Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 1), with familiar, Hermes
Chaff (Vivimancer 2), with familiar Dirty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)
After a nights rest on board the "Loreman's Passage, the party was ready to head back to try their luck finding the cube of the gear in the third set of caves. Warily eyeing the slippery narrow stairs cut into the cliff, they elected to send the over-impatient Beuford ahead with rope and grappling hooks to set a static line. Then it was up the stairs and into the caves, which were very similar in construction/ shape to the first two entrances they'd explored. The first chamber was empty except for ankle deep shattered crystal all over the floor. Moving carefully, Kwinsea cleared a path, finding a silver ring in reward. No one found anything else of interest, however, so they moved on. They came next to three way intersection, in the centre of which stood a triangular prism, two feet wide and extending from floor to ceiling. Chaff examined it closely, but found no inscriptions, and also noted that it appeared to be part of, rather than sitting on, the floor.
Taking the left tunnel, they followed it around a bend and emerged into another chamber. This one was empty and unadorned, but for the narrow tubes they could see behind the semi-transparent walls. Closer examination showed that a fluid of some sort pulsed though the tubes. For some reason that discovery made the party uneasy, so they backtracked to try the other direction. They came once more to a three way intersection and prism, and turning right, encountered yet another. Puzzled by the prisms, they non the less pushed on into the next chamber. A jumble of crystal spars filled the centre of this room, looking like some form of bizarre sculpture. Abdul el Abdul sensed a trap, noting that if he squinted his eyes and twisted his head the right way, it almost looked like one of the crystal mantis' that had given them such grief. That was enough for Chaff, so he and Abdul el Abdul lit their match cords and fired at the mass. Which was good, for once the smoke cleared, they could see the sculpture was indeed a mantis, and it advanced with it's deadly appendages swinging. It lashed out at Beuford and struck the little warrior with both arms, picking him up and raising the halfling to it's maw. Beuford, however, lashed out and stabbed it in the throat just as it bit him. The mantis fell dead to the floor, but the halfling still clung to life. Chaff gave up his ride and allowed Beuford to be slung over Stinky Dogs back as the party pressed on to search for the cube.
|Fluid Filled Tubes|
Packing away their new found wealth, the party moved on again. In the next chamber they entered they found five of the regressed Kalandrian. These, however, seemed to have merged with the walls. Looking closer, they could see more of the fluid filled tubes in the semi-transparent walls, connected to the Kalandrians. That was creepier even than the room with just the tubes, so they choose to retreat without disturbing anything. Heading back to one of the intersections, they took a new branch tunnel which led into a room filled with a large pool of liquid. The floor slopped down towards the pool, so they had to be careful not to slide in. Which was good, for when Abdul el Abdul threw in a rope, it came back completely crystallized. The same happened when Kwinsea and Chaff dipped objects in the water. The trio also noted that a strange cube floated on the surface at the far side of the pool. Abdul el Abdul pulled out his trusty grappling hook and tried to snag it. His first throw missed, but while pulling it back he snagged something at the bottom of the pool. He hauled the object to shore and as it emerged they could see it was a backpack. It was sealed shut, so Abdul el Abdul carefully cut it open. Inside was a mess a mundane gear, as well as a potion bottle and a longsword with a hilt of blue gem and a blade of black crystal. The fighter claimed the fantastic sword, and Chaff snatched up the potion (which he tasted and discovered was a potion of levitation). Looting done, Abdul el Abdul threw the grapple once more and this time hooked the cube. When pulled to shore, they could see at once that this was the missing key to the gate, the cube of the gear.
|The Black Blade|
Back on board the "Loreman's Passage", the party slipped Beuford back into his hammock to fume away for a few weeks of recovery from his near death experience. The others likewise took a couple of days to recover from their battles before heading back with the cube. Examining their maps, the party selected the shortest route they could find to the circular gate . This happened to take them past the still petrified Grog, so Chaff once more gave up his mount so Stinky Dog could carry Grog, thinking the ex-goblin could be useful in a fight if paired with the crystal heart. However, they were able to pass through the entry caves and traverse the spar cavern unmolested, and before long were standing at gate. Chaff inserted the cube, and the gate responded with it's usual sounds of gears and mechanisms moving. This time when the sound stopped, however, a small round opening appeared in the centre. Peaking inside, they could first of all see that it was occupied by a human skeleton lying it's back. In the ceiling above the body were five silvery buttons inscribed with Kalandrian writing. There was some trepidation about getting in the tube, the presence of a dead body never boding well. However after removing the skeleton (and looting it of a wand and scroll of ward against undead) and testing the tube with a re-animated Grog and the familiars, Kwinsea was finally willing to crawl in and read the lettering. Four were labeled as "UP", "DOWN", OPEN, "CLOSE", which were pretty self explanatory. The fifth was cryptically labelled "FLASH". Once more no one was willing to try any of the buttons to see what happened, so Grog and Dirty Bird were placed in the tube, and the hyper-intelligent parrot given instructions to try all the buttons except "FLASH" and come back to report.
The door to the tube closed, and after some time, Grog and Dirty Bird returned. The parrot reported to Chaff that the tube descended for several minutes. Upon stopping, the bird opened the door to reveal dodecahedral room whose walls glowed with a soft blue-white light. Floating around inside were a half dozen dodecahedral objects, each about fist sized and sprouting long hoses or tendrils. Since the familiar reported the objects did not seem concerned with their visitors, Kwinsea decided she and Hermes would decend next. When they emerged into the room however, the floating things swarmed around the aquamancer and attached tendrils to her skull. Kwinsea got the distinct impression that her mind was being read, a procedure repeated with each party member as they arrived. While unnerving, it didn't seem to cause any harm.
With the party now fully assembled, they exited the tunnel at the opposite end of the doceahedron. It opened into a seemingly endless plain, the expanse of which glowed with the same soft blue-white light. Far in distance a structure could be seen, so the party headed towards it. It actually did not take as long to reach as they thought it should, and the party found themselves in front of a latticed geodesic dome constructed of silvery wire connected with gems. Inside were two low round platforms, each about a foot in diameter. Kwinsea walked over to the far platform and stepped on top, only to be rewarded with an intense blast of electricity, and the aquamancer and her familiar dropped dead to the floor. Chaff, after just a moments hesitation, stepped on the first platform. Thankfully there was no blast this time, but instead the gems joining the cage began to glow and the whole structure began to hum. Moments later, a holographic figure appeared on the other platform. It was Kalandrian, and the figure reached out it's hands towards Chaff. "Greetings" it spoke in perfect Common. "You have accessed the repository of all knowledge gathered by Kalandria before the great fall. What do you wish?"
|The Kalandrian Cosmic Computer|
Looking at his fallen comrade, the vivimancer asked at once if Kwinsea could be brought back from the dead. The figure reached out an arm towards her body, and blue rays extended from its fingertips, engulfing the dead mage. The rays lifted the body to it's feet and then vanished, leaving Kwinsea and Hermes blinking in the unexpected light. As this was happening, the party noticed the light in the gems flicker and dim a little, and a faint smell of ozone wafted by. Assuming that meant there was not much time left to access the memory banks before it shut down (or worst), Chaff quickly asked next for knowledge of a spell to allow him to see and identify magical emanations. As the gem flicker and ozone smell increased, Abdul el Abdul stepped on the platform and asked for knowledge to help him to increase his martial proneness, while Kwinsea asked for help in harnessing the power of the prismatic ray gem so the headaches and confusion it caused could be controlled. All three received the enlightenment they needed. But just as Kwinsea stepped off the platform, the whole wire and gem frame began to spark and flame, and the holographic figure stared to fade from view.
Assuming that didn't bode well, the party fled back to the dodecahedral room as the dome exploded in a spray of sparks and electrical discharge behind them. Up to the caves they returned, and once more emerged into the sunlight without encountering anyone or anything. There, they summoned the ships boat and returned to the "Loreman's Passage" with tales of wonder to tell Yorik.
Silver Ring (10gp)
14 Pieces of Gold and Crystal Jewelry (2800gp)
29 Assorted Gems (975gp)
2 Crystal Skulls (10gp each)
8 Brittle Bones
1 Crystal Mantis
1 Regressed Kalandrian
Kwinsea & Hermes (temporarily)