Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kingmaker #9

Session 61 - October 23, 2016

San’Kari gave the wheel in the center of the icy chamber four turns, until it stopped and he thought he heard something click into place. An opening was revealed across the room, leading to a descending staircase, which took them to a long hallway that curved off to their left. In the center of the passage at the point where it turned stood a chunk of amber as large as a man. Landon checked the passageway for traps. As Silverleaf scanned the walls, he noticed faint sigils that he interpreted as the signs of those warriors who had fought alongside Armag at his most famed battle. Landon noticed that the amber stone had begun to vibrate slightly. He went closer to examine it. Within the amber he could make out various inclusions. He realized that there was some type of interplanar trap in the hallway. Then webs began to form beyond the amber. From the darkness appeared an enormous spider, which Landon realized was a demonic creature from another plane of existence.

San’kari immediately went forward to attack the spider; though its webbing filled the corridor and the strands were as thick as ropes, San’kari’s magic ring allowed him to move freely. Silverleaf moved up behind Landon and gave him the strength of a bull but could move no further when the webbing surrounded him, though it didn’t complete fill the space in which he stood. San’kari and Landon both struck at the spider, which extruded further web and entangled Landon. Silverleaf then summoned an ally and a warrior made of force appeared behind the spider, flanking with San'kari. The spider bit Landon, but he was fortunately immune to its poison. Silverleaf expended a charge from his staff and filled the passage with flames, burning away the webs but also burning Landon and San’kari. Then San’kari chopped the spider with his axe, and it died. With the webbing cleared, Landon eagerly examined the creature before its corpse vanished back to the plane from which it had come.

Silverleaf channeled the healing power of the gods to make amends for setting his comrades on fire before they moved on to the end of the passage. It led them into a circular room occupied by four large pillars supporting a domed ceiling reaching some fifty feet above them. In the center of the pillars stood a very large figure covered in spiky armor. Landon identified this figure as a golem. On three sides of the chamber were massive double doors, including the entrance through which the party had arrived. The fourth side had no doors, but oddly it appeared that someone had attempted to chip away at the stone there. The wall was scarred where it had been attacked with axes or swords.

Avoiding the center area where the golem stood, Landon skirted around the room checking for traps, while, Silverleaf examined the area for magic. He detected that some of the sigils on the pillars were magical, and there was an aura of magic on the damaged wall but he couldn’t make out what it was. Landon found that the other two doors were locked. He approached the door-less wall and consumed an elixir to allow him to see secret doors, hoping to find one hidden behind the stone.

Behind the rock Landon saw a mirror, and caught a brief glimpse of a Black Sister. He also felt a chill. After Landon described this to the others, San’kari used one of his magic rings to shape the stone away from the hidden door. The doorway that was revealed proved possible to open only from the opposite side. Silverleaf attempted to identify what manner of magical door it was, but was unable to acquire any more information. Landon then spent a short time creating another elixir to enable him to learn more. The door seemed to lead to a portal, which might have been placed there by the Black Sisters or was being utilized by them. San’kari wondered if freeing the doorway from its stone surroundings entirely would allow the group to remove the door or open it, but Landon’s examination indicated this wouldn’t be successful.

After spending some time trying to understand the portal, the group members decided to continue looking for Armag’s sword. When Landon approached the double doors to the right of the portal, the golem suddenly awoke and warned them that it did not want to have to attack them. The party then began to question the golem, as it seemed willing enough to respond to their inquiries and made no move to threaten them.

In response to their questions, the golem told them that it had been placed there by Armag himself to protect the tomb, and that it couldn’t move beyond the area encircled by the four pillars. It believed that the doors Landon had been trying to unlock might lead to the tomb, but it didn’t know that with certainty. The portal had been placed there by the Black Sisters and had been there for a year or more, though it admitted that it lacked a good sense of the passage of time. It claimed that the others doors led to a cavern occupied by an imprisoned dragon. The golem also told the group that to get through the door that led toward the tomb could only be opened with the ‘amber key’, which was held by one of Armag’s descendents who was the baron of Fort Drelev.

This particular piece of information really aroused the interest of the party from New Hope, as they understood Fort Drelev to have fallen under the influence of the Black Sisters. If the Sisters had control of the current baron, why had they not already acquired the key and entered the tomb to claim the sword? The party members speculated that perhaps the current baron was keeping the location of the key hidden, or possibly wasn’t aware that the key existed and didn’t know where it was stored.

The golem also warned the group that if they tried to open the doors without the key, the mirror portal would attack them. They concluded that any further examination of the golem’s chamber was not useful at this time, and they decided to go on through the door to the south. This actually led to a passageway that split. The direction they chose didn’t lead them to the dragon, but instead to a thirty-foot precipice with another passage on the opposite side of the cavern it led to. At the bottom of the cliff was a lot of rubbish, and Silverleaf and Tahjah sensed magic items in the trash. Landon descended to the floor of the cave to examine the rubbish. He found the bones of many humanoid creatures, and determined that the leg bones had been cut by something jagged like the teeth of a bear trap. Among the remains Landon found a set of hide armor, a spear, and three oblong obsidian stones that were all magical. He gathered these things up and took them back up to the top of the cliff.

When examined further, the three stones proved especially interesting. They were capable of opening a door between dimensions that would allow a person to travel a short distance without covering the intervening space, and if left in place the person could use this doorway to return to the starting point as long as the magic wasn’t deactivated and the stone wasn’t moved. But both Landon and Silverleaf sensed that there was more to the stones than just this capability. Landon, Silverleaf, and Tahjah each took possession of a stone.

After they had examined the items Landon found, the whole group descended to the floor of the cavern and went through the opening there, which took them back to the area they had already explored. They returned to the golem chamber and talked to it further, asking why the dragon had been imprisoned there if it didn’t appear to guard anything. During this conversation, Landon recalled that Armag had reputedly had a dragon mount. The golem confirmed this, and added that the dragon had been transformed into a worg and sent out into the world. This remark excited the heroes, as their friend Grizz the worg had proved to be a very old brass dragon who had somehow been transformed into a worg against his will.

Once the discussion had got past the dragon, the golem also revealed that it knew the Black Sisters had made an attack on New Hope three days earlier, though the four Sisters leading the attack had failed to penetrate the fort’s defenses. It also revealed that the leader of the Black Sisterhood was known as Lady Fornus, a priestess of Gyrona whose preferred domain was darkness.

After learning all of this information, the heroes decided it was time to leave the tomb and consider whether to go to Fort Drelev for the key next or return to New Hope to check on the citizens there. They departed from the caverns by the same route through which they had entered. Once they were outside, the barbarians encamped there gave them no trouble. In fact, when asked if they would like to be freed of the Black Sisterhood, they confessed that they were all cowards. The group members encouraged the barbarians to leave this area and go to Oleg’s Fort, even going so far as to give them a letter of introduction to present to Oleg. The barbarians were very disappointed that the heroes would not send their two militiamen along with them as protection.

To protect themselves from any Black Sisters still in the caves, the party moved to a point about an hour’s ride away from the tomb to set up camp. After they had made camp, Landon sent his consciousness to one of his simulacra in New Hope to find out what had happened there. He learned that Munguk the giant had taken the lead in combating the attacking Black Sisters, and had also slain one of the chimeras the Sisters had brought with them. Because he knew that Landon liked such things, he had kept the chimera’s carcass, and a priestess who had been at the fort had preserved it so Landon could dissect it. Munguk described that the archers had used fire arrows against the Sisters and had found them to be vulnerable to fire, as most of their robes burnt up instantly when set ablaze. Three of the four Sisters had also been slain, but their bodies had dissolved into a slimy substance upon their deaths.

After learning about what had occurred during the attack, Landon acquired a number of magic items that had been found among the Black Sisters remains, including a belt, a rod, a cloak, and several potions.

While Landon was away the others rested and stood watch over his unconscious body. Silverleaf expended a spell to replace a charge in his staff, then spent time examining his obsidian stone, trying to learn more about its properties. He experienced a vision of a scene of battle in which the sky was dark with arrows and Black Sister pursued giants using an animated trap like the one that had severed the legs of the remains in the cavern. He also saw a mask-wearing skull with glowing green eyes, which he somehow knew was some type of guardian. Though there was nothing in the vision to tell him when it had taken place, he felt that it was a vision of the past.

Landon returned the next morning and told them what had happened at New Hope. He had also learned that there had been centaurs there, though he didn’t know why they had traveled all the way from the other side of the mountains. Fey in the forest had seen the Black Sisters and their forces coming from the northwest, which the heroes knew to be the direction in which an old cemetery lay. They knew they would eventually have to visit the cemetery and perhaps consecrate it to prevent the forces of evil from utilizing it.

After Landon told his story, Silverleaf advised him that he should examine his stone. When Landon did this, he witnessed a vision of giants being consumed by fire. When they died and were burned, a black figure knelt by the remains and put something into their mouths, after which they arose as zombies and followed the figure obediently. The figure was some type of astral projection of evil, though Landon knew it was female and was probably a Black Sister. Like Silverleaf, Landon knew that this was a vision of a past event.

Tahjah then decided that she, too, should look into her stone. Her vision was quite different: she saw a magical quill inscribing spells in a spellbook without aid of a living creature, while a small cloud of fog seemed to rain acid on the pages. Beyond the spell-scribing quill she saw many scrolls, which were slowly being rolled on dowels by a lint-coated imp. Her impression was that this had taken place recently.

Landon began to wonder if the three stones could somehow be combined to do something more. He experimented with assembling them like a menhir and discovered that two of the stones would stand on end by themselves. Once he placed the third stone on top, the stones suddenly enlarged to eight feet in height and through the space between the uprights could be seen an expanse of blue sky. The witnesses felt a strong wind blowing from this place. As they tried to determine if this might be a portal to another plane, four riders in red and silver bearing the flag of Brevoy went past, followed by several nightmares and two nuckelavee. A short time later they saw the same riders and pursuers race past again, and again.

Silverleaf recalled tales of traps made to teleport the victims back to their starting point over and over. It seemed that this strange portal was allowing them to witness such a trap. Tahjah wondered if she could use telekinetic magic to pull the riders through the portal. On her first attempt she was able to thrust one rider off her horse from the opposite direction, so that the elven woman flew out of the portal into the camp. Heartened by her success, Tahjah was able to push the other three riders out as well, though her spell was not strong enough to free their horses. San’kari caught the three additional riders so that they had a less painful landing than the first.

The party members gave the four rescued people food and water and Tahjah channeled divine energy to heal their hurts. When questioned about what had happened to them, the four people told a strange and disturbing tale, though they told it in fits and starts and seemed bewildered by many of the questions they were asked. It seemed that they had been offered 50 gold pieces by Lord Terrion Numeste of Brevoy to go to Armag’s tomb and explore it. They had not been equipped with any weapons or armor, and all of them were tradespeople or merchants, not experienced adventurers. One was a merchant, one a scribe, one a cartographer, and one a trapper. Eventually Silverleaf began to suspect that they were too foolish and naïve for it to be natural and he examined them to see if perhaps they had been subjected to an effect similar to what the daemon had done to Landon and Kara. But he discovered instead that all of them had scars on their temples. The four people explained that after they had volunteered for this mission they had been sent to Lord Terrion’s mage to be ‘mentally prepared’ for the task. The party members realized that this ‘preparation’ must have involved removing a portion of their brains. They began to suspect that the Black Sisters were spreading their influence in Brevoy, though they didn’t know if Lord Terrion was a willing participant or had been duped.

Further discussion with the four poor victims led them to learn that Lord Terrion apparently knew quite a lot about the traps in Armag's tomb, and had sent numerous groups of similar people there to explore over the past year or two. These people had first gone to the wrong place, accidentally entering a bear’s lair, and had then been paralyzed by a Black Sister and pushed into the teleportation trap. They hadn’t had horses with them at the time and hadn’t even been aware that they were riding, or being chased. Somehow Lord Terrion, or the Black Sisters advising him, had realized that some of the traps within the tomb would not endanger someone of little intellectual capacity, so they had sent in explorers who didn’t have enough intellect to trigger these traps or draw the attention of the creatures within. The four people had met the black dragon trapped there, but it had declined to bother them. They described the dragon, the ice-covered chain holding it, and even knew its name: Ilthuliak. The heroes realized that his name sounded very much like the name of the black dragon they had met near Lake Silverstep, and in fact Ilthuliak had told the four explorers from Brevoy that he had a twin.

San’kari suggested they use one of their teleportation devices to visit Ilthuliak’s twin at Lake Silverstep and tell him where to find his brother, but nothing they had in their possession could transport a person so far. Only Garrick’s magic boots could do it, and Garrick had left the party temporarily. Then Silverleaf suggested that he send a magical message to the dragon. With the agreement of the others, he carefully composed the short missive and transmitted it to Ilthuliak’s twin: ‘From Garrick of Galisat: Ilthuliak imprisoned in Armag’s tomb near Hooktongue Slough by waterfall, we’re nearby will help if you wish.’

Loot:
+3 hide armor
+3 anarchic spear
3 dimension stones
Cloak of resistance +2
Belt of physical might +4 str, +4 con
+2 defending longsword
Ring of keys
Rod of splendor
+3 breastplate
Potion of cure light wounds
Potion of haste
Potion of levitation


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