Friday, November 16, 2012

Westmist Session #24 - Why Does it Always Have to be Snakes?

Having vanquished the hobgoblins, the party’s next goal was to finish exploring the area around the lizardfolk lair. Erijay, Darnorth and Riley (accompanied by Erijays’ new dog, Foxy), entered Stonehell through the main entrance, and after dealing with a trio of crab spiders, found themselves back at the bottom of the spiral stairs. Heading north, they encountered an octagonal room, this one with a large four-headed cobra statue on a pillar in the centre. After a quick check of the doorway for traps, they examined the statue more closely, finding two 6 inch deep holes in the pillar just below the cobra. Placing several different objects in the holes to see what would happen proved unsuccessful. While caught up in examining the statue, the party was surprised by a pack of bright yellow and red giant frogs, which largely ignored the party and hopped through on their way elsewhere.

 Leaving the pillar and statue, the party headed out themselves (in the opposite direction). They explored a pair of rooms, fought some giant carnivorous flies, and liberated a pair of gems from a hobgoblin corpse. The next room encountered was an unusual storeroom, with a selection of tools such as rakes and brushes on 15’ poles and a portable winch and pulley system. Puzzling over the meaning of these items, the party continued east and was surprised to find a set of stairs going up. Thinking they were head back to the crypts, the party headed up cautiously, but  the stairs climbed only about 20 feet before opening into another room. This room, once opulently furnished with fine plush couches and divans (now ruined), and with statue-filled niches in the walls, was occupied by a band of heyna-headed humanoids pulling a sledge loaded with junk. While they stood with swords ready and growled at the party, the gnolls let them pass unmolested out the doorway in the opposite wall. 

Here, the party descended another set of stairs and ended up in a large room set with stone tables carved in the shape of great serpents. Also in the room was a band of lizardfolk, who moved to attack the party. Erijay tried a sleep spell on the scaly ones, but that dropped just one foe. The rest had to be taken care of the old fashioned way, with mace and sword and fangs.   While the fight was going on, another brightly coloured giant frog wandered into the fray, but stopped to feast on a fallen lizardfolk rather than get involved in the fight. After finishing the lizardfolk, they explored the eastern extension of the room, where they found a raised dais with another large cobra statue and a floor covered in prayers mats woven with a snake scale pattern. Also found was the freshly shed skin of a huge serpent, lying in the hallway that exited the room to the east.

Choosing to avoid the passage with the snake skin, the party headed south to connect up with the lizardfolk caves explored on previous expeditions. They then looped back to the west, fighting more carnivorous flies, and again attracting a single giant frog which stopped to eat the fallen insects. Leaving the frog to feast, another room was found which appeared to be an old barracks with sleeping mats on the floor.  Below one mat, Erijay discovered a hole containing a large sack. Pulling it out and opening it, the party found a pile of silver coins, a potion bottle and a curious wooden box. Riley carefully opened the box, to find inside a pair of crystal lenses sitting in the velvet lined interior.  Intrigued, they decided to head back to the four headed cobra statute to see if the lenses were related to it. First they explored a little further, encountering a blood spattered room familiar to Erijay from her earlier fall down a pit in the crypts.  Just beyond this, they encountered a room with the skeletal remains of some huge unidentifiable creature, and fought another swarm of carnivorous flies. After defeating the buzzing horrors, they picked through the skeletal remains and some decomposing corpses of hobgoblins, kobolds and men, to recover a bejeweled orb and necklace, a well as an earring and chain. They also noticed a raised balcony at the north end of the room, which according to their map was likely an extension of the room with the gnolls.

Back at the four headed cobra, they tried to fit the lenses in the holes, but they proved much too small to sit properly. Backtracking again, they decided to risk the hallway with the giant snake skin, finding two rooms. The first appeared to be the remains of a library or scriptorium, filled with webs. Cautiously, they looked up to see three giant black widow spiders crawling through the webs. Determined to explore the room, the party attacked, and this time Erijays’ sleep spell was successful in eliminating the crawly opposition. Clearing webs out of the way, they discovered most of the books had been destroyed by damp and mildew. One was relatively intact, and described the rituals and history of the cult of the Children of Yg, Father of Serpents. This section of the dungeon (as well as another on a lower level) formed a major centre in the cult, a cult that dated from times primordial and focused on the breeding and worship of great serpents and other abominations for the glory of Yg. The book also described how, when it became apparent the forces of law were about to invade the dungeon to wipe out the cult, their treasures were relocated to another location known as the Breeding Pits of Yg in the Marsh of Whispering Mists.  

Packing away the book for future reference, the party searched the next room, which appeared to have once been an expensively appointed private chamber. Of primary interest in this room was a large stone ring near the south wall, in the shape of a serpent with its tail clenched in its mouth. After cautiously examining this ouroboros, Riley placed the recently discovered lenses in his eyes to see if they revealed anything. While showing nothing different about the gate, he did find he now had the power of infravison, while Darnorth and Erijay noted his eyes had taken on a sinister, snake-like appearance.  Stymied, Darnorth pressed the serpents’ eye, which caused a shimmering green light to appear briefly within the gate before disappearing. While pondering this, Darnorth noted his back pack starting to move around, and a half dozen snakes burst out and tried to sink their fangs into the dwarf. He was able to drop the pack before they could connect, and the party proceeded to slay more serpents. But alas, not before the brave Riley was bitten and succumbed to the poison. That brought an end to the exploration, as Erijay and Darnorth gathered up their fallen comrade and headed back to town to get help in bringing the cleric back from the dead. Incidentally, Darnoth noted he was now missing 6 torches when he repacked his backpack. 

Back in Westmist, Erijay and Darnorth first visited Aflain the Fence to cash in their newly acquired jewels to raise cash to raise Riley. Then off to the Temple of the Three Virtues to first meet with the grotesquely ugly Lanthan the Undervirtue. He arranged an audience with the Highest Virtue, and the fallen Riley was brought back from the dead in return for a modest donation to the faith. While they were there, the party took the time to question Lanthan about the cult of Yg, and he gladly and chattily confirmed and expanded on much of the information found in the book. Riley then asked about Malfreces, at which point the Undervirtues’ mood changed dramatically and he brushed off the question. When Riley asked again, Lanthan brusquely informed the cleric the matter was not open for discussion and terminated the interview. All of which left Riley which much to consider while he recovered from the effects of his trip to the great beyond.

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