Thursday, March 13, 2014

Session Eighteen: Spectre strikes from the shadows

This session saw Darwain, Vasily, and Aderan, with their henchpeople Duggan, Wylith, and Celebrian, head northwest from Gdansk, across the Aquila River, into orc country. The two day trip to an outcropping of hills was uneventful. The map they followed was good, but incomplete as they ran into a split in the trail the map had failed to account for. They decided to go east, since that was the closest to left, and they are nothing if not creatures of habit. As they approach a cave mouth, they are surprised by a manticore erupting from its underground lair, spraying the party with spikes. The flurry of missiles failed to stop the beast, and it landed next to Darwain to get the visceral pleasure from tearing him limb from limb with its own claws. Unfortunately for the manticore, Darwain had reinforced the haft of his arbalest, and bludgeoned the creature to death with it.

The natural cave very quickly gave way to a man-made structure, and the statue inside confirmed the party's suspicions -- this was the shrine of Crom within which they expected to find the life force of the evil high priest Xanathon. The shrine is largely empty of life. The clerics in charge had received a vision from their god that the party was coming, and had prepared themselves in their room. Sadly for them, this was to no avail, and they were cut down. There was also a strangely long corridor which led to a portion of the shrine identical to the portion they had left, but with dead clerics instead of living ones. Shrugging their shoulders, the Cobalt Cavers continued to explore the areas they had not yet covered.

In the southwest corner of the shrine, they came across some barracks. The first six were easily dealt with by one of Aderan's sleep spells, but the next six spilling out from behind them were not quite so easily taken care of. Darwain's arbalest killed two, and very nearly killed three, and the axes and swords of the rest of the party sufficed for the remainder. Finally the sergeants spilled out of a third room, but these too fell to the Cavers.

After this, the party began to suspect there was something odd about the shrine. A long discussion led them to the conclusion that it had to be the strangely long corridor. Once they went there with some chalk, the answer became clear -- there was a teleportation trap that had turned them around. Knowing this, it was easy to circumvent. Behind the trap were stairs leading to the second level, guarded by two gargoyles. Vasily was undeterred, and decapitated them with one mighty swing.

Below, the party came across a room with twelve platforms, and twelve mouldering corpses on the platforms. Once Wylith entered, the corpses animated themselves, but she quickly controlled six and departed with four of them, leaving two to block the exit. The Cobalt Cavers avoided the caves to the south of the level, and very quickly found themselves accosted by a hypnosnake. Two of the zombies died fighting the snake, and another two with supporting missile fire were able to kill the wights they found in a further room.

Finally, in a throne room, the Cavers found a pulsating gem that could only be the artifact they sought. But guarding the gem was a spectre. The party quickly put down the incorporeal fiend, but not before it faded through their lines to put it's icy claws around Celebrian's neck, draining her life force to nothing. After that, the party resolved to explore further, but took that decision back after an encounter with five ogres convinced them that the risk of further exploration was greater than the reward.