Monday, December 1, 2014

Westmist Session #85 - Into the Pit

Kern (with Bjorn) unexpectedly choose to linger back with the barbarian tribe for some nefarious purpose, so only Eijay (with Flipi) and Lomar (with Guy) were left to follow the grim Khoog north to the 'pit that smokes'. A days' journey deeper into the mountains led the group to a barren, rocky ridge. Scattered along the ridge were some visible ruins, but two things caught the most attention. First, grey smoke pouring from a hole in the ground, and beyond that, three 10' tall stone ape  head arranged in and facing towards the centre of, a circle. Khoong pointed and grunted, indicating they had reached their goal. Another grunt indicated he would accompany them into the depths.

Erijay recalled some warning from Zoloren about the ape heads, so they party investigated the smoking pit first. A circular stair led down through the smoke, so with Erijay in the led, the party descended as the elf carefully tapped ahead for traps with a 10' pole. They found themselves on the edge of a circular amphitheater, built out of white and black stones forming a spiral pattern that lead to the bottom.  To the west lay a door, presumably leading out through the adjacent ruined tower they had seen on the surface. To the east the smoke continued to pour from another corridor. Heading down into the bottom of the amphitheater, Erijay poked with the 10' pole at the floor where the spiral pattern ended. Nothing happened to the white stone, but when she pushed on the black stone, a circular piece of floor shifted down and to the side, revealing a rusty iron ladder bolted to the wall of a shaft. This the party descended to a stairway which headed deeper still before opening into a corridor. This was constructed of some strange sort of stone-like panels. To the west the faint outline of pillars were seem, just at the edge of their light. The corridor seemed to continue to the east, so the party headed that way. But they were soon stopped by a yawning opening that blocked the corridor. Looking for a way across, Erijay spied an iron ring set in the ceiling, so she tossed her rope and grappling hook to catch onto it, and then proceeded to swing across the gap. Unfortunately, just as she reached mid-swing, the ceiling holding the hook opened up, dropping the elf screaming into the pit. Especially unfortunate was the presence of a massive rock hidden above the ceiling hatch, so the elf maid not only fell (through two more hatches that opened as she passed) to a painful stop after about 60 feet, but was also crushed by the rock following her.
With Erijay calling out feebly for help, Lomar had Khoog and Guy lower him down to heal the elf, then pull them both up again. Deciding now to explore in the other direction, the party approached the pillar. In fact, there were two pillars, carved in the form of naked women, with hands held straight over their heads seemingly supporting the ceiling. Between the two was a door, flanked by a pair of torch filled sconces. Lomar had a funny feeling about this whole setup, and suggested they leave it alone. Erijay was inclined to agree, but first wanted to listen at the door to see what may lie beyond. As she stepped in front of the door, the torches lit and the two columns shifted. The statues' arms moved such that they both now pointed in welcome towards the door. "It bodes evil" stated Lomar, so Erijay agreed to leave the door and press on. After another thirty feet or so, the strange stone corridor ended and a natural cavern opened at their feet. Below a series of ledges could be seen, but before they could be investigated, the air was rent with loud hooting/howling sounds. Looking down ,the party could see some sort of ape like creatures climbing up towards them. Their bodies were elongated, and they sported six pairs of arms/legs, the rear two pairs having some sort of sticky pads to allow them to climb the shear walls. The party choose running over valor, and tried to get away, but the ape-spiders soon overtook them and jumped howling into the party's midst. Spells and weapons flew as the party fought the beastly things. Lomar was grabbed by one and crushed almost to his end in a massive bear hug. Khoog swung his axe and scored hit after hit on the ape things, but did little damage. Erijay's dog, Flipi, was clawed into a bloody pulp. In the end, the party overcame the beast, but emerged quite battered. Taking stock, they decided to head back to the surface to camp and recover before descending much further.
Next morning, feeling refreshed, the party headed down into the depths again, back towards the pit into which Erijay had fallen. This time, the party rigged up a series of iron spikes and ropes to get across. Erijay went first, then Lomar started to follow. His passage, however, was interrupted by a screaming howl from below. Out of the darkness shot a winged ape creature, which tried to claw the cleric off the ropes. It fortunately missed, and Erijay cast magic missile while Khoog and Guy flicked hand axes at the beast. Lomar dove for safety, and Erijay then trapped the thing in a web, and proceeded to finish it off with her blade before cutting the webs and dropping it back into the pit.

That done, Khoog and Guy now crossed the pit and the party moved on. The corridor again switched to rough, natural rock after a short distance, before reaching a "T" intersection. One arm extended up, presumably, based on Erijay's map, towards the source of the smoke.  The other curved down into darkness. Erijay and Lomar crept forward to look, and found a round chamber with rust streaked walls. Looking down, they saw three strange creature; they had large round bodies perched on three spindly legs, and a small round head  perched on an equally spindly neck, topped with a trio of long ant-like antenna. As the pair watched ,the three creatures started to get agitated and bounce up and down in the chamber. While no one was about to go down in the whole, Erijay and Lomar both decided against a prophylactic  fireballing, thinking they might need that spell elsewhere.
This brought them back to the pit once more, and a length of rope was tied off to one of their iron spikes and lowered, and the party descended once more. At the bottom they found (in addition to a big rock and dead, webbed flying monkey) another east-west corridor of the same strange stone panels. Heading east, they came to another rusty ladder bolted to the wall, going up, and a stairwell going down. Up the ladder went Erijay, only to find herself in a narrow 30' wide room, with a natural and angled rock wall to the east. With nothing else of interest to be seen, the elf headed back down to rejoin her comrades, and they continued east into another odd room. Around the perimeter of the room were a series of dull metal panels, suspended from the ceiling about 4 inches away from the walls. Carefully the party examined them, but could find nothing that indicated the purpose.

Figuring the Cerebral Shield must be somewhere deeper, the party headed down the stairs. These ended after about 40 feet.West lay another stone corridor, and a spiral staircase descended down even deeper into darkness.  Choosing west this time, a short walk led to another room. This was filled with huge piles of what appeared to be upholstery stuffing or cotton wool. From the piles came the dreaded hooting and howling, and three more of the ape-spiders emerged. These were taken out much easier than the first lot, with a combination of web, wand of cold, and good old fashion smashing and slicing. Once the three creatures lay dead, Erijay and Lomar poked through he fluff. They found a smattering of coins scattering among ape feces and old bones, and surmised that these were some sort of nests. A quick count came up with about 20 nests packed in the room, so apparently there were more of these ape things around. Low on spells and expecting Kern and Bjorn to rejoin them any time, Lomar and Erijay elected to ascend once more and camp beneath the stars.

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