Saturday, September 17, 2016

Far Isles Session #45 - Down the Well

Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 3), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), familiar PrettyBird, riding dog PuppyWhuppy & henchman"No 7" (Halfling 2)
Aug-Wahmn (Calmonari 1)
Torak (Cleric 4)

One look at the jungle convinced the party that poling the raft up the river would be easier than another slog through the tangled tropical undergrowth. And they did make pretty good progress for the reminder of that first day and the early hours of the next, until the river became too shallow and rapid to proceed. By this time, however, the remains of an old roadway were visible on the south bank. Heading ashore and tying up the raft, they found the massive paving stones heaved and cracked and anything but easy to travel over. But certainly easier than the thick jungle. They had not gone far when, coming around a bend, they spied the crumpled form of a body on the road ahead. Upon closer investigation, it was obvious the body had been here many years, as little was left except the skeleton, some old rags, a rusted dagger and backpack. Kwinsea dug into the backpack and among the ruined remains of basic equipment was a book wrapped in oilcloth. While the others settled down for lunch, the aquamancer read through what turned out to be a journal, written in an oddly archaic but still generally understandable Common.  It told of a previous group of explorers who had found the lost city, named Madaro-Shanti. The journal contained some information this previous party had gleaned from the ruins, including a handy 'Rosetta Stone' allowing at least partial translation of inscriptions in the ruined city. Kwinsea learned that the city fell many years ago to a dark army, which laid it and the surrounding jungle under a curse. The curse drove one of the protector sprints of the jungle, Cho-Oda, insane. From its insanity arose the black mist, which would drain the life from all living creatures if they spent more than  a few days in its midst.  There was also an unusual statement buried in the text, simply saying "The Well Moves the Walls".

After lunch and story time, the party moved on again, and shortly encountered a strange situation. They'd been fighting jungle insects all the way, but as they passed through the latest fog of mosquitoes, the buzzing of the insects shifted and seemed to chant "Cho-Oda, Cho-Oda". The insects soon dissipated, however, with no other words.  It was not long after this that they noted the black mist staring to thicken, and the party was soon slogging through a thoroughly dead jungle where visibility came and went in accordance with the mists. After some hours of trudging through this bleak landscape, they could see through gaps in the black mist that the jungle was opening up. The road had led them to what would seem to be the ruins of the city. Little remained but fallen stone. The only obviously still standing structures were a massive gatehouse through which the road entered the city, and a large palace or similar building which could be seen near the centre of the ruins.

The party deiced to skirt around the gatehouse, since the city walls themselves were fallen into ruin. Except Abdul el Abdul, who felt he had to approach the gatehouse proper and attempt to lift the massive portcullis found there. That didn't work, so he joined the rest of the party going around the structure. Which was good, as they were soon in need of the fighters help. As the party came around the side of the gatehouse, there galloped out of the mists a pair of strange creatures; gorilla-centaurs with the upper body of a gorilla on the lower body of a jungle antelope. These bellowed and smashed into the ranks of the party. One was cut down fairly quickly, while the second soon followed, but not before lashing out at Aug-Wahnm and crushing the calmonari below its body as it fell. Thankfully Aug-Wahnm survived (albeit at deaths door) and Torak bound his wounds and pulled his body out of the fighting line. For now four more  gorilla-centaurs  charged out of the mist. By this point the party had made it way towards the gatehouse, and were climbing the stairs they'd found leading to the top floor.  Rodrigo and Abdul el Abdul held the bottom of the stairs, Abdul el Abdul getting clawed, bitten and horribly crushed in a ape-hug by one gorilla-centaur. Meanwhile, from the stairs above, Jaz cast a sleep spell and Chaff a meld flesh. This left one gorilla-centaur asleep (soon to be permanently dispatched by Torak), and two others stumbling around as they were now joined at the arms. These two did not last long, falling to swords blows and a pistol shot from No 7. The last still living gorilla-centaurs turned to flee, but was likewise cut down.

Safe again, at least for the time being, the party grabbed Awg-Wahnm and carried his body up to the top floor of the gatehouse. Inside was an ancient charnel house, with bones lying shin-deep on the floor. It appeared the last defenders died to a man fighting. In the centre of the room also stood a large winch. The party rooted around in the bones, finding a leather purse with 5gp and a silver-studded leather hauberk. Abdul then went to the winch, and with relative ease turned it. From the sounds emanating from below, it would seem the portcullis that had defeated him before was now open. No. 7 climbed a ladder to the roof to look around, but thanks to the black mist there was little more to see than was visible from ground level. She did report movement of some sort to the north-east, and confirmed the large structure to the south-east was relatively intact and appeared to be a palace. After first making Awg-Wahnm comfortable, as they planned to leave him here to rest rather than drag him along, the party decided to head for the palace forthwith.

The party reached the palace without interference. There, in the courtyard in front of the building,  they also found a well. Square and ornately carved, it had two unusual features. The first was four stones head, one at each corner. The other was four handprints, one on each side. Torak looked closely at the heads and noticed that instead of pupils, those with open eyes have arrows circling in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Each, with a single two-eyed exception, also had three eyes. As for the handprints, they were carved intaglio, but were unremarkable. Remembering the line from the journal about "The Well Moves the Walls", the party made various efforts to more or twist the well. Nothing happened, however, until four of them put hands in the carvings. A gurgling sound was heard, and Chaff could see (through Pretty Birds eyes) that the well was drained and mostly dry. At the bottom of the well shaft was a room, still damp with water on the floor, but otherwise accessible.
Stone Heads
After some discussion, it was determined Kwinsea would go down to investigate, figuring the aquamancer would survive any accidental release of water that would drown the rest. At the bottom of the well was a room, with a large brass valve/wheel set in the floor. On the east wall a steady pinprick stream of water arched into the room, while to the north was a niche 5' above the floor and holding a carved stone head similar to those above. After shouted consultation with her comrades above, Kwinsea turned the wheel on the floor clockwise (the only way it would go). As she did, the floor around it started to drop incrementally to form a circular staircase going down. So down she went, into a room with about a foot of water on the floor and two bronze wheels; one in the floor and one in the wall. At this point, the party above started examining the stone heads, and particular the eyes, assuming these were a clue as to how to turn the wheels. Shouting down directions, they told Kwinsea to turn the wheel on the wall clockwise and the one on the floor counterclockwise. Which once more worked, as a stone slab on the floor slide aside, allowing the water to drain and revealing a ladder going down.

By this time, with everything going without incident, the rest of the party followed Kwinsea down the well to the third room. This one had three wheels, one on the floor under three feet of water, and two on the walls. In the centre of the room was the rusted iron statue of a warrior, standing with spear and shield. There was also another niche in the north wall, this one about 15' above the floor. Based on their understanding of the eyes, the party started turning wheels. And immediately a section of wall opened on the east side and water began to pour in. The party tired to stop it by turning wheels back, but to no avail. As the water rose, the party started to climb back up to the previous room, but not before those still standing in the water were zapped by a shock of electricity emerging from the bronze wheels. That got them moving faster, and everyone was soon above. They decided in fact to go all the way up, resetting the well with the handprints above, and starting afresh. They had to do this five times before the proper steps were discovered; place a weight on a pressure plate in the niche, which unlocked all three wheels to turn clockwise. This opened a shaft in the floor, with another ladder leading down.
Down the Well

The ladder led into a room half submerged in water, with three platforms projecting from the wall. On each was a bronze wheel, and there was a door on lowermost platform. Once more, the water breathing Kwinsea was elected to scout ahead, and she jumped onto the first platform. Which promptly pivoted and dumped her into the water below. Where she was viciously attacked by a swarm of piranhas. Hauled back to the upper chamber via a rope lowered by her companions, she used the crystal heart to animate the iron statue so she could use it as a piranha guard. She and Rodrigo (and the statue) then splashed their way down into the water again and struggled through piranhas over to the lowest platform. Where the found the door solidly locked. The pair then decided to return above, taking the statue with them, to discuss with the rest of the party what to do next ...


A silver-studded leather hauberk (20gp)
5 gp

5 gorilla centaurs

Aug-Wahmn (temporarily) 

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