Jul 16, 2017

8th Day of Wealsun, CY 579 (searching for the Well of All Heals)

The party found themselves waking up on a rocky outcropping, overlooking a small valley. They were deep in the middle of a forest somewhere. Their equipment was lying nearby, untouched except for the portable hole, which seemed to be missing.

No one in the party (nor their familiars) knew how they got here, nor even what day it is. Though everyone who was missing limbs found they had them again. Even Jarrus' missing hand was restored. Those who previously died and were resurrected gained their constitution back. Pontus even had his intelligence restored. But the memories of the last 24 hours, or possibly more, are little more than vague dreams.

Jun 18, 2017

7th Day of Wealsun, CY 579 (Hunting Xenous Zenpor)

After both Jarrus and Sir Gerard selected squires, and the ceremony to celebrate Asanther's life was complete, the party returned to the City of Greyhawk to prepare what they could before completing the quest that Asanther set out for them - to find and destroy the evil mage Xenous Zenpor. So while Jarrus and Gerard fitted their new squires with armor and weapons, Sarril was back at the Guild of Wizardry library, doing some research, as well as picking up some new 4th level spells.

Sarril was able to find a few facts about the wizard. Primarily that she was incredibly vain about her looks, and obsessed with spells and artifacts related to longevity. She was also an evil wizard who was briefly a member of the guild, but was kicked out when she displayed a desire to seek artifacts of power for her own selfish reasons, and did not give back to the guild. She was last heard from when she went seeking the Codex of the Infinite Planes - an ancient and powerful artifact rumored to last be in possession of Zagyg Yragerne. Xenous went into the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and was never heard from again.

Based on what they learned from the guild, and what Asanther told them about Xenous current location, the party deduced that Xenous was likely trapped in a demi-plane, and looking for a way out, which the party might provide if they are not careful. Jarrus suggested leaving her there, though Sir Gerard insisted that destroying her is the best course of action. The party agreed, but wanted to spend one more day staking out Zorbo's House of Fun, learning everything they could before going in. And so, that evening, Jarrus and Pontus sat across from the building, having drinks, deep inside the Thieve's Quarter, watching the activity within the fun house.
Zorbo's House of Fun

Though the building was closed at night, they did observe a few men in bright yellow robes with purple trim beneath their cloaks enter the building. Instead of the regular silver coin, they used a gold coin in the slot outside the door. Figuring this to be the information they needed, Jarrus and Pontus returned to the Silver Dragon Inn to report what they found to the rest of the party. The next day, the 7th Day of Wealsun, the party headed to Zorbo's House of Fun to see what they could find.

The party placed five gold coins in the slot outside the door, one for each of them, and then stepped inside. Although they came in not long after another group of people, they found themselves alone in a large, round room with a single door on the opposite side from where they entered. The floor contained a spiral pattern of alternating purple and yellow, and was very obviously not level. The furniture had one set of legs longer than the other to
even it out. The ceiling was divided by a pattern resembling a double lightning bolt (or as one player remarked, a "Charlie Brown" symbol). A man was in the room wearing bright yellow robes with purple trim, and wearing an unrecognized holy symbol resembling the ceiling pattern. He introduced himself as Abbot Kormath Burrsten, and welcomed the party to the "House of Zagyg the Great." This took Sarril by surprise, "did you say Zagyg?"

"Oh yes," replied the abbot. "It was the great Zagyg himself who built this wonderful place, and the maze beyond. But didn't you put a gold coin in the slot? That is why you are here." The party took the opportunity to question the abbot about his faith in Zagyg and this place, trying to get any clues they could about Xenous. Unfortunately, the abbot didn't seem entire sane, and the conversation was difficult, but they did learn that beyond the other door was something called the "Maze of Zagyg" which is a demi-plane where the followers of Zagyg believe he hid many items of great power. The party learned that many have entered the maze, but none have ever returned, at which point the part asked the abbot how one might return. He sold them a crystal for 10,000 gold pieces that he said would return them to the prime material plane when broken. He said that while they are welcome to take anything they find if they should have need of it, he would like anything they do not need to be returned to the House of Zagyg, that it may be put on display. The party agreed, then entered the doorway.

They found themselves in a long hallway with doors on either side. Sarril recognized the place from a dream he once had, and he knew better than to open any of the doors. As the party walked forward, the hallways stretched longer and longer, making the end further and further away. They then decided to walk backward instead, which seemed to compress the hallway. They continued this until the end of the hallway, which was covered in a swirling mist, came to meet them. One by one, they jumped through the mist, until they were all floating weightlessly with mist blocking their view in every direction. They could not move normally in this place, but they found they could "will" themselves in any direction with a thought. Sir Gerard then asked Asanther to use her powers to locate Xenous, and he then moved in that direction while the rest of the party followed. Eventually, the maze came into view, and it seemed to be the size of a mountain range. The entrance was marked with the face of a harlequin, and they move right to it.

Finding their way through the maze proved challenging, and nearly impossible to map properly, given that it was made up entirely of curved walls. The party spent many hours wandering and retracing their steps before Sarril pulled out some parchment and ink and started to draw a map. Occasionally, the party would come upon a round room in the maze and be presented with a challenge. The first challenge was being attacked by 24 Crimson Claws, which were hiding behind a floating dead body.
While the claws were low hit die creatures, they had magic resistance, and the sheer numbers of them meant they were wearing down Sir Gerard slowly. Finally, remembering that Sir Gerard had a ring of fire resistance on (or maybe he didn't remember, and did it anyway), Jarrus poured flaming oil all over Sir Gerard and lit him on fire. This caused the claws to scatter, and eventually die of their wounds after a few rounds.

The next encounter was with another dead body, this one of a priestess in similar yellow robes of Zagyg with the same holy symbol. In this room was also a phantom, which replayed the scene of her death over and over again on a loop. The woman came face to face with am apparition, which caused her to be strangled to death. The phantom forced several party members, including Sir Gerard, to flee in terror. This was the first time Gerard realized that his normal divine aura that cancels the effects of fear was not working here in this place. After looting the body of some scrolls and a silver mirror, the party moved on, with the scared members closing their eyes and being led through the room by those who had made their saves.

The third encounter was with the apparition that killed the priestess. Lucky for the party members that it attacked, they were able to make their saves to avoid instant death. It turns out the mirror, pointed at the apparition, would have forced it to flee, but no one thought of that, and so they killed it the old fashioned way.

The final encounter before they reached their destination at the center of the maze was with five terithrans. Terithrans are ugly beasts from the astral plane that have some pretty significant abilities, including being able to use a Power Word Stun at will. But Sarril heard them speaking up ahead in a strange language and decided to use the Tongues scroll he found earlier to listen to their conversation. After learning that they had already lost ten of their group to a "thing" in the center of the maze, and that they wanted whatever was inside a box in that room, Sarril was able to speak to them make a deal. If the terithrans would let the party pass, they would take care of the problem in the room and give the terithrans the box. Or at least, he would have negotiated something like that, except that mid-discussion, Sir Gerard pulled a "Leeroy Jenkins" and rushed into the room, sword in hand, to attack the box.

Gerard's Boots of Striding and Springing were not effective in this mist through which they were floating. As such, he didn't close the distance before the box opened, and four 16 hit dice elementals (one of each type) were summoned into the room. Sir Gerard found that he needed to take care of these elementals before he could get to the box. During this time, Asanther began to converse with the voice of Xenous Zenpor. Asanther telling Xenous that she has become more powerful and will finish in death, what she could not do in life. Xenous responded that she, too, has become more powerful in death, and that Asanther could not possibly comprehend the power she now wields. The next round, Pontus and Jarrus showed up to assist, and started make progress on wearing down the elementals. Pontus drank a full Potion of Fire Breath and unleashed it on the elementals, and Sir Gerard (who lost a few items as a result). It took a few rounds to kill the elementals, and during this time, the box opened and more spellpower was sent forth, including a Cone of Cold and a few more spells. Recognizing that he could not sustain any more damage, Sarril ran out of the room to get away from whatever the box was going to unleash next.

As soon as the elementals were out of the way, Sir Gerard rushed forward and struck the box with his sword. As he looked down into the box just before contact, he saw the disembodied face of a beautiful woman. As the sword came in contact with the box, there was a tremendous explosion which blew all of the party members in the room back against the mist walls. Everyone in the room took severe damage and lost a limb. But perhaps worst of all for Sir Gerard, the sword was destroyed, along with the Face of Xenous, leaving behind only an empty box in the room, which the terithrans were more than happy to take possession of. Only Sarril came out unscathed, as he has ran out of the room before the explosion took place.

After stabilizing the party as best he could, Sarril broke the crystal he had purchased from the abbot and the party found themselves, still sans limbs, inside the House of Zagyg. The abbot seemed surprised that they had returned, since no one ever has, though, they didn't return in one piece. The abbot suggested they find a priest to get an ointment or something for those wounds, or find the fabled Well of All Heals that is supposed to restore anything. Either way.

Jun 4, 2017

24th Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (wherein Sir Gerard gets a sword)

After some morning preparations, the party met back up with Luapan, who was off visiting his fellow clerics of Celestian at a nearby observatory in the Abbor Alz. The party shared with him what had happened in the city over the last couple of days, including the circumstances of Pontus' death, and Luapan, in turn, shared what he learned of Wastri, the Hopping Prophet, who seems to have established a large cult following far to the north in the Cold Marshes. Just another thing for the party to investigate at some later time, if they so choose.

After confirming directions to the Hamlet of Jakkarton, Sir Gerard led the party out of the City of Greyhawk, carrying the dead body of Pontus across his horse. About 20 miles east of the city, near the head of the Ery river, the party came across the a set of stone buildings that they knew to be the monastery of Heironeous, just outside of the Hamlet of Jakkarton. The party rode their horses down a small, seldom used path which led down to the buildings and a young woman came out to greet them. She introduced herself as Tythis, cleric of Heironeous. Sir Gerard introduced himself and the party, and explained the reason they had come. Tythis stabled their horses and invited them inside the temple to wait as she summoned Asanther.

A few minutes later, the door opens. An elderly woman enters, a woman whose right arm is missing at the shoulder. Her face is framed by a luxurious cascade of black and silver hair that falls to the small of her back. She wears a deep blue robe trimmed in silver. She is missing her right arm. She smiles gravely, a brilliant smile that radiates an aura of trust and understanding. Her movements, however, are weary. She nods, and moves slowly toward a covered chair.

Sir Gerard greeted Asanther and introduced himself and the party. He explained that Heironeous guided him to this temple in order that he may resurrect their fallen comrade. He then began to regale Asanther with tales of Pontus bravery and heroics - of how he rescued Prince Thrommel and helped destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil. He believes that Heironeous is not finished with Pontus in this world, and he needs to be brought back to continue his destiny.

Asanther explained that while only Heironeous' will can bring back Pontus, she was not strong enough to cast the necessary spell either way. She did, however, have one Raise Dead scroll in her possession that was provided to her by the high priests in Chendl. It is her only scroll, and the local Burgomaster is expecting that she will use it on him if the time should come that he has need of it. It is one of the few ways that she has to keep him in check, as he is otherwise a cruel tyrant to his peasants who rely on her for their protection. Because he is the lord of the land here, she is forbidden from taking any direct action against him, and so she helps the peasants as best she can. But she now knows that Heironeous himself sent the party to her aid on a quest, and she cannot deny his will. She stated if Sir Gerard and his companions would assist her in a mission, that she will use the scroll on Pontus.

“Mine is a tale of hardship and of joy; now of little importance." she said "As I have grown older I have also grown wiser. Many are my regrets, and few the deeds of which I am still proud. There is something I must do before I die. Years ago, I entrusted a very powerful magical item to a dear friend of mine. I must retrieve the item before I die . . . if I do not . . . the land may suffer and evil may fall upon the people I hold dear. Will you please help me?”

 Without any discussion with the party, Sir Gerard bowed to one knee and swore his sword to her service. Asanther then continued “There is a magical lake three days’ journey from here. The man who resides there is whom I seek. I will gladly pay you for your time with what little gold I own. Also perhaps, I shall entrust you with an item of great importance, if you are worthy.”

Sir Gerard insisted that no payment will be necessary, as it is his duty to assist her on her mission.
Asanther then prepared Pontus' body for the Raise Dead ritual, and read the scroll. After a few moments, Pontus opened his eyes heaved a breath of life. Asanther then performed some ritual healing magics on the now living Pontus to assist in restoring his body. As it was getting late, Asanther made rooms for the party to stay overnight, and prepared a simple meal for them.

Over dinner, she said “We should leave first thing in the morning. My only concerns are my lack of youth, and the possibility that I might meet resistance attempting to leave this area. Junus Jakkar, the local burgomaster, has ordered me to remain at this shrine. He fears that my departure, even for a day or two, could affect his field laborers. He is a greedy and insensitive man who fears too much. The land and its people are the most important things in my life. Even if I were to leave for a short time I would return. Janus thinks only of his fat belly. Forgive me if I speak ill of him, but he often bullies the people who work so hard to put food on his plate.”

The next morning (25th day of Flocktime), the part headed out on horseback with Asanther. The way out led through the hamlet. Asanther warned that the burgomaster's may try to stop them, and she would prefer to avoid violence. Sure enough, 10 armed and armored guards were blocking the road ahead. "Halt in the name of the burgomaster, Junus Jakkar!" one of them shouted. "Leave the good priestess with us and go quietly and no one will get hurt. Otherwise we will take her from you by force." Sir Gerard attempted to negotiate his way through the impasse, but their orders were clear. They moved in for the attack, but Sarril and Luapan were ready with Hold Person spells. The first round held about half of them, while the Sir Gerard, Jarrus and Pontus defended and did not attack. The second round, all but 1 were held, and the last guard ran away.

As they exited town, something invisible grabbed Asanther and started dragging her away. Recognizing that this was a summoned creature of some sort, Luapan cast a Dispel Magic, which succeeded, breaking the summoning charm and sending the creature away. The party then rode away on their mission, stopping after about 8 hours to let Asanther rest. Popping up the Daern's Instant Fortress, the party and their horses were able to rest inside, completely impervious to danger. They listened to some howling wolves for a while, but they eventually dispersed. And so the three-day journey continued uneventful like this.

On the evening of the second night, as the party made camp, Asanther revealed some more of her story. “The time has come,” Ansanther speaks in a voice little above a whisper, “to tell you of the wonders of the Lake of Mist. The lake is small but protected but powerful magics and surrounded by a thick mist. It can not be found on any map, But can be found with this. . .” So saying, Ansanther revealed a small, clear glass ball that was half filled with water. She continues, “Ilkif the mage once gave me this device. It will lead us to the lake through the magical mist.” As she held the item in her hand the water defied gravity and slide up the inside of the sphere. Smiling, Ansanther said, “Ilkif was always so clever. The water shows us the direction in which the lake lies. Beware though, for the mist is thick, and we must pass through it quickly, as fell things are known to live within. Lastly, beyond the mist at the edge of the lake stands the guardian. Fear not, it has never stopped me in the past.”

The next morning (28th day of Flocktime), the party continued on the road, which led into a forest. Thick mist began to surround them, and grew thicker to the point that they could only see 10 feet in any direction. They realized they could go no further with their horses, so setup the Instant Fortress and placed the horses inside, before shrinking it back down to a cube. As the party continued through the mist, shadows could be seen in the mist 20 feet out. Low to the ground and long, there were no less than 12 shadows circling them as they walked. An occasional howling could be heard. The party ignored the shadows and continued to follow the water in the glass sphere, eventually leaving the trail and arriving on the shore of a lake. The mist cleared, and they could see, suspended in the air above the center of the lake, an enormous, opaque sphere. Standing at the water's edge was a stone statue next to a brass gong. The statue struck the gong with its fist, causing a reverberation across the water. The statue then turned toward the party, raised its fists, and moved in for the attack.

"Please, tell the golem why we are here. Ilkif will hear you," pleaded Asanther in a whisper. Sir Gerard spoke to the golem, telling it that the party was escorting Asanther and that she seeks the mage, Ilkif, but the golem did not respond. It attacked first with a "slow" spell on the party, which everyone successfully saved against. Hiding behind the golem was the pixie, Snotme, who fired sleep
arrows but could not hit (the party did not notice the pixie). The party was soon in full melee, with Jarrus and Pontus attacking the golem while Sir Gerard, whose weapon was ineffective, attempted to position himself between the golem and the others.

The pixie then cast one of the few spells it had that could be effective, "Otto's Irresistable Dance," on Pontus. This took Pontus out of the fight for the next couple of rounds while the rest of the party whacked at the golem like a piƱata. With the incredible damage Jarrus is dealing out with two attacks per round, the golem didn't last long, and crumbled into pieces. Snotme, the pixie, flew to a safe location and, as the party started to approach the lake, yelled out "I wouldn't go in there if I were you! There is a big, bad, terrible monster in that lake. It will eat you up, yep, swallow you whole it will."

Ignoring the pixie, the party went to the water's edge where Asanther placed the glass sphere into the water. The sphere grew large and a door opened on the side. The party stepped inside the sphere, and
began walking as the sphere rolled across the lake surface. They reached the underside of the larger sphere, and rose up, merging into a foyer, at which point the glass bubble they were in expanded again until it merged with the larger sphere around them, placing them inside Ilkif's very strange home. The furniture was made of an opalescent substance that resembled soap bubbles, and was clearly not of this world. The upper levels of the sphere were transparent from the inside, giving a beautiful view of the lake.

As Asanther began calling for Ilkif, she feared something was wrong when she received no response. The party led her up to the third level, where they heard a faint moaning coming from behind a door. Everyone rushed in to find a man lying in bed, fevered and delirious, and possibly dying. Asanther rushed to his side  “Ilkif, my poor Ilkif. . .”, she cries. She then turned to the party and said “Please leave us alone for a time. I will do all
in my power to help or comfort him as I can. Please, our time together may be short. I also suggest that you rest, since we all know that we are safe here.”

The party decided to hang out in the main living area, as well as raid the kitchen for food. A few hours later, they heard a loud explosion come from behind the door which shook the sphere severely. Using his newly acquired Boots of Striding and Springing, Sir Gerard rushed through the door and bounded up the stairs through an open trapdoor. The room above looks like it was once a magical workshop, but was now engulfed in multi-colored flames. In the center of the room, resting on top of a burning tome, was a beautiful, glowing sword. To the right and left of the sword were the bodies of
Ansanther and Ilkif. Ilkifs left hand resting on the burning book, his right wrapped around Ansanther. Asanther lied still. Her right hand on the pommel of the shining sword.

Sir Gerard picked up the sword, and immediately knew what it was. A +5 Holy Avenger. But more than that, the sword contained the soul of Asanther, who spoke to Sir Gerard, explaining to him that it was her final wish that she be placed within the sword before she died so that she may continue to do the will of Heironeous and fight evil. She also explained that her most pressing mission is to finish a quest that she had previously failed - to kill an evil mage by the name of Xenous Zenpour. When she
was a paladin, she and her party attempted this feat and failed, with all of the members of her party being killed and she losing her arm. She had been waiting for one worthy enough to succeed where she could not, and she knows that Sir Gerard is the one.

As the party was surveying the damage, the sphere around them started to collapse and break apart. The quickly ran down the stairs and the floor beneath them fell away. Everyone grabbed onto to alien-looking furniture as they were dumped into the water. The furniture floated, allowing them to paddle to shore. As they had just been earlier discussing the need to furnish the inside of the Instant Fortress, the party decided this was the perfect opportunity and set up the fortress and placed the furniture inside before continuing. Using Pontus' outdoor tracking skills, they were able to find their way back out of the mist, recover the horses and be on their way. Since they did not have Asanther slowing them down, they were able to make it back to the Hamlet of Jakkarton in just two days, arriving the afternoon of 2nd day of Wealsun.

Back in the Hamlet there was pandemonium, as the villagers, believing their beloved priestess had been kidnapped or murdered by the party, were quickly turning into an angry mob. The burgomaster came out of his manor house along with his mage, Mercres and many guards. The burgomaster demanded justice for the kidnapping and murder of his citizen. Sir Gerard then pulled out the holy avenger sword, which spoke to the crowd in Asanther's voice, assuring them that this was her plan and the party had done a noble deed in assisting her in her dying wish. The crowd then split in two, with half of the people praising the party and getting angry at the burgomaster for his misdeeds, and the other half suspicious. The guards were afraid to act, knowing from experience the superior strength of the party, and it seemed things were at an impasse. Tythis came running up the road to see what was going on and grew concerned about the whereabouts of Asanther (as the party would soon learn that Asanther was her mother - a secret they kept to avoid the shame associated with a paladin failing her vows). Sir Gerard was able to sway the rest of the crowd to the party's side in a persuasive speech, which then turned the crowd, as well as most of the guards, against the burgomaster. Soon they were chanting for the death of Junus Jakkar, for all of the horrible treatments he had inflicted on them. Possibly not wanting to be strung-up by association, Mercres cast a spell and turned Junus Jakkar into a slug, after which he was quickly squashed to death by the citizens.

Recognizing a power vacuum, Sir Gerard insisted that law and order must prevail in the absence of the local lord and asked the villagers to elect a new leader. They gathered together and asked Tythis to be their new leader, which she cautiously agreed to. Sir Gerard then realized he will need to stay for a few days to make sure the transition of power takes place smoothly. He would help Tythis prepare for a ceremony to honor the life of her mother. During their conversation with Tythis, she expressed that she never knew her father, whom the party was able to guess must have been Ilkif. They told her all that they knew of him and Luapan gave her the burned spellbook - the only thing they had of his to give her and honor his memory (well, except for all of the furniture they crammed into the fortress, but that didn't occur to anyone at the moment). Sir Gerard and Pontus then remained in the hamlet while the rest of the party went to Greyhawk to get supplies.

While in Greyhawk, Jarrus was able to pick-up his completed full-plate armor, which he realized he
Janziduur, Priestess of Tritherion
now needs assistance with, so he advertised for a contest in the hamlet of Jakkarton to take place the following day in order to select his squire. He also visited the Temple of Tritherion, and realized he aligned very well with the teachings of this deity, and shared a lot in common with the priestess, with whom he bonded. She helped him spread the word of the contest for his squire.

After collecting some more goods in the city and taking care of other personal business, the next morning (3rd day of Wealsun), Jarrus, Sarril and Luapan rode back to Jakkarton to help setup for the ceremony. Several young men, and a few young women from Greyhawk and from the hamlet arrived to test themselves for the honor of being Jarrus' squire. It seems Jarrus (and the party) has started to develop a reputation, and many people would find it an honor to be associated with him. The contest was held and Jarrus selected a girl by the name Tonya for the prestigious job of being his squire. After seeing this, Sir Gerard decided that he will also test the candidates, to see if any might qualify to become his squire - though he has his own criteria used to judge.

And so we left it, on the 3rd Day of Wealsun, 579CY, one day before the ceremony to honor Asanther. Will Sir Gerard find his squire amongst the many hopefuls?

May 30, 2017

Pontus is Dead

Barbarians in the big city. What can you do about it?

Gerard and Pontus made their way back to the inn the evening of 22nd day of Flocktime. Sir Gerard explained the encounter with the mind flayer and that Pontus' brain had been partially eaten. Sarril placed some healing on the wounds, but it didn't seem to improve his mental condition. Sarril decided he would need to do some research in the morning, but was suspicious that the mind flayer might return, so decided to sit invisibly in Pontus and Jarrus' room, ready for something to happen. Sir Gerard went back to his own room to sleep.

Right about the stroke of midnight, four babau demons appeared in the room and impaled Jarrus to within an inch of his life. This wasn't the encounter Sarril was expecting, but he was ready. He screamed for Pontus to wake up and sent his companion, Krek, to wake up Sir Gerard. When Pontus woke up, a few rounds later, he was no longer babbling and drooling. He was fully functional, though 8 intelligence points lower than before. The fight went several rounds, with Sarril alternating between healing Jarrus and casting various enhancements on both fighters. Many scrolls were burned and potions were consumed, and Jarrus narrowly avoided death several times. Eventually, Sir Gerard showed up, and Sarril was able to get a Minor Globe of Invulnerability up, which negated the babau's gaze attack. Finally, Sarril was able to burn a scroll of Force Cage, taking two of the demons temporarily out of the fight. The tide of the battle was now turned, and the party was able to push through to victory.

Sir Gerard, who previously suspected that the Daern's Instant Fortress was cursed, now believed it was something in Jarrus' possession that was attracting these demons. Jarrus turned out his pockets and empty his bags. Something clicked. He had 24 gems taken from Zuggtmoy's throne, where previously he had 33. Nine were missing, which is exactly the number of babau they had faced so far. The party agreed the gems must be cursed. They talked about going and exchanging them at the Moneychanger's Guild, but Sir Gerard stood his ground, stating that these cursed items must be destroyed. And so Pontus placed the gems on a magic shield and smashed each one with a magic mace, just like a blacksmith using an anvil. After crushing each gem to dust, the party went back to sleep.

The next day, Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry library to research mind flayers, while Pontus talked to Olaf, the proprietor, about how to make some money. It seems that Pontus had developed some severe amnesia, and while he knew the names of his party members, he couldn't remember anything that happened over the last couple of days, and he had only vague, sporadic memories of anything prior to that. Olaf explained to Pontus, once again, how he could make money fighting in the The Pit. Pontus thanked Olaf and made immediate plans to join the fights that evening. In the meantime, Sarril's research didn't return promising news. Few people were ever known to survive an Illithid attack, and those few who had were never the same again. Still, he thought to take Pontus to the Temple of St. Cuthbert to see if they could help. After making an excessively large donation, he was able to meet directly with the High Priestess Eritai Kaan-Ipzirel, who expressed that this was definitely uncharted territory. She did have an Elixir of Health, which cures Feeblemindedness, and it was possible that his affliction is similar and this could help, though there was no guarantee. She also expressed it was their last potion, and they did not have the ability to make more at this time. She asked why Pontus was more worthy of this potion than her own paladins. Pontus replied that he was not worthy, and that St. Cuthbert has already helped him more than he deserves. Both Sarril and Pontus agreed that when the time comes that St. Cuthbert calls for their help, they will provide it. This pleased the High Priestess, who sold the potion to them. Pontus drank it right away. It did not have an immediate effect, and the high priestess explained that if it is going to work at all, it may take some time.

(DM's Note: I decided that brain injuries are going to heal slowly for anything short of a Wish or direct divine intervention. I established a rule that each morning, Pontus will have a percentage chance equal to his constitution score to heal one point of intelligence that day. With each point of intelligence recovered, he will get some portion of his memories back. Even though his brain has been physically healed, this represents the slow process of reorganizing his thoughts and memories)

Aestrella Ashfarel
That afternoon, Jarrus went out to check on his armor, which was coming along nicely, and Pontus went out to buy some horses. Pontus got distracted along the way by a beautiful woman who turned out to be Aestrella Ashfarel, Grand Diva of the Opera House (who was "slumming" in a little-known sweet shop run by some women in the Artisan's District, where she could get away from her fans that recognize her). Aestrella was incredibly charming, and Pontus was once again in love. He insisted that she come to the pits to watch him fight to prove his love to her. Aestrella, who had given the name "Astrid" to Pontus in order to keep her identity secret, was amused by this, but explained that she had other commitments. Nonetheless, she hopes to see him again. Despite this distraction, Pontus was able to eventually make his way to the stables outside of the gates and buy four horses.

That evening, Pontus was really excited about fighting in the Pits - despite having never been to any of the fights and having no idea what to expect. While still in his room at the inn, he strapped umberhulk mandibles to his forearms, fashioned a mask out of various monster teeth he had collected and then smeared blood across his chest in the shape of crow wings. Jarrus decided he would go with Pontus, as his manager to be in his corner. It should prove amusing at least. Sarril decided to catch-up later, and Sir Gerard wanted no part of such nonsense, instead spending his time in the common room of the inn, listening to the conversations around him and trying to learn all he can about what is going on in Greyhawk.

Jarrus lent Pontus a cloak to cover up his accoutrements, and followed him to the secret place where he was able to give the correct password to get into the Pit underground. Inside was a seedy, crowded place. The Pit was a small, round arena below the floor where people could gather around and lean over a small wall to watch the fights. Some assigned seating was above, where it was clear that wealthy merchants and other important people could sit. And above that were special boxes where nobility of various sorts could watch. One of the boxes, which extended slightly over the pit on the opposite side, contained a shadowy figure who seemed to be in charge of the place. Off to one side of the pit was a cage, where Pietain Morvannis, Manager of the Pit, sat. Jarrus was able to speak to Pietain and get Pontus (whom he introduced as "The Umberhulk") added to the list for the Non-lethal Gladiator category. There were three type of fights that evening. Wrestling, Non-Lethal Gladiator (which uses blunt weapons, no armor, allows tap-out/surrender, and the rules prevent a killing blow to a knocked out opponent), and Full Gladiator (essentially no rules). Sarril arrived a bit later, and when he heard the announcement that The Umberhulk would be fighting Strom the Mad with 10:1 odds, Sarril immediately began placing large wagers on the Umberhulk.

After some silly wrestling matches that seemed to be popular with the older crowds, the Non-Lethal Gladiator combat began, and the place really filled up. Jarrus and Pontus were taken down into a waiting room to get ready. The first fight was between Eglantine, an extremely nimble fighter, and Grunk the Destroyer, a large half-orc who had previously tried to start trouble with Sir Gerard at the inn that morning. Shields, clubs and maces were spread around the arena. Eglantine elegantly grabbed his weapons and started striking Grunk from all sides. Grunk was slow and having a lot of trouble hitting him. Eglantine started getting cheered on by the crowd, and at one point turned to smile and raise his hands up (popular fighters get paid more by the house to fight, so this is a common tactic). Unfortunately for Eglantine, Grunk took advantage of this posturing to land a solid blow to his head, exploding Eglantine's brains across the side of the pit. So much for non-lethal combat, but accidents do happen, and its part of the game.

Next up was The Umberhulk (Pontus) vs. Strom the Mad. This was Pontus' moment. This was what he had been waiting for. He rushed out in full regalia, screaming his barbarian roar, getting the crowd stirred up. The fight lasted a while, but this gave The Umberhulk that much more time to work the crowd into a frenzy. By the end of the match, they were shouting his name. The Umberhulk took a lot of blows, but his injuries only fueled his rage. Victory was soon his. As the crowd shouted his name, he reached down to his unconscious opponent, ripped off his ears and tossed them into the crowd. The crowd gasped in horror. Some became sick to their stomachs. But some were even more excited. But Pontus broke the rules. He attacked his opponent after the fight. Guards immediately rushed into the Pit and escorted Pontus away and back into the preparation room. On his way out, he looked up and saw the shadowy figure in the box above smiling at him. But in the back room, Jarrus gave him an earful (no pun intended) about what was wrong with what he just did. After some time, a messenger came in to say the next fight would be between The Umberhulk and Grunk the Destroyer. It seems the crowd has tasted blood, and now they want more. Pontus was more than happy to fight again.

Jarrus went out to find Sarril, who was collecting his substantial winnings from the first fight, and already placing bets on the Umberhulk vs. Grunk match. He brought Sarril back to heal Pontus before
Grunk the Destroyer
the next match. Sarril gave him the last of his healing potions, which were able to bring him back to full health. Then the announcement was made, and Pontus went out into the arena to face his opponent.

Pontus again screamed his barbarian yell, but this time it was met in return by a deafening, inhuman sounding roar from his opponent. The match began, and both man and half-orc went for their weapons and shield, both selecting clubs. Though the odds were 2:1 in Grunk's favor, the actual match was much closer. Both combatants were of the same level. Grunk had a clear strength advantage (19 STR) and was specialized with a club, giving him +1 to hit and +2 damage. But his constitution was not substantial, so his it points were only slightly above average for a fighter, and he had an average dexterity, making his AC 9 with a shield. Pontus, on the other hand, had only a +1 strength bonus, but had ridiculous dexterity and constitution bonuses with his barbarian class doubling them. He had triple the hit point average of a fighter of the same level and his natural AC was 4, 3 with a shield. This was the fight Pontus was itching for. This was the fight that would prove his combat superiority.

But +9 damage on each hit was starting to add up fast. Pontus did land a critical hit at one point, but couldn't make the follow-up damage roll count. Grunk also got a critical hit in, doing over 30 points of damage in one round. Things were not looking good for Pontus. Pretty soon, Pontus was down to 3 hit points, and it was Grunk's attack. With +9 damage, there was no question that another hit would take Pontus into negative HP territory, and a roll of 5 or 6 on the damage die would completely kill him. But Grunk only got one attack this next round, so he could miss entirely. At this point Pontus was given the opportunity to surrender the match, or keep going. There was not a second of hesitation in Pontus' mind, of course he continues the fight. And so I rolled the attack roll for Grunk. . . 20 - critical hit! I rolled a 5 for damage, bringing the total to 28 ([5+9]*2). Pontus was very, very dead.

DM's Note: At this point I realized that I had been giving Grunk +11 for damage instead of +9, because I was double-counting the specialization by mistake. I went back and recalculated the damage, and it turned out Pontus did not have 3 hit points left, he had 12 or so, which would have kept him alive if it wasn't for the critical hit. But he was still dead either way.

The shadowy figure in the box above smiled widely, then walked away. The crowd cheered Grunk's name as Jarrus and Sarril collected the pay and carried the dead body of Pontus back to the inn, where they explained to Sir Gerard what had taken place. Sir Gerard insisted that they head out to the Village of Jakkarton the next day to visit the priestess of Heironeous named Asanthar, whom he was certain would be able to resurrect him. And with that, the party rested for the night.

The next morning, Gerard (not knowing that Pontus had already bought horses) purchased four horses while Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry to buy some fantastic, and expensive, magical items for the party. It is now noon on the 24th Day of Flocktime, 579CY.

May 24, 2017

A Sword for Pontus

On the morning of the 22nd Day of Flocktime, each of the party members decided they had their own business to do within the City of Greyhawk, and went their separate ways (this was in between sessions, so some players wanted to chat about what they were doing online). Sarril went to join the Guild of Wizardry and do some research in their fantastic library. Pontus went in search of a magical two-handed sword.

Now, normally, a Fruztii barbarian loose in the big city trying to figure out where to buy a magic sword would be a challenge, but Pontus was pointed in the right direction by the other party
members. He knew that the High Market was where the finest merchant sold their wares to the wealthy elite, and if anyone was going to have magic weapons for sale, it would likely be there. So off Pontus went in search of a sword.

DM's Note: Magic swords are somewhat rare, though finding a basic enchanted sword (+1) is reasonable if you are visiting the right merchant, but they are very expensive, and not usually the kind of thing simply on display in an open-market. But I figured it would be reasonable that some of the higher-end merchants may have one or two enchanted swords carefully displayed as a showpiece to attract customers. I decided that if Pontus spent a few hours visiting all of the weapon vendors, I would roll a d10 and that would be how many magical two-handed swords would be found across all vendors in the entire market. I rolled a 10. Today was a good day for Pontus to shop for a sword. I then rolled on the Unearthed Arcana treasure tables to see what kind of magical swords these would be. Most were +1, or +1 with a minor specialty (like bonus vs. reptiles, etc.), but a couple of very rare +2 swords appeared as well. The way the UA tables work is that you first roll percentile dice to determine which table to use. 95% and below uses Table I, which has some average to very good magical weapons on it. 96% and above uses Table II, which has a chance to get some of the most amazing non-artifact swords, like Sun Blades and the like. On the 10th roll, I rolled a 96% to go to Table II. I then rolled a percentage again to see what sword from Table II it would be, and landed something nearly impossible. While I don't like the idea of making a sword like this so easily available, I have a general rule that if this is a legitimate roll of the dice, I find a way to make it happen. There is no way any merchant would simply be selling a weapon like this at a market, or even within a well guarded shop. Weapons of this magnitude would handled very carefully through a private transaction. And so I decided this one would need to be played out.

Pontus spent a lot of time speaking to various merchants and looking at some of the finest enchanted greatswords ever to make their way into the city. But despite their fantastic quality, none could ever equal the sword wielded by his father - the family heirloom that had been handed down for generations pre-dating the migration of his people from the Suel Empire. That sword was his birthright, and now it was gone. None of these other swords could possibly be its equal. When a disappointing Pontus was speaking to the last merchant, he said "If money were no object, what kind of sword could you sell me?" This resulted in some back and forth conversation, wherein the merchant was trying to gauge the seriousness of the inquiry, and finally, after swearing Pontus to secrecy, looked around to see if anyone was watching, then reached under the table and pulled out the "Sword of Arcane Destruction" (a sword with a bonus vs. magic users - perfect for a barbarian). Pontus thanked the merchant, told him what a fine sword it was, but said he was looking for something even better, and that money really was no object. Finally, the merchant told him that he had something better and that Pontus should come by his shop in the Foreign Quarter at 8:00 pm that evening to get a private showing. Pontus agreed to the appointment and went back to the Silver Dragon Inn.

While at the inn, Pontus asked Olaf what a barbarian like himself could do to earn money. Olaf informed in, secretly, that he wouldn't normally recommend it, but he may be able to earn some money by fighting in the Pit. If Pontus was interested, Olaf could provide him with that evening's password to get-in, but he would need to be sworn to secrecy as the Pit is technically illegal in Greyhawk (despite that just about everyone in the Foreign Quarter knows about it). This excited Pontus greatly and he wanted to know what time the fights start. They start at 8:00 pm. Pontus immediately ran back to the High Market to find the merchant he was just speaking with to change the appointment time. This made the merchant nervous and Pontus had to talk him off the ledge a bit. The merchant finally agreed to an earlier meeting only if Pontus would come back at 5 pm and help him pack-up. He also had to pay for dinner. Pontus agreed to the terms and ran back to the inn, wherein he saw Sir Gerard, having just come back from a meeting with a cleric at the Sanctum of Heironeous. Pontus told Sir Gerard about the arrangement for the sword and Sir Gerard insisted that something sounded fishy, and he should come along to the meeting. Pontus reluctantly agreed.

Soon, it was time to go, and both Pontus and Sir Gerard went to see the merchant. Sir Gerard introduced himself, and the merchant stated his name as Waldo Parstiche, and his assistant, Elbrak. Gerard and Pontus helped break-down the merchant tent and load up the crates into a wagon as promised, and escorted Waldo and Elbrak back to his warehouse in the Foreign Quarter, where they secured the goods before heading to dinner at the Red Serpent Restaurant, where Waldo had made a reservation. Waldo, Gerard and Pontus had a very fine multi-course meal in a private room where they were able to discuss business without being disturbed. After the main meal, the door opened and two men walked in. The first man, dressed in a leather tunic, was introduced by Waldo as a business associate by the name of Dorian Gallamar. Dorian has brought the sword for viewing. The second man, dressed in a long black cloak with a hood covering his face, was Zynthar, whom Dorian said was there for his protection. Zynthar didn't speak, but just moved to the corner. Sir Gerard immediately focused his Detect Evil ability on both of the new men. Dorian emoted clear evil, but when he tried to focus on Zynthar, he received a shock in his head that disrupted his senses.

Sir Gerard immediately stood up and declared that Pontus should not go through with the deal as these men were clearly evil and not to be trusted. With his hand on the hilt of his sword, he moved to face Zynthar.

Dorian says "you think ill of me, Sir Gerard, and yet I have done nothing to slight you. This does not seem to be noble behavior. I am only here to conduct business. If your god allows you to see if I speak the truth, call upon him now. See that I mean what I say."

Pontus then went into a rage, saying "Waldo, this is a nice place." He slams his meat filled hand down on the table , hard. "It won't stay that way unless I see this ducking sword right now!!"

Dorian says, "Waldo, I am sorry. I do not know where you found these two, but I don't think we can don business." He then gets up to leave.

Sir Gerard calmed down and said "Pontus? There is no need for that." He nodded a salutary gesture with his hand on the hilt of his sword. Eyeing Zynthar.

Pontus calmed down and said "How about we just stop this back and forth and get down to business. I don't know who your friends are Waldo, but Dorian, if you are the guy let me know. What do you say Dorian? We all sit down, and act like the civil southerners we are?"

Sir Gerard responded "I will remain to stand in judgement Only! I do not condone any of this!"

Waldo then attempted his own diplomacy, saying "Dorian, please, stay. I think we can do this. Is everyone cool?"

With everyone somewhat calm, but now hyper-aware and trigger happy, Dorian removed a bag of holding from his cloak and set it on the table. He then pulled out a 6 ft long flat wooden box from the bag on to the table. After looking around the room and ensuring they were still alone and everyone was calm, he opened the box to reveal the sword.

The sword was truly magnificent, made of a strange metal that did not seem of this world. Unknown runes were etched along the blade. It may have been the most extraordinary sword Pontus or Gerard had ever seen. Waldo began to explain the sword and its backstory when Sir Gerard was filled with an overwhelming urge to pick it up.

Shaking off the urge, he turned to Zynthar, drew his blade and yelled "Show yourself fiend. NOW!" as he attacked Zynthar and missed. A confused Pontus lept over the table and drew his sword while
Dorian closed the box with the sword and started stuffing into the bag while yelling "THIEF! I'm being robbed!" Shortly thereafter, everyone into the room was stunned in place and couldn't move. Zynthar removed his hood to reveal a purplish alien looking face with squid-like tentacles over his mouth. An Illithid, also known as a Mind Flayer.

Pontus and Gerard could do nothing but watch the horror unfold as the creature moved behind Waldo, placed his tentacled mouth over his head, and began to feast on his brains. Waldo's eyes rolled back into his head, and then he slumped forward on to the table. Next, Zynthar moved to Pontus and started to do the same. After a few seconds of this, the doors burst open and in came four guards from the Nightwatchmen's Guild. Zynthar turned to the guards and made another mind-blast attack, stunning three out of four of them. By now, Dorian had the sword packed up and yelled to Zynthar "let's go!" and the two ran out of the restaurant.

Soon the owner, Cevin Estri came into the room to investigate while his wife was attempting to calm customers who were rubbing their heads, confused about what just went down. Cevin closed the door and he and the guards questioned Pontus and Sir Gerard about what happened. Sir Gerard felt confident in stating the an evil creature attacked him, and that Cevin is responsible for allowing an evil creature into his restaurant to begin with, even going so far as to demand reparations. The interrogation did not go well from that point, especially given that Waldo was a well-renowned merchant, and the guards did not much like Sir Gerard's righteous attitude. While they did not fully trust that Sir Gerard was innocent from provoking the incident, it was clear the mind-flayer was the one who killed Waldo and they had nothing to hold Pontus or Gerard on. They demanded they leave the restaurant and not come back. Sir Gerard offered his assistance in tracking down the mind-flayer, which the guards outright rejected, saying they would find the perpetrator and bring him to justice on their own. "Not if I find him first" replied Gerard, as he led a babbling, drooling Pontus out of the restaurant and back to the inn.

May 21, 2017

21st Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (The party takes out a cult of Wastri)

Once Pontus was turned back to living flesh, he and Sarril sat down and ordered some lunch. They had much catching up to do over the next couple of hours. Sarril relayed the story about how the party escaped the demi-planes and destroyed Zuggtmoy. He also explained how the party is now trapped in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress, along with some very bad demons. They decided to hatch a plan.

Sarril and Pontus travelled several miles north of the city, into the Cairn Hills and found a secluded location where they could activate the fortress without being seen. Sarril cast Strength on Pontus and gave him a Rod of Smiting to use in place of his sword to counteract the bladed damage reduction of the babau. Sarril cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability and Mirror Image on himself, then activated the fortress and charged in. The group inside never missed a beat, continuing the fight exactly where they left off. Shan-Ju again proved himself a formidable warrior as he took out another babau demon (due to another series of ridiculous die rolls on behalf of his player, who was also playing Pontus). Sarril globe was able to prevent the effects of the Ray of Enfeeblement from the babau's gaze, giving the party the opportunity to fight while looking at the beasts. Between Pontus, Shan-Ju, Sir Gerard and Jarrus, all enhanced by Luapan and Sarril, the remaining demons were dispatched very quickly.

After a brief introduction, Sir Gerard proclaimed that Pontus was sent by Heironeous himself to aid the party in their need, and thanked him appropriately. Sarril explained that they were outside the city the City of Greyhawk and that he had procured rooms for them inside the city. The party agreed to continue their plan of gearing up in Greyhawk before heading to Furyondy. Shan-Ju thanked the party for freeing him from the demi-planes, and explained that there is a monastery near the City of Greyhawk that may have some answers that he has been searching for, and he took his leave of the party (for now).

It was late afternoon when the party returned to the city, and after a quick visit to the High Market to see about commissioning some custom armor for Sir Gerard, the group went to the Silver Dragon Inn where Sarril relayed the story about the cult that was terrorizing the Foreign Quarter. He had found out earlier that it was a cult of Wastri, aka the Hopping Prophet, causing the trouble and the cult leader was starting to make some demands of the city. Merchants who were recent victims of arson attacks were desperate and hired another adventuring party at the Silver Dragon Inn to put a stop to the cult. Sarril was able to pick up the clues they were given, which speak to a particular beggar on the street who had some information. Once Sir Gerard heard about this, he insisted the party head out immediately to put an end to the evil. Having nothing better to do at the moment, the party headed out.

After finding the beggar and paying him to tell them the location of the hideout, the party went to the building - an abandoned bath house. Using Invisibility 10' Radius, they followed some of the cultists through the front door and launched a surprise attack. The cultists turned out to be Grung, intelligent amphibious creatures from the Vast Swamp. The grung were using poisoned arrows, but they were no match for the party. As a matter of fact, the party pushed through the bath house, easily defeating everything inside, which included another dozen or more grung, four giant toads and a cleric of Wastri by the name of Heironymous Spune. After freeing two merchants who were tied up, they learned that Heironymous Spune wanted revenge on the City of Greyhawk for some grievance that the once Lord Mayor, Zagig Yragerne, had inflicted on his master.

Sir Gerard was proud to have defeated evil twice in one day. Jarrus declared that the party now owns a bath house, which, after some renovations, will be a fine establishment. Sarril was happy to have fulfilled his promise to Tobin Potriades and now be able to join the Guild of Wizardry. Pontus was happy to no longer be a statue, while Luapan pointed out "hey guys, there are some bodies in the water there" noticing that some of the members of the previously hired adventuring party didn't make it very far and were tossed in the bath water to be frog food.

The party then headed back to the inn to rest, as each of them had separate plans to pursue in the morning.

May 20, 2017

Sarril in Greyhawk

When we last left off, Sarril had escaped the Daern's Instant Fortress with the rest of the party and the babau demons locked in stasis inside. He went to Greyhawk in the hopes of finding someone or something powerful enough to help deal with these monsters.

DM's Note: some of the players quickly pointed out to me the next day that I made a mistake in sizing these creatures, since Monster Manual II clearly states they are 7+14 HD, and I misread it as 14+7 HD. It is true, I did make that mistake, but I feel justified in treating them with the higher HD given that these creatures are described as eating Type IV demons for lunch, and that's no small thing. They also needed to be very challenging for the players, some of whom, after factoring in Sir Gerard's Protection from Evil aura, have as low -8 AC. Even these 14 HD creatures were having trouble landing blows. But most importantly, the players shouldn't be looking up stuff like that if their characters don't have access to the research material, though I accept that we've all been playing the game for so long that very little is secret.

After a chance meeting with Ravel Dasinder, High Patriarch of Boccob (who makes his office inside the University of the Magical Arts), Sarril was able to learn much about the babau demons, but was not able to obtain any other help from the High Patriarch. He then went to Otto's house in the Garden Quarter only to find it empty and now guarded by golems (which luckily Otto programmed to not attack Sarril). Sarril decided to spend the night in the spare room so he can go to the Guild of Wizardry and seek to join in the morning.

Being the apprentice of Otto, he thought he could walk right in and they would welcome him. It turns out, there is a protocol, and this protocol would not be waived for anyone. To enter the guild in order to petition to join, one must have their name placed on a list by dusk the day before. No amount of arguing on Sarril's part would get around this. So Sarril went to the University of the Magical Arts in Clerksburg (the academic district in Greyhawk) and met with Tobin Potriades, the Senior Tutor and known friend of Otto. After much discussion, Tobin agreed to add Sarril's name to the list if Sarril would do a favor for him. It seems two of his students were recently murdered in the Foreign Quarter, where an increase in cult activities has resulted in several kidnappings, murders and arson, with two university students being the latest victims. Tobin asked Sarril to investigate and determine who was responsible and report back to him in exchange for sponsoring guild membership.

Under an assumed name, Sarril checked into the Silver Dragon Inn in the Foreign Quarter. The Silver Dragon Inn is the largest and most famous inn that part of town, and is the place where the two murdered students had been staying. Sarril was able to meet the proprietor, Olaf Al-Azul, who was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Using the inn as a base of operations, Sarril set about retracing the last known steps of the students, hoping to uncover some clues as to what happened. He learned much about the Foreign Quarter during this time, including the kinds of businesses and people in the area, the power structure of the district (things are unofficially run by a mob boss named Duke Garand) and much of what goes on in the underground at dark. He learned about the recent arson against local businesses, the kidnapping of merchants and, specifically, how the murders were taking place - unknown assailants shooting poisoned arrows out of a covered wagon, seemingly at random. That evening, another attack took place as Sarril was leaving the Red Serpent Restaurant, and he sent his familiar, Krek, to investigate overhead while he cast a flight spell on himself and went invisible. This led to chasing to suspects in opposite directions. The first suspect ran to the Temple of Pholtus in the River Quarter, where he appeared to be pleading with the guards outside for help, but was turned away. The second suspect ran into an alley and activated a secret door that led underground. Sarril followed that suspect into what appeared to be "The Pit," an underground gladiatorial arena either run by, or supported by Duke Garand (despite such combat being illegal in the city). Sarril came to the conclusion that these were not suspects, but bystanders, and decided to stop the investigation for the evening.

Rather than return to the inn, he returned to Otto's home, deciding to use the portal inside the home that led to the corresponding house in Chathold, just to see if Otto might have left a note. It turns out he did. The note confirmed that Otto would be unavailable for a while, but more importantly, it was written on the back of a magical scroll - Otto's final gift to Sarril, a Stone to Flesh spell. The note also informed Sarril that Chathold was no longer safe, a fact that was soon reinforced as Sarril overheard shouting from outside demanding that all citizens swear fealty to Duke Szeferin and hand over the traitor named Kevont. A loud banging on the door came shortly thereafter, and an unseen servant inside the house spelled out a warning to Sarril to leave immediately. After Sarril ran back through the portal to Greyhawk, the portal closed behind him, sealing off that means of entry from future use.

Sarril headed back to the Silver Dragon Inn and spoke to Olaf and arranged to have private access to the lower-level bakery for 15 minutes. There, he restored the shrunken statue of Pontus on the stone floor, and burned the Stone to Flesh scroll, bringing Pontus officially back into the world at noon on the 21st Day of Flocktime, CY 579.

May 7, 2017

17th Day of Flocktime, CY 579

This week, we were short two members of the group, with another joining via video conference (isn't modern technology great?). I have a quorum rule that a simple majority of players must be present, so in this case, 3/5 was enough. Given that the party had to come to some agreement as to what to do next, less players probably helped make things go more quickly.

Sarril was very concerned that Iuz would, at the very least, have demons waiting for them when they went leave, if not deal with them in-person, so time was ticking away. Having touched the skull in order to operate the throne, Sarril knew that Iuz was aware of his location, despite the Amulet of Proof Against Detection that he now wore. The rest of the party decided it was worth the risk and they should do a quick search of the level for any treasure or other things of importance while the strength spells were still in effect. And so the party spent a few turns searching, turning up with some more magic items, including a second Wand of Fire and a Daern's Instant Fortress. The players immediately thought about how effective these two things could be together in a battlefield (i.e. the mage goes inside the indestructible adamantine tower and shoots fireballs out of the arrow slits), which inspired Sir Gerard (whose player was absent, so the DM took liberties) to insist that these items needed to be brought to Castle Hart immediately to assist in the coming battles against the Horned Society/Iuz/whatever that was certain to happen.

While the party was sifting through these items, Jarrus was busy prying gems from Zuggtmoy's throne. He managed to pull out 33 diamonds worth about 5,000 gp each, which he made clear is NOT "party treasure" as he placed them in his backpack. The party also found a map of the Flanaess on a wall in war room, which they rolled up and placed in the portable hole (DM's Note: this translates to the party being able to use the fold-out maps from the Greyhawk Boxed set whenever needed, which makes my job much easier). The search was cut short when the party entered a room and saw some mushrooms growing on the floor. Realizing this isn't a video game and they can't press "save" before continuing, they decided to get out while they were ahead.

Sarril used the skull to raise the throne back up to the ground level of the temple, where they expected to have to fight their way through demons. On the way up, he realized that he no longer felt the presence of Zuggtmoy through the skull, though the hateful gaze of Iuz was still upon him. As the party emerged into the upper part of the temple, they were nearly blinded by a bright light emanating
from the center of the room. At the center of the light was an angelic figure - a Movanic Deva. The deva congratulated the adventurers on their victory over Zuggtmoy and asked the party if they were ready to take the final step. Sir Gerard, after failing to detect evil, immediately fell to his knees and bowed in awe, presenting his sword in service to this magnificent creature. The rest of the party were skeptical, and used every limited form of detection they had available (Detect Evil, Detect Good, and plain old "disbelieve"), all of which turned up nothing. Having used up his True Seeing spell on Zuggtmoy, Sarril decided there was little choice right now except to play along and see what happens.

The deva asked Sarril to reveal the skull and place it upon the ground, which he did. She then explained that she cannot destroy the skull herself, but she will tell the party how to destroy it, and provide them with what they need, if they will agree to destroy it right now. Sarril agreed, upon which the deva provided exact instructions to the party, which were to expose the skull to a hurricane force wind, strike it with a maul made of pure granite, expose it to a fire as hot as a forge, then immerse it in freezing cold water. All of these things must be done in quick succession (within one combat round). The deva even provided the maul to be used (how convenient. . . and suspicious). She then thanked the party for the service done for the cause of good and said this would not be forgotten, then disappeared.

The party started by preparing the freezing cold water using an Ice Storm, and setting that aside. Then Sarril and Luapan got ready with scrolls of Gust of Wind and Flamestrike, while Jarrus stood by with the maul. Sarril cast Gust of Wind, Jarrus struck the skull, Luapan hit it with a Flame Strike and then Shan Ju knocked the glowing hot skull into the pool of freezing water. The gems shattered and the skull cracked. Shortly after, the ground began to shake and pieces of the temple roof began to fall. The sealed front doors blew open and crumbled. The party ran for the front door and out into the temple grounds.

And thus ended the adventure of The Temple of Elemental Evil (aside from a few loose ends, of course).

The arguments about where to go next were few. Jarrus wanted to go see his mother, who has since been revealed as the Countess Rhavelle of the Gold County in Furyondy. Sarril wanted to go to Greyhawk. The group recognized that if they go to Verbobonc, they would be right across the river from the Gold County, and they could take a boat from the same river directly to Greyhawk. After some brief discussion, they decided they would take a boat to Greyhawk first, then back to Furyondy. This would require a hike Southwest to Hommlet, then Northwest to Verbobonc (thus avoiding the swamplands, which everyone agreed should be avoided). The entire trip would take about 5 days on foot, during which Sarril would be identifying magic items. The first night in the ruins of Hommlet were uneventful. The second night spent on the road in the Kron Hills were also uneventful, as the party got to spend the night inside their new instant fortress. The third night was another story.

It was the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime. Jarrus was on watch at the top of the tower, sitting in an unpleasant rainstorm while the rest of the party was sleeping in the floors below. Suddenly he was engulfed in complete blackness as he felt three spears impale him from all sides. While the attack didn't kill him, he was very near death and would not survive a second blow. As he yelled for everyone to wake up, he reached in his bag for the Potion of Extra Healing that would save him from his demise. He was able to grab both the potion and his Continual Light coin at the same time. The Continual Light cancelled the darkness, and Jarrus was able to see his attackers. Three Babau Demons, withdrawing their spears from his body as he desperately drank the healing potion. This immediately exposed him to their gaze attacks, which had the effect of a Ray of Enfeeblement spell. He was able to save against the first, but failed the second (the third was behind him), and without his strength, Jarrus was pretty useless to continue fighting, and chose to dive down the trapdoor into the tower.

Once down in the tower, Sarril spoke the command to close the trap door. Unfortunately, one of the demons managed to slip through by polymorphing into a dragonfly and slipping through before the door closed. Jarrus, Gerard and Shan Ju attempted to hit the dragonfly unsuccessfully. After moving into the corner of the room, the demon reverted back to its normal form and went on the attack. Sarril dispelled the enfeeblement on Jarrus to make him active again while Luapan healed him. The party then began throwing everything they could at the demon, which proved to be a formidable foe. After a Prayer and Chant from Luapan, combined with Gerard's Protection from Evil bonuses, the party was able to get the upper-hand on the demon, with the final blow coming from Shan Ju (whose player rolled double 20s) punching through the demon's chest with his fist, grabbing its spine and ripping its skeleton from its body in a move worthy of the most gruesome of Mortal Kombat fatalities. Celebrations were short-lived, however, as three more babau demons gated into the room, spelling certain doom for the party. In response, Sarril ran out the front door where he saw two of the demons heating the metal of the adamantine tower to a bright glow. Sarril then spoke the command to return the tower to its portable cube form, trapping the party and the demons inside in statis.

DM's Note: The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide does not describe this property of a Daern's Instant Fortress, however, the ToEE module states that Hedrack possessed such an item and that he would use it in combat to summon forth a force of bugbears. This suggests that the bugbears must be in stasis inside, and thus I described this property when Sarril identified the item. This also led to the players discussing some interesting, and quite possibly overpowered, use of the item, so we'll see where that goes.

Lucky for Sarril, he had already cast Mirror Image earlier, and thus was able to survive the first round of attacks from the two demons outside. This gave him enough time to grab the cube and teleport away to the University of Magical Arts in Greyhawk, where, as chance would have it, the Patriarch of Boccob was up late studying, and agreed to meet with him.

It is late in the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime in the City of Greyhawk. Sarril is alone with the party, and three badass demons, locked in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress. He is actively seeking the help he needs to deal with these demons and get the party back out alive. It looks like we will be doing some one-on-one gameplay online for the next two weeks. Stay tuned. . .

Apr 23, 2017

14th Day of Flocktime, CY 579

DM's Note: As I mentioned before, my players were getting a bit anxious to finish this module. A lot of hints have been dropped about things going on in the "outside world" that have got them excited to move on. I've been playing with this same group of people for many years and we like to play hard and do epic things, which may be because we all know we have limited times we can get together. I have to balance the desire to push forward with the pace of the overall campaign story, which can be challenging. The good news is that, this week, the PCs figured out how to speed-up it up on their own, and were able to bring things to an epic climax and are nearly finished.

The revelation came between two of the players (and maybe a DM hint about re-reading the powers of the Golden Skull). As the party was making its plans for how they were going to safely tackle the Air Node, some ideas were bounced around for how to limit their exposure to elements. The random lightning strikes and blue dragons flying overhead meant they need to get to the caves around the perimeter of the place pretty quickly. Sarril realized he could cast Fly on each of the party members, then hold hands, touch the Air gem (which would make them appear on top of a mountain peak in the center of the demi-plane) and then, instead of climbing down the mountain and running across the open, they could just fly directly from cave to to cave. It was an okay plan, but at the last minute, Sarril remembered that when the gem is inside the skull, he can Teleport Without Error to anywhere within the Air Node he wants. Given that Shan-Ju and Gerard already knew the layout of the place (my excuse for basically handing the players a map), this would allow Sarril to teleport the entire party from cave to cave at-will. The party decided to use this process to bounce from cave to cave, using Detect Magic to sense if the next power gem was present and, if not immediately apparent, teleport to the next cave. They would ignore any monsters they encountered until they had to fight the elemental grue that they knew by now would be protecting the item they sought.

The plan worked perfectly. Looking at the map, the players stated a number and were teleported to that section safely. After a quick Detect Magic, they teleported to the next cave. A few monsters were encountered, but the party teleported away without fighting them, until finally they wound up in a save surrounded by fog, which immediately attacked (Ildris Grues - the elemental grue of air). At this point, the party's AC ranges from 0 to -4, thanks to all of the fantastic gear they have been acquiring on this adventure. Between that, and Gerard the Paladin's Protection from Evil aura, the grue's were unable to hit the party (pretty much most of the things encountered at this point require an 18 - 20 to hit one of the party members), and the party was soon victorious. They grabbed a couple of unidentified magic items from the treasure stash, along with the power gem, and then decided to head straight to the Water Node to repeat the process while they still had their flight spells activated.

The water node proved to be even more dangerous. Although it didn't have random lightning strikes from overhead, it also provided no shelter whatsoever, so every area of the map was open to the sky above, where a family of white dragons were constantly on the hunt. The party randomly picked an area of the map to start with - a floating sheet of ice on the west side of the node. It just happened to be the right place, and they were immediately beset upon by Vardigg Grues (the elemental grues of water). These nasty beasts have an instant-kill on 1 out of 6 hits (they blind their victim, then follow up by drowning them in one round). But to get a kill, they have to hit first, which again, for this party, was nearly impossible. The issue this time wasn't whether or not the party could kill the grues. That was a given. The issue was whether or not they could do it quickly enough, and Sarril familiar reported that three white dragons would be on top of them in less than 5 rounds. Once the party killed the grues, they briefly considered having Jarrus and Gerard fly up to meet the dragons and slay them, given that their current strength spells would allow them to do ridiculous amounts of damage. Then someone remembered that the damage from their cold breath would likely be doubled in this node, and no one had protection from cold. They instead grabbed the gem and teleported away quickly, without searching through the loot first.

Sarril then inserted the last gem into the skull, expecting a magical light show that would open up a portal back home. But no such thing happened. After some consideration, he decided to try messing around with the portals in the Fire Node. Standing inside the portal to the air node, Sarril held the skull to see if he can control where it took him. As he did so, he saw the room around him changing from node to node as he moved between corresponding portals in each node. When he saw the recognizable Greater Temple, he and the party stepped through, finally out of the demi-planes. It was quite an emotional moment for some characters. For Sir Gerard, especially, it had been 6 years since he knew freedom. The party discussed what to do, and decided to return to the ruins of Hommlet to see if Jaroo had returned. Jaroo was, after all, searching for the answer of how to destroy the Golden Skull - or at least he was before the village was destroyed.

The party spent two days in Hommlet, resting in the ruins of the Temple of St. Cuthbert one night, and in the ruins of Burne's tower the next. They never saw Jaroo, or anyone else for that matter, but being fully rested with all of their spells returned, and the fact that there was an hour left in the game session, they decided to return the temple to face Zuggtmoy herself. And so, off they went on the morning of the 17th Day of Flocktime.

The party snuck back into the temple the same way they have been. With all of the leaders dead, and Iuz pre-occupied, they were able to easily make their way to the ground floor to use the skull to operate the throne that would lower them sealed off third level where Zuggtmoy was trapped. Being experienced dungeon crawlers at this point, they new that the wide steps leading to the west likely led to the big bad, while the smaller doors around the room likely led to other distractions. They were on a mission. The spellcasters hit Jarrus and Gerard with strength spells, and were ready to cast Haste as soon as the battle started. Sarril decided to read his second (and last) Scroll of True Seeing - which of course proved very useful. Sitting at the far end of the room on a throne of gems sat an old feeble crone, who begged the party to leave her alone. She told them they could take the pillars of precious metal that stood at the east side of the room if they would just leave. The party knew this was Zuggtmoy and knew better than to do anything she asked. She then fiddled with some dials on the throne causing a prismatic spray that burned her to ash, but Sarril saw through this illusion, pointing out that there isn't actually anyone sitting in the throne at all. Behind the throne was a purple curtain similar to the one encountered in the greater temple, which the party knew could be burned away, and so they hit it with a fireball to destroy it. Behind the curtain was Zuggtmoy, still in her crone form, but now angry, She immediately transformed into her true fungoid form and appeared within a circle of dirt in the center of the room and began to attack with her large, elephant-like appendages.

Unlike other opponents, this 42 hit die demon queen and lesser deity could actually hit the party members. Her attacks basically consisted of stunning her opponents by hitting them with two of her appendages (which she could do to two people at once), and then trampling them to death while stunned. The amount of damage she could deal was incredible, but with two healers in the party, the fighters were able to keep up. Sarril was able to use Remove Paralysis to counter the stun effect and keep Jarrus swinging twice per round in his haste and strength-enhanced form. At one point, Jarrus and Gerard together were able to deal 90 HP of damage in a single round. But of course, this is the big bad boss, and she had well over 200 hit points, so this continued for a bit. Lucky for the party, Zuggtmoy was still bound inside the temple as no one had broken the seals. This meant that she did not have most of the innate spell-power of a lesser deity (like Finger of Death, Gate, etc.). She did have Fear, which was countered by the presence of a paladin, and Improved Invisibility, both of which she used. The invisibility did make her slightly harder to hit, but that was mitigated slightly by Luapan casting Prayer. At some point, Sarril read a "Detect Invisibility" scroll on Jarrus to give him his edge back.

But Zuggtmoy still had one more trick up her sleeve, and summoned five Violet Fungi to her aid. Violet Fungi have a "save or die" attack that was sure to take out at least one or two party members. But Sarril quickly responded with a Wall of Fire (that Wand of Fire he picked up sure has come in handy) to surround the fungi and cut them off from the party so they can remain focused on Zuggtmoy. After a few more rounds, the damage added up, and Zuggtmoy fell. In her final death throes, she found peace as she realized her essence would return to the abyss, finally free of her entrapment. Her look of contentment turned to horror and she screamed as both her essence and her physical body withered away. It appears she may have been destroyed for good - an act that Sir Gerard stated firmly is a victory for Heironeous. Sarril then tossed three fireballs over the wall of fire to destroy the violet fungi, clearing the room.

And so we ended the session. It is the afternoon of the 17th Day of Flocktime. Zuggtmoy is dead. The Golden Skull is complete with all of its gems - but not destroyed. The Temple of Elemental Evil has been cleared, for now. And Iuz is still out there, ready to come after the party at any time. The group has the next two weeks to think about next steps. . .

Apr 9, 2017

12th Day of Flocktime, CY 579

DM's Note: You know how sometimes you play an entire day, and you know lots of things happened during the session, but in the end you feel the ball just didn't move forward? That was this session. A full five-hour day, and the entire thing consisted of just one encounter. To be fair to the players, much of this was my fault as we decided to play two weeks in a row instead of our usual every other week, and I just didn't have as much time to prepare as I would have liked. I spent entirely too much time looking things up and flipping between pages of the books.

But this encounter was important, as it really helped the new party members to learn how to work better with each other. And another player character died, which always makes for an interesting session, if nothing else.

We started with the party having just finished off some Vortexes in a cave inside the Air Node and, having no place to rest, decided to keep exploring caves until they found the next power gem. Another cave off in the distance, up high on a cliff wall, with a steep, narrow, and very dangerous ledge going up to it looked like the perfect place to start. The party would just have to get there, avoiding random lightning strikes and hoping the blue dragons were not out on the hunt as they ran across an open area the size of a few football fields. They decided to stay close to the cliff wall so they can handle the wind better, and dive for cover into the closest cave if the dragons showed up.

As they ran toward their destination, Sir Gerard noticed someone looking out of one of the caves up ahead, and darting back inside. He knew that particular cave led to the Water Node portal, and suspected that might be Grank or one of his bandits, and they may have to deal with them. Jarrus was definitely on-board with killing some bandits, so the party took a detour into the cave. Inside was a large cavern 100 ft. wide at the front, and even wider further in. There wide shelves on either side, 30 ft. up, as well as multiple large columns in the middle of the largest part of the cavern. There were more than enough places for snipers to be hiding. The party recognized right away that they were about to walk into a trap. Unfortunately, the monk was out of invisibility for the day, and couldn't effectively scout what was going on, but Sarril was able to send his invisible familiar around and count up the enemies. There were at least a dozen bandits, four on one shelf and three on the other, with hiding behind columns. There were also three zombies dressed in armor and clothing, a cleric and another spellcaster.

The party walked to just below the closest shelf and started arguing about their plans. At some point, they decided that Sarril should cast Ice Storm (using his Wand of Ice Storms) on top of the shelves to clear out the snipers. Of course they heard that, and while they would have preferred for the party to be further inside before attacking, they knew they needed to take out the spellcaster before he could do what the party was discussing. No less than eight arrows flew at Sarril, who was covered by Sir Gerard and Shan-Ju. Sir Gerard stopped several arrows his shield and Shan-Ju was able to deflect some as well, but Sarril still got hit. This action started the initiative, and the fight began.

More arrow fire, followed by an Ice Storm clearing out one set of snipers. Shan-Ju decided to climb the 30 ft. up to the other shelf. It would take one round to get to the wall, followed by a climb rate of 10 ft. per round, so off he went. Sir Gerard heard the shouts of prayers coming from around the corner and rushed in that direction, while Jarrus headed for the closes column to take on the snipers hiding behind there. Sir Gerard turned the corner to see Ashrem, former high-priest of the Air Temple who had been exiled here after betrayal by his brother Allrem, high-priest of Fire. Ashrem was commanding the zombies to attack as he started to lift off the ground and wave a wand at Sir Gerard, putting up a Wall of Fire. Sir Gerard jumped forward to avoid the flames, and was now trapped in an alcove with two zombies, Ashrem and two bandit snipers.

Shan-Ju slowly started climbing the wall to get the shelf above with the snipers, taking some arrow fire along the way. Unfortunately, a monk cannot deflect arrows while he is climbing. Jarrus began taking out his opponents as he generally does, while Luapan attempted, and failed, to dispel the levitation that was raising Ashrem up into the air. As Ashrem levitated higher up, he began to unleash fireballs at Sir Gerard, killing two of the zombies and the bandits in the process. After a couple of round of taking fireballs, Sir Gerard was taken down to -3 hit point, and lost a magical dagger in the process, but he stood proud as a paladin/cavalier would - even while his burnt skin was sloughing off his body.

In the meantime, after finishing off two bandits and taking a few magic missiles from the spellcaster, Deggum, Jarrus rushed Deggum to finish him off but Deggum went invisible before he could get to him. Shan-Ju continued to climb, finally reaching the shelf at the top to see there were two bandits left, as Sarril had already gotten impatient and taken the other two out with another Ice Storm. He might have gotten three, maybe even all four, if he had tried, but he thought that would be unfair to Shan-Ju, who had spent all of that time climbing. Seeing that Deggum had gone invisible, Sarril reached into his scroll case and pulled out a Scroll of True Seeing and cast it on himself. He didn't see Deggum, and determined that he either ran into the Water Node portal, or behind on of the large columns. As Sarril looked around, he saw an invisible woman standing near the cavern wall in the distance, watching the fight take place. The woman looked like Darley, whom Sir Gerard had previously described, except that she has vestigial horns and small bat wings. He decided to shout to Sir Gerard "Darley is here, invisible, watching us!" to which Sir Gerard replied "Do not trust that woman! She is here to see which group comes out on top. She will try to manipulate you!"

Sarril decided to cast Fly on Jarrus so he can fly up to Ashrem and kill him. Jarrus would not be able to reach him in one round, even with the 120 ft. movement granted by the spell, and he wanted to get a surprise attack, so he used his Frostbrand to make a break in the Wall of Fire to run through so he can fly up to Ashrem next round. Luapan used the break to run through and heal Sir Gerard. Meanwhile Shan-Ju finally got to attack and killed the bandits he was facing. Deggum then appeared and tried, and failed, to cast Hold Person on Sarril as Sarril turned and noticed a Bodak running toward him, about to unleash its dreaded Death Ray attack. The Bodak needed to be within 30 ft. and wasn't quite there yet, so Sarril cast Dimension Door to move over behind Deggum and next to Darley. It would take at least another round for the Bodak to reach him.

The next round, Jarrus leapt into the air and flew at Ashrem while brandishing his frostbrand. He connected with a devastating blow, killing the cleric. Shan-Ju saw the Bodak and leapt down off the shelf to run at it and engage it. Sarril then unleashed a lightning bolt at both Deggum and the Bodak behind him. In the Air Node, lightning does double damage. Even after he saved, Deggum could not take the damage and he died. The bodak, however, was still coming at Sarril, but he still had one more round to act. He used Spider Climb to get up the wall, but it was not far enough to avoid the Death Ray, which it unleashed on him. After failing his save, Sarril dropped to the floor, dead. The bodak, with only a few hit points left, was killed shortly thereafter by Shan-Ju.

The rest of the party, far on the other side of the cavern, saw all of this from a distance and began to run over to Sarril. As they did so, they noticed as Sarril's leather sack carrying the Golden Skull lifted off of his body and started floating toward the portal. Luapan moved to block the portal and used a scroll of Spike Growth to cover the floor between the invisible Darley and the portal. Jarrus took a blind swing at where he thought Darley would be and managed to connect pretty hard with his frostbrand sword. Darley, the Alu-demon, then cast Suggestion to tell Jarrus to kill Sir Gerard (DM's note: we had much debate about this, because the players argued that Suggestion cannot be used to make someone do something that is against their nature or that they really don't want to do. This is not true - they are thinking of basic charms. The spell says that the victim cannot be made to cause direct harm to themselves, but doesn't say anything about harming others. We continued to debate it as the party realized that Jarrus would very likely kill the already wounded Sir Gerard. I finally compromised with a ruling that Jarrus would be allowed to resist the spell one more time just before performing the act, given how heinous the actual command was. This amounted to a second save, which he was able to make). Even though Jarrus was able to shake off the suggestion, it still gave her the time she needed to get to the portal. As she ran forward, she hit the spikes, fell forward and impaled herself. Jarrus cut off her head just to be safe.

The party then checked Sarril and determined that he was, in fact, dead. He did happen to have on him a Scroll of Raise Dead, which Luapan was able to find and cast, bringing him back to life. As the party looted, they were able to piece together what happened. Ashrem was previously a lone survivor hanging out in the air node. As a 6th level cleric who could pray for spells each day, he had enough power to survive, but not to be a formidable force against anyone. That is, until Deggum, Barkinar (Hedrack's second in command)  and the zombie body of Senshock (Hedrack's wizard) came wandering into the Air node portal after having been turned by Luapan in the Greater Temple. The party was just wondering what happened to those zombies, who still happened to have the equipment of their former selves on their bodies. Now they had their answers. As an evil cleric, Ashrem was able to command the zombies and take all of their equipment, which included some nice bracers, and ring of protection, boots of levitation and a dreaded Wand of Fire. With these items, he became powerful, but when he ran into Deggum and Barkinar, a fight broke out, as Barkinar was involved in throwing Ashrem down here to begin with. Ashrem was able to defeat Barkinar, due in part to his new equipment, and Deggum joined forces with Ashrem right after. Ashrem was able to animate Barkinar and bring him into his service along with Senshock, which was less about having undead body guards as it was about gloating over his enemies.

Darley knew that the party had the skull and that it was the key out of this place, as she had been spying on them for some time. She also knew that they allied themselves with Sir Gerard, and that paladin would never accept her into the group. So when she saw the fight take place between Ashrem and Barkinar, she realized she could use Ashrem to help her get the skull, so she charmed him into taking on Grank in the Water Node and taking control of his bandits so they could set a trap for the party. What she didn't reveal is that the bodak is her companion, and their plan all along was to watch the fight invisibly and take action depending on who came out alive. The whole time, if she saw a chance to take the skull, she would. The chance came when the rest of the party went to the far side of the cavern, leaving Sarril alone. That's when the bodak attacked, intending to kill Sarril quickly so Darley could grab the skull and run. Fortunately, Sarril's Dimension Door prolonged the encounter long enough for the rest of the party to get there and block Darley's escape.

The party decided it would be safe to rest on top of one of the shelves. It wasn't. They were able to get a full rest in, but realized they would need a couple of days, so decided to rest again. Of course, unlike the video game version where you can click the Rest button any time you want, the party would have to wait on top of this shelf for 16 hours. Wandering monster rolls are once per turn, and most of the things in the Air node fly, making the shelf not so safe. The first encounter occurred within the first hour after the party woke up. Two strange alien creatures called Mihstu, which Sarril quickly learned are stunned by cold attacks. This allowed the party to take them out while they couldn't move, though even that was a close call as the killing blow occurred just one round before they could have attacked with their devastating constitution drain attacks. Realizing it wasn't going to work to stay here, the party went back to the Fire Node where they could rest behind a locked door. They then took a two day rest before deciding to head out again. It is now the morning of the 14th Day of Flocktime.