Relics of a Lost Age

Session 9
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The Chambers of Truth
Fear and Loathing in the Undercity

We were about a mile down below ground when the terror began to take hold. I had quaffed a few extracts before we headed down into the darkness, and one had me feeling particularly invincible. Those are the worst, when they begin to wear off. One minute you’re ready to firebomb a dragon’s lair, the next you’re a frail little fleshbag that just wants to go home. Anyways, the cavern was dark and terrifying, is my point. It was okay, though. I had my tools, my potions and bombs. They could keep me safe. They always did, those good tools. Yes, yes, good good tools.

I wasn’t really there for a while, then the godsdamned basiderons were upon us: awful, freakish plant creatures with hungry maws. I’d read much about these creatures, I knew their weaknesses, their strengths…and the powerful hallucinogenic effects of the spores they release into the air. I got excited about that. My team sprang into action, like the trained professionals they mostly are if they are being paid well enough or are in danger. Natalia began her sweet songs, cutting through the oppressive silence of the cavern, while Solven sussed out the situation from the back, carefully looking for a winning strategy to employ against the enemy, as he always did. Mourundar and Sa’diyah went to work with their altogether bloodier tools, a good steel blade and razor sharp arrows. Sa’diyah took to them like a woodsman to a forest, cutting out wide swaths of green flesh with her great blade, while Mourundar loosed arrows faster than the eye could see, finding his target again and again. As for me? I performed my favorite experiment: I investigated whether the damn things could burn. As is often the case, my research was highly successful.

Just around then things went south. Natalia took a dive into the dirt of the cavern floor and started swimming around. It looked like a good cavern floor for swimming, and it looked like she was having fun. Dammit. I hate it when people have fun without me. Then I saw Mourundar and Solven looking utterly confused, eyes fixed upwards as though there were some great giants towering over us in the cavern along with the basiderons. The hallucinogens had gotten to all of them, then. All except Sa’diyah and myself. It was really too bad. I do love a good round of hallucinations. I suppose Sa’diyah’s iron constitution kept her safe, and I’ve been exposed (mostly on purpose) to so many weird substances, I guess the spores weren’t strong enough to affect my system much at all. Still, I noticed that everything had taken on a lovely pink glow after the basiderons released their spores, so I suppose there was that, at least.

Sometime later the plant monsters were dead, but I don’t exactly remember how. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with Sa’diyah’s raging flurry of cuts, some explosions, and a number of arrows. Sa’diyah looked like she’d taken a few blows while she’d been hacking them down, so I handed her a couple of potions to fix her up. Then we were poking around the refuse of the cavern, looking for baubles and clues as to what could have become of Merilin’s party of explorers, when Natalia stumbled upon a veritable treasure trove of dead bodies. Well, there were dead bodies, and treasure, so yes, naturally, there was a treasure trove of dead bodies. Natalia found a signet ring on one of them bearing the mark of the Council of Truth, so we knew we were on the right track. There was a dead dwarf, too. Solven recalled that there was a dwarf on Merilin’s missing team of explorers (Let’s called them Merilin’s Marauders, shall we? Won’t that be more fun?), so he reckoned that maybe the dead dwarf was an indicator that we were on the right track, too. But hey, I figure dead dwarves are probably just laying around all over the place down in the deep places of the world, so who knows? Anyways, Natalia remembered that she’d seen some footprints down on the ground when she’d been flopping around like a drowning ogre baby (you most certainly should not ask how I would know what such a thing looks like), so we decided to follow those. No one had the Track feat, but it was okay—the GM ruled they were obvious enough for us to follow, so off we went. We followed the track to a wall which, upon further investigation, turned out to be illusory, concealing a solid door of wood and iron next to the symbol for the Council of Truth. Truly, an exciting find. The door was locked, but we got in anyways, like we usually do.

I stopped paying too much attention to what everyone else was doing, because there was a truly interesting chamber we found. Interesting is a dumb way to describe the chamber, even though I said truly interesting, which is better but still not best and not even almost best. Just better than regular old interesting. What the chamber was was fucking magnificent, I’m trying to say. The chamber had a great old cauldron in it, iron black and pitted, just like in the stories. Three pillars made of bone surrounded the cauldron, each pillar capped with a skull that emanated light, one red, one blue, and one yellow. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the glow was coming from liquid inside the skulls. It was exciting and fascinating and I couldn’t wait to figure out what it was. There were paintings on the walls, three very curious paintings: a skeleton with a red apple in its right hand, a blue jaybird in its left, and a golden ring in its chest; a dark castle being shattered by a tidal wave, its highest tower marked with the shape of a rose; and a demon drinking from a golden goblet while holding a bloody red heart. There were lumps of lead and packets of colored powder on a shelf in an alcove, two packets each of red, blue and yellow powders.


The paintings on the wall…

We quickly discovered that the liquids could be poured from the skulls into the cauldron, and that the liquid would replenish itself without end. Wonderful! Just wonderful! Who knows what strange magics were at work? Further investigation was required. First, we tried to mix the liquids, but to no effect. Ah well. Nothing wasted, nothing gained. The powder, then, into the liquid. Surely that will yield some effect. We added the red powder to the red liquid. Oh! What disappointment! What tragedy! To have such fine resources, ripe for exploration, and to waste them! The resultant mixture was inert. I would rather have died to the damned basiderons than waste such a precious resource! But such is the nature of investigation! We learned something, eh? We learned what did not work! An important step in the process of discovery, to be sure. And I didn’t even have anything blow up in my face, so that was doubly excellent! Truly, the inert liquid was a victory, a victory of undiscovery, which always precedes understanding! But how to proceed now? The paintings, of course! Why didn’t I think of it before? Yes, the paintings were colorful, and held clues to the secrets of the cauldron. We debated at length how we should go about combining powders and liquids, but when we reached what they call a dialectic impasse, we realized that we must, as any alchemist must, simply try something. Experimentation, the true thrill! I like demons, or at least the idea of demons. Mostly just stories about demons are what I like, and so I decided that the color combination found in the demon’s painting, red and yellow, would be our mixture. Red liquid, for the bloody heart, and yellow powder, for the golden cup. A reaction took place in the cauldron, but what resulted, I could not say. How to test the new compound’s properties? Let’s see what it does to this lump of lead? Hah! Success! One of the greatest successes, for I had done what so many before had tried to do and failed. I had turned lead into gold! The stuff of legend! I must study this mixture further, and so, after turning another lump of lead into gold with the mixture (Because who doesn’t need more gold? Not even kings!), I bottled it up to take back to my lab.

One question invites so many more, though! What other mysteries might lie undisclosed within the cauldron and these compounds? What’s that, Natalia? You and Sa’diyah found a study in another room? Perhaps we should investigate, then. There may be more clues, or even laboratory notes! What a joyous day!

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Upon Returning Home

After receiving our reward for the last mission, Korgun asked us to meet him at the Tarhill Promenade. Upon our arrival we were shown into his office, which was of finer taste than I thought it would be. A shaken, timid elf named Merilin was speaking with Korgun and he told us that she might need our help. We were his “best team” after all.

As it happens, Merilin was part of another group, hired by Korgun, to investigate the Council of Truth. They had hired a washed up ex-Dusk Warden named Falomand. That was a week ago, and Merilin had not heard from her partners since.

The rest of the meeting was spent asking questions and devising a plan. When Merilin had left, Korgun pulled us all aside and told us the real reason we were to go find the party; the possibility of finding an abandoned Council of Truth lab bestowed Korgun with the kind of mirth only a lucrative venture could. Yes, we were to find out what happened to the other group, but the real mission was to find the base or lab of the Council of Truth.

We found Falomand at his favorite hangout, a curious little place located at The Cavalcade, The Stern Cobbler. The place was near its closing time and we wasted little daylight. After many failed attempts to find Falomand (some ending in the company of loathsome barbarians who were overly fascinated with all things magic and things that appeared to be so, and some ending with ambiguous job offerings) we located the ex-Dusk Warden.

He had indeed taken the lost party to the entrance to the Undercity, but had left upon receiving payment. We hired the nigh-useless brute to take us where he took them. He agreed to do so and we left out immediately.

He took us through an ancient maintenance shaft where he showed us the secret entrance to the Undercity. Mourundar and Natalia passed through the door and into the darkness, scouting the path ahead…

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The Return
Wherein the party leaves the Enclave and returns with prize in hand.

This page of the log, written by Mourundar, is scrawled in some sort of obscure Drow cipher – completely illegible to everyone but him.

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At Last: Fights, Fissures, Figments, and Findings!

Adventure Log
(Excerpts from the Journal of Solven the Scholar) Revisions Needed

Chapter Seven
A bright pulsating light shined through the doorway, illuminating the hallway in a soft blue. Our party carefully moved into the room. The lingering memory of several pouncing arachnids was still fresh in my mind and inspired caution in my step. I was happy to let Mourundar enter ahead of me.

The light emanated from a large circle in the center of the chamber. Inside the circle various geometric shapes intersected with no obvious purpose. Among this perplexing design, surrounding seven concentric circles, lay as many lines of ancient runes. I moved closer to inspect them.
I concluded that the writing was an ancient form of Thessalonian but could infer little else. Albrecht, our eccentric alchemist, suggested that he might be able to read it and I left him to the unraveling of this particular mystery. I know that sometimes the bent mind can think in ways the exemplary cannot. After a few minutes spent studying the runes, Albrecht gave an assured nod.

“These,” he said, gesturing to each of the seven circles with a motion of his hand, “represent the seven deadly sins according to the Thessalonians. But,” he added proudly, “they also represent the seven schools of magic.”
“Indeed,” I said. I was aware of no such a thing. I desperately wanted to know what Albrecht meant, but I did not want to seem a fool. Luckily the Bard’s curiosity had peeked as well.

“The seven schools of magic?” Natalia asked. “How are these two things connected?” Her ashen brow furrowed.

“Well,” began Albrecht. He spoke of the sins and listed their counterpart from the schools of magic. I imagine if one cared enough to know about how the two corresponded, then they could look it up themselves. While Albrecht was busy explaining about sin magic to the bard (and me as well), our more physically imposing members moved on to the back wall of the chamber.

On the farthest wall from the room’s entrance, flanking a doorway that led to nowhere, four carvings greeted Mourundar and Sa’diyah. The carvings, being two to each side of the doorless door, were: a castle, with a square slot beneath it; a coin, with a triangular slot; a house with a cross-shaped slot and finally, a Hammer with a circular slot beneath it.

Albrecht, Natalia and I stepped up to see what the dark elf and barbarian were looking at. It was seeming more likely that this was another puzzle, much like the insidious clock and candle before.

Albrecht bent down and casually picked something up off of the floor. The object seemed to be a rod of some type. The madman studied the rod. I noted that it had a circular protrusion at one end of it and on the pommel (for lack of a better word) the emblem of a house was stamped.

Albrecht, with little hesitation, moved to the carving of the house and placed the circle-end of the rod into the circular slot. Nothing happened. He then tried turning the rod clockwise, and then counterclockwise, with no avail. Nothing clicked, shifted or otherwise changed at all.

“That would have been to easy,” stated Mourundar in his usual dry tone. He then began to pace about. Being useless in the situation, he showed an uncharacteristic intelligence in staying out of my way.

As of the wild one Sa’diyah, I must admit I paid little attention to where she was or to what she was doing. I was wrapped up in my own curiosity and can only assume she sat to the side somewhere, drawing crude pictures on the dirt covered floor. With a sharp stick, perhaps.

Albrecht seemed perplexed. He ran to the large glowing circle and began pressing on the floor with his hands. After a few moments he his exploration. “I felt… something. What did I feel?” He asked no one but himself. “Power? Magic? Yes that’s it, magic.”

“Magic, you say?” The voice belonged to the usually silent Natalia. “Let us find this out.” She closed her eyes in deep concentration. “The circle, I think it is a mechanism of some kind.” she said a moment later. “And the keystone in the wall, it has a weak aura about it and—There, that alcove.” She pointed to one of the guard stations. “I sense something there.”

With reckless speed, Albrecht sprinted to a small wooden desk inside the alcove and kicked it aside. Among some debris we found another piece to the puzzle. Another rod, much like the house keystone, lay beside a second broken rod and the splinters of a third. The stamp was of a hammer. He grabbed the unruined key and took it to the carving of the hammer. He repeated the process of inserting the rod into the wall, as with the house rod before. Once again his efforts meet with disappointment.

He sure does love to run around, I thought. Maybe, as with others who have a touch of… strangeness, running is good for him and calms him down, that sort of thing.

I am not sure what thought led the alchemist to his next course of action but he grinned. Rummaging through his bags and pockets, he soon produced a small vial and after a small ritual of some sort (I am not sure what I should call it) he then pulled the rod of the house from the wall and poured the contents of the vial on it. The rod began to glow the same pale blue as the circle in the center of the room was. He placed it back into the wall. I gave a start as the hammer key popped out of the wall and onto the floor.

Fifteen minutes passed as our small group conversed and debated. I was beginning to understand our task at hand and felt that we had all the pieces to the puzzle. I voiced the thought and we proceeded to experiment.

We spent another quarter hour, with help from Albrecht and Natalia, channeling different magics into the rods. Every time the outcome was the same and it soon became evident that we would have to make a choice. Being that the pale blue light now coated the rod of the house, we chose to forgo the further wasting of spells and use the currently illuminated rod.

“It is settled,” said Natalia. She closed her eyes and concentrated. She forced her will on the mechanism of circles.

“Try to envision the magic working,” I coached the bard. “It is important to believe that nothing else, other than that which you want to happen, will happen. I once saw an orc shaman—” I was about to relay the events of an interesting occurrence when the fates saw fit to interrupt my anecdote.

The once unstable, pulsating light at the center of the chamber ceased to flicker, radiating a steady glow instead. All at once the party’s attention turned to the doorless door.

The stone wall inside the door’s frame congealed, then evaporated into pitch black nothingness. A gale of forceful wind was released into the dank, underground room from the portal ahead and the staleness of the ruins lessened. We stared into the nebulous hole, hesitant.

“Something is coming,” shouted Mourundar. I heard nothing. I squinted and made out a shape in the darkness; it was quickly growing larger. by the time I realized what it was the beast was at the door.

Chapter Eight

It had a thick serpentine body, covered in scales. Its face was more monstrous than human and its sinister slitted pupils peered back at me with contempt and fury. It was a dark naga. Like a nightmarish cousin to a bad dream, it was much like the naga I had come in contact with over the years, only worse in every way imaginable.

Not thinking, I drew my bow and fired on it as it halted, mouthing words I assumed could only be a dark spell. My arrow glided harmlessly off its shoulder, taking a few scales with it. It paid me little heed.

The Barbarian was on the creature before I scarce had time to blink. Her flaming sword snapped out, drawing an ember colored line across the naga’s breast. The naga’s eyes narrowed but it continued to cast its spell.

Melodic tones filled the air accompanied by the whirring sound of arrows as Mourundar set about his work. I have never seen a dark elf that did not love the chaos of battle and he was no different. His arrows, much like my own did little to stop the beast.

The current situation was looking dire indeed. Then Albrecht cackled and a procession of high-grade, short fused explosives made their way through the threshold. For a maniac, his aim was impeccable. Not a single part of Sa’diyah was detached, incinerated, or otherwise blown to the smallest of tiny bits after
Albrecht’s assault. The naga did not fare as well.

For a brief moment it seemed as if the danger was over. Then I realized why the creature had ceased its spell. Silence, too short, preceded the terrible bolt of lightning the dark naga called forth. It cut through the party mercilessly.

The flash temporarily blinded me. When I could see and hear again I noticed our line of assault was in shambles. Mourundar and Albrecht seemed more rattled than hurt. Natalia, however, lay in a crumpled pile, her ashen skin as dark as charcoal and her hair afire. She twitched and then began to crawl on her stomach toward the exit.

In my panic I drew another arrow and it zipped by the creatures head, hitting empty space. I was shaking and weary and my head throbbed.

Sa’diyah roared in anger and lunged at the naga, connecting with two powerful strokes of her fiery sword. A chunk of flesh the size of a fist sloughed off, and a magical fire erupted form the wound, sending the naga lurching backwards.

Mourundar steadied himself and smiled at the creature. He put two arrows neatly through the naga’s heart and it dropped with a heavy thud to the ground.

The beast took a few minutes to die. As I thought of the havoc it had unleashed on our party, of the smoldering half dead bard and the pain its lightening had caused to my eyes, I took great pleasure in speaking with the creature.

In its native tongue I explained its death to it. I savored telling the naga that it would die here, in this underground hell. I also told it that I would be taking its treasures and that it would die worthless, without power.

“How—,” it gurgled. “How was I beaten. How could I have been so weak?”

Mourundar stepped over the creature’s body and looked it in the eyes. “Don’t be foolish,” he replied. “We are just strong.” As if on signal, the beast died.

Chapter 9 (unfinished scrawlings)

The naga was housed in a 40×40ft dark chamber. There was some treasure:
Light repeating crossbow (excellent), Signal whistle (fine), potion (reduce person) and set goggles. Gems (150-200g) a strange crystal growing out of the wall.
900c, 330s, 75g, 5p) 167g.
I don’t think I could get it out without breaking it.
Solven, “that is only found on the plane of elemental air” , and why there was a rush of air room.
We gathered loot and saw to the bard. She was near death. Blackened.
The Bard limped to Albrecht expectedly.
He smirked and tapped her with the wand, until she felt better. Every time he made an exaggerated gesture that said ta-da.
I rested against a wall as Albrecht continued to mend the party.
Mourndar stepped up to Albrecht. “I seem to have scuffed my boot up can you help me with that.
Albrecht produced a vial that took off the scuff, but left a dark, rough corrosive mark. It was acid. Mourndar’s eyes widened. Albrecht tsked. I can take it out, I can do something later.
We slept.
Albrecht produced another potion and poured it on the hammer key. He cast his will upon the Thessalonian machine. After a while the portal opened again. Another blast of air.
It was an identical version of the main chamber. Sans the carvings.
There was a slot with a keystone in it.
The chamber was in almost pristine condition compared to its counterpart.
Albrecht opened the door out of the chamber. A 40ft hallway ending in massive stone doors lay on the other side. After studying the doors he seemed satisfied and opened the massive doors. The doors opened inward. Albrecht almost fell into a gapping pit. A 20ft sinkhole impeded our journey.
Mourndar attempted to climb the near-sheer walls of the chamber. He failed.
Albrecht told him to hold on and then he whipped up a spiderclimb potion. Mourndar walked up the walls and attached a rope to the ceiling.
I swung across the chasm with relative ease.
The Bard was next followed by the barbarian. Albrecht was next. He didn’t make it across. He instead swung back awkwardly several times.
Mourndar took pity on the madman and loaned him his enchanted cloak. Albrecht, with cloak wrapped around him, flapped his arms I a cartoonish manner and turned into a bat.
He flew across the gap, doing a showy barrel roll and landing neatly in human form.
The other side was like a stone island. Two more garishly large doors stood before us.
Again Albrecht charged ahead, barreling through the doors.
The room was 40×20 feet, with a torch every ten feet down each wall.
A large statue of a bull ordained the center of the room. As we stepped through the rooms thresh hold I noticed It was made of interlocking metal plates. And alive.
It was a Gorgon. It’s breathe could turn a person to stone.
“I suggest we retreat…momentarily.”
The barbarian was hesitant to back down from the challenge.
After a few minutes of tenuous discussion behind a door with a 2 ton metal bull on the other end. We decided on a plan.
We opened the doors once again, the bard cast her spell and the Gorgon charged.
Mourundar’s arrows were as fast as ever. In his haste he missed. I laid down suppressive fire and jumped to the side.
Albrecht let loose with his bombs. They passed right through the figment. “It’s not real!!!” The illusion disappeared into a cloud of mist as it hit the threshold. Albrecht laughed
Another door stood in our way. Behind it was a 15×40 hall lined with pillars.
In single file formation we marched ahead, Mourndar alone hugged the walls to the side passing behind the pillars.
Near the end of the hallway we beheld the long dead remains of some humanoid creatures. Another set of double stone doors with a hammer engraved in each door. I found no traps on the doors. The barbarian opened the doors.
It was the largest room by far.
A chamber flanked on either wall by what I wanted to be statues, but seemed to be inert golems. Four on each wall. They might hold some value.
Albrecht inspected the golems with no success. I assisted him and we looked for powercores. There were none. The next doors awaited us. Again no traps. The barbarian opened the door, which opened into a small chamber.
Bard denoted magic in the room. One of the items radiated a strong transmutation aura. It was on a desk. It was a small metal sphere.
Albrecht identified it as the powercore we needed. We inched towards it with the intent to pick it up….
__

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The Door is Opened
In which our party makes their way past the Sealed Door.

((Sorry for the delay – I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten to post this in the public log))

Our intrepid group of adventurers looted the bodies that they found in the spiders’ lair and moved on, coming to the Sealed Door, a puzzle used to unlock the entrance into the Thassilonian Enclave that they sought.

They were faced with the following riddle:

The statue before you
Holds chain that was made
For keeping the time
With its pendulum blade

The mid hour of night
Is farthest away
From where the eyes of the statue
In its head lay

Hours of daytime
And hours of night
Here are the same
I shall shed that light

Each hour is named
After person or thing
Your job is to find me
I am no king

With the silence of grave
A death come too soon
The master of Shadow
Stands thirteen past noon

Past him stands the Gypsy
And somewhere between, a valiant sight
A Knight of the realm
And a Dragon who fight

Merchant, a trader
His wares beside him in Wagon
Crouches as far away as he can
From the infamous Dragon

The mystical Gypsy
With her tarot cards
Steadies his wares
Lest they crash into shards

The beast of red scale
And long crimson tongue
Is caught right between Knight’s blade
And the shadowy one

Across from the Castle
Stands the Giant of rock
The Hydra of nightmares
Stands across from the Hawk

The Hawk is a hunter
With talons so fine
He stands next to Gypsy
As she sips on her wine

The Peasant sleeps poorly
He tosses and screams
For his is the hour
Of ghosts in his dreams

My place is not tricky
find where I lie
I stand where not mentioned
Which hour am I?

After much deliberation, the party successfully chose the correct hour and marked it by setting the pendulum blade in motion on that hour. This activated the ancient Thassilonian mechanisms that opened the door to the enclave within.

They found a ransacked storeroom, and then entered another chamber containing some ancient Thassilonian magical device embedded into the floor. Their brains too fatigued from dealing with the puzzle set by them at the Sealed Door, the device before them did not immediately give up it’s secrets and so the party set to work on inspecting the device.

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Into the Caves
Wherein the party enters the cave system and meets the inhabitants.

The party moves out from Sirathu, successfully navigating their way to their destination. Once there, they have to negotiate with the inhabitants, bypass some deadly fungi, and kill the Hunters in the Dark.

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To Sirathu
The party begins their journey.

The party gains an ally with Golemcrafting expertise to advise them. They the successfully navigate the Half-Light Path (although not without incident), meet up with some interesting characters on the road, and arrive in Sirathu. They find Zanros, negotiate with him, and learn where their next destination lies.

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Meet and Greet
In which we meet our party and their employers

Sorry for the sparse details until now – my brain shut down on me pretty hardcore.

During the first session, the party met with Korgun at the tavern, their employer for quite some time, and were informed that their next job was actually going to be a recovery/investigation to be made on behalf of one of the most powerful organizations in Kaer Maga – the Ardoc Brotherhood.

The party met with Merriman, head of the Ardocs, who informed them that he had been contacted by a third party claiming to have information. Information that would lead to the location of either an intact power core* from a Thassilonian War Golem, or the labratory where it was created. He insisted on discretion, as such a find would be enticing to many other parties, and mentioned that none of his sons knew exactly what was at stake either.

Merriman, being a man who gets what he wants, ended the meeting after telling the party that he had already arranged payment with Korgun.

The party’s instructions were to go to Sirathu and speak to a man named Zanros, who can be found in the Pactum Tenebrae.

*For information on why this is would be of value, read this.

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