Sunday, November 22, 2015

Far Isles Session # 14 - The Crystal Caves

Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 2)
Azimer (Calmonari 3)
Chaff (Vivimancer 2), with familiar Dirty Bird and henchman, Grog (Goblin 1)
Ragnar (Cleric 1)

Before setting sail, the party decided to get someone to cast read language on the directional crystal, to see if it would provide some clues as to exactly where it was leading them. Crisscrossing the islands of Xin, they came to The Collegium district where they were most likely to find a learned mage to help them. After getting brushed off by some self important scholars, they found themselves at mid morning in  seedy little bar call the "Naked Mage". There the barkeep directed them to a half-cut, nattily dressed young man by the name of Sully, who seemed more than happy to help them for a small fee. But they would have to wait for him there, as he had to go 'prepare' first. The wobbly young man headed out the door, and returned a few hours later with a huge volume tucked under one arm. First taking his 50gp fee from Chaff, he cracked open the book and muttered some words of magic. Then examining the crystal, he translated the alien writing: "To that which was destroyed; may it not be lost forever. May the knowledge never die and the world come again". Humm, well that was a little less useful than hoped. Sully was able, however, to point out some of the features of the language, to help them perhaps decipher further inscriptions.

Taking leave of the sotted mage, the party headed back across town. Chaff, however, diverted them to the Flesh Pits as the little vivimancer wanted to track down a few new spells, and it was the best place in the city to find another vivimancer to teach him. Threading their way through slave coffles, pleasure houses and mercenaries at drill, they were directed to an even cheaper dive than the one from this morning, this one so low as to not even have a name. This time, Chaff was directed to a tall, robed man accepting a couple of large packages wrapped in butchers paper from an even more disreputable figure. Chaff ambled over the speak to Graz the vivimancer, looking to learn a spell or two from the man. Graz was happy to help, for a fee. That fee included 200gp and two fresh, young bodies for his vats. This request caused some angst in the party, even for Chaff (the ex-slaver Abdul el Abdul, on the other hand, was ready to go shiv someone at any moment). In the end, the rest of the party left Chaff and Abdul el Abdul to conduct their gruesome business. Chaff tracked down a corpsesman, one of those who carted away the unclaimed dead when necessary. This fellow, Cetus, had a standing agreement with one of the vivimancers for his wares, but a little extra gold convinced him to divert his next delivery to Chaff. Cetus instructed the pair to meet him outside one of the more tawdry pleasure houses around midnight; there were always a few young, wealthy and naive clients who wouldn't make it alive through their night of revels. And sure enough, Cetus met them on time with the goods. Chaff and Abdul el Abdul took charge of these and delivered them to Graz, who with an inquiring sniff confirmed they met his requirements and as agreed provided instruction to Chaff in the mysteries of meld flesh.

Shear Cliff
Business in town concluded, the party joined the "Loreman's Passage" the next morning and set sail. Following the directions of the crystal, and with a fair wind to help, the party found themselves in a few days back at the ring of caves where they had started their adventures in the Far Isles. Sailing around the island ring, the crystal pointed towards one of the larger rocky islands on the eastern edge. The presence of multiple rocky reefs and small islands made it dangers to bring the "Loreman's Passage" to close, so Loremaster Yorik Rold had the party rowed towards the island in one of the ships' boats. While the sailors held her off the rocks, the party scanned to tall, unbroken cliffs for some cave entrance or ruin. There being nothing to see but combers breaking at the base of the cliff, Chaff sent Dirty Bird aloft to check the top. The bird saw only grass and shrubs and circling gulls, so Azimer dove into the water to check the island from below. The calmonari swam up to cliff, finding nothing but a sheer rock wall. But when he/she reached out to touch the rock, his/her hand went right through! Swimming back to the boat, Azimer grabbed an oar and found that it too went right through the wall. With that, the party ordered the men at the oars to bring them through the illusionary cliff. On the other side was a small cove, still hemmed in by tall cliffs and rocky reefs. But they could now see three openings in the cliff; one where the sea ran in under the cliff, and one each on the left and right further up the cliff wall. The boat headed straight for the centre, and after inching along about 30' into the rock they reached the waters end. Chaff lit a lantern, passed it to Grog the Goblin, and everyone scrambled ashore before the boat was smashed on the rock by the waves rushing into the cleft.

The boat and crew pulled away, back to the ship.  The party found themselves standing at the based of an almost vertical climb, but one with rough steps cut into it. Not taking chances, Chaff ordered Grog up the slope to set a grappling hook and rope at the top. The goofy goblin obeyed, and soon everyone had made their way up the slope. At the top, the tunnel leveled out and split into a "Y"-intersection. Also notable was the shape and appearance of the tunnels. The two exits were almost perfectly round, and looked to be carved out of solid black and white volcanic glass.  Proceeding to the left about 20', they came to a chamber; the tunnel opened into this room a few feet above the floor. The chamber itself was oddly rounded with a flat floor, and again looked to be formed out of white volcanic glass. Carefully they all entered, and then noticed a pile of skeletons to one side. Going over to investigate, they observed the skeletons were crystalline and vaguely nonhuman in appearance.  While poking amongst the bones,  Azimer recovered a gold and garnet ring. Ragnar decided to cast detect magic on the pile, and was rewarded with a faint blue glow from one of the skulls. Digging down, he found a pair of small crystal lenses. The party passed these around, examining them. When they came to Chaff, he called Grog over and told the goblin to put them in his eyes. With a grin and a nod, the henchman followed orders, only to be turned into solid crystal as a result! Carefully, the pried the lenses of the goblins eyes, but he remained as stone stiff as before. Oh well, nothing to do right now, so they propped him up in the corner for safe keeping.

Leaving the henchman-statue behind, the party pushed on though an exit in the northern wall. This led to another polished chamber, with two other exits. The northern exit was flanked by what looked to be two statues, so Chaff approached them for a closer look. They looked very much like the statues
Crystal Statues
in the blob cave, with weird angler features, featureless eyes, and a vaguely non-human look. Unlike the other stone statues, these looked crystalline, and beneath their semi-transparent skin, darker veins and organs could be seen. As Chaff came closer, however, the two lurched to life, raised fists and moved in to beat on the little vivimancer. Chaff, pounded badly, reeled back from the assault. Abdul el Abdul tossed one of the plant grenades at them, while Azimer flicked a javelin. Both missed, but the grenade broke over the wall and proceeded to crumble away some of the glass.  When a second round of javelin/grenade/pistol (from Chaff) failed, the party choose to retreat back the way they'd come. Thankfully the statues did not follow them.

Foiled in one direction, they party choose to  try the other half of the "Y" intersection. This led to another bubble-shaped room, but unlike the others this one did not have a flat floor. Instead it sloped towards a pool in the centre. Clustered around this pool were a half dozen bizarre creatures that looked like 6-legged quartz boulders. They were walking around the edge of the pool puttering at something. Chaff sent Dirty Bird in to check it out, and it looked like at least two of the boulder-things were trying to push something in the water. Curious, Azimer entered the room, which drew the attention of the boulder-creatures.  They turned to face(?) the calmonari, but made no move to advance on him/her. Azimer did see now see that the creatures were trying to push skeletons into the water.

Deciding to not disturb the rock creatures, the party looped back again to the room with the statues. There was another exit they wanted to check, hoping to get through the room without activating the guardians. Just as the party approached this unexplored tunnel, 5 of the boulder-creatures emerged from it and headed to the wall damaged by the previously tossed plant grenade. There they clustered around the cracks, and soon a rasping, grinding sound was heard. It sounded like they were burnishing or polishing the damaged wall. Neither the boulder-creatures nor the statues seemed concerned with the party, so they slipped down the tunnel, emerging back in the room with the pool of water. The boulder-creatures were gone; they were probably the ones repairing the other room. With the pool unguarded, Chaff went over and poked at the water with his staff. When nothing untoward happened, he then started to dig around in the milky water, stirring up a few skeletons, but nothing more.

Having now investigated all of this closed loop, the party had to either deal with the statues or check the one as yet unexplored tunnel. Which was a pretty easy decision, so off to the new tunnel they went. It was longer than the others, and eventually curved gently towards the north-east. Nearing the end, the party noticed something curious; a large pink crystal or gem in the ceiling. Azimer took his/her trident and easily pried the gem out of the volcanic glass. It rolled down the tunnel, and water or some other liquid started to drip slowly from the hole left in the ceiling. There was momentary panic at the thought of drowning (except for Azimer), but it was obvious it would takes days or weeks for enough liquid to come down to fill the tunnel. However, they carefully bypassed the liquid, and Azimer reached down to pick up the pink crystal. Which immediately shot towards his/her forehead to embed itself there. After getting over the initial shock, Azimer didn't note any ill effects  apart from a bit of a dull headache. When the calmonari concentrated on the crystal, however, he/she was able to shoot a pink bolt of energy from it and blast the wall of the tunnel! (thankfully, the rest of the party was standing behind the fish-man at the time). The effort, however, did make the headache a bit worst.

The Crystal Cave
Pushing on, they entered a large chamber notable mostly for the jumble of long opaque white crystals in the centre.  Abdul el Abdul poked around at them a bit, and picked one up. It was about 4' long, with holes bored through it in random places. A check of the rest of the varying sized crystals showed similar random holes. Leaving the jumble behind, they passed into another chamber in which the floor was pierced with dozens of 2' diameter pits. These were bypassed easily as the party went to check out the tunnel exiting the south end of the chamber. This led back to the two guardian statues, which stirred and began to approach when the party came close. That sent the party into retreat, and they headed for the one tunnel not yet explored. After 30' or so this led into a remarkable chamber. It stretched well beyond their torchlight, but it seemed to be a huge bubble in the rock filled with massive spars of white crystal. These grew in all directions and in all three dimensions, but it seemed possible to follow a rough, precarious path along the crystal surfaces ...


Gold ring with garnet (70gp)
eyes of petrifaction 
prismatic ray gem 

Grog the Goblin

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