Nov 20, 2016

1st Day of Flocktime, CY 579

Starting the morning of 1st Day of Flocktime, the party began by searching the water temple clerics' room and picking up some small treasures, including some clerical scrolls. Once done searching, Jarrus, Pontus and Delvin donned water temple robes, strength spells were cast on Jarrus and Pontus, and the party set out to explore the temple, deciding not to spend time searching for traps or secret doors along the hallways in order to maximize the time during which the strength spells were in effect.

The group went back up through the curtain into the altar room with the hideous aquatic statue and offering basin they ignored earlier. Athan started to reach into the basin to collect the coins and gems that were there, but Pontus stopped him, noticing that there were track marks on the floor heading from the statue to the altar, indicating this thing moves. The statue also emanated magic, so the party began investigating what was going on. Sarril decided to "pull an Athan" and toss a coin into the basin atop the altar, which triggered the statue, which was actually a Juggernaut, to come to life. Juggernauts are mythical constructs ("mythical" in the sense that they are rumored to exist but no one has ever seen one) that roll over their victims, crushing them to a pulp. The good news is that they aren't very maneuverable and they take a couple of rounds to pick up speed, so the party was able to stay away from its crushing attack for the first couple of rounds. At the same time the juggernaut came to life, the four gargoyles in the corners of the room awoke and moved in to attack. Jarrus went after one of the gargoyles and did enough damage to reveal that it was actually a zombie wearing a gargoyle cloak. Sarril then turned the zombies, allowing the party to focus on killing the juggernaut, which wasn't too much of a problem given that Luapan had gained a Rod of Smiting from Prefect Belsornig, which automatically does triple damage to constructs. He managed to deliver a killing blow one round before the thing would have crushed Jarrus.

The group finished off the zombies and headed east through the double bronze doors, across a long wide hallway and through another set of double bronze doors into what was obviously the fire temple worship area. This large room contained a diamond shaped pit in the floor in front of a wall full of jeering skulls. The pit was full of burning hot coals and Pontus detected some magic buried under the hot coals. Knowing this was the fire temple, Delvin had cast Protection from normal fire on Pontus and Jarrus and, since the hot coals were considered normal fire, the two of them were able to enter the hot coals and retrieve a buried iron box, inside of which were discovered a Frostbrand longsword, ring of fire resistance and a potion. Jarrus reached into the box to pull out the longsword and had his left hand removed by a scythe trap that was spring loaded to go off when the sword was lifted from the bottom. He screamed in pain until Sarril cast cure light wounds to close the stump and stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, the noise alerted a guard captain and a few bugbears who came through a concealed door to the north to investigate. When the guard captain saw the water temple robes on Jarrus, Pontus and Delvin, he yelled loudly for Allrem, proclaiming that the water temple was attacking.

This small group was easily dealt with, but they summoned 5 more bugbears and a half-orc cleric, followed by Prefect Allrem, chief cleric of the fire temple, and another lesser cleric. The party easily dealt with the bugbears and half-orc (while Athan pickpocketed the guard captain, who happened to be held at the time), before Sarril used his Staff of the Serpent to crush the life out of the captain. The party attempted to briefly parlay with Prefect Allrem, claiming that a new order was in place from the greater temple and that he is to submit. Allrem argued that such an act was unprecedented, and wanted to know why Hedrack was favoring the water temple, which would be a betrayal. Some additional attempts were made to convince him, but when he saw the frostbrand sword that Jarrus was carrying, he got angry and attacked. Of course that was his mistake. Some back and forth Hold Person spells were cast by multiple clerics on both sides, ending in the party's victory over the second elemental temple (that's two down).

At this point, the party started to slow down and search rooms, collecting small treasures, scrolls and magic items and heading north until they came to a long hallways that wrapped around the outer perimeter of the temple. Not wanting to go too far without having thoroughly explored the areas where they had been, the party decided to go back to the main fire temple and search the altar room. Around the room were bowls of hot oil with continual light cast on them. Each bowl has copper ladles by them. This time Jarrus decided to "pull an Athan" and started playing around with the hot oil. Someone (I don't recall if it was Jarrus or Sarril) poured some of the oil into the coal pit, which triggered the start of a sacrificial ceremony. One of the skulls on the altar began speaking to the party, telling them to place a sacrifice into the pit. Four small salamanders (creatures from the elemental plane of fire) appeared in the coal pit , and started growing in size. Pontus ran back into the other room and grabbed the dead bodies of Allrem and another cleric and came running back. While he was doing this, the rest of the party was getting fire resistance spells cast on them. At round four, the salamanders had grown to full size and multiplied into 16 salamanders. Pontus threw the dead bodies into the pit where they began to burn, but this was not the correct sacrifice (though not a bad idea), and the salamanders attacked.

This was the only real difficult battle the party had, and Jarrus' new frostbrand sword proved to be a really effective weapon against the salamanders. As a matter of fact, Jarrus was starting to show his real capabilities, as he is double-specialized in the longsword and this Frostbrand just happened to be a longsword. The party didn't miss Gareth quite so much anymore (and jokingly referred to Jarrus as Gareth 2.0). The fire protection everyone but Pontus now had on them probably saved them as every attack the salamanders made carried additional fire damage. It turns out there were only four salamanders, each with three mirror images. This kept Jarrus from completely owning them for several rounds, giving them the opportunity to do some damage. Athan got caught by one of the salamander's tails and started getting crushed to death, taking damage every round. He was knocked unconscious (below zero HP), but Sarril, Delvin and Luapan all kept hitting him with heal spells every round until someone was able to kill the salamander holding him. That was probably the only close call the party had. Once the salamanders were killed, the party thought it would be best to rest and recover spells before continuing, so they spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening locked inside the fire priest's bedroom.

Nov 6, 2016

27th Day of Planting, CY 579

Starting at about mid-morning of the 27th Day of Planting, Year CY 579, the reunited party has discovered that Athan just inadvertently summoned a demon, the result of a trap placed on one of the scrolls in the alcove he was searching. The clever demon used its gaze attack to weaken the fighters and, due to its innate magic resistance, was not succumbing to any of the cleric or magic-user spells thrown at it. The party quickly came to the conclusion that they were outmatched, and running away was not going to be an option without casualties. Thus, Athan, after trying to pick Pontus’s pocket for some reason, decided to read the most powerful magic scroll in his possession, Limited Wish, to wish the demon to immediately return to its home plane. Given how high of a level the scroll was, there was a decent chance of failure, but a risk he felt he needed to take. The gamble paid off, and the party was now minus one demon and minus one 7th level spell scroll – and very much alive to explore the rest of the dungeon.

At some point during all of this, Athan apologized to Sarril for being the one to steal and hide his magic mirror - the act that sent the party into the dungeon to begin with. That was a pretty big reveal, and the party was a bit too busy to process what all of that meant – perhaps to Athan’s benefit. He did say he thought it was the right thing to do at the time, but admitted to making bad decisions. He also asked Sarril to touch the golden skull, which he reluctantly agreed to do. After doing so, Sarril was visibly shaken, saying that something powerful and evil is aware of who he is and where he is right now.

After exploring a few more alchemical labs and storage areas, the party came into the last unexplored room in the northeast corner of the dungeon map. Here they encountered a total of 16 shadows, which were easily dealt with once the clerics turned them. Jarrus took a liking to some gold dinnerware, and filled a large sack with heavy gold plates, serving dishes and the like, effectively becoming a loud walking wind chime.

The party proceeded to move up to the second level of the dungeon and found their way into a large octagonal room with a pit and some braziers, as well as a slab with a sacrificial crystal dagger and bowl on it. Pontus picked up the dagger, setting off a trap (which did some damage to him) and an alarm, which summoned a kind of wraith guardian into the room, which, like most opponents that have not been demons, was easily dispatched. The octagonal room had four large bronze doors, heavily barred and chained going in each direction, with the northern door being warded with the same magical symbols that warded the outside entrance of the temple. The party was able to find a secret door leading out, thus not having to break any of the bronze door locks.

After some brief exploring and finding another set of bronze doors with magical wards at the bottom of a staircase, the party headed southwest and found what appears to be the Water Temple. There they met the high-priest Belsornig and two of the lesser priests. After some brief introductions, slaughter began. Once again, the party proved to be too much for these lowly temple dwellers, and one of the lesser priests retreated into a room with a pool of clear water and prayed aloud to the water (or something in it) to save him, then jumped into the pool which turned out to not be water at all, but highly corrosive acid. Jarrus ran to the edge of the pool to see if he could pull the priest out and then, for some reason, decided to jump into the pool of acid himself. Delvin saw this and ran over to the pool to help, then he decided the acid looked nice and jumped right in.

Sarril yelled to the rest of the party for help (Pontus and Athan had stayed behind to guard Luapan, who was still under the effects of a Hold Person spell). Pontus and Athan came running into the room and Pontus, ever the hero, jumped into the pool of acid, grabbed Jarrus and Delvin both around the waist, and pulled them out. It became quickly apparent that the pool, or something in it, was using some kind of suggestion spell to make people jump into it. Anyone failing their save was jumping into the acid, taking 2d10 damage per round and losing their equipment (although everyone’s magical equipment made its saves for the one round they were exposed, the creature did have the ability to destroy magical items and absorb their properties to use them against the party). Seeing what was going on, the party ran from the pool room and took refuge in the high priest’s chambers where they healed as much as possible before thoroughly looting the place like a good adventuring party should.

During this looting, the group discovered some clerical scrolls which included Part Water and Purify Food and Drink. Delvin, being a druid with knowledge of the elements, recognized these spells and theorized that the creature in the pool may be a type of elemental from the elemental plane of water, which has been corrupted by evil - hence the acid. These spells may have been a backup plan for Belsornig to destroy the thing if it turned against him. If so, he also theorized that a Purify Water spell would have the most direct effect against it.

With this information, the party hatched a plan. After resting overnight, they tied a rope around Delvin, which Pontus held onto so he didn’t try to jump in the pool. After buffing him with Athan’s ring of protection and a Bless and Chant from Luapan, Delvin stood in the doorway and cast Purify Water at the pool. The spell did 10d6 damage, which is quite a bit, but not enough to kill it. It tried, unsuccessfully, to make Delvin stop with a suggestion. Delvin hit it again for another 10d6, making it angry, but not killing it. It then ordered Pontus, using a suggestion, to kill Delvin. Pontus resisted. After Delvin hit it again, it still wasn’t dead, and it tried and failed to make Athan do something – after which it telepathically stated that it was obvious that “you already serve her.” The creature then began, through telepathic communication, to tell the party that Belsornig was weak and that they are worthy to lead the Water Temple. It also offered them anything they desire, which would have been in the form of a Wish if Sarril hadn’t then blasted the thing with a Purify Food & Drink scroll, killing it.

The destruction of the creature created a massive explosion that caused the lapis lazuli basin containing it, as well as the crystal dome over it, to shatter into millions of pieces. No one was in the room to take damage, so all ended well. Of course Athan began sifting through the rubble, a process that took several hours, during which he found a half dozen valuable (but large and heavy) pieces of lapis lazuli that Jarrus gladly took and placed into a sack to replace the gold dinnerware that was destroyed went he went swimming in the acid. Athan also found a scroll case, and inside was a piece of parchment with the following written:

On three, in six, lies nine - but none shall ever see
Vile Good cloaked by fair Evil for eternity.
Will you answer, Answerer? Where is your power, pray?
With the whelp of Mitrik and there until doomsday.

(Note: Mitrik is the capital of Veluna, and this poem was a clue about Prince Thrommel, whom the party had already rescued)

The remainder of the day was spent sorting through rubble and the party sealed the doors and spent the night in the comfortable bedrooms of the priests of the water temple.