Cazael the spiderling fighter. Not very bright but also not very dead, so clearly doing something right.
The Paladin, a beetle-ling hermit, wanderer, and servant of the Authority.
Wonderwood Strongbow the Elf thief. Superior to everyone. Nominally in charge of counting and guarding the loot.
Slugsworth, a thief, and former... slug-of-the night. Slugsworth knows how to use a rope.
Bill the Orthodox Wizard. Bill is a wormling and a fairly terrible wizard. His two spells are "Saw and Plane Tree" and "Capture Wind".
Swainson, the hawkling Garden Wizard. Swainson is particularly timid and refuses to lick things to identify them.
After discussing their options, the party decided to continue looting the half-demolished complex. They didn't want to leave valuables behind for others to find.
Leaving Wonderwood behind to guard their accumulated hoard, the party descended into the crater once again. This time, they ignored the turbine room and focused on the partially collapsed passages leading from it. The first path they cleared provoked the giant transparent ooze. After beating a hasty retreat and putting additional rocks and pipe-sections in the path, the party agreed not to use that path. The ooze could maneuver around fallen debris and looked just like water; any expeditions would be in grave danger.
Instead, they decided to explore a sunken path newly revealed by the explosion. The section they could see was waist-deep in cold water. After sending in Swainson as a scout, the rest of the party climbed down and began exploring.
Their first major discovery was a badly damaged statue of a snake-creature-thing, holding its hands in an inverted triangle. (29) White light flickered sporadically inside the triangle, as if some internal mechanism had failed. Slugsworth poked it with a finger; the finger vanished, as if neatly snipped off by the flickering light. The inconvenienced slugling bandaged the stump and soldiered on.
Ignoring the deeper passage to the right, the party ventured to the left, where the water was merely waist-deep (30). The Paladin was bitten by a leech-like creature which began to glow blue-white. The Paladin gestured to the party. He didn't seem to take any damage; in fact, he felt healthier than ever. Old bruises and cuts healed and vanished. He felt spry! He felt good! He felt great!
He felt slightly worried. The party pulled the leech off and stuffed it into a flask. Slugsworth and Swainson then realized that leeches had attached to them too. They felt good! They felt great!
They started to panic. Swainson was hit particularly hard and was hyperventilating - and glowing faintly - when the leeches were finally removed. The party climbed atop a sunken stone table, checked for additional leeches, and debated their next move. Everyone who'd been bitten by the leeches for any length of time felt fantastic, if slightly manic.
Side Note: The party had just encountered the Leeches of Paradise!, creatures that heal you by biting you... until they don't. They get harder to remove each time you use them.
Bill bravely volunteered to explore the passage to the south. He discovered a set of 5 egg-like seats and a podium on the far side of a deep pool of water (31). He swam furiously, his little wormling limbs flailing, and reached the other side. One leech did get stuck to him. He tried to pull it off (despite feeling good!) and then hollered for help (even though he felt great!). The Paladin, weighed down by his chainmail and gear, swam-hopped over to help. They succeeded in removing the leech before anything happened, but Bill was shaking nervously and fidgeting. He discovered the podium and seats were magical, prodded a seat and caused it to glow white, and then swam back to report his findings.
Thoroughly sick of leeches, the party asked Bill to use his capture wind spell to freeze the water. He'd captured three hours of ice-cold mountain-top wind. With a wave of his hand, he set the wind loose. The party retreated, shivering, and found a passage to a higher area (32).
Finally out of the water, the party climbed the stone steps upwards to a huge vaulted room. Six statues of glowering snake-men guards with metal weapons monitored a gigantic barred stone door at the far end.
The party set off two traps in short order. The first was activated when Cazael pulled a sword from one of the statue's hands. Steel darts attached to chains fired from the walls, filling the room with a criss-crossing pattern of thin silver threads. The party very carefully removed the darts, causing a clicking sound in the walls with each movement, and then ran. Moments later, lightning flowed down the chains, crackling and sparking and filling the room with ozone. The party watched from a safe distance. Cazael clapped politely.
Once the chains and darts had retracted into their wall-sockets, the Paladin bravely crossed the hall to listen at the huge stone door on the other side. He activated a pressure plate and was swatted by a massive stone hammer that swung in from the right hand side of the room. He survived thanks to the invigorating after-effects of his leech encounter, but he was still winded and nervous.
The hammer revealed a small room with a bowl of gemstones on a plinth. Suspecting a trap, Cazael tossed a grappling hook at the bowl from a safe distance. It bounced off a barrier; the gems, plinth, and room were illusory. The hammer swung back, smashed the grappling hook into a flat plate, and revealed a second "gem room". This time, the plinth contained even more gems, and an attractive female (the party presumed) spiderling waved to Cazael from behind the treasure. He was not convinced.
|Image not related, but it's very nice. By Igor Burlakov .|
Further wizard investigation indicated that the trap was still active. Worried, the party investigated the rest of the hallway. In a gigantic sunken chamber (28), they found a huge tentacled creature lurking and glowering. It grabbed Cazael and nearly strangled him, but the party bludgeoned it back and dragged their friend free. The creature's enormous bulk and lidless, staring eyes unnerved the party. It seemed to be guarding an sunken iron door.
"I HAVE A PLAN," Bill announced. The party pretended not to hear, and instead focused on the Paladin's plan. Communicated via diagrams and gestures, the Paladin suggested taking chains from the lightning trap in room (32) and linking them together, putting one end in the water of room (28), and then activating the lightning trap in room (20). He expected that the lightning spirit would fly out, pass down the chain, and strike the hideous creature dead.
After activating the trap in the statue hall and retrieving several lengths of chain, the party settled on a system. Bill, as the chief wizard, would throw the chain and leap back. The Paladin would assist, as Bill couldn't hear the signal from the rest of the party. Cazael would throw the chain into the water, run away, and give a signal. Slugsworth and Swainson would remain at a safe distance, "in case anything went wrong."
Luckily, nothing did go wrong. The lightning sped down the chain and sizzled into the water. After the shrieks and pops faded, the party carefully investigated the chamber. Their plan had worked; the giant creature was floating on the surface, bloated and coated in in grey slime.
Bill was the first to clamber onto the creature. He pried its three red eyes out, passing them to the slightly disgusted Slugsworth. "VERY MAGICAL", he shouted, "GOOD FOR POTIONS." To the party's horror, he punctured one of the eyes and took a drink. He grinned, glowing with faint magical light. "YES GOOD," he said, offering the melon-sized orb to the rest of the party. No one else indulged.
Side Note: Bill gained the telekinetic shove ability for his trouble - the first positive effect from ingesting strange creatures in several sessions.
The party put the remaining eyes in a chest on the surface, packed them in snow, and returned to the now-frozen tunnels (30). They walked over the ice to the strange egg-shaped chairs and the control panel. Touching the chairs caused them to light up and pulse with faint white light. An amber gem on the console also lit up for each chair.
Bill, a sensible wizard, convinced Cazael to sit in a chair, reached out, and flailed at the console, and swatted the button corresponding to the fighter's chair. Cazael vanished with a scream as the chair plummeted down an enormously deep well shaft. There was a very faint splash a few moments later.
Everyone looked carefully at the console, which now had a blue light on the gem corresponding to the fighter's vanished chair. The Paladin shrugged, hopped into another chair, and pressed his button as well. He also vanished, though his descent featured several loud crashing noises.
The Paladin and Cazael found themselves floating on an underground river, using their glowing chairs as boats. They paddled closer together, lashed the boats together with rope, and began to worriedly examine their surroundings. Their lanterns revealed nothing but water. However, the water ahead of them seemed noisier and more turbulent, as some titanic waterfall or chasm lay ahead.
Meanwhile, up above, Bill prodded one of the blue buttons. After a brief pause, Cazael's chair began moving backwards, against the current. When it reached its original position it rocketed upwards, depositing the soaked and shivering fighter in front of his companions. The second button also retrieve the Paladin, though his chute seemed to be partially clogged with fallen rocks, as he arrived in a spray of gravel and dust.
"SPLENDID", Bill said, as the rest of the party glowered.
"Why don't we go check out that iron door in the dead monster pool instead?" Slugsworth suggested, to prevent any further experiments with the chairs.
Once again, the party found themselves examining the bloated corpse of the tentacled creature. Cazael stripped off his armour and, after some encouragement, dove into the water to look for treasure. He found a few gold items, then, after further encouragement, decided to open the underwater iron door. He tied a rope around his waist and gave the other end to Slugsworth. After a few turns of the central lock, the door opened, then swung wide. The rush of water and the descending tentacle monster nearly drowned the fighter; the room on the other side had been full of air, not water. The party hauled their friend out, dried him off, and decided to return to camp.
The next morning, the party loaded up their remaining wagon and began the long trek back to civilization. Cazael was given the fearful task of holding the matter-evaporating ball bearing on a glass rod. Swainson and Wonderwood towed the floating obelisk, steering it with ropes and trying to aim it. Everyone else helped guide the overloaded cart or rode alongside, saddlebags bulging.
The party reached Lost Pass just before midnight but, after a rather undiplomatic encounter with the locals, decided to press on. While guiding the obelisk down a mountain path, well ahead of the rest of the party, Swainson and Wonderwood spotted a strange deer-owl-thing sitting in the middle of the road, its eyes glowing in the moonlight. Acting in unison, the hawkling and the Elf aimed the speeding obelisk straight at it. The creature barely had time to cry out, "Halt, fair...." before being smushed into a glowing paste.
Willing to risk it, Wonderwood stopped to scoop some of the paste into a potion flask filled with red eyeball fluid. Blue crystals began to form. Pleased, she stowed the flask and moved on. Several hours later, the crystals had grown to the size peas and the flask was glowing with raw magic. According to Bill, the potion would either explode or neutralize itself in a matter of minutes. There was only one thing to do. As the rest of the party hid behind a hedge, Bill drank the potion.
The wormling wizard sprouted antlers. He grinned as his ears popped and healed; his deafness was cured! And he felt fantastic! He almost seemed to hover. His eyes shone with a silver gleam.
After asking several important questions, such as, "Do you feel evil?", "Do you feel like exploding?", "Can you say a prayer?", "Are you sure you don't feel like exploding?", the party decided Bill was no longer a significant risk, and resumed their journey.
They reached the city of Boyer the next morning. A veritable orgy of commerce commenced. The three major wizarding colleges of Boyer - the famous and well-respected Garden Wizard college of Thrumsbury, the smaller but daring Illusionist college of Stoke, and the very dismal Elderstone Orthodox Wizard Outreach Branch - all competed to buy the various magical items offered by the party. Slugsworth had secretly stolen a huge hoard of gems and earned three times as much as anyone else. The Paladin donated vast sums to the Church. Their pockets practically bursting with gold, the party retired to the finest inn that would admit them.
Their future was uncertain. Steam Hill still had unexplored chambers and strange subterranean mysteries. Their original missing - locating the bandit knight Sir Gilesworth - was still incomplete. Would they survive magical capitalism and their own meddling tendencies? Was Bill really OK? And what message did the mysterious owl-deer-thing want to deliver before its untimely death?