It was not long before the elves appeared from beneath the trees. Gullhar was given the task of handing over the staff. The elven leader, BirdsPaintedOnWater looked slightly confused and asked the party what it was. Elysia explained that they believed it was the crystal that they had been sent to find. The elven leader said the crystal in question was a large piece, about the size of a human head, not one attached to a staff.
The party realised that they had jumped to the wrong conclusion (and freed the demons in the process) and decided that another delve into the dungeon was needed to bring their quest to its proper end. The elves told them that although they did not know what the staff was, they could tell that it was an object of great power and that it had probably belonged to the holy man of the party of knights that had attacked the dungeon many hundreds of years ago. The party explained that they had met the ghosts of the knights. Ferros’ eyes lit up when he heard that the staff could be used by a cleric.
Leaving their horses happily munching grass, the knights’ bones carefully bundled and the staff in the care of the elves, the party set off back down the winding stair, along the tunnel and across the bridge. Soon, they arrived at the room where they had seen the wrecked altar and Zanurax had tried to convince everybody that the carpet had tried to attack him. This time, the party decided to investigate this bizarre allegation and Alagon prodded the carpet. Right on cue, it rose up and tried to grab the spear point. Much debate was held at that point about what to do with the killer carpet before Elysia wondered if it might make a valuable addition to the Moat House redecoration programme. Using her Comprehend Languages, she attempted to establish contact with it and sure enough, it replied to her. It revealed that it was a Mimic and posed as a carpet to try and trap unwary dungeon denizens, then eat them. Elysia offered it a deal – join the party, work to protect the Moat House from intruders and it could have all the baddies it could eat. The Mimic agreed and to show what it could do, it assumed the shape of a treasure chest. It also told the party that it had larger and slightly less intelligent cousins who were nowhere near as friendly. Elysia told it that she thought it had assumed a very nice pattern as a carpet. The Mimic replied that she was very kind and that not every passer-by was so complimentary. Some just walked by without even noticing it.
Struck by that comment, she asked the Mimic who else had passed by recently and it revealed that somebody large with bony feet was a regular visitor to the room, passing through every few days. It could say no more than that, since it could only really see feet in its carpet form.
The party moved on along the passage towards the Pool, although they thought that the room wherein the stirges had been seen also merited investigation. Gullhar peeped in and saw that there were six heat signatures in the rafters; Ferros used his Speak with Animals spell to question them about visitors to the room (his player accidentally used an extremely suggestive phrasing of this question that had everyone at the table creased up with laughter). The stirges just wanted blood and revealed, during the conversation that nobody came into the room or had done for a long time. Ferros cast Locate Object and scanned the room but there was no indication that the crystal was anywhere nearby.
Feeling sure that what they sought was still ahead of them, the party arrived at the edge of the water. All was dark now that the staff had been removed. Elysia cast Fly and transported herself and Ferros across to the far side. They began their search of the cells where the demons had been imprisoned. There were huge scratches in the stone of the cells, marks of the frustration and anger that the demons had experienced during their centuries of imprisonment but no obvious signs of secret doors. Ferros’ Locate Object spell was still running, and he began to sense that it was nearby. Using triangulation, he pinpointed it about fifteen feet beyond the wall of the most left-hand cell. The wall seemed very solid indeed and it was likely that there was some other route to its location.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party had begun to get a little restless and had returned to the altar in the room of the Mimic. They put their backs into trying to shift it, but it was only after Alagon had managed to put his back out that Gullhar and Alurax moved it and watched it break up into a pile of stone fragments. Behind it was just plain wall and underneath it, flooring that showed no sign of any secret entrances.
Alurax had the idea of investigating the demonic figure that they had found standing near the entrance to the Great Avenue and off they set to do just that.
Meanwhile, Elysia and Ferros had been doing a bit of investigation on their own; they had been looking at the map that they had drawn of the dungeon so far and had concluded that there must be more rooms between the hall where they had met the salamanders and the Water Elemental’s pool. Rather than traipse all the way down to the far end of the Great Avenue, they began to check the southern walls of all the rooms that that they had so far entered. Using another Fly spell, they began to check the walls of the Pool and found a section of stonework that seemed slightly uneven compared to the rest. A quick push from Ferros caused it to slightly open and with a bit more effort, they were through and into a small room.
A passage led off and wound its way into the dark and from there came the faint sound of running water; rather than pause to collect the rest of the party, the daring duo pressed on to see where the passage led.
It came out in a large room that overlooked a pool into which a waterfall cascaded. There was a stream feeding into the pool and one flowing out. Ferros peered in and his scrutiny was rewarded by a glimpse of something glinting in the silt at the bottom of the pool. Sure enough, it was a key; this time, a golden one.
On the far side of the room were three doors and it was towards the one on the right hand side that Elysia and Gullhar made their way. Just as they got to it, it opened and out stepped two burly half-orc fighters. Elysia told them that they had come for the crystal, only to be informed that it was quite safe and in no danger from any interfering adventurers. Elysia promptly slept them; Ferros killed them and dumped their bodies into the stream.
Meanwhile, Alurax and co had finished their investigation of the demonic statue and had found nothing that could be moved or pulled on it. They decided to look at the plinth but to do that, they had to topple the statue itself; they applied the strength of all four characters and eventually managed to push it, get it rocking and finally send it crashing to the floor whereupon it splintered into a mass of shattered stone.
Elysia and Ferros entered the room from which the half-orcs had come and found only one other exit. Ferros pushed the door slightly open and peered in. There was a stone altar against one wall and on it, a knife that appeared, in the flickering torches as if it were rusty.
Use low-level lighting to achieve that "Evil" look
The two brave adventurers stepped into the room and were confronted by a mysterious stranger in black who asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they had come for the crystal. He laughed derisively and asked if they were the best that the “pathetic tree huggers” could muster in the way of a search party. He had plans for the crystal himself and boasted of his intention to summon a horde of ghosts to drive the elves from their forest. Then his image warped and shifted until he stood before them, a nine foot tall creature, little more than a skin-wrapped skeleton with a huge scorpion tail, holding what appeared to be a large bone hook.
It was clearly a stand-off until one of the sides made a move; Elysia ran out of patience first and fired a Sunburst from her Wand of Illumination. The creature reeled back, blinded for precious moments, while the two party members launched their attack with magic missiles and a pair of arrows from Ferros. The creature staggered under the impact of the assault and as Elysia readied another Sunburst, it vanished.
They were momentarily bemused by this but then decided that they needed to find the crystal and fast; some probing of the walls on the north side of the room revealed an area where a draft was coming from a gap in the stone. Elysia stood back and fired a brace of Magic Missiles at the stone, which slowly swung open to reveal a passage beyond. They started up it but they had only got half way when the creature reappeared behind them and attacked again. Elysia’s attacks caused it some damage but it seemed to be shrugging off some of the missile attacks this time and a Sunburst failed to have any impact whatsoever. She was struck by its huge bone hook and neatly grabbed, whereupon the scorpion tail reached up and over and stung her; she felt a strange weakness passing through her.
Ferros, on the other hand, used the party’s stock of magic arrows to fire at the creature again and again and finally managed to put one arrow through its throat. It dropped the bone hook, was gripped by convulsions and its withered skin turned to dust before its skeleton shattered into a thousand bony fragments. Ferros’ player was informed that he could add the title “Devil-Slayer” to his character sheet. The Bone Devil, for such it was, had been despatched but the party’s quest was not yet over as they still had the crystal to find. Sure enough, further up the passage, they came to a room where a large chest was pushed against one wall. It had three locks and both Elysia and Ferros surmised that the gold, silver and platinum keys might unlock them. Unfortunately, they found that the keys were entirely the wrong size. Reluctant to disturb the chest with any physical damage, they Enlarged Relic, sent him off to bring Zanurax back and put the thief to good use opening the locks. He managed to get the first one open, whereupon the second and third began to tick ominously. He moved on to Number Two and all he got was a face full of poisonous gas but he managed to hold his breath until it had dissipated. The third lock delivered a dose of paralysing gas but this too had no effect on the doughty thief.
While he was busily trying to get the second and third locks open, now that their traps had been discharged, there was a noise from down the corridor and Elysia and Ferros turned to see four half-orcs moving in towards them. A Sleep and a Stinking Cloud laid three of them low and the fourth was swiftly brought to the brink of death by mace, dagger and staff; he fled and left his incapacitated comrades to be despatched by Elysia.
In the room, Zanurax managed to get the chest open, to be rewarded by the sight of the crystal. Its golden aura of life energy radiated out in wisps and tendrils and the thief heard a seductive series of thoughts in his head, urging him to pick it up. Elysia had glanced back and urged him not to touch it. It was with a great deal of effort that he resisted the temptation. Using the last of her spells, Elysia called up an Unseen Servant to carry the crystal out of the chest, back through the rooms and passages and across the Pool to Gullhar, the only one of the party who could safely handle it.
Eight hours later, the magic user and the devil-slaying cleric had recharged their spells and could finally leave the dungeon with the crystal that they had fought so hard to acquire.
That's where we ended the adventure for today. Before I go, I'd like to introduce you all to the new-look, fully-painted Elysia.
Mummy Grognard's been using a Reaper figure for quite some time now but thanks to the services of Brian from Lead Legion, she is now resplendent and ready to take part in more adventures, Relic perched on her outstretched arm. I wholeheartedly endorse Brian's services; his rates are phenomenally low for the excellent standard of work that he does and he is extremely approachable when it comes to liaising on the progress of commissions. Go on - give him a try!
Oerth Journal #29 Released! - Attention Greyhawkers! In case you haven't already heard, you need to head on over NOW to *Greyhawk Online* and download the newest issue of *Oerth Journa...
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