Elysia decided that this was getting them nowhere and hit upon the solution of sending Relic through the fire. She was hoping that nothing bad was going to happen and figured that the telepathic link between them would net her more information than if they risked another member of the party. The little pseudo-dragon flew into the flames and was gone in an instant. Elysia concentrated on the connection between them and started to receive images from the other side of the flames.
Alurax was not, in fact, dead, or indeed in any immediate danger. Relic had appeared in an octagonal room with four arches leading off it, each filled with a rusty orange mist. Beside each arch was a lever marked “Pull me”. One of the levers was up, the others down. In the middle of the room, a skeleton lay, a sword in its bony claw, pointing at one of the arches. Whilst Relic was taking all this in, he heard a call from above him and looked up to find Alurax stuck to the ceiling of the room.
What had happened to him was swiftly deduced by Elysia, who worked out that a powerful magnetic field had been triggered by Alurax pulling one of the levers. As the only member of the party not wearing anything metal, she knew that she would have to go through the fire and having seen that Relic was not harmed, she knew it would be safe.
She arrived in the room, cast Web to secure Alurax from falling, then switched off the magnetic field. He fell into the sticky strands, whereupon Elysia cast Fly to rise up and cut him loose, lowering him safely to the ground. While she was doing this, Ferros sent Rufus through to get information on what was happening and relayed the goings-on to the rest of the party.
One by one, the party members used the fire bowl to travel to the octagonal room. Once they were all there, Ferros realised that he would be unable to bring any of his undead army with him as he was not there to issue their commands. At least, he thought, he had two zombies with him. The party looked around the room and wondered what was through the mist-filled arches. Whilst they were pondering this, a strange growling howl came from beyond the arch to which the skeleton’s sword pointed.
It should be pointed out at this juncture that Galadeus had been the only one bold enough to touch the skeleton and take the sword. The party had half-expected it to animate and do something nasty but instead it just lay there. The strange noises, however, prompted the ranger to draw his weapons and go hurrying off into the mist to investigate. Without the rest of the party. As usual.
After ten feet or so of swirling mists which would have fuddled his brain had he not been wearing a home-made face mask, he found himself in a clear passageway. Ahead of him was another archway filled with mist; there were two more, one on each side of him. As he was taking this in, out of each archway stepped a huge minotaur, armed with a nasty-looking axe. They laid into the luckless ranger, battering him badly. He put up a valiant fight and Florin the phoenix used its fire-based ability to set the genitalia of one of the minotaurs aflame. Enraged and in agonising pain, it attacked all the harder.
Rufus came through the mist to find out what had happened; a brief scan of the scene enabled him to flash the message back to Ferros that Galadeus was in the process of being hacked to pieces by the minotaurs. The party surged through the mist to his rescue - Alurax relieved his comrade, who was virtually finished by now, Elysia flew in and pulled the ranger to safety and Gullhor brought ten feet of furry white power with him.
|I'll see your three Minotaurs and raise you a Polar Bear|
Alurax finished off one minotaur and Larsh ripped the two others to pieces although he did take some damage from the axe of one. As the party were searching the bodies and clearing up, it was noticed that there was a trail of gold pieces that led through one of the unexplored arches. Having healed Galadeus, they decided to follow it. Another mist-filled stretch of passageway awaited them, followed by a clear passage, followed by a mist-filled one, followed by a clear one…and so on. The party soon realised that their choices had brought them round in a circle and back to the octagonal room again.
Galadeus decided to try another direction, turning right where they had previously turned left and came to a passageway that ended not in an archway but in a heavy planked door. They suspected that something interesting lay beyond and how right they were as kicking in the door revealed a large pile of hay in the centre of the room and two more minotaurs closing in on them. This time the party was prepared and able to spread out and engage their enemy on advantageous terms. The fight was swift and the two minotaurs were quickly eliminated, leaving Alurax free to search the room, discovering a large stash of electrum pieces below the pile of hay. Whilst he was doing that, he and Galadeus noticed that there was a thirty foot shaft in the ceiling, and at its top, some sort of wooden trap door. There were also three other plank doors leading off the minotaur room.
Elysia realised that she was running low on spells now and did not want to start opening more doors without being able to fend off what might lie on the other side. She set up Leomund’s Tiny Hut and the party bedded down inside – all, that is, apart from Alurax and Galadeus. The two of them had decided not to pass up the opportunity of investigating the shaft and climbed up its side to the trapdoor, Galadeus using two minotaur horns that he had hacked off the head of one of the party’s defeated opponents. They managed to get the door open, although it swung down to hit Alurax but did not dislodge him.
They emerged into a vast room, thirty feet wide and as high. The floors were covered with old prayer rugs, their patterns worn by years of use. Ahead of them against the wall was a statue of the King that reached nearly to the ceiling and in its forehead was a glimmering red gem. In the floor in front of the statue was a compass rose carved into the floor.
The lure of the gem proved too much for our heroes; Galadeus instructed Florin to fly up and take it but the phoenix could not get it free, so in an act of lèse-majesté, Alurax scrambled up the statue and used a dagger to prise the gem out of the stone.
As soon as he did so, a deep booming sound started up from the statue. Both he and Galadeus ran back to the trapdoor and climbed back down the shaft again. Elysia was rather annoyed to find out what had been going on, firstly because her rest and spell recovery had been interrupted and secondly because despite all the fuss, the gem that Alurax had stolen was revealed to be worthless cut glass. She insisted that Alurax put the gem back as she had deduced that this would stop the alarm. She was exactly right and with the gem replaced, the party bedded down to some peaceful rest.
Eight hours later, on the morning of September 14th (if anybody is actually keeping track of time; I know the party isn’t) Alurax and Galadeus woke with a keen urge to continue their investigations at the top of the shaft. Elysia was not interested in the upper level but the ranger and the fighter pressed on regardless whilst the rest of the party continued its exploration of the room they were in. Alurax had wondered if the gem, despite being glass, might shine a clue onto the compass rose, giving a hint as to the way out.
Meanwhile, Alagon had started to investigate the three other doors that led off the minotaur room. Beyond the first one, he found a leather knapsack that contained two scroll cases and a pouch with about a thousand gold pieces inside it. Elysia was very interested in the scrolls and was even more so when it was discovered that one of them was Fireball. This spell, so inseparably identified with the most powerful wizards had long been missing from her spell book and her delight at its acquisition was hard to conceal.
The second of the doors opened to reveal another misty corridor, as did the third, although Elysia used Relic to scout out what lay beyond. It was definitely pay day for the magic user as the pseudo-dragon saw a glowing ring on the floor of the corridor. Relic snatched it up before Ferros could get to it and took it to his mistress, who used an Identify spell to reveal it to be a powerful Ring of Protection. As she was unable to wear armour, the magic user thought it best if she appropriated this item.
Meanwhile, on the level above, Alurax and Galadeus had managed to find a secret door in the statue room and opened it to find beyond a passageway which they decided to explore. Thereby splitting the party but no matter. It’s never bothered them in the past!
DG note - this week was the first time that Larsh the polar bear had made his appearance on the table, courtesy of Brian at Lead Legion. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for all the effort he made in locating the figure and painting it up for us.