DM: Rick Smith
Hex Cade lvl 1 Barbarian lvl 2 Psion Earth Genasi – Dan Forrest
Falkner lvl 2 Barbarian lvl 1 Rogue Tiefling – Barbara Kalberg
Drachalt lvl 1 Druid Silver Half Dragon Half Elf – Tom Blossfeld
Gunnar Kelson lvl 3 Fighter Aasimar – Jon Rosen
Zohi lvl 4 sorceror half-elf – Ken Marin
The party returns to the corridor and rests from their strenuous encounter with Drac’s distant distant relative. By the time the party is done resting, it is about .
The party returns to the site of the dragon encounter and starts pushing doors open. There is nothing but ruins beyond the first door. The second door reveals nothing but an old cloth hanging from a nail. Gunnar detects the sound flapping wings from beyond his door. The party gathers and Gunnar smashes the door open, revealing a chamber covered in bat guano. Ordinary bats go flapping away in every direction. There is another rubble room through the open archway.
The corridor ends in a damp empty room with moonlight streaming in through arrow slits to the east and south. Gunnar and Drac move to look into the room. There is some kind of liquid coating on top of the rubble, but it is odd because it is not sliding off the rocks. Gunnar shoots an arrow at it experimentally, which lodges into the substance with a moist thunk. Zohi launches a ray of frost at the immobile slime… and THIS gets the critter’s attention.
Gunnar hits the critter with a second arrow. Faulk tries to shoot another arrow but it morphs to avoid the shot. Each arrow that hits the slime starts dissolving. Hex strikes the creature with his glaive, hitting it in its nucleus. Unfortunately, the glaive suffers from the attack and the blade dissolves instantly… the gray ooze’s acid is death to metal and wood. Grumbling discontentedly, Hex accepts a +1 Heavy Mace from Gunnar.
Checking some more doors, Hex finds a room empty but for some stuffed animals, Faulkner finds a room that’s been completely charred, and Drac finds a kitchen with a large rusting cleaver. Beyond a set of double doors there is a completely collapsed ceiling.
The party returns to the branching cavern corridors below ground. Drac is once again leading Zohi, who can’t see in the dark. The caverns looks dug out by claws. Following the caverns the party steps over crunchy chewed bones. The temperature begins to drop dramatically, an unnatural cold that even affects our dragon-kin companion. Hex checks and can’t see his breath… is the cold a psychological effect? Strange shadows dance across the walls as Zohi fires up his wand of light. There is a purplish tinge to the rock. Faulk creeps forward and discovers a tall 4-sided column that is intensely carved… it is identical to the previously carved stone, but much larger. There is an altar before the column, made of a dull porous black stone. The chill is of a terrible intensity in here.
Faulk examines the four sides of the column, finding hidden catches. Hex and Drac examine the altar… after touching it, it begins to change color… Hex screams “get down!” and runs from the altar as Drac backs away… the party scatters, but Zohi keeps an eye on the altar. The altar has become a translucent amethyst with a dark pit at the center… which is pulsing within… an emptiness that moves like it is alive. Faulk tosses a blanket over the altar, covering the obscenity from view. The four catches are to compartments. The party flips the four catches all at the same time. It reveals four compartments… the first has a small wood box. The second opens a large compartment to reveal a drum, which has a weak enchantment on it. The third side opens a small compartment… hanging from the top of it is a set of chimes. The fourth side opens to reveal a brass brazier with a few pieces of incense.
Gunnar opens the box to find a dull black sphere, 1 inch in diameter… a bead of force. Drac grabs the chimes and Hex takes the drums. Hex beats the drum, which is covered with human skin. Confounded by all this exciting stuff, we return to the pit room after exploring the rest of the caverns on this level and finding nothing. The party jumps onto the lift and begins lowering themselves down into the pit. The walls slope away and water falls from openings. To the west is a second platform. The platform lowers to the top of a pinnacle, where there is another pulley. The pinnacle is a deep black with veins of purple running through it.
Hex moves across to the second pulley, and is joined by Drac and Gunnar. Zohi doesn’t want to go further, and Faulk agrees, but the two of them join them. As Faulkner moves across, a tentacle of purple slides upwards from the rocky veins and tries to snag Faulkner, but it misses him. Hex and Drac once again work the rope as the others watch in every direction. Veins of purple do run across the surface of the cylindrical monolith, cris-crossing in every direction. After descending 60’ a flying creature attacks Faulkner… a damnable grell!
The grell attacks, 3 tentacles snaking out and grabbing Faulkner up into the air… he is paralyzed by the creature’s evil energies! Gunnar draws his sword and attacks, smacking the creature with a vicious strike. Zohi fires a magic missle into the doughy brain. Hex steps forward with the heavy mace +1 and gives it a brain bruise, after which he grabs Faulkner with his free hand in hopes of catching him if he falls. Four tentacles snake out at Hex, but Hex swings Faulkner’s body in-between and blocks the blows. Another tentacle does hit Gunnar, but he resists the paralysis. With all the action the platform begins to swing precariously.
Gunnar drops his sword to get his bow out, but he misses his footing… Gunnar slips to the edge of the platform and off the side, catching the edge with a desperate effort… Gunnar is now hanging above the abyss while his sword drops silently into the depths. Hex manages to keep his hold on Faulkner, which keeps him on the platform. Zohi smacks the critter with a second magic missle, killing the monster. The monster plummets into the abyss taking Faulkner with it… Hex flies into a rage as his hold on Faulkner is pulled to the limit… his boots slide him across the platform to the very edge, but Hex catches his footing and manages to keep hold of Faulkner as the creature’s corpse falls away. Gunnar begins to lose his hold but Zohi attempts to help him… ineffectually. Zohi loses his hold on Gunnar, who falls backwards but catches hold again. The second attempt works, and Gunnar is pulled back onto the platform. Faulkner is still paralyzed. Drac lowers us the rest of the way.
At about 150 ft down the monolith begins tapering to a point… 60 ft later the platform reaches the base of the cavern. The monolith is balanced perfectly on a 2 ft diameter column of rock. The point of the monolith is 30’ above the base of the cavern. There is a pool where the water drops. The cold is so bad here that it requires fortitude saves to avoid sub-dual damage. The room is worked stone. Two symbols are carved into the floor. Across the cavern is an archway, carved of stone… a curved mass of writhing tentacles and serpents. Right inside the archway is a smooth black stone wall, inscrutable in its darkness. The pool does not look deep. One of the symbols is a giant black sun. The other symbol is a black ziggurat.
Hex walks under the monolith and finds rungs heading up to the point. The party spreads into the room except for Faulkner, who, ill from the effects of the room, remains on the platform. Gunnar sticks his hand in a pile of rubble and momentarily gets his hand stuck. Drac heads over to the pool of water… it is about 2 inches deep and 10’ across, and there is a small crack from which the water is spilling away. The water is exceedingly unhealthy and unnatural, according to Drac. Hex begins to climb the rungs. Drac sees a head stick out from behind one of the piles of rubble. Hex reaches the top of the rungs and puts his hand out between the monolith and the stone spire… and disappears!
Hex appears in a perfectly round perfectly black unknown chamber, hanging in the middle with no visible support. A deep and booming voice declares, “Seek the heart of each of the four moons. Together they can sunder the walls of my prison. For now, eat of my fruit, and be blessed.” A perfectly black apple appears and Hex takes it, eating it makes him feel like he has gained some kind of deep life revelation (+1 wisdom.) “Who are you?!” cries Hex, and he is answered… “Tharizdun!”
Meanwhile, the party sees a human male in full plate armor wielding a short sword stepping out from behind the rubble. Faulk fires an arrow at him but misses. The human casts a spell and literally flies across the room, attacking Drac with a touch attack. Drac is hit, and he feels a negative energy course through his body, making sores erupt all over. Hex suddenly reappears at the top of the rungs, hand having passed out through the other side. Gunnar tries to leap across the poisoned water, but he slips and one foot splashes into the water… Gunnar feels his health slipping away, but he is able to pull his foot out before anything too terrible happens.
Faulkner misses with another arrow. Drac attacks the human but his scimitar clashes against the enemy’s armor. The man swings his short sword at Faulk, hitting him a cursory blow. Gunnar charges at the armored opponent, striking him a solid blow. Faulkner steps to flank the unknown opponent, and strikes him, almost severing him through at the spine. Hex yells “NO! leave him alive!!” and jumps forward, hoping to save the man from death. Gunnar rolls the guy over, holding a sword to his throat. Hex arrives and transfers damage from him into myself… and it looks like he is just in time.
Drac asks, “Hex, what the hell are you doing?” Hex says, “I need answers. Get him tied up.”
The man awakens… looks like he is going to make an attack at Hex, but Gunnar stabs him. The man drops the sword and falls unconscious again.
Zohi asks, “what happened to you Hex, where were you?”
Hex responds… “help me save this guy, and I’ll tell you everything.”
Faulkner fails a heal check, and Hex transfers a little more damage to himself, bringing himself to the edge of death… but it looks like the guy is stabilized. The guy tries to cast a spell and Hex grapples him, pinning him to the ground. The group ties the man up, and begins to loot him. Zohi checks out the archway.
The man is carrying a message that indicates his name to be Festrath. The Water temple is going to attack the forces of fire. He wants to win the favor of the “Doomdreamers” and the “Triad” itself. The prisoner is rambling. “What, no.. the temple will stop you… watch out for the tentacles.. you’re all going to die… get to safety! Run.. flee!.. he is coming…!”
The party returns to the pit room above… it is almost morning at this point. The party tries to grill Hex about what happened, but Hex insists it is a matter of gods, and that it needs to be discussed somewhere other than the moathouse. The party acquiesces, and they leave the moathouse through the back entrance that they had first approached the day before. Once back on the road, Hex fills them in.
Two warriors… one in a breastplate and carrying a bastard sword… the other a half-orc wielding a great axe… are just down the road ready to ambush the party. Additionally, a magic missile streaks out from behind a tree, striking Drac in the side. These came from a human woman standing off the road to the right, dressed in leather armor. Zohi is backstabbed by a thief who materializes from the other tree-line… this is an ambush from all sides!
Gunnar moves into the woods to attack the mage girl. He strikes her with his bastard sword, giving her a nasty wound. Faulkner turns and attacks the thief, trying to knock him away from Zohi. Drac also moves into the woods, smacking the mage girl… she drops to the ground. The thief yanks his blade from Zohi’s midsection and strikes at Faulkner, missing. The two enemy warriors move forward… the half-orc obviously flying into a rage as he strikes down Drac… he looks dead.
Hex feels a sudden fear striking at his heart, but he fights it off. Gunnar turns and attacks the half-orc, missing. Faulkner attacks the thief in front of him, giving him a near-mortal blow… but the thief keeps his footing. The thief strikes back for some damage. Hex moves forward and crushes the skull of the priest in the breastplate with a mighty blow from his enchanted mace. The Half-Orc barbarian strikes Gunnar a second time, but the battle-worn gladiator continues to fight.
There is another woman, quite cute, out in the trees… and down the road is a male human with a tapered beard, bushy eyebrows, a breastplate and a crossbow. Hex is suddenly magically held by the cute woman. Zohi races over to Drac’s body and pushes a cure light wounds potion down his throat… stabilizing him. Gunnar tosses the bead of force at the half-orc but is unable to encapsulate his foe. Faulkner attacks the thief, finally killing him. This time Hex doesn’t complain. The Half-orc slices viciously at Gunnar and this time he misses. A magic missle flies from the commanding bearded man and smacks into Zohi, whose brooch of shielding absorbs the damage.
Zohi tips another potion down the half-dragon’s throat, waking him from his torpor. The cute woman casts a touch attack spell and tries to strike Faulkner, but misses. Gunnar attacks at the half-orc again and misses again. Faulkner strikes at the cute girl and misses. Drac stands suddenly and breathes frosty death on the orc barbarian, who weathers the terrible tempest… but looks nearly at the end of his rope. He still swings again at Gunnar, hitting with his axe… Gunnar is knocked unconscious and bleeding to death. The bearded dude slams another magic missle, this time into Drac… but Drac is still up. Zohi casts a magic missile into the barbarian half-orc, finishing him off.
The cute woman reaches out to touch Faulkner again, this time hitting. Dark energy courses through Faulkner, causing a small amount of energy. Faulkner strikes back, decapitating the cute girl before him. Drac charges the bearded foe, giving him a critical… but he still stands. The mage backs up and throws a bead of force at Drac… the bead explodes inside Drac, blowing him up into the air… Drac falls to the ground, very dead.
Zohi pumps a third cure potion, this time into Gunnar, who approaches the mage, keeping the sphere of force between them. Faulkner steps forward and launches an arrow at the bearded killer, hitting him a cursory blow with an arrow. Another magic missile strikes Faulkner, but he’s still up… only his rage is keeping him on his feet. The bearded man begins a strategic retreat. Zohi follows, attempting to chuck a flaming sphere on him, singing him slightly. Gunnar goes into a run, trying to close the gap between him and the retreating opponent. Faulkner fires another arrow at the attacker, hitting him again… but he is still up. The evil mage casts and touches Gunnar… black dark energy courses through him causing rapid horrible sores to appear all over, killing him dead. Zohi moves the flaming sphere onto the badguy, finally incinerating him. The players race to save Gunnar but they are just too late. A moment later Faulkner collapses, his rage at its end, and begins to bleed. Zohi and Hex begin arguing as to how to save him, and manage to stabilize him just in time.
Hex and Zohi are left standing over the bodies of their friends and enemies, with Faulkner slumbering peacefully nearby. “I am a god of healing and of the earth. Some of my companions I heal… the others I return to the earth.” Hex suddenly remembers that the head of the ambushers we saw before… he was a customer at the inn back in Hommlet. The remaining party pulls all the corpses off the road and forms camp in the woods. Eventually a militia from town, led by rufus the warrior and 20 guards, and Elmo. A cleric rushes forward and helps to heal the survivors, while Hex, Zohi and Faulkner explain something of what happened. Elmo recognizes some of the ambushers… the woman is actually a tiefling. Dunrat, the leader, was a stranger in town who had only arrived a couple of weeks ago. Showing the symbols to him, Elmo recognizes the Obex (upside-down ziggurat) as a symbol of Tharizdun. The other symbol is of the Elder Eye, the forces of Elemental Evil. The black sun is also a symbol of Tharizdun.