Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Session 13: 11/12/14

Party: Xero (T:5), Braggle (H:3), Taylor (F:1), Polarion the Conjuror(M:3), Curate Burkey(C:5), Durbin (F:2, hireling), Ogre(HD:2, lost 2 levels to a wraith, charmed), "Snow Ball"(white ape, charmed)

On their return to the land of the Nezumi (i.e. the 3rd level), the party lost a good many of their number. They were suspected of either having gotten lost in the tunnel on the way back, or to have gone off exploring the 3rd level, despite the agreement not to. In any case, their whereabouts are uncertain.

It was with much gut wrenching deliberation that Polarion opted to leave"Snow Ball" at the far end of the tunnel, rather than risk bringing his charmed white ape into the realm of his enemies.

When the party presented the heads of the white apes they had slain, along with some enormous centipede heads, The Shogun Empress Toyoshi was quite pleased, and with the blessings of her advisers, agreed to an alliance and trade agreement with the party.

One of the stipulations of the latter was that the party was to avoid interrupting the Nezumi trade with the other inhabitants of the complex, unless the party could offer an alternative supply. It was in this way that the party learned something of the variety of "nations"in the area, including the Three Sisters and troll lords, and heard of the Dark City, which some of the party suspected may be the famed golden-spired city of Frinnestad, which they had seen in several murals in the levels above.

The Nezumi also shared with the party some unusual statuary left by the dwarven builders, and a strange map of a room in the bottom of a fountain, which the ratfolk had never found in their search of the levels above.

A return to Gorgoroth allowed Taylor to level up to 2nd, and for that he breathed some relief, having survived harrowing excursions against undead and white apes aplenty but by the skin of his teeth.

On their way back to the dungeon for an attempt to clear out the white apes entirely from the 4th level, they noticed a thin column of smoke, as a campfire makes, coming from the woods near Trelleborg. This is not the first time they had experienced such a thing and so they approached cautiously but ready for a fight.

Sure enough, the brigands they stumbled upon were neither friendly nor welcoming when Curate Burkey played up his persistent low-level inebriation and the battle was joined, for a moment at least. Polarion's sleep spell and some unrequited violence done by the party made fast work of the villains. Those brigands not slain were bound and stacked in the buckboard they so obviously had stolen, like so many cords of wood, to be brought to town so that justice might be served.

A dead merchant was found in a tent, and there were signs of struggle and hints and clues that others had been lead away into the woods down a trail familiar to at least half of the party. This time, motivated by the possibility of saving innocents from cruelties unknown, they followed the trail to a large rock. Like a giant hide-a-key, it was revealed to be a cap for a  tunnel straight into the earth, or more technically, a chimney.

Too narrow for the Ogre, he was left to guard both the entrance and the prisoners, with an admonition not to eat them. 

Down the party went, lead by the diminutive Braggle and the dexterous Xero,  where they encountered two separate groups of black robed cultists led by men with skin as red as a tomato.  The cultists were no match for the well armed party, who slaughtered them in the kitchen and the adjoining space. 

An investigation of the kitchen lead to the discovery of a brilliantly shiny and sharp dagger with a pommel of the head of a snake buried in a pot of sludge. Runes inscribed on the blade were translated by Braggle to say "Snake Bite."

To their surprise, the next room the party entered was the very one depicted in the map shown them by the Nezumi. Although the map failed to mention the 24 skeleton guards.

After the last of the bone horde fell to a few hundred silver coins of holy water and burning oil, the party commenced exploration of the immense dwarven hall. On a raised platform at one end, before a roaring bonfire, they found a burned victim of sacrifice which increased concern for the safety of the hostages and the necessity of expediency.

From a chest  that was atop a dais in the middle of a wide pool, the party recovered much coin, a vial of a weak poison, and a dagger with the pommel and guard fashioned to resemble the head and tail of a fox making up its handle.

Unfortunately, having used up their spells, and suffered some injury from their encounters with the cultists and skeletons (some of that was self inflicted with rolls of "1" to hit), the party could not continue further, but instead, holed up in the kitchen for the night.