Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Session 17: Of things that are not medusae

Having agreed to the demand of the Crom-priest, but lacking companions, as Dyn-Bach chickened out (preferring to room near petrifying chickens), Volodemir sought some help for investigating Sculpter's Dale. He found two willing souls -- Biggly, a wizard, and Dench, a barbarian. They said they'd help him, in return for a fair share of the treasure.

The Dale itself was difficult to find -- if orcish children had indeed been playing here, Volodemir was at a loss to explain how they had arrived there in the first place. A single valley had some narrow passages, but these opened up into a plush meadow, studded with statues of various sizes. The statues nearest the entrance were classically inclined, but those further in showed people in differing states of terror. Exploring the dale further, Dench found a depression, in which was a defile leading up and around the obvious entrance to whatever lay beyond.

The defile led into an unworked cavern, where several spider lay in wait for the adventurers, but they were quickly dispatched. Moving up, they found a rectangular room with a large gargoyle head opposite a door with scorch marks surrounding it. Dench and Biggly went to investigate the head, and set off a trap! The head blow out a gout of flame, hitting Biggly in the face, though Dench and Volodemir were able to avoid the brunt of it. They examined the trap after that, and found it would require a refill of fuel before it could activate again. Behind the scorched door they found a squad of mercenaries, who surrendered after half of them were killed in the first round. Volodemir let them live if they left. Going deeper in, they finally found the lair of the master of this dale. The wizard let loose with a spell that unleashed a foul mist, but it did not prevent Dench from burying his weapon in the mage's skull. In the magic-user's study, they found sculpting tools, a half-finished sculpture of a maiden screaming in terror, and a diary detailing his attempts to craft a spell that would turn living flesh to stone. Once they returned to Crom's temple, the priest was able to heal both the lazy Dyn-Bach and Volodemir from their curse. Some time remained until Volodemir was to meet Galathil and Flint at the Slaver's stronghold, and so they decided to explore rumors of a wizard's tower 12 miles north of Darkshelf.

The tower was tall, topped with a large sphere and surrounded by iron spires. Lightning struck with some frequency. The party went up to the door, where Dench grabbed one of the handles to open it. The handle turned into a snake and bit him! Fortunately, he shook off the poison, after which Volodemir suggested knocking. Upon using the knocker, the door swung open. The first floor was largely empty. Biggly found a trap door leading to a basement, The first room was filled with mysterious crates, marked by labels reading "The spine of a soldier who sold butterflies." The next room appeared to be a workshop of some sort. It contained several corpses, mirrors to the north, and a door to the south. To the south was a line of cells, and as the party moved to investigate, several apparitions attacked, but were swiftly dispersed by Volodemir's cloud of blades. Investigating the cells, there was little remaining in them other than corpses. One corpse, strangely preserved, seemed innocuous until something leaped out of it into Biggly's mouth! It had no visible effect, so the party shrugged and moved back into the workshop. There, they examined the elevator for a long time trying to figure out how it worked, until they turned the dial to reflect which floor they were on. Once they did, a shimmering disc appeared.

They initially took the disc to the top floor, which was dominated by a large telescope. Dench noticed the levers, and he went to pull on them while Volodemir and Biggly were distracted. He managed to destroy the telescope by extending it while the roof was still closed. Biggly was upset, but Volodemir calmed him down, and they went down into the lowest level. They found a treasure trove, but were blocked by several force fields. After convincing Dench not to smash the levers, they began to experiment. For a long time they were plagued by shocks whenever the fourth lever was up; eventually, the put it down, and that led them to eventually access the treasure. After all the tricks, they decided to quit while they were ahead, and went back to Darkshelf.

The night after returning, they celebrated. Two days later, Biggly was dead. Dench found the body, and when he looked to figure out how his friend had died, something leaped out of Biggly's mouth into Dench's. Dench died two days later. Volodemir burned the body, keeping his mouth closed.