom and Vorwulf repeatedly tried to read and thus activate the magic scroll of mass teleport they had found behind the false panel in the musty library. It took them both reading it (a cooperative skill check) to finally activate it. The scroll disintegrated and instantly the group (Voruwlf the ranger/dragon-slayer, Grom the shaman, Magiia the dragon-blood-warrior, and Olf the Arborean healer) found themselves standing in front of the locked front door of the Hopping Rat.
The entire group let out a sigh of relief.
To Be Continued…