Monday, September 23, 2013

Westmist Session #56 - Final Victory and Home Again

Standing at the top of the pyramid and looking out over the ruined city, the party decided their best course of action was to find somewhere to rest and recover. And the mongrelmen lair seemed to be a good choice. But first Bjorn used the Censer to summon a massive air elemental to fly cover overhead. The trip to the mongrelmen was an uneventful three hour trek through the ruins, notable only for a spooky period when all sounds of the city ceased. Once at the hidden entrance to the lair, they were challenged again by the mongrelmen, who weren’t keen on letting them back in. Erijay tried to bluff them, saying she was Aratheas’ sister. That didn’t work, and neither did Gurruk‘s woodsy charm. However, Bjorn buffeted the guards by dropping the air elemental down on top of them, which convinced the mongrelmen that they’d better let them in. The party was guided to Aratheas’ old dwelling, apart from the main mongrelmen camp, where they spent an uneventful night to recover and relearn spells.  And decide what to do next. Kern was intent on getting out of the city and back through the gate to Westmist. Riley pushed for dealing with Horen, both for the greater good and to make sure there was no one left behind to come back through the gate to get them. In the end, Riley carried the day, especially since they had the elemental to be their heavy muscle.
Getting vague directions from the mongrelmen, Bjorn again summoned the elemental to fly cover and cast invisibility on himself as protection. The party then headed back towards the yg-ti temple (which still showed no signs of activity) and then cut east along a series of old back alleys. About an hour from the temple, the alley intersected with a main thoroughfare. About 100 feet to the left lay Horen’s house; a wood and stone structure surrounded by a wall of unmortared stone. While the rest of the party hid as well as they could, Kern donned his ring of invisibility and scouted around the walled compound. He found three gates, and was able to easily use some vines to climb the wall and look inside. A pair of tranquil gardens lay in the southeast and southwest corners (one occupied by 3 strange creatures), and a pair of rough sheds or barracks the lay in the northern corners. And in the centre lay the house. There were no signs of activity, although Kern did feel as if something was probing his mind. He also noted that wisps of smoke or fog leaking out of the house.  Kern slipped back to his companions to report. While weighing the pros and cons of a stealthy vs frontal assault, it was rightly noted that the elemental swirling overhead had probably already given away their presence. So brute force it was, and the elemental was used as a battering ram to bust through the gates and into the compound. Once inside, everyone stopped for a moment while Erijay cast haste. Before they could start again, a wall of ice appeared, blocking access to the veranda and doors into the house. No matter, as Bjorn simply ordered the elemental to blast though the nearest wall. Out of the splintered wood and bamboo raced three critters; two leopards and a shadowy hound. The leopards were put to sleep by Erijay, and the rest of the party tired to deal with the hound. The animal, however, tore into the elemental inflicting vicious damage, while no one could land a blow on it. So Riley called on Habuu to dispel the creature.

That done, the elemental was sent deeper into the house. Visibility was pretty much nil, except for Erijay who cast detect invisible and could see a human figure ahead, facing off against the elemental.  The figure cast a spell, and a cone of cold swept over the party, chilling all to within a hairs breath of death (except Bjorn, who luckily was out of range). Before the figure could do much else, the combined blows of the party cut it down. The fog now started to dissipate, and they could see their foe was Horen. But before much else could happen, there came the sound of chanting from outside the room, and Erijay, Gurruk and Riley were encased in a web.  Kern avoided the web and noticed a robed figured running away through the house. He tried to follow, but was too heavily laden with treasure to catch up. So Bjorn sent the air elemental blasting though the rest of the house, but it too could not catch the lithe fleeing figure before it disappeared.
Back in the house, Kern started searching the room while the other three worked their way out of the web. Unfortunately, the elemental had done short work of the fragile building, and anything of value had been blasted to splinters and tatters of paper. He had more luck when searching Horen’s body, coming up with a set of bracers, dagger, potion, scroll and an intricately carved little chest. By this time, Erijay, Gurruk and Riley had escaped from the web and the prudent decision was made to get out of the city quickly before there was any other trouble. Thinking they might hide and rest with the mongrelmen again, the party headed that way. But this time rather than let them in, the mongrelmen directed them to the nearby cliff wall where a narrow path wound its way up and out of the city. Thankful to avoid the tunnel entrance again, the party climbed out of the ruined city, and then marched back through the jungle to the gate. Plugging in their gems, they passed through and found themselves back in the cellar of their house. Kern quickly removed the gems on their side, but did note it was still open from the other side so they were going to have to figure out what to do with that unfortunate back door.

The loyal Riker met them on the main floor, pleased to see them all back together and in one piece.  Little of note had happened in their short absence; the March Baron had not yet returned from the west, and Jax was now ensconced in Westmist Keep as Lord Merdwyn’s seneschal. He did report an odd vist several days ago from three men, dressed in ragged and half rotted clothing. Giving their names as Guy, Hengest and Cal, the reported they were employees of Kern and Darnorth and were there to demand about 6 months of back pay. The three went away when Rikar indicated his masters were not present, but he expected them to return.  Rikar also reported a ragged looking elf who had been watching the house over the last few days.

Puzzled and nervous about these visitations, the party none the less had work to do. Treasure to appraise and items to identify. A trip to Afflain the fence took care of the jewelry and gems, while a trip to Synthini, plus some fiddling around, identified their magic items (bracers of defense AC4, potion of extra healing, scroll of ward against magic, dagger +1). She also examined the small chest, and declared it was the material component of a secret chest spell; it could be used to summon the real chest associated with it. This Bjorn did, and there appeared a black lacquered chest covered with the design of a demonic figure trailing its long beard over an orb. Finding no visible keyhole, Kern looked for traps and found telltale signs of magical protection. Riley was going to dispel it, but stopped when he realized that would probably make the chest disappear. Instead, Gurruk offered to open it, so Riley cast a serious of protection spells on the beastmaster. The chest opened easily, but Gurruk’s beard immediately began to grow at a prodigious rate. Riley quickly fired a remove curse at Gurruk before his beard filled the room. Inside the chest was a potion of extra healing, scroll (heal, cure disease), 1000pp and 3 gold tablets.  The chest was then carefully closed and put away until they could figure out how to use it in a non-hirsute manner.

While at Synthini’s, Erijay also presented the strange snake helix for identification. At which point the alchemist turned white as a ghost and demanded the item be removed from her presence.  It was, Synthini said, an artifact of great evil and she would have nothing to do with it. At this Riley simply demanded that it be delivered to the Temple of the Three Virtues forthwith so the powers of the church could deal with it. No one was going to argue with the cleric when his temper was up, so they headed off to see Liphanes of the Highest Virtue.  Riley told of their adventures in the forbidden city, and then presented the artifact to the priest. He likewise turned pale, and explained it was indeed a thing of great evil.  Following the proper rituals, it could be used to physically summon an aspect of the god Yg, which could them be put to untold horrible uses. Liphanes would see that it was destroyed in the proper manner, and Riley would be rewarded for his service to the church.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Westmist Session #55 - The Temple End

… and next was to decide what to do with the other captives. There was a spirited debate on the pros and cons of freeing the cannibals for starters, Riley in particular not keen on potentially becoming the tribesmen next meal if they were released. In the end, the party decided to let them so free, but would try to recruit the other captive to help finish exploration of the temple. They had no luck there; Bo and Sana were uninterested in anything to do with the temple but wished simply to leave. The merchant brothers Pothos and Bathos worked  to convince the party to abandon any further delving into the temple. Instead, they tried to get the party to escort them back to their base on the coast, enticing them with  a share of the profit from their elephant ivory trade if they helped guard the next caravan.  Kern in particular was intrigued, but the party still wanted to recover Erijay’s sword and loot the rest of the complex. So the merchant brothers joined Bo and Sana, and the four set out to flee the temple. Kern followed invisibly and silently well behind to make sure they left. He saw them encounter a small band of bullywugs, who slew Bathos, but were themselves slain by the lighting fast Bo and the feline Sana. Literally the feline Sana, as she transformed into a tiger and tore the head off of the last bullywug.  Once the remaining three had exited the pyramid, Kern returned to find another argument in progress. Saaniya insisted that since she had helped rescue Kern and Erijay as the jungle spirit Bjorn requested, she was going to leave with the treasure she was promised. Much wrangling ensued, but in the end the thief agreed to a choice of the remaining chests in the hidden room. And to make sure she could get the treasure out, she spoke to the four cannibals in their own language and recruited them as bearers to carry the gold. Saaniya also agree to sell the Censor of Controlling Air Elementals to the party for a few minor magic items and a share of the jewelry.
Haggling complete (and after Kern ensured invisibly that Saaniya and the cannibals did leave as promised), the party barricaded themselves in the head yg-ti’s room to get some rest.  Mercifully, the night passed and they were not discovered, so they awoke refreshed and ready to trash the rest of the temple. Heading down the only corridor not yet explored, Kern slipped ahead and discovered it ended in a platform jutting into another cylindrical room. This was unlike the first, as its walls were covered in slime covered pods or nests. These were interconnected with tendrils and tubes. Vaguely visible inside were humanoid figures, and crawling between them through the tubes were snakes of all kinds. A continuous flow of ichors dripped down the walls from the darkness above. This was all being tended by a flock of the flying snakes, several of whom noted Kern’s light below and flew to investigate. Kern retreated back to the party, who slew the curious snakes. Seeing no other way to go, the party pressed forward. Darnorth prepared to levitate up the shaft to look for another exit, but just as he stepped of the edge he saw a massive snakelike creature climbing up towards the party. It had a cobras head and body, but human arms and torso, and lashed into the dwarf with its fangs again and again. Kern and Erijay attacked to beast to distract it and save Darnorth, but the dwarf decided to take matters into his own hands and smite it with the flamestrike from his ring. The burned monster slipped from the wall and fell into the darkness below. Darnorth floated down to make sure it was dead, and in addition to its corpse discovered a mass of other humanoid bodies in various stages of decay. He also found a scroll case with a scroll of ward against magic. Floating back up past the party, he also found another platform to the right, about 70’ above the level of the first. With help from the party, he rigged up a rope bridge and everyone moved across.

They found themselves in another corridor, and Kern once more scouted ahead, finding a room shaped like a half sphere at the end. Here he saw a fearsome guardian, a yg-ti / medusa halfbreed, armed with Erijay’s constrictor sword and a huge shield. Luckily Kern did not meet her gaze, and the still invisible thief slipped back to tell the party. They decided to go in with swords and spells blazing, but with eyes averted. Which did make hitting the creature a challenge. It first cast a fear spell, driving off Gurruks snakes, as well as Vorn and Kern.  While Riley chased after the fleeing party members to cast dispel magic on them, the yg-ti/medusa constricted Erijay with its snake tail and slowly started crushing the elf. A series of web spells kept it from doing much else, however, and the party was able to strike it down, Erijay landing the fatal blow and claiming ‘her’ sword before it hit the ground.  She then looted the corpse to claim another pair of star gems, one ruby and one sapphire.
The party now became aware of a sickly green glow in the room, emanating from a strange opening in the west wall. Looking in, they saw a huge ectoplasmic sphere suspended in another spherical room. It had hundreds of tendrils and tubes running to and through the south wall. Gurruk questioned the snakes, who told him he was looking at the ‘heart of Yg’, and they were in the presence of the god itself. Sending the snakes away (figuring the sight of the party attacking its god wouldn’t go well), the party decided to try destroying the thing. Darnorth bite into it with his sword, and struck easily. However, a geyser of acid sprayed all over the dwarf causing massive burns. Backing away, the party tried peppering it with missiles, but still some of the acidic goo splashed them. Stopping their assault, they were trying to decide what to do when someone noticed Vorn. The swarthy cleric was standing staring through the opening, entranced by the sight, and swaying back and forth. And before anyone could react, Vorn cried “For Veldes!” and threw himself through the opening and into the pulsing sphere. It engulfed the cleric, and started to vibrate and oscillate wildly. Around them the temple dungeon began to shake.  “Run” someone shouted, and as fast as their treasure laden legs could carry them, they party rushed back through the temple and burst into daylight at the top of the pyramid. With a final shudder, the rumbling below stopped, and the silence of the ruined city fell upon them.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Westmist Session #54 - Rescue! (Yes, for Real This Time)

The party moved forward to engage the bullywugs, joined suddenly by a leather clad figure that dove into the fight. Advancing further into the room, they could now see that it was essentially a large pit surrounded by a catwalk. Standing around the catwalk were about a dozen bullywugs, most in the process of throwing things into the hissing pit. But now all drew spears and leapt into combat with the party. In the fight that followed, bullywugs tumbled into the pit one by one as they were slain, until just a pair remained. One, who had remained against the far wall, was moving to pull a lever when the mysterious stranger put an end to that with an arrow through its throat. The last creature then tried to leap away across the pit but was struck down by Darnorth. Foes defeated, the party now turned to the newcomer, a dark skinned lightly armed women by the name of Saaniya. She had come through one of the gates searching for treasure in the forbidden city, and about a day ago she met a strange companion. A spirit by the name Bjorn spoke to her out thin air trying to convince her to enter the temple pyramid. The spirit offered her great wealth if she aids in finding some other adventurers trapped by the snakes who walk like men. Knowing better than to argue with the spirit world, she had followed the party’s trail to this spot. [Meanwhile, Bjorn had whispered sotto voce to Darnorth explaining he was alive, invisible, and toying with their new companion. Which made Darnorth suddenly concerned about the effect of his wish.] Introductions complete, attention turned to the pit. Which was full of snakes, large and small. Gurruk stepped forward and in slithery voice convinced six of the more deadly looking serpents to join him as companions. Meanwhile, the others moved to the other side of the room to examine a door and the lever sticking out of the wall. Darnorth examined the edge of the catwalk and found one spot where it was hinged, apparently a way to drop a ramp into the pit. The guess was the lever operated that ramp. So to cover their backs, a few iron spikes were rammed in to jam it in place.
Heading through the door, the party travelled a lengthy corridor and emerged into a small trapezoidal room. Two opulent divans designed for some weird non-human form stood against the angled walls, and a complex mosaic pattern covered the floor. Vorn was at once attracted to the plain wall between the two divans, and a little searching revealed a secret  door.  But with no apparent way to open it. Pushing, pulling, sliding, etc didn’t seem to work, so the party searched the area for some sort of opening mechanism. Darnorth stood staring at the floor, and noticed that the tile was in a regular pattern, except in the centre where the pattern was mixed up. Carefully floating over the mosaic using his boots of levitation, the dwarf poked at the tiles and discovered they were loose. He proceeded to rearrange them into the same pattern as the rest of the floor, and as the last piece was placed, the secret door pivoted 90o, revealing a dust and cobweb filled room. Which also contained a series of seven mahogany chests, banded in bronze turned green with age. Saaniya immediately started searching the first for traps, and in a short while she opened it up to reveal a pile of silver and gold. Eager now to open the others, she moved to next one. However, there then came the sound of a commotion outside, where Gurruk and his new scaly friends were watching the corridor. “Snake man comes” grunted the beastmaster, and then directed his snakes to take out the intruder.  The yg-ti, unconcerned by the snakes, instead asked in the serpent tongue why they were out and about . And was answered by an assault of snake flesh. The yg-ti fought back, charming most of the snakes into turning on the rest. Meanwhile, he also turned most of Gurruk’s arrows into snakes, so everyone was left fighting the blasted serpents while Saaniya continued to work over the second chest.  In the end, the yg-ti fell to the fangs of the giant cobra, and the rest of the party mopped up the other snakes.  In the secret room, Saaniya found a pile of silver and gems in the second chest, but the rest of the party decided it would be best to come back later to check out the rest. Pushing on to find Erijay and Kern was more important right now.  

Reluctantly she agreed, and the party moved on while Gurruk questioned the snakes. The reptiles could only tell the beastmaster that the captives were held deeper in the dungeon, and would eventually be transformed into yg-ti by combining them with snakes in some sort of foul ritual. By this time, the party had entered another room. A narrow bridge exited the far end, apparently to pass once more over the cylindrical abyss. In the room was a small mauve fount, filled with an oily green-yellow liquid. The snakes smelled it, and told Gurruk it smelled of serpents. Choosing not to mess with the oil, they instead moved quickly across the bridge. Entering the room at the other end, they encountered a massive throne carved in the shape of a snake’s skull. Each eye held a small oil lamp, and the lower fangs contained the stubs of oily green candles.  Darnorth lit a candle for the ambience, but nothing seemed to happen.  Moving into an adjacent chamber through a short corridor, they found an identical chamber with an identical skull throne. This one, however, did not have candles . While the rest of the party milled around examining the room, Darnorth yanked on the snake fangs, and was surprised to find the throne begin to pivot into the wall behind. Calling out “Follow me!” he leapt to the throne, joined quickly by Saaniya. The throne stopped on the other side, in a richly decorated room. Which was occupied by another yg-ti, dressed in rich vestments. “Who are you?” hissed the snake man, which Darnorth answered by jumping off the throne and swinging his sword. “I’ll go for help” yelled Saaniya, who then turned the throne back around and started ferrying more party members into the room to help Darnorth. Who was not doing too bad, having resisted the yg-ti attempt to charm and fear him. But everyone else soon had lots to do, as Darnorth found most of his crossbow bolts turned to more snakes. But in the end, all prevailed, and the snakes and snake man were felled rather quickly by the party. 

The room itself contained another of the strange shaped couches, a series of lecterns with black and red tablets detailed rituals and chants of the cult of Yg, and a strange device in a niche in the south wall. It was a 2’ tall double helix made of two black and gold snakes, linked together by bands of  glowing green light. Though wary of this at first, it was promptly snatched as treasure by Darnorth.  A hallway leading west ended after 20’’ in a door. And along the walls of the hall were four chests; one cast iron, the second mahogany and iron, the third alabaster and the fourth of battered wood. Saaniya discovered traps on the last two, and was able to disarm one. The other was magical and required a dispel magic spell from Riley to defeat. The cast iron and alabaster chests were both locked; a key found on the fallen yg-ti opened the first, but neither the key nor Saaniya could open the second.  In the three they could access, the party found another pile of coin and jewelry, the most portable bits of which were quickly pocketed. There was some discussion around smashing the last one, but the decision was to leave it for now to avoid alerting anyone/anything lurking behind the door. So to the door they went. Darnorth opened it and glanced in. It opened into a small caged area overlooking another catwalk/pit room. In this one, bugbears patrolled the catwalk and human prisoners were shackled to the walls of the pit. Including, to Darnorth’s relief, Kern and Erijay. The bugbears didn’t seem to notice the dwarf, so he shut the door so a plan of action could be made. In the meantime, Gurruk and snakes wandered down a corridor to another door into the  prison room, guarded by a trio of bugbears. The party regrouped and hatched a plan. Gurruk would have the snakes take out the bugbears, and most of the rest of the party would back them up if needed. Saaniya would enter the cage to snipe at the bugbears inside,  keeping them busy and protecting the prisoners from harm. And all went well. The bugbears, used to seeing snakes around, were surprised by the attack of  Gurruk’s new pets, and didn’t stand long against their poison. Inside, Saaniya kept the bugbears busy, but they returned the favor and the thief soon had to retreat, badly wounded. By then, the rest of the party had burst into the prison and quickly slaughtered the remaining bugbears. While the battle raged, Vorn scrambled down into the pit to free Kern and Erijay. The others he left in chains for now, until the party was sure they were of no harm.  The party retreated to the head yg-ti’s chamber for now to plan what to do next. Kern meanwhile borrowed some picks from Saaniya, and swiftly opened the lock on the alabaster chest that had defeated her abilities. With a smug look, he handed the picks back to her, and opened the chest. Inside were his and Erijay’s gear, with a few notable exceptions. Erijay sword was still missing, as were a couple of Kern’s valuable items.  But the two donned their gear and prepared for whatever came next …

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Westmist Session # 53 - Rescue (Not Quite)

Darnorth led the charge up the pyramid steps, emerging on the flat top in time to hear the sound of stone scraping on stone on the far side of a large alter. The dwarf rushed around to find a round stone slab with an iron handle, which he opened while the rest of the party caught up. A narrow spiral staircase descended into the heart of the pyramid, and the party rushed down to catch their fleeing foe. Passing through one room without pause, they descended to the bottom of the stairs into another room. Here they found two bugbears, who rushed to block the bottom of the stairs and proceeded to jab at Darnorth with their spears. With a mighty effort, the dwarf pushed one bugbear back, allowing more of the party to descend and engage. Which was good, because now a squad of bullywugs leapt out of the darkness behind them, spears flashing. The three sided melee soon added a fourth combatant, as another band of bullywugs jumped out from behind a shimmering curtain across one end of the room. The party surged from one threat to the other until all their foes were slain. During a lull in the action, Riley peaked behind the curtain to see a yg-ti fleeing down another set of stairs; it would seem one of their foes was able to escape after all.

With their slain foes lying in blood and gore on the floor, the party bandaged their wounds and started down the stairs after the yg-ti. Darnorth led the way into a corridor, but behind him Riley felt a stone sift beneath his feet. Once again there was the sound of stone scraping on stone, this time from the darkness ahead. Darnorth and Riley dropped to the ground while Aratheas, Gurruk and Vorn fled back up the stairs. But nothing emerged from the darkness, so the party reunited and head down the corridor. After about 50’, they came to a dead end. Assuming there must be another way, they started looking around. The walls were adorned with bas-reliefs of giant serpents and serpent men slaughtering and sacrificing humans. While searching, Darnorth noticed one great serpent stood out more than the rest. He pulled on it (after first poking at its eyes) and the left wall pivoted open, reveling a narrow hallway running parallel with the one they were currently in.  It was only 30’ long, and at the end was an obvious handle in the wall. This opened another door back into the corridor they started in, on the other side of the blockage. Moving on again, they found the corridor soon narrowed to 5’ wide and then broke into a huge cylindrical chamber. Up and down it disappeared into darkness, while ahead the corridor continued as a narrow stone bridge. Sensing a trap but determined to push on, they stepped onto the bridge and were immediately beset by a flock of strange creatures; flying winged snakes with human-like arms. In a flurry of bites and poisonous spits they fell on the party, who with flashing blades slew half before the remaining creatures flew back into the darkness below.  And the party rushed on across the bridge before any more emerged from the gloom, finding themselves in another narrow corridor, then a room.
 This somewhat oddly shaped room had lit torches in wall sconces, and was decorated with a large number of tapestries or banners. Close examination by Gurruk showed these were made of treated snakeskin. A single door exited the room, to a corridor and a short set of stairs. At the bottom of these was an even stranger room. Instead of the usual grey and red stone blocks seen so far, this room had walls, ceiling and floor covered in a strange black/grey rubbery material. A single door covered in the same material was located to the east, and another corridor exited to the north.. As Darnorth led the party in the door`s direction, the floor on which he stepped sank and there was an immediate hissing sound. A green/yellow gas could be seen entering the room from the corners.  The party immediately turned about and headed back up the stairs and into the previous room. There they waited for a short while before Darnorth opened the door again. However, gas could still be seen filling the room at the bottom of the stairs. Darnorth and Riley pulled down a few tapestries and descended the stairs a bit, planning to use the snakeskin to fan away the gas.  All that did, however, was expose them both to the gas as it was stirred up. Darnorth was fine, but Riley became paralyzed and had to be pulled back up the stairs by the redoubtable dwarf. Another half hour of waiting and Riley started to move, and the gas started to dissipate. Heading cautiously down again, the party avoided the pressure plate this time and headed again for the door. Halfway there, a loud klaxon alarm sounded and echoed throughout the dungeon. When nothing seemed to arrive in answer to the alarm, they finally reached the padded door. Opening it, they found a simple 10x10’ room. In a niche by the door stood a plain hourglass. After a little brainstorming, Riley decided it must be a safe room from the gas, and the hourglass was a timer to tell when the gas dissipated.  Darnorth, on the other hand, simply pocketed the hourglass.

Heading deeper in their search for Kern and Erijay, they encountered a small room with a rack of glaives on one wall. The next chamber was long and narrow, and crowded with alcoves containing a series of statues of yg-ti, all carved of black stone.  Darnorth decided to poke at the eyes of the middle statute on the right. Nothing happened, but he did notice the statue was hollow. Taking a swing at the body, he broke open the thin shell and out poured a pile of strange silver coins and a handful of gems. The gems were scooped up quickly, and few coins taken as souvenirs. The rest was left for now as it would only be a burden during their search. Checking the other statues on the way (which all proved solid), they were surprised when two live yg-ti steped out of the shadows of the last two alcoves. Both had scaly skin and snakes in place of arms, and with a few magical words once more had the party running in fear. Except the mage Aratheas who resisted and stood her ground. Her response was to try dispelling the, but she could not muster the power to negate it. Left to face the serpent men alone, she soon fell dead, victim of their biting arms.
Meanwhile, the rest ran in fear for some time, making it almost back to the pyramid before successfully shaking off the effect. Turning back to face the serpent men once more, they hurried through the twice travelled halls, but were stopped cold at the stairs out of the rubber room by a band of bullywugs. These started leaping down the stairs in pairs, doing great damage with their spears before the party was able to force their way up and defeat them in detail.  Pausing just long enough to wipe blood off weapons (and bind more wounds), they pushed again into the hall of statues. They saw the treasure had been cleared away and Aratheas gone (although a pool of fresh blood was found on the floor where she last stood). When a quick check proved the yg-ti were gone, the party moved down a sloped corridor to another door. Darnorth pulled it open, and on the other aide was a room lit by four torches on tall polls. A small door at the other end was flanked by two other poles, but on these sat a pair of golden cobra heads, each with gems for eyes. On the floor was a mosaic showing an unholy symbol of Yg. Cautious moving around the pattern on the floor, the party boldly walked up to the cobra heads and lifted them off their poles. And from behind came a ‘clicking’ sound as the wall opened up and fired a volley of spears into their backs. Thankfully none were slain, and just Vorn and Gurruk impaled.

Out through the door, they found themselves back in a 5’ wide corridor, which once more led onto a narrow bridge through the cylindrical room. Apparently far below the first bridge as they couldn’t see it within the range of their light. Rushing across the chasm in case the winged snakes came back, they burst into a room on the other side. At the far end they could see a pit or hole of some kind, surrounded by a narrow catwalk. At each end of the catwalk stood a bullywug, who turned to face the party.

To be continued …