It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
Having plundered the torturer-jailer, the party headed north, passing back through the dungeon and its moaning inhabitants. Once heading down new halls, they decided to explore south, as their limited informatio0n indicated “treasure” that way, and they hoped this would include the Aspergillum. Rounding a bend they ran into three ghoulish figures. They did not turn and proved to be actual humans like those encountered previously – foul and ghoulish, to be sure, but not undead. One turned to run but he was simultaneously held by a hold person spell from Perudo and shot dead by magic missiles from Pandemonious. The other two were quickly slain.
Continuing to the south now, they passed through a series of densely packed rooms with many doors. The first two were work rooms of some sort, and clearly not abandoned as the lower portions of the complex had been. One room contained dozens of apparently very ancient clay tablets arranged on sturdy wood shelves, but a use of Pandemonious’ Dagger of Othrandir revealed that none were magic. Finally, having determined two different doors led to what they speculated was a single room with something in it, they rushed in to attack and found a half dozen normal humans, lightly armed and armored. A melee ensued, and once again one of them tried to flee, probably to raise an alarm — he was shot down by Pandemonious once more (thought not killed outright, he fell unconscious). The fight was longer with these folk, though they proved not overly strong foes, and no more escaped. However, during the tail end of the fight, the party heard a door slam to the south, but by the time they investigated, whoever it was had gone.
The party watched that direction and listened at all the doors, but there was no sign of anything, so they decided to clear the area and proceeded west and south. After following a longish hall, they came to a great, cavernous hall made entirely of polished black marble or other stone. A line of pillars ran down the center and four great statues of what appeared to be monks flanked either side. At the end there was a ten foot tall statue of a what appeared to be a man with slightly demonic features, its face both haughty and angry at the same time, and its eyes glowing a slight red with what appeared to be huge rubies (it was, indeed, Magnus, Lord of the Underworld, a very strange sight, as most in the party were aware that he did not allow his face to be shown in such a manner, except in maybe the most secretive of temples). The party was careful to touch nothing, but did find a pair of flanking secret doors. The first to the north was opened to a bare room – inhabited by four Wraiths. Lune, acting quickly, invoked the Finger of Kavkaz for the second time, and summoned forth the sphere of annihilation and used it block the doorway — two of the wraiths truck it and vanished from reality forever, and the second two backed away from it. The sphere moved but slowly, so it was not going to be effective for chasing down the last two, so the party shut the door and Lune then proceeded to wipe out the three shades still following them with the sphere.
They now tried the southern secret door and found a passage that soon T-ed, Lune, with his sphere moving slowly before him went ahead alone to scout. There was a door one direction, so the monk place the sphere right up against it and then knocked. Surprisingly, the door opened, and he mentally shoved the sphere forward, but the door had opened with no hand on it, and before him Lune found that he faced a Lich in his lair. The Lich was clearly quite surprised, though he began to curse Lune for bringing “that abomination” into his lair, referring to the sphere. The Lich made no hostile move, and asked who Lune was and why he was there. Taking a chance, Lune now dismissed the sphere and told the Lich everything of their quest, and how it was in the interests of all the gods to unite to destroy the finger. The Lich listened to all of it, asking a few questions and seeming to agree with the danger the Finger represented and how it must be destroyed. He then asked if the half-orc were alone. Lune said he was not and the Lich asked that he call them all in so they could discuss the matter in depth and how they could aid one another. As the rest of the party came in, the Lich began to speak — but not in parley, but in spellcasting. Sensing betrayal, Lune rushed the Lich and stabbed it before it could complete its spell, and Perudo followed with a silence spell. The Lich, taken somewhat aback by the quick action, found himself unable to cast spells, and forced to fight in melee. But, despite inflicting terrible wounds on his opponents, without his rather formidable spells available, he was soon slain, and the party celebrated a MOST improbable victory. Lune realized he had only been buying time to get the party in one place where he could’ve destroyed them all at once.
A quick search revealed a rather nice treasure, including a potion of longevity which Perudo immediately took (alas, he only regained a few of the years he’d lost to the Ghost recently). The party reasoned that even if the monastery were alerted to their presence, it was unlikely they would disturb the Lich, so this would be a good place to rest a night. But first, they checked down the other direction of the T and found a weird, three-sectioned saw tooth shaped space. A low hum emanated from it. As the party entered the first of three section, the sound became intensely loud, as if they’d passed an invisible sound barrier. Although it did not harm them, it had a weird effect of beginning to untie straps, open buckles, and uncork bottles. Jimmy lost a potion of heroism to spillage before they could run back out of the space. Lune now took off all his gear and, tying a rope to his waist, reentered. He passed through the first section ok, and in the second found that the sound seemed to invade his mind, making concentration almost impossible. He turned back and did not enter the third section, seeing no reason to do so.
The party now returned to the Lich’s lair and, after healing, began to rest. However, a short time later they were nearly surprised when the two remaining wraiths flew in through the closed door, apparently coming to check in with their master. One managed to strike Pandemonious, draining a level. That one was struck down moments later, while the last one was driven off by Perudo and his valiant holy symbol. But, not wishing a repeat of that surprise, the party pursued it back to its lair. Lune, incensed, then brilliantly conceived of the Leeroy Jenkins maneuver and rushed it, as did the rest of the party, and they slew it before it could do any further damage. Moving back to the Lich lair, they passed the remained of the night in apace. (to paraphrase Tolkien, it does not do to leave undead Wraiths out of your calculations, if you camp near him)
The next day, still somewhat beat up but quite enthusiastic after slaying a Lich, the party decided to continue exploring. They passed out into the black hall by the statue of Magnus and Wulfric decided to show his disdain for the evil god with a quick kick as he passed. And this moment is where the party’s fortunes took a turn to the much, much worse…
As the party entered the hall behind Jimmy and Wulfric, they realized that the four closest black statues had begun to move towards them , apparently ion response to the profaning of the statue of Magnus; they were essentially between the party and the exit. Though slow moving, they were quite close and several party members took tremendous blows, with Pandemonious being knocked unconscious with one hit (down to -1 HP). Lune invoked the sphere for a third time and managed to obliterate one of the four statues (stone golems, it turned out) while Wulfric grabbed Pandemonious and the others fled across the hall. Lune wanted to use the sphere to wipe them all out, but realized that the ball moved far too slow (about 1 foot every four seconds, i.e. 15’/rnd). The party decided their superior speed would save them; it was then, of course, that several of them were slowed by the golem’s magic ability. Lune was in the most danger, but he’d been protected by his ring of free action and ran off to join the others, the sphere following slowly. The party managed to get out of the hall with only another blow or two from the golems, who did not leave the confines of the black marble hall. All the resting and recovery of the previous night was lost, and the party found themselves worse off than they’d been the previous day. Pandemonious was brought back to consciousness by Wulfric’s laying of hands; unusually, he was babbling something about “the whispering death” and seemed particularly out of sorts, even beyond what would’ve been expected for his near death experience.
They turned south from here, hoping to find another place to rest, as the golems made their previous place impossible to reach. At the end of the southern hall was a door that they opened to find a lone monk’s quarters. The monk gabbled something about “the intruders” (the inhabitants clearly had spread the alarm) but was quickly silenced by Perudo. He died rather quickly. Searching his person, Lune found a small wooden box, which he opened — causing the glyph of warding on it to explode. The fiery blast killed Pandemonious (though, as he died, a black shadow appeared around him and seemed to reach into him, drawing something from the body which screamed weirdly then fell utterly dead as the shadow disappeared). Lune and Perudo were hurt, though Wulfric and Jimmy less so thanks to rings of fire resistance.
The party was in even sorrier shape now, their magic-user dead and the rest of them all in bad shape. However, they needed a safe place to go, so they searched for secret doors – and found one. Before opening it, though, they used the late Pandemonious’ dagger to detect for magic writing and found three glyphs on the secret door. So, they stepped outside and Lune lobbed in a fireball from his necklace of missiles. The blast knocked the secret door completely opened and set off the glyphs (I rolled a lot of item saving throws last night — the secret door got a 1). Beyond they found a short passage leading to a room with three large chests; another use of the dagger revealed all had magic writing. Lune therefore stepped way back and took the Quaal’s Feather Token (steel ball) and rolled it like a cannonball through all three chests, blasting them open and throwing their contents everywhere; the ball struck the far wall and embedded itself well into it before it vanished. Amidst the destruction they found a number of magic items (many of which somehow survived the effect of the ball) and a huge pile of silver, which they did not take the time to pick up (there were many gems, as well, but it was clear a lot of them had ben smashed to powder). With nowhere to go from here, they reluctantly returned they way they’d come. Looking back into the black hall, they noted that the golems were back in their previous places, so they carefully, slowly made their way back in the room; moments later they heard numerous footsteps running from north to south, probably investigating the many explosions and smashing sounds. When the golems made no move to attack, the party opened the secret door and moved back to the Lich’s lair. The fallen Lich they removed and placed facing the secret door as a “scarecrow.”
Tired, in bad condition, but hopefully safe for the moment, they rested and contemplated what they would do next. Their great victory over the Lich had been followed by disaster after disaster, and the quest hung on the edge of a knife…
– Experience: 16,027 each (the largest XP haul ever, except maybe the famous plundering of Kavkaz’s treasury)
– A quite memorable session to be sure, full of triumph and tragedy!
– Pandemonious’ soul was dragged off to the land of the dead and can never be set free (i.e. no resurrection for him).
– All, please send updated character sheets when able. I suspect there will be some level raising (you might all be back where you started!).