Saturday, July 19, 2008

Episode 7: 5/24/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

Zolara interprets our Harrow reading:

"Ancient secrets influence events that have brought you to this point, but hidden danger threatens as well. Strange runes guide your path. Unshakable loyalty binds inseparable companions. Someone you seek still lives, but is pinned beneath an 8-pointed star, and is held by another will entirely. Fire first and darkness after. A group, once coherent, is now lost in madness and forever waiting in the dark to share their curse."

In Diamond Lake, Brolan and Lazare become research buddies, as both are interested in the Whispering Cairn stuff. Lazare hands over his findings, along with Brolan and Sarek's interpretation of Alastor's notes:

The cairns are reputed to be the final resting places of ancient warriors known as the Storm Kings who ruled a great empire long before the Imperium. The Whispering Cairn itself is and intricate grave that is thousands of years old.

All of the known Cairns share a similar architecture: wide, tall corridors constructed from strange white stone blocks of massive size leading to a central tomb chamber. These cairns have long ago been throughly looted, and whatever defenses were once in place have been defeated. However, local legends persist, insisting that unexplored chambers with undiscovered treasures from a bygone era remain hidden within the cairns, awaiting someone clever or brave enough to claim them.

The Whispering Cairn itself is one of the larger tombs, known locally for the eerie sounds that whisper within the entrance and corridor of the cairn. It has gained a sinister reputation around Diamond Lake, with many claiming that it is haunted or filled with still active, deadly traps. The last recorded expedition to the Whispering Cairn was some 60 years ago, lead by Ulavant.

Alastor had been studying Ulavant's notes for several years during his retirement in Kolbenburg, and learned several things of great interest. Through his research, Ulavant had come to believe that the Storm Kings had gone to great lengths to hide the tombs of their fallen warriors. Most warriors were interred in tombs with several false burial chambers and dead ends to mislead would-be tomb robbers. The truly important tombs of their greatest warriors were concealed so well that none have ever been found. Ulavant believed that some of the more prominent Storm King tombs were linked to these important tombs, providing the only means of access. Ulavant theorized that the true burial chamber within the lesser tomb also contained whatever method the Storm Kings used to link the tombs together, most likely some variety of portal.

Moreover, Ulavant had come to be convinced that the tomb known locally as the Whispering Cairn was one of these lesser tombs linked to a greater burial site. The prospect of locating one of these greater tombs, un-plundered for countless years became an obsession for both Ulavant and Alastor.

Lazare asks us to please pass along any additional information we find on our expedition to the Cairn. I agree to take judicious notes.

Haroldur shops around and acquires a butler's outfit for his new thrall, whom he fusses over and calls "Jeeves". I purchase 3 horses for the party, and food. We make preparations to head out, but Nineve seems to have contracted ghoul fever. Haroldur does what he can for her.

On the way out of town, Hezzrak tells us not to trust Lazare, and that he threatened to eat him! I ask dryly if that was a telepathic threat. Hezzrak says he's surprised I didn't hear Lazare, because he sure did... I tell Hezzrak that I bet he hears a lot of things that I don't.

We hit bad weather on the way, but eventually make it to the Whispering Cairn without incident, even though we are now deep in ogre country. Nineve is clearly ill with ghoul fever, but insists we press on. It's been drizzling all day and we arrive at the Cairn just before nightfall. I find a secluded copse to tether our horses, and we move into the cave-like entrance of the Cairn. Once inside, I realize this is a mistake, as we are clearly in the ogre's lair. With nowhere else to go, we continue into the Cairn, scaling the makeshift barrier of logs and detritus that blocks the passage.

From farther down the corridor we can hear angry, inarticulate roaring. It sounds as if the creature is chained in some way. Since it isn't an immediate threat, I spend a few minutes to look around while the rest of my companions struggle to surmount the pile of logs. I find a green leather quiver and 4 usable arrows among the refuse littering the floor, clearly the work of my people. Just as Nineve makes it over the logs, the wailing creature breaks free and comes barreling around the corner.

A degenerate ogre stands before us, it's milky blind eyes rolling in their sockets as python-thick arms shake with rage. Nineve and I rush in to meet the new threat. The rest of the party joins in as they scramble over the obstacle. At the beginning of combats, the Hidden Truth appears to me, and I am granted extra insight about our foe. The only insight I need, however, is the fact that this particular degenerate ogre is suddenly, inexplicably seized with a fit of allergies, and we beat it down quickly. At the end of combats, Haroldur receives the vision of the Wanderer, and finds value others may have overlooked. This time, he finds a magic buckler.

Soon, a pair of ogres enter the Cairn and lumber into view. Hezzrak suggests the larger ogre is the star of the metropolitan ballet. Thus distracted, we defeat his companion easily. However, the would-be ballerina proves more challenging. Just before he knocks me out, he impales Nineve on his massive bailing hook! Fortunately, we pull through. Just as we're healing up, Haroldur gets shot in the back - it's Zasalamel!

He again begins listing off crimes we don't recognize, except "consorting with devils", which Hezzrak takes exception to. In response, Hezzrak blasts a Scorching Ray into Zasalamel's chest. Jeeves the butler ghoul is utterly destroyed, much to Haroldur's dismay. At length, Sarek exploits a loophole in the fabric of the multiverse and banishes the Justice Archon with a darkbolt, blasting him into the past (or is it the future?). Haroldur carefully retrieves the butler outfit.

We turn our attentions back to the degenerate ogre. We find he was chained to a mysterious stone object. Upon closer inspection, we determine it was part of a transportation apparatus, and is covered with mysterious ancient runes. I take rubbings of the runes to show Lazare, Brolan, and the Cabal later. Sarek is fairly certain the base of the sculpture bears the name "Zosiel".

Moving on, we find ogre-vandalized mosaics and bas-reliefs surrounding a marble dais. Haroldur cleans them off with a Create Water. While Haroldur is washing the walls, I search the disgusting ogre bedchamber opposite the marble dais area. I find:

a marble index finger from a statue
an elven armband
a lantern with violet glass panes
assorted ancient clockwork pieces

Once the mosaic is clean, I make a detailed sketch of it for posterity.

Continuing down the stairs, we enter a large central chamber with several passageways branching off from it radially. The passageways are distinguished by different colored lanterns. In the blue lantern hallway, we find a skeleton. I determine he died from falling damage.

The center of the room contains a sarcophagus. The marble finger i found earlier clearly was at one time attached to the sculpture. It is wearing an ornamented disc around its neck, and I take a rubbing of it. Then, we carefully open the lid of the sarcophagus. A blast of wind knocks us back and coalesces into a whirlwind humanoid shape, which of course attacks us. Nineve lands the killing blow, to Hezzrak's infinite frustration, and the creature dissipates.

Closer inspection of the sarcophagus reveals that it appears to rotate. We rotate it one position (to the yellow passageway), and an elevator appears! We enter it after some ridiculous "safety" debate with Head-Injury Nineve, and take a ride down to a new chamber. More carvings cover the walls. At the end of the hallway, a faint light flickers. As we advance towards the light, we smell the odor of burning flesh. Soon, we notice the source of light - a burning corpse which rises from its resting place and advances on us menacingly.

Nineve receives the vision of the Rakshasa, and feels more resilient and willful. With the distance closed, we notice the foe is actually a smoldering body bearing the 8-pointed star of the Seekers of Wee Jas. The body appears to be being controlled by a flaming effigy. Haroldur separates the effigy from its victim, and Hezzrak finally lands the killing blow, after several misses.

We heal up the charred (but living) body and find that he's Alastor Land! After a brief explanation, we take him with us.

The next room contains a brown mold, which Sarek dispatches. Hezzrak is perched atop one of several clockwork horrors, which appear to be inactive. In the center of the room is a large gray fixture with fountains on either side - one flowing with water and the other an orange sludge, which I determine to be nutritive. I take a vial of it for further analysis. Suddenly, the clockwork horrors spring to life, startling Hezzrak.

They start making high-pitched whirring noises, and then unleash a barrage of electrical attacks! The horrific beetle-like robots attack with deadly accuracy, slinging darts, arcs of electricity, and buzzing circular saws. Ash falls under the weight of a particularly well-placed dart. Hezzrak rains corrosive acid on them from above as the rest of the party hacks away at their tough metal exteriors.

At length, they fall to our might. With the aid of the Wanderer, Haroldur finds a golden amulet and some magical oil. We are all feeling stronger from our experiences and decide to rest in this chamber before continuing on.


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