OK Long overdue I know (I been busy!) but lets complete this for posterity before we mothball things till my turn comes about again. In this session it was good to have the whole crew available all 7 PC’s. Just as well really…. Anyhow going to have to split this into segments as I see I have got to 3.5K words and not finished… Stay tuned.
After some minutes Lucius unbarred the door and peered in. Unsurprisingly the strange fungal zombies he had created lay in pieces upon the debris strewn floor. Also unsurprisingly the bandits lay alongside them save for their leader who was still clinging to life:
“You.. you did this!” he wheezed raising an accusing finger to the dark skinned man scowling down on this.
“I did” Lucius replied simply. “…also this..” A blast of flame incinerated the dieing bandit from the Sorcerers outstretched finger. Moving into the room Lucius bent over the form of “Amdor” and rifled his pockets.
Joseph looked at the cold efficiency of the man with a mixture of respect and loathing. Still the dead bandits meant nothing to him so tough to be them.
Meanwhile Phaedra had been examining the leavers set into the wall. After a brief trial and error the rumbling of the main portcullis was heard from the Hall adjacent to them.
“Helllooo the Temple!” came a voice from outside as the stone gate and portcullis fully retracted. It was one of their own from Grimwardens squad. Mogar grunted a greeting as ‘Rats’ Magee cautiously peeked inside, his crossbow extended before him. “What the hell’s been going on?” He began “The dwarf’s been getting antsy for some information” he finished hooking his finger back to the tower where Grimarden had made the war-bands base camp.
“Many things have happened to many people” Phaedra declared ambiguously “But all you need to know is we are on the trail of our quarry, one is dead, as is one of our own but we have found… assistance as well. Lucius Singultus have you finished your work in their!?”
“Pah yes I have and a waste of good resources it was as well” The Sorcerer spat as he joined the group in the antechamber, apparently empty-handed.
Quickly the newcomers were introduced to each other and Mogar set off to see if Temerian and Felix had recovered from their beating at the hands of the Goblins enough to continue. If they were unwell still perhaps they should report back to camp and ‘Rats’ accompany the group further in their pursuit. Fortunately apart from the added bruises and lingering headache they could continue.
“So you flushed this Odo from her strong point huh?” ‘Rats’ commented after they brought him up to date. “Fair enough, sounds like shes a tricky bitch no pitched battles, traps and subterfuge every time yeah I know the sort. We’d best not hang about then, she’s probably preparing a warm welcome for us someplace right now and the less time she has for it…”
“Yeah I thought of that too” Joseph agreed. “Thing is this is her turf we rush in we fall for the ambush.”
“We must proceed with precision and alacrity” Temerian commented in his accented common Mogar and Felix looked at each other puzzelley.
“He means we go fast and careful” Lucius snorted taking delight in the simple ones confusion it seemed. “That hall lead to the main gallery of the Temple when we came through it some time ago. I can assure you there is little elsewhere she can go. But if we do not hurry she can double back around to where we met. From there she could get behind us and escape!” The sorcerer waved his still fire blackened fingers in the air for emphasis!
“Would bet on that Dark one!” ‘Rats’ grunted “Ol’ Grims got the place covered with archers and the rest of our squad. Had you not been with this lot and poked your snout outside you’d like as not been shot as well. She aint getting outta here any time soon unless you missed a secret passage whenever you searched the place last.”
“I miss nothing!” Lucius protested theatrically.
“Enough debate, I wish to see this statue you noted in the next chamber” Phaedra whispered. Somehow her quiet tone caught everyone’s attention.
The adjacent room was dark and gloomy with only the light from the entry chamber half illuminating it. Cautiously Joseph and Phaedra lit the torches on the walls. The a wrought iron bridge crossed a shallow stream on one side of the room while facing that was a commanding statue fashioned from a waxy looking stone. Its arms held wide in some kind of benediction the figure would have been comforting were it not for the very obvious fangs showing at the corners of its mouth! Grinning the Vampire looked down on them from a pedestal.
Phaedra’s knelt down to read the inscription on the statue’s plinth:
“Bathe, Sandlander, and restful
Ease your cares,
Til the Singer stills his song
Then rise to claim your wares”
“Huh typical cryptic nonsense” snorted ‘Rats’ “here do you see that?” He added pointing up at the ‘Vampire’s stone jaw.
“The Jaw, there’s a funny line to it, her hold this” He passed his crossbow to Phaedra and began clambering up the statue till he stood on its hip and grasped its oversized face. “Yeah the Jaw flips open.. I wonder…?” A moments work and the jaw hinged open revealing a row of perfectly formed steel teeth and a “tongue” of red velvet. Darting his hand in and out ‘Rats’ grabbed something off the tongue and held it up to the meagre light. It was a small silver Key.
Meanwhile the others had checked the rest of the room, the water of the pool was clear and shallow enough to paddle in; even for Felix, but was otherwise uninviting. Lucius seemed a trifle annoyed, perhaps because ‘Rats’ had found something that he and his erstwhile companions had not. But then those religious namby pambys would not have countenanced climbing the “Holy” Vampire statue Hah! Smiling to himself the Sorcerer followed the rest down and into the barrel vaulted processional vault.
Lighting torches as they proceeded the group marvelled at the huge arching vault of the temple. Every three feet or so a niche was carved into the stone walls, Some with a stone plaque inscribed with a faded name of some peasant, but many standing open and apparently unused.
“Should we open one up just to see?” Joseph queried as they passed another of the filled niches.
“For what reason need you to disturb the dead?” Phaedra replied Archly. Clearly not at ease with the idea though willing to hear any reason.
Joseph shuffled his feet a little uncomfortably “Weel just to be thorough y’know, just to be sure its just dead villagers and so on not a secret door or anything…” he said unconvincingly.
“One then, to satisfy your curiosity, but if there is nothing more than bones we leave it be – agreed?” The group nodded, even Lucius, though his acquiescence was practical. he could make no more Zombies this day so it mattered little. And besides bones did not have enough left for his magics to work with in any case! Still he liked that this cleric at least did not have such a soppy attitude to such necessities!
Working carefully Mogar and Joseph chipped the seal stone from the burial niche. Peering inside revealed nothing but a dry dusty skeleton devoid of anything save a dry rage about the waste. “Satisfied!” Demanded Phaedra staring daggers at them. Sheepishly they placed the name plaque back on and returned to the task in hand.
Meanwhile Rats, Temerian and Felix had been examining the stone floor of the crypt with interest. There was enough dust and debris on it to just make out some faint tracks here and there. That was the disturbing thing, there were many tracks and many different kinds!
“I make it mebbie thirty sets” ‘Rats’ stated disgustedly. To him they were a confused mess.
“Yes twenty eight in total” Temerian agreed sombrely, “some much older than than the rest, but four sets are recent within a day” Elf though he be Tem was not really one of those that spent their time gallivanting through the woods on the hunt. But still somethings came easily to him compared to these humans!
“Why do most of them seem to be my size?” Came the childish voice of Felix. Looking again the three of them saw that indeed the older tracks were child like or Hobbit like perhaps?
“I guess Orcs or orc Kin” Temerian declared after a further look. “Your kin do not use shoes as these do, do they master Felix?”
“I haven’t got any Kin down here mister elf?” Felix replied obviously confused. “They are all back on the mainland?”
“He means other Halflings!” Lucious sneered.
Unaware of the Sorcerers tone Felix broke into a happy grin. “Oh no! we like to feel our toes wriggling! Never understood how you biggers close off your flesh like that ughh!!”
Picking their away along the huge vault the party progressed to what Lucius’s map said was the mid point of the structure. Sure enough in a vaulted chamber with multiple spurs of passage radiating from it stood a giant statue made of wrought Iron of a skeleton Dancing on a pyramid of steps leading up to its plinth. The thing had to weigh tons, and was a master works creation, still un-rusted in the dry air of the crypt.
“Fancy another climb?” Joseph said winking at ‘Rats’ Magee and pointing to the things grinning skull face some thirty feet off the floor.
“If I have to” came the short reply “Check out down here first. Where those tracks lead?”
“Left spur” Temerian stated pointing with his quill. The elf had been making some notes of some sort.
“All of them?”
“Yes it seems so…” The elf mage began but he stopped as his keen senses felt something. A faint displacement of air from the passage he was indicating. Immediately he began a low chant of magic under his breath. His power was all but exhausted as he was himself from too much magic in too shorter time. He had perhaps one or two good spells left in him, and intended to make them count if needed.
“What is it?” Phaedra whispered to the elf. Still chanting he merely pointed sown the side passage. “‘ware!” she called to the group. “Something comes!”
Mogar dashed to the fore, readying his sword. Rats shouldered his faithful crossbow and sighted down the hallway, while the others assumed positions of readiness all about them. Soon all of them could feel rhythmic pulses of cold dry air gusting from the passage way ahead. Braced they awaited a nightmare…
From around the corner of the passage just visible at the edge of the torchlight came a monstrous flying thing. Some nine foot tall had it been on the ground the winged creature resembled a woman in some respects, and a monster in others! Huge Bat wings beat keeping the figure aloft as it approached them with a deliberate menace. Green scales flashed from its flesh while huge fangs protruded from its wide open mouth. Where its eyes should have been riven holes bleeding a sickly green Ichor gazed sightlessly into their quaking souls!
Rats snapped a shot off at it at once, and Felix slung a stone, but the wind of the things wings blew the missiles aside harmlessly. “Heh! Let me!” cackled Lucius as he sent a blast of fire hurtling down the hallway towards the flying monstrosity. Stung by the flames it let out a ululating hiss of rage!
Seeing the party had collectively let fly; though Temerian still was chanting some deadly magics, Mogar charged sword swinging.
Two black streamers leaped from the things eyes to envelope Lucius’s head. “Aiiee I cannot see!” wailed the Sorcerer as the magical attack receded.
Striding up to stand next to the Sorcerer, Phaedra raised her Shamans rod. “Crash” she intoned with sudden authority. A grey light coalesced about her words and wrapped the things wings. Suddenly without lift the monster woman was dashed to the floor, hissing and cursing.
Rats took another shot quickly before Mogar got int he way. This time the bolt flew true. But to the horror of all ricocheted harmlessly off its shoulder without leaving a mark..!
Temerian still chanted narrowed his eyes. He had been saving his last spell for their Quarry: Dark Odo but if this think shrugged off their mundane arms then he had no choice. Screaming the trigger incantation aloud he raised his enchanted quill to the creature and sketched a massive arrow in golden fire in the air. Immediately a half dozen glowing bolts sprang into the air about to him and embedded themselves in the thrashing creatures form!
Amazingly though now hurt the creature again struggled to rise, clawing weakly at Mogar as he smashed at the thing with his blade. But to no avail the creatures skin was proof against his plain long-sword. Nearer now he could see a familiar set of forms lurking just behind the corner from where the creature had emerged. Dark Odo and her remaining retainers at last!
Felix had faded back into the shadows at the first sight of the thing. After firing his readied stone he had been picking his way forward and also saw the bad women an Goblins from the fight before. They had killed the funny man Arvid, and that’s not nice he thought. As a Gor’bayen stepped forward to spear Mogar he stepped in behind it and slashed upwards with his hand axe.
Joseph had had a similar idea. Though doubting his sanity for getting nearer to the thrashing abomination he had sidled forward keeping to what cover he could and aimed a shot at the Archer woman he had met on the bridge some time ago. She must be some kind of chief underling he reasoned. Let the Wizards battle the wizard woman and whatever that winged thing was, he’s clean up the rest.
Laying hands on the distraught Sorcerers head Phaedra prayed. A stinging feedback made her palm itch. His malady was beyond her right now, his contrary nature inhibited her powers too much. His woulds she could heal but not this curse of blindness. “Lucius, you must focus, the creature will not be held forever by my spell!” she hissed in his ear.
“I cannot see where to project my fire!” He complained.
“I can help with that!” Broke in Rats grabbing the Sorcerers outstretched arm. “When I say go; you do your thing wizard!” the Crossbowman stated flatly. He couldn’t hurt the thing with his bow but his aim was still as good as ever.
Temerian felt light headed. He stared unbelieving at the creature that still lived after his most potent casting. yes it was hurt but f he tried that spell again the cost might kill him as well. Slowly in pain he unslung his bow and began firing arrows carefully at any of the foes that exposed themselves.
Meanwhile Mogar had turned his attention to the Other Goblin, he had gotten in a decent hit or so but the canny creature still fought on. Dark Odo peeked around he corner for a second her hands raised to cast something. She looked like her description alright but with one difference. She was now missing an eye, instead a green velvet patch covered the missing orb. But the remaining one had the spite of two in it still. She uttered some words and waved an arm.
Phaedra felt a moments drowsiness fall over her but she shook it off. Hurling a needle back at the Wizard Woman that was the source of their woes.
From his vantage Joseph took his chance. An arrow snapped out and buried itself in Dark Odo’s shoulder. If she’d’ve stayed still it woulda been her other eye, he crowed. Then suddenly a sharp pain wracked him. Staggering down he saw the sword in his gut then nothing as he passed out from the shock.
Mogar felt strange. Suddenly the scene had shifted. Just to his left he saw his “sister” against the wall with an arrow in her and some thug with a bow standing across from her drawing another arrow. Without thinking he rushed to her side stabbing the fellow in the belly as he charged to save her.
Felix finally dropped his Goblin foe just in time to see the the winged creature reach out to Mogar and caress his face for an instant before the thing again slumped o the ground as its wings spasmed once more. What was the nasty woman doing now he wondered?
Phaedra and Temerian had felt the thing power reach out. “Not again!” Temerian muttered under his breath. If he ever learned a way to shield from such mental deceptions he would surely try it out on the big warrior – assuming they lived through this! Having scant power left to render the man unconscious this time he grimly shot at the human woman firing back at their group at Dark Odo’s side.
Seeing Joseph fall Phaedra dashed forward. She could see the wound was very serious, if her powers failed her now he could likely die! Drawing deep upon her faith she implored for his fate to be extended beyond this hour.
Josephs eye snapped open! He felt.. weird. Like he’d slept for a week refreshed but stiff as hell, and where had this scar come from? Glancing about he saw Phaedra kneeling next to him trembling with exertion. “Oh” he uttered as the memory of the swords pain came back. Before he could say anything else the cleric pitched back on herself fast asleep. That was not natural he thought. Then he saw Mogar pick Dark Odo up like a sack of potatoes and sprint back around the corner, just as the winged monstrosity finally clawed its way back into the air.
“Fire!” Rats bellowed into Lucius’ ear. With a cackle the blinded sorcerer flung bolts of reddish purple fire away from his arm. One gout splashed across the winged creature and it glared down on them balefully claws outstretched. “Great do that again!” he shouted.
Temerian fired off another shot at the Archer but she ducked back. Steping forward she raised her bow, but before she could fire there was a buzzing snap and she pitched backwards. “That’s how you do it elf!” Rats staed as he dropped his expended crossbow and returned to Lucius’ side once more. Pushing his irritation at the mans manner back Temerian paused to assess the situation.
The creature was regaining control form whatever spell Phaedra had put it under. Mogar had again been suborned, and blind Lucius’s fire bolts were not having great effect upon the winged one. He had little strength left he must use it wisely. If only they knew what it was they faced!? Suddenly he forced his powerful mind onto his lurking Familiar. Perhaps the demonic thing had information on such a foe? He wrestled with its resentment and evil joy at the death going on around it and demanded it real anything it knew!
*Master…* its eerie voice echoed in his head, *ooh my master be not angry with me,* it pleaded. *I am but a little demon not half so mighty as that one.*
*Demon is it?* he demanded back at it. *Of what order, how may we defeat it?*
*It is of the Sul’uress the demi succubi my master. The seducers that fail their high lords are disfigured and cast down for a time till there masters restore their full powers* it mewled into his thoughts.
*How may we defeat such one. Tell me all ways you know!*
*Why by your mighty magics master of course* it began suavely.
*None of your honeyed words creature. The fastest way here and now. Answer I demand it!* Temerain thundered back at it. The creature dipped its head and its mental tone was almost cowed.
*They lack the power to remain on this plane unless bound to their summoner mighty and puissant master* it purred
Of course! Temerian reasoned. His first instinct had been correct. Had he saved his spell to obliterate Dark Odo the moment she showed herself then he would have killed two with one act.
*Not precisely master..* the Dark familiar began *..such creatures will fade away after the link is severed but they may not depart in an instant.*
“That will have to do” Temerian said out loud, “If I can muster the power to do it.”