Kingmaker

Session 7

A Near Death Experience...

  • 05/10

    • Immediately following the short but furious battle with the manticores, the party decided to take a badly-needed rest. Before they could though, Vandamar stood up straight with an astonished look on his face. He waved his hands in an arcane gesture, and disappeared without a trace!

      • After searching the area, for a while, the party concluded that he had vanished from the immediate area. Kodar mentioned that “Wizards were funny lots anyway”, and with that, the party resolved to seek him out in one of the three towns after the business with the centaurs was done.

  • 05/11

    • This day spent exploring the area around the Burial mounds. That night, the party camped in the area NW of the burial mounds.

  • 05/12

    • As the sun rose and illuminated the as-of-yet area the party had camped on the border of, a number of strange, grassless areas were noticed. As the party approached them, Kodar identified them as belonging to a species of trapdoor spider, and Destin pointed out what appeared to be “drag-trails” leading into semi-hidden doors leading into each.
    • Stephanos tossed a flask of alchemists fire into the nearest. It rolled into the darkness, leaking small tongues of fire as it went. Seconds after disappearing, an inhuman scream emanated from the mound, followed shortly by a large (and presumably angry) spider with small fires on it bursting from the mound and targeting the large human encased in shiny metal.

      • Two of its friends appeared from the two closest neighboring mounds, and rushed forward to share in the killing!
      • Standing tall, with his Dwarven Thunder Humper Hammer at the ready, Stephanos prepared to meet the oncoming spider with dignity and poise. He posed as it approached, armor glinting handsomely in the sun, Hammer gloriously upright, ready to deliver the crushing blow that would smash the spider’s head in. He tensed, moved the hammer to the beginning of the swing, locked eyes with the spider and began his war scream….. Just as Destin rushed in from the side and ran his dagger along the spiders belly as it charged past, loosing floods of steaming entrails and bodily fluids. The spider took one more step, and died where it stood, robbing Stephanos of his majestic kill.
      • Glaring at Destin, who smiled back sunnily, Stephanos turned to one of the other two approaching spiders, and dealt it a death blow. Kodar turned the last into a sponge-like mass using his shotgun.
      • At the noise from Kodar’s boomstick, four more spiders appeared out of their mounds, and rushed the party. Cadoc attacked one with Destin flanking and together killed it, as Stephanos swung his hammer and smashed another into paste against a nearby rock. Kodar repeated his trick of creating hundreds of large holes into the third spider, and watched it deflate like a leaky water bladder as he reloaded. Cadoc, Destin, and Stephanos attacked the last one nearly simultaneously, with the result being spider legs exploding in all directions.
    • The area was finally fully explored just as twilight fell, and the party set up camp that night.
    • During Destin’s watch, he noticed a low rumble that could be felt in the ground. As it grew in intensity, he recognized it as the sound of many hooves coming in the direction of the party’s camp!

      • Waking up the party, Destin went and hid himself in the scrub grass nearby as Cadoc, Kodar, and Stephanos stood up to face the now dimly-seen centaurs running towards them.
      • As they approached, eight of them were counted in all, with all of them wearing armor and carrying spears. When they approached, they encircled the three part members, and began riding in a circle around them, whooping and kicking dirt all over Stephanos’s shiny breastplate.
    • After a few moments of this, the centaurs stood still in a circle, and leveled their spears down. One addressed the three party members in rough common speech, “This Nomen land, two-legs! GO back! Goooooo!”

      • Seeing his opportunity, Stephanos addressed the “leader” with a cordial greeting in Sylvan, and asked if the centaurs knew anything about the missing people of Varnhold. At the sound of the language of the forest, the centaurs brought their spears up, and the leader responded, saying that they too knew of the missing humans, and that the party should accompany them back to their camp and talk with their war-priestess, “Silverfire.”
      • As the party began to pack up, Destin came out of his hiding place, shaking the Nomen who had thought the area secure. With a knowing smile, he secured his saddlebags and mounted up.
    • The party followed the centaurs to their camp, which was about 20 minutes to the SE. A large number of tents were present and were arranged in a roughly circular pattern, with many bonfires and centaurs everywhere. At the center stood the largest and tallest tent, and there was where the party was led. A large bonfire had been set up outside, and several female centaurs were performing a ritualistic dance around it. Off to one side, another female centaur with rippling silver striations on her lower half was involved in an intricate looking prayer. The party was told to wait until the ceremony was finished.
    • When the centaur was informed of the party’s presence, she abruptly walked over, and in a brusque tone introduced herself as “Acorna Silverfire”.

      • She demanded to know what the party’s reasons for being in their territory were. Stephanos described the mysterious disappearance of the villagers of Varnhold, and asked her if she could relate any odd occurrences that had happened recently.
      • Before she could answer, Stepohanos stated that the party would like to make a gift, and presented the ancient Nomen bow found on one of the Spriggen corpses back in Varnhold’s keep.. Silverfire’s eyes widened and her arms trembled as she accepted the bow. In a much more friendly voice, she said “Something was stolen. Now that it has been returned, we now know where you stand.”
      • “There is a place to the Southwest of here, called “The Valley of the Dead”, and it is taboo to Nomen. It is the remains of a vast, ancient graveyard, and a great evil is entombed there.” Other than that, all she knew was a name: “Vortichai”
      • At the name, Kodar came forward and shared an old tale from one of the Varnhold books, about 100 of a kingdoms best knights, who set out to rid the world of the enemy’s evil, once and for all. “They rode long through the deathly valley and its leaching pall, and approached the stony Island to battle with the fiend. Alas for the ground shook, and when it finished, the master’s guardian had arrived. 100 knights fought, and 100 knights fell to the ghastly defender on the steps of the white tower. The few wounded survivors escaped to relay the fell news, and forever more would the Nomen guard and watch the gates to the valley where Vortichai slumbered.” Scribbled in the margins of the book, Kodar related to the rest of the party later on, was the phrase: “Vortichai seems to be some sort of evil god”
      • After he had finished, Silverfire mentioned that one of the Nomen huntresses had observed a large shambling form moving about the stones. The Spriggen had recently taken residence there, and she believed they had somehow awoken the evil that lurked there.
    • As the party had talked late into the night with Silverfire, Stephanos asked and received approval to camp with the centaurs for the remainder of the evening. Before leaving to start preparations, Stephanos asked if the huntress who reported the shambling form could be questioned, which was met with a sorrowful headshake.

      • “Zamantha, my daughter, has been missing for 3 days now, and her tracks were observed going towards the forbidden valley.” Ever the pure definition of chivalry, Stephanos gallantly pledged his honor, shield, and sword (to which the centaur confusedly glanced at the hammer obviously strapped to his back) to the task of bringing her daughter back, if she still lived.
      • Somewhat dazed by the effusive words and the gleam of his armor in the firelight, Silverfire thanked Stephanos, and bade the party a good evening.

  • 05/13

    • This morning, after again raining Silverfire with promises of glory, rescue, and deeds bound in honor, Stephanos took the point and led the party towards the “Valley of Death.”
    • A few hours later, Destin saw something large and white off on a hill in the distance that wouldn’t be too far off course for the valley. Reaching it, the massive bones of a long-dead Crag Linnorm of incredible size could be seen to take up the entire crest of the hill. Inside the jaws, a nest inhabited by Shrikes was found, and Nomen shrines and footprints were scattered all around. This appeared to be some sort of holy place, and Kodar cautioned against disturbing anything that was seen. Turning back towards the valley, Mastodons were seen walking in the hills.
    • As the party neared the valley mouth, a line of poles about 50 feet apart was encountered, each adorned with a skull. Clearly, this marked the boundary that the Nomen watched. Crossing the line and approaching the valley entrance, a dark feeling of oppression came over the party, which seemed to get stronger with distance away from the skull-poles.
    • Walking into the valley, 6-10 foot rectangular monuments began to be seen; first here and there, but eventually with extreme regularity. Kodar inspected one, and declared them to all be gravestones. The writing engraved on them appeared to be in the language of the Cyclops, and that they dated from the “pre-earthfall” era. Looking out where the valley widened out, it was noticed that there were thousands of these gravesites. In roughly the center of the valley, through what was almost an aisle through the markers, was a relatively fresh set of hoofprints, leading towards the far end. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth with this likely sign of Zamantha, the party followed the tracks.
    • Following them, the party was headed in a SouthWest direction, towards the deepest part of the valley. When it was reached, the Tors above reached 300 feet. At the farthest SW point, a crack was seen in the cliff face, along with what dimly looked to be a path, carved into the crack. Stephanos and Destin both announced quietly that they see something lurking in the darkness at the foot of the path.

      • Stephanos borrowed Cadoc’s recently acquired Crossbow of Seeking, and shot at it. Kodar, watching the thing in his spyglass, was able to confirm that the shot missed, however at the noise, the thing began to climb up the path and shortly disappeared from sight.
      • Cadoc cast light on the next bolt, and Stephanos tried again. The bolt’s light showed that the path was actually a carved staircase, which turned inward after a short distance.
      • On a whim, Stephanos tried “detect Evil”, and found it everywhere. That, coupled with the eerie quiet and the oppressive feeling of dread urged caution.
        Cadoc switched the light to Stephanos’ “Hammer of Explosive Dwarven Flatulence“, and and the party took up positions amidst the tombstones at the foot of the path. Destin walked up a few of the stairs, and then very clearly heard something charging straight at him!
      • It turned out to be a huge and disgusting Cyclops Zombie, which was stumbling forward towards Destin with a gigantic battleaxe! Cadoc cast “Prayer” over the party, and moved forward to set up a melee line with Stephanos. With the conditions perfect, Destin lithely tumbled behind the zombie for a flank attempt, but the zombie immediately whirled and began trying to push Destin up the stairs.
      • Kodar was blasting large gobbets of undead flesh everywhere as Stephanos tried to pulverize flesh that no longer conveyed pain. As the zombie tripped over a rock which left its head within striking range, Cadoc saw a chance and cast “Channel Smite”, burning a large hole through its single eye around his rapier.
    • Thinking that conserving healing spells may be prudent at this time, Stephanos healed Destin with a wand of cure light wounds. Looking at the stairs, the party noticed the stairs have more than one switchback on the way up the mountain. At the base of the stairs the hoof prints the party had been following ended, which then provided confirmation of the next direction.
    • As dusk approached, Stephanos activated a sunrod, and the party began the climb. When the party reached the top, it had been 2 hours of climbing, and was now full dark. The path had terminated I a large, flat, dark area, most likely the top of the mountain. The only sound heard was rushing water; no animal life, insects, or anything else.
    • Further investigation revealed a tree-line, and it was there the party made camp for the night. During Kodar’s watch, the sound of a bird flying around alerted him, as there had been no sounds of life all day.

  • 05/14

    • Sunrise broke on yet another disturbingly quiet day at the top of the mountain. Looking around, the source of the water sound now appeared in the form of a large river flowing past, originating from a large waterfall. Squarely in the middle of the river was an island, upon which was built a limestone tower, estimated about 100 feet in height.
    • Kodar scaled the cliff by the waterfall, and lowered a rope for the rest of the party, so that the area could be viewed from a more strategic setting.

      • From the higher vantage point, the tower appeared to have been part of the original landscape, and adapted for use by its inhabitants, as it appeared total natural except for heat vents belching black smoke and the occasional window.
      • After discussion on the best way to approach the island, the party slid back down. Kodar dropped the rope before he attempted the descent, however even the use of Stephanos’ “Gloves of Climbing and Swimming” couldn’t prevent him falling near the top. After some healing spells were cast and Kodar regained consciousness, the gloves were promptly thrown back to Stephanos with disdain. Someone should have asked for a receipt of purchase…
    • Pulling out the spiffy boat-in-a-pocket, the party got in and rowed over to the island.

      • About halfway across the river, a dark entrance appeared just above the surface of the water, apparently a harbor of some sort. Rowing in, and finding a place to land proved a bit harder, as the interior was completely dark.
      • After docking, and Cadoc cast light on the Stephanos’ ill-gained hammer, and the party found themselves at the end of a long hallway, with alcoves at intervals in the walls.
      • There were arches supporting the ceiling, and the tile work of the floor appeared to be much worn and broken, showing the original limestone underneath. In several of the alcoves, statues of Cyclops were present; usually performing daring deeds of violence and strength. In one of them however, the remains of an urn lay all across the floor, and a gleaming pile of gold had erupted from the wreckage.
      • Kodar found several sets of tracks at the scene: Centaur hooves going in and large shambling Cyclops tracks going out. As the 689 gold pieces were placed into the bag of holding (counted with Destin in full sight of the others, to his chagrin), a jade bracelet matching the charcoal drawings found at Varnhold was unearthed from the bottom of the gold mountain.
    • Further down the corridor, the passage took a turn. Just past the turn, a large amount of rubble was strewn all about the floor, in front of a room with a jagged rock entrance. Surveying the rubble, Kodar mentioned that it appeared that the rubble was caused by something large breaking out of the room, rather than something breaking in.
    • Moving into the diamond-shaped room, a number of large funeral biers were placed in each corner of the room, and one of them appeared to have been forcibly broken on. At the party’s intrusion into the room, another Zombie Cyclops ripped through another bier’s door and shambled towards the fight.

      • Knowing now what to expect, the party quickly squared away against it, but before they could even swing a weapon, one of the other corners of the room broke open, revealing another zombie!
      • Luckily, zombies are slow, and huge undead Cyclops’ are even slower. In the time it took the second zombie to approach the party, Destin had flanked the first one and created long tears in its back, Stephanos had re-arranged its face with his hammer, Kodar had blown a good portion of its midsection into paste, and Cadoc had create a rather nasty hole the size of his index finger from a hit with rapier. Yeah!
      • Looking at Cadoc in disgust, Kodar finished the first zombie with a booming explosion of desiccated guts. With a shrug, Cadoc joined Stephanos and Destin in attacking the second one. Again, Kodar proved the superior attacker, as his guns again created deafening booms as he cut the second zombie nearly in half where it stood, ending its undead life.
    • Holding their ears in protest against the echoing ringing in the air, the party took the time and searched the room more carefully while they recovered. A third zombie was discovered in the room, and it looked to have been defeated with a sword and deadly hoof strikes. An encouraging sign by Zamantha, if nothing else. Destin found a loose rock in one of the biers, which opened a door into another chamber with a sand floor.
    • This new room was dominated by a large pool in the center of room. A staircase off to one side descended into the murky depths, while across the water, a passageway could be seen. ON closer inspection of the pool, Destin pointed out the remains of some creature lying on the bottom, but the water was too murky to tell exactly what it was.
    • As Stephanos broke open a sunrod to light the cavern, Cadoc cast light on a coin and tossed it into the water… revealing something huge moving their way!

      • Destin pointed out ahead on a long neck coming out of the pool and dodged to the side to avoid it. Wearing plate armor, Stephanos was not as lucky, and the head tried to bite him! Never one to back down from a challenge or certain danger, Stephanos and his 55 pounds of plate armor waded into the shallows to engage the dangerous beast!
      • Not sure what to think of the certainly insane human challenging it, the creature backed off and sank into the deep. Not to be deterred, Stephanos quaffed a Potion of WaterBreathing, and dove/sank after it! Hit for hit, the creature and Stephanos battled it out on the pool floor. The others up top only saw the water cloud up, with random colored liquids rise to the surface. Kodar used his ring of Waterwalk to travel across the water, but could not get a better view.
      • After some grievous hits by each combatant, Stephanos eventually got the better of the creature and stove it’s skull in with some humping hammer action. How this weapon was actually swung in the water, the world will never know. Afterwards, Stephanos looted the corpse of the adventurer nearby before taking the stairs back up, startling everyone from behind.
      • The stairs also went downward for about 20 feet, and after a few moments of recovery, the party took the stairs down, and swam the rest of the way. They emerged into a short corridor-like room, with another set of stairs going downwards, ending in a pair of large, bronze doors. In this chamber were lots of smashed black and white lacquered pottery pieces, as well as many intact jars with the same decorative pattern on them. These jars portrayed Cyclops living in all aspects of life, including some depicting battles with centaurs.
      • Heading downstairs to the bronze doors (which, Kodar assured us, were free of traps), the party opened them and emerged into another room containing alcoves. More striking were the 16 large Cyclops statues standing in rows, 4 of which were clad in ancient armor and holding nasty looking great axes.

        • On the far wall, Destin spotted a secret door, which was indeed trapped. Before taking any actions, the 4 statues still holding arms were disarmed, just in case. Oddly enough, there were other smaller, hidden doors spaced at intervals around the room, as well as suspicious holes in the ceiling.
        • Kodar and Destin worked together on the trap, disarming it after about 10 minutes (thank goodness… who knew that electric eels lived so long!). The door swung open and the party pressed forward… only to see yet another door at the end of a short hallway.
      • Moving forward, the new set of doors was opened, and the party emerged into room designed a bit differently.

        • The black and blood-red tilework seemed almost new, and scattered throughout were life-like statues of fiends, frozen with grotesque expressions. On one wall, a gigantic frieze depicted Charon, the horseman of death, and a powerful archdemon of Abaddon.
        • Against the far wall, another set of doors was bordered by two large altars, both heavily stained with blood that appeared to be about a week old. Cadoc could sense strong necromantic magic emanating from the door, and strongly advised against even drawing near to it. Definitely experiencing a bad case of the creeps, Stephanos turned back and wedged a piton into the door the party arrived through, ensuring that it would stay open, no matter what.
        • Against another of the walls, another door was set, bordered by a grotesquely carved frame. Ignoring the “Altar door” for now, the party members cautiously opened this door, and were met by yet another corridor.
      • At the end of the corridor, was a room, dominated by two large pillars, with two columns of smoke alongside them.

        • Kodar announced our intentions with a dose of his scattergun, prompting the columsn to immediately head our way. As the approached, came out of the smoke, and a dull roaring scream could be heard! Destin was attacked first being the nearest, however as soon as the clouds raked him with their claws, they flew away in the air.
        • Heading back for another pass at Destin, Kodar and Destin switched places at the last minute so Cadoc could heal Destin. Stephanos flew in from the side and “Smote Evil” on one, dissipating the cloud nearly instantly. Encouraged by himself, Stephanos immediately clove the other, making it disappear as well. Our hero…
      • Examining this room revealed two doors set into opposite walls. One, when opened, let out a cloud of bad, sulfuric air, coming from a naturally-formed tunnel heading slightly downward. This door was closed by mutual party member consent, for the time being. The other led to hallway with a door at the end, with a room behind it.

        • This room contained a statue of a Cyclops pressing both hands to its eye, and Kodar found a locked door behind the statue. Needing some rest after the day’s events, the door leading back to the pillared room was piton’d shut, and the party rested for the evening.

    • 05/15

      • Awakening in the strange room dominated by the eyeless Cyclops, the party’s first order of business was having Cadoc dispel the magical lock on the door behind it.

        • When Kodar and Destin walked inside, they found a dim blue-lit room covered with strange carvings on the walls. One of the walls however was dominated by an elaborately carved eye that gave off a strong magical aura. After further examination, it was determined that nothing could be done with this room for now, so the party decided to press on.
      • Walking back to the two-pillared room, the party opened the door with the sulfuric fumes, and made their way down the corridor. At the end, they arrived at a small beach, where a small flow of liquid travelled across it. ON further inspection, the liquid does not appear to be water, as it is completely black. Across the larger black body of liquid in front of the party, a few supports stuck out, leading Kodar to surmise that there once appeared to be a bridge.
      • Stephanos tossed a copper coin at the dark liquid, but the coin fell flat on the surface with a dull, smack. A sun torch was then lit, and tossed as far ahead as possible by Stephanos, which hit the back wall, and illuminated the far shore. The far shore also had a matching set of bridge supports, but nothing else.
      • Destin, peering forward, announced that he was sure that a dark figure was standing at the other end of the black lake. Borrowing Cadoc’s crossbow, he aimed and shot at the figure, hitting it squarely in the chest.

        • The figure moved fast, casting a fireball right at the party in response!
          Kodar and Stephanos rush forward into the black liquid, which acted like tar, adhering to their boots. As Kodar fired at the shady form with his shotgun, Stephanos charged forward towards it, just and righteous murder gleaming in his eyes.
        • As Stephanos approached however, the form shot into the air, where it lurked in the stalactites growing from the ceiling. Stephanos and Destin both began firing crossbow bolts at the floating creature, dodging fireballs when necessary. Kodar became nauseous from the fumes emanating from the black liquid, and barely managed to make it back to the beach before collapsing in a pool of his own vomit. Cadoc wasn’t far behind him. Stephanos finally managed to get a “Holy Smite” on the creature, dropping it to the ground, where it was declared to be some sort of lich.
      • As the tar was hot and semi-caustic to organic materials, Stephanos with his tar-covered plate boots, took charge of exploring this particular room. Two more doors were encountered; one leading up a flight of stairs and ending outside somewhere, and another with stairs heading down.
      • Before heading down however, the party doubled back to the disturbing room with the twin blood-soaked altars, intending to leave no unexplored area at their backs.
      • As Stephanos laid a gauntleted hand on the door handle and pulled it open, black and terribly cold flames erupted from the altars.

        • Kodar, expecting something like this, was able to warn most of the party in time to run away from the black tidal wave of necromantic energy exploding from the doorway. Stephanos, encumbered by both his heavy plate and stick boots was not so lucky, and was made weak and robbed of vitality until healed and allowed to rest for a few moments.
      • Walking cautiously back into the altar room, a hallway terminating in a room was observed behind the once-shut door. The room at the end, being approached, was shown to have surprisingly delicate stonework and carvings, carved into the limestone walls.
      • Walking inside, the party was stopped cold by a psychopathic message, originating from what appeared to be a mind flayer standing nearby. -IN WHOSE NAME DO YOU ARRIVE-, to which Stephanos responded “Vortichai”. The resulting psychic pressure lifted, and the creature stepped aside.
      • Choosing to ignore this formidable foe for now, the party kept up the pretense of legitimacy, and sauntered past the creature around the bend in the hallway into what appeared to be a dungeon. Chained to the rear of the back wall was an injured and drooling female centaur.

        • Acting quickly (every second counts with the ladies), Stephanos uncorked a Potion of Cure Light Wounds, but it only appeared to choke her. With that method failing, Cadoc “channeled energy” to heal most of the physical wounds. In examining her further, Cadoc noticed the limbs were held unnaturally rigid, almost as if the centaur was forcibly paralyzed…
        • Using one of the scrolls of Remove Paralysis recovered back in Varnhold, Cadoc cast the enchantment breaker on the Centaur. Almost immediately, the centaur scrambled to her feet, and introduced herself as one “Zamantha, huntress of the Nomen Centaur Tribe”.
        • After introductions were made, she recounted her story of how she arrived in the place, and was captured by one of the Zombie Cyclops. Instead of being killed, the zombies had been force-feeding her for the past week. She also recounted that she had conversed with an old Cyclops with a red gem for an eye, who had called her an “honored guest”.
      • With the fair damsel in distress released form captivity, the party had to figure out how to get her large horses-behind the mind flayer guard. Indirection and discretion were chosen as the best paths. Zamantha was armed with suitable weapons, coming from Stephanos’s golf bag of a collection, and told to stay put for the next few moments in her cell.
      • The party discreetly surrounded the mind flayer as Stephanos babbled at it about some bureaucratic nonsense. A soon as Destin reached flanking position, the party lashed out as one, and were immediately hit by a whirlwind of tentacles and psychic daggers.

        • After Destin had too much success cutting said tentacles off of the flayers head, the room was engulfed in a dark, inky cloud, within which the mind flayer teleported at random and attacked everyone. Destin became afflicted with a sickness, and had to retreat from the cloud. Relying almost totally on sound, Kodar, Stephanos, and Cadoc directed each other with vocal commands when the creature was spotted and together eventually took it down.
      • Taking Zamantha along, the party retreated back to the room with the blind Cyclops statue; piton’d the door again, and rested for the evening.

    • 05/16

      • Surprisingly, after all the battles of the past few days, the night passed uneventfully.
      • Zamantha was taken to the corridor-like room, and told that the way out lay past 20 feet of swimming up a staircase, but she refused. And when a 2 ton being with large muscular things and an impressive rack stated that she was NOT getting in that water, the party hastened to find a better way to get her out.

        • Heading to the sulfuric-smelling room, Cadoc cast “Resist Energy” on the centaur to bypass any damage taken from the hot tar-like liquid, and Stephanos helped her across to the door that lead outside. Ever the gentleman, Stephanos rowed her back to shore while the rest of the party sat and waited in the foul-smelling room. Once ashore, she took off heading towards the Nomen encampment, as Stephanos rowed back to the party.
      • Turning towards the second door across the tar-pit, another staircase was encountered going upward, which ended at two doors at either side (north and south).
      • Choosing the northern path opened up into a crypt hallway with a recently dead Ulfen corpse lying on the floor. A spirit was hovering above it, and immediately attacked the first person it saw!

        • Destin became the proud recipient of -2 experience levels, immediately feeling weak, tired, and less capable of himself. Stephanos, ever the savior in our time of need, cast an obscure spell called “Ghostly Burned-Cake Dirge” (or something like that), dealing almost instant death to the angry spirit.
        • Cadoc successfully cast restoration on Destin, as the others searched the crypt, turning up nothing.
      • With breaths held, the door to the south was opened, leading to a short dais overlooking a huge room! Inside, a long stone table was set up along the floor, with dozens of chains bolted to the floor alongside each chair. Each chair held a quite-dead human corpse, locked and frozen in agonizing death poses with their brains removed through jagged holes in their foreheads. Before the full horror of the scene could quite sink in, 4 zombie Cyclops rushed forward to attack!

        • With Stephanos acting as effective plug at the top of the stairs to the dais, the 4 zombies were quickly dispatched, some would say with ease.
      • Moving towards the table, the 33 corpses were identified through their attire as citizens of Varnhold, including Varn himself and a priest of Erastil. This however did not account for all of the missing citizens, so the party reasoned that the rest must still be somewhere else.
      • At the far end of the room across from the dais they entered in, a normal door and a hidden door were both found. Opening the hidden door first, the party found a circular sulfur-smelling pool and a trench with water leading out from the pool, going into the next room, beneath a set of large set of bronze doors. Suddenly, a water elemental rose from the pool and attacked!

        • The whole party began to be mercilessly and continuously beaten by large tentacles of water. Cadoc began Channeling Energy and casting party buff spells when possible, as Stephanos and Destin engaged it in melee. Kodar fired his guns when possible, but was having a hard time keeping his powder dry enough to light.
        • Tidal waves of water accompanied the tentacles, and the party had to fight not only to dodge the tentacles, but keep their footing while doing so. Finally, one last surging blow from Stephanos took the life of the difficult foe, leaving the party extremely bloody and near death.
      • Sensing they were close to their goal, and that no-one could sleep through the racket generated by defeating the water elemental, the party healed with the wand of cure light wounds. When ready, the party approached the bronze set of doors, and froze in astonishment, as the sound of a page turning let them now that something was waiting for them.
      • Steeling themselves, the party opened the door and walked into an elaborate study room. Lush carpets of red chased with golden designs lay beneath their feet, as extensive carvings adorned the walls. Numerous display cases lay everywhere, showing ancient artifacts in the now familiar designs of the Cyclops race. Against the wall to the right, a massive throne-like chair and table were set up, table covered with books and various other wizard-like things (crystal balls, scrolls, eyes-of-newts, vials, etc,).
      • Sitting in the enormous chair was a huge Cyclops with a giant red Ruby for an eye, reading one of the books on the table. As the party burst in the thing rose with a silent, deadly grace, raised its skeletal fingers at them, and attacked!

        • A forceful and instant wave of fatigue rolled across the party, but just as quickly disappeared; countermanded by the Paladin’s divine aura. Stephanos strode forward swinging the “Hammer of Joyful Dwarven Procreation” as Kodar fanned out to the side, shooting as he went. Destin rolled forward and away to set up a flank with Stephanos, and Cadoc cast “Bless” and “Blessing of Ferver” as ruby flickers of death extended along the lich’s fingers, slamming into Stephanos and Destin with force when they approached.
        • Waves of nausea, sickness, and paralyzing fear emanating from the creature were barely overcome by all as Stephanos and Destin took turns attempting to take it down. Cadoc tried casting Searing Gaze” on the foul creature, and promptly became the recipient of his own reflected spell. The lich returned the physical attacks with blows of its own: hard and punishing hits from the long-undead skeleton, its strength boosted unnaturally in the millennia of its existence.
      • In the blink of an eye, the lich disappeared, making Stephanos nearly brain Destin with a mighty swing that left him unbalanced. Still hasted from Cadoc’s spell, Stephanos charged down to the other end of the room, encountering a smaller, circular-shaped room lined with shelves of small, glowing jars… no lich though. Cadoc healed everyone else nearby with “channel energy”. Destin went towards the wall opposite from the lich’s chair, encountering an extensive library of books.

        • Cadoc remained standing in the same spot and cast “invisibility Purge” on the area by the chair. Kodar ran out and checked the room behind the “normal” door they encountered earlier. The room featured a large crystal eye in the ceiling, with a circle on the floor directly beneath it.
      • As Stephanos ran back towards Cadoc’s position, the lich teleported right next to the cleric. Stephanos attempted a mighty blow against the lich, but the lich appeared to shrug it off. As a response, the lich reached out and cast a spell into Cadoc’s face, blinding him!

        • Kodar ran forward, pulling out his longsword to assist Stephanos with the melee, but the lich saw him, and paralyzed him mid-stride with a glance and a grimace of the long-dead mouth. With the distraction, Stephanos was able to hit the lich hard enough to send several bone fragments flying. Hearing the sound of Kodar’s footsteps stop abruptly and the sword drop to the ground, Cadoc channeled energy against Undead, dealing an unknown amount of damage.
        • “He’s three steps ahead of you!” shouted Stephanos to Cadoc, as he swung yet again. Out of the shadows, Destin appeared behind the lich, getting a decent hit in the process. Cadoc obligingly cast “Dispel Magic” at the location specified by Stephanos, but when it felt wrong he shouted “didn’t work!”
        • Another backstab got the lich’s attention, as it whirled fast enough to rip Destin’s daggers from his hands. It screamed and pointed at Destin, paralyzing him on the spot! Cadoc channeled yet again versus the undead, and shakily took a step towards the lich, blindly feeling with his rapier.
        • The lich turned its red-rubied gaze back to Stephanos, and for an instant, the lich was in his head. Against his will, Stephanos could feel the lich assuming control of his body, forcing him to turn towards the blind cleric and strike him down in surprise. The others, helpless in their paralysis, would soon follow – smashed to pieces without being able to resist.
        • Summoning up strength from an inner reserve, somehow knowing that he’d bypassed total doom for himself and his friends, Stephanos broke his gaze form that of the lich, and swung the hammer up in an underhanded blow, ripping it up into the lich’s chest cavity from below. The lich was lifted up into the air slightly, mouth open in surprise, as Stephanos quickly pulled back and smashed the head of the hammer into the lich’s face, shattering it.
      • As the corpse dropped to the floor, magical energies swirling around it, the ruby skipped along the floor coming to a stop besides the chair, seemingly undamaged and pulsing with a sullen red light. Stephanos pulled out two more Scrolls of Remove Paralysis, and freed Destin and Kodar. The next hour was spent taking what items could be found of worth (both of monetary and cultural value), including all of the strange lighted jars in the smaller circular room.
      • As the party finally left the limestone tower, darkness was falling again. Assisting Cadoc when needed (all those cups of wine meant for frequent “rest stops”, and without sight he had terrible aim), the party made its way back to the Nomen camp, where they were enthusiastically greeted.
      • Taken aside by Silverfire and Zamantha, the party relayed the events of the past few days. When the strange small jars were mentioned (Destin producing one from the bag of holding as Stephanos described them)m Silverfire gasped and grabbed it from Destin.

        • “These are terribly evil! They must be destroyed!” she said as she threw it against the ground. From the glass fragments, a person appeared, looking around in confusion and shock – A villager from varnhold!
        • Without further ado, the rest of the jars were smashed against the ground, revealing the missing 42 survivors of Varnhold.
        • After explaining to them what had happened, and letting them know that Miggar Varn was dead, the Varnhold survivors asked to become part of the party’s kingdom.
      • After ensuring that Cadoc memorized “Removed Blindness and Deafness”, the party began to settle down and prepare for rest.

    • END OF SESSION 7

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