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"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book IV - Into the Fire [STORY HOUR COMPLETED - 12/25/06]

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Session #91 (part 2 of 2)

“Ratchis is down!” Dorn called to those above.

“Here, take this!” Bastian said. He withdrew from the pentadrone and hung the strap at the end of his hammer on a hook on the back of his shield. Gunthar had leapt into the melee by then and was able to draw the thing off. Reaching into the robe of the wayfarer, Bastian tore off one of its patches and placed it on the ground. It lay there for a minute and then ‘pop’ transformed into a white crystal vial. He rolled it towards the top of the steps with his foot. Dorn ran up the steps and grabbed the vial, and then hustled back to where Kazrack struggled with the other pentadrone. The dwarf drove his halberd into the center of its strange body and it made a strange noise and then fell over. Kazrack hurried up to the top of the tower, leaving the bleeding Ratchis to Dorn.

Martin the Green followed Dorn down the steps, leaving the pentadrone to Bastian, Gunthar and Roland, and he grabbed up the Wurfel Kraft from Ratchis. He came back up on the tower in time to see the last pentadrone was dead as well, but Gunthar was stumbling down on his face, as the whirlwind came down among them.

“I think I can hold it off with the cube!” Martin announced.

“You will have to come to me,” Kazrack said, moving to the left and right to avoid the elemental’s buffeting blows. “If I withdraw now I will go down.”

Kazrack thrust and swung, feeling his magical halberd cut at the binding magic that held the elemental in this plane, but he over extended himself and left and opening. He felt the slam of the elemental’s airy fist and he spun around, dropping unconscious upon the steps. (1)

Bastian dropped to one knee and looked up to the air elemental “Please stop this! We don’t want to fight anymore!”

“Are you a fool?” Roland asked, growling as he finally leapt into melee. “That is not going to work! It thinks we are invaders. Get up and fight!” His bite and claws had little effect and he leapt on the other side of the whirlwind, trying to get its attention away from Kazrack. Martin moved up and pressed the side of the cube that pictured grapes. The blue cubic field hummed into being around him and Kazrack.

“We do not wish to continue this,” Bastian continued to address the air elemental, this time in dwarven. “We only seek to meet one who resides on the plane of earth.” Gunthar was back on his feet and leapt back into the melee only to be slammed and knocked down again. Roland yelped as he was slammed as well and nearly knocked off the steps.

“It is not working,” Roland insisted, getting a little hysterical, “We are in aggressive negotiations. Help us fight or we’re all going to die!”

Down on the stairs, Ratchis was getting to his feet with Dorn’s help. “If you survive please pray to Nephthys to forgive my soul for this selfishness.” The half-orc took out a potion of his own and slurped down its contents; more of his wounds closed.

“Heh. If any of us survive this,” Dorn replied. He took off up the stairs and came up behind Bastian, loading his crossbow.

Gunthar leapt back to his feet and the air elemental sent its fist-like winds down on him, but he scurried into the cube and the blast of wind slammed against it to no effect. Roland yelped again, as he was not as lucky. It noted Ratchis limping through its reach to get to the others, but it reacted too slowly, and again it slammed into the blue field before it could get its prey. Kazrack’s blood dripped off the steps, unobstructed by the blue field about him.

Bastian leapt into the field as well, followed by Roland. The bearded warrior turned to Roland. “When I was at its mercy it did not attack because I did not threaten it. If we do not attack, it may show us all mercy.”

“It is too late for that,” Roland replied. “It might work as a strategy for saving yourself at the cost of the rest of us. Good work!”

The air elemental moaned like a wind through a haunted canyon and turned towards Dorn, battering the cohort and knocking him down. Ratchis and Gunthar leapt from the cube and chopped at the thing. Gunthar felt a stiff resistance as he stabbed with the short sword he took from Mozek, and the elemental dissipated.

“Haw! Haw! It was nothing more than an overblown fart,” Gunthar laughed, and it echoed in a sudden silence that was broken by the sound of something smashing in the armory below. But this was quickly drowned out by the swell of orcish roars of joy from the fortress courtyard.

“Ratchis! Kazrack is dying!” Martin called. The half-orc went back and whispered to Nephthys, stabilizing the dwarf’s condition with an orison.

Bastian climbed up the steps and began to examine the seam beneath the statue once again, while continuing to bicker with Roland.

“Shut up!” Ratchis roared, letting his anger bubble over. He climbed the steps and looked at the seam himself. “Out of the way,” he said, as he climbed upon the pedestal and began to push on the statue in the direction they had seen it swing out. It did not budge. Ratchis motioned Bastian to help, but it was too much for the two of them. Gunthar joined and then Dorn and then Martin, and finally on the last push they felt it budge and heard the protest of the gears that held it locked in place. They looked at Roland, who sighing, transformed back into human form and helped them push.

It still took three more tries, each of them looking at Kazrack’s unconscious form with longing between each try, but finally it gave way and began to click open of its own accord, revealing a steep metal circular stairway beneath.

With an arcane word, Martin the Green was able to detect magic and he saw that the third step down held a protective sigil.

“It will explode into flame if stepped on,” Martin said, after he had examined it for a time while the others nervously kept an eye out for more invaders. He looked beyond and saw another glyph two steps down. “And there is one that turns you into stone.”

“We have no way to dispel them,” Ratchis said. “We are going to have to climb down and skip steps.”

”That seems dangerous,” Martin said. “Especially if Kazrack has to be carried down… Remember Derek.” (2)

Ratchis snarled.

“Are there anymore?” Bastian asked.

“Yes,” Martin said, carefully hopping down between the two warded steps. There was another glyph two steps beyond the second. “This one makes you choke on your… <gulp>… on your own bile.”

Martin the Green shuddered, and then reaching into his bag of tricks pulled out one of the fuzzy balls that grew into a black bear.

“What are you doing?” Ratchis asked.

“Sending it down to set them off,” Martin replied, and everyone took a step back.

Ratchis opened his mouth like he was going to protest, but then just bowed his head. “Nephthys, forgive us what we must do.”

“Can you make it skip steps?” asked Bastian.

“Yes… well, I can try anyway,” Martin replied. “I am just worried that if it gets turned to stone I may never be able to use the bag again.”

The bear roared as Martin directed it, and it hopped down the stairs. Fortunately, the Keepers of the Gate drew back even more, for a moment later there was a fiery explosion and the sickening smell of burning hair and flesh accompanied by the death moan of the animal. The thing slid down the steps and then got stuck on a corner for a second before the corpse disappeared.

“Oh no,” Martin said as he went back over to the steps to look down. “The sigil is still there! I think they just become temporarily defunct when set off, not sure how long until it activates again. I guess I should draw more animals from the bag to set off the others.”

“Just a moment,” Bastian said. He began to chant in his dialect of dwarven. “Bring forth vermin from the bowels of the earth to in our passage!

A steaming red and black rat appeared at his feet and scurried down the steps. There was a pop and a bang as it turned into stone and bounced the rest of the way down the metal steps.

Roland’s lip curled in disgust. “I would rather you didn’t summon infernal creatures in my presence. I find it distasteful.”

“Would you rather see a good bear go up in flame or an evil rat?” Bastian asked in his quiet way. “Which would your rather see suffer and die?”

“Enough arguing,” Ratchis barked. “It is bad enough we have to do this. Let’s just get it over with.”

Martin reached into the bag and this time a tawny gray wolf appeared. Bastian summoned another fiendish rat.

“There wouldn’t happen to be any cats in that bag, would there?” Roland asked Martin, ignoring Ratchis.

”Sometimes,” Martin replied weakly.

“What kind?” the Bastite asked.

“Bob cat,” Martin said.

“You’re lucky you didn’t use that one,” Roland said. “I won’t tolerate the abuse of a cat.”

Martin nodded.

There was another resounding cheer from below and the Keepers of the Gate looked down to see scores of orcs charging towards the upper courtyard unchecked.

“The orcs are coming,” Ratchis said, taking Kazrack up into his arms.

“Looks like orcs are here!” Gunthar said and he ran down the steps and towards the edge of the tower roof that looked over the lowest tier of steps. It seems the crashing in the armory below, was orcs fighting and running past the stone golem Ratchis had awakened. Two of the orcs had gotten through.

Bastian sent his rat down the steps and in a half moment it convulsed in agony, choking on its own bile, and then disappeared. Martin sent the wolf down next, but there were no more glyphs on the top steps. Ratchis began to follow the wolf, but stopped and turned to his right. “Gunthar! Get back here!” Ratchis ordered.

But the Neergaardian had an orcish short bow out and an arrow ready. The orcs made it around the corner.

Targsh’gish, humans are up here! We must go back and tell the others,” one orc said to the other in their tongue, as they suddenly changed direction.

Gunthar fired his arrow at nearly point blank range down on one of the orcs, killing it instantly. The other turned the corner widely and came into view for Roland and Martin who fired crossbow bolts down in that direction. The orc hustled closed to the wall to get out of view again. Bastian hurried down steps getting a bow ready as well.

“Leave it, let’s go!” Ratchis said.

“It saw the where the entrance is,” Gunthar said. “We should kill the last one before it gets back to its kind.”

Roland nodded and his form melted into that of a black panther once again. He leapt off the steps and made a quick sliding turn to cut off the orc before it made it back to the door. However, Gunthar fired again and that orc dropped as well. They all made it back to the steps and Bastian called to his familiar. The hawk landed upon his shoulder once again. The Keepers of the Gate began to make their way down. The wolf led the way, and Ratchis followed, but allowed it a good lead. He carried Kazrack. Dorn followed him, and then came Martin, Bastian, Roland and finally Gunthar. The statue slid back in place behind them.

Down the metal steps they made their way, their bootsteps echoing up and down the dark shaft as they went. Martin cast radiant spark and the small orb of light followed him down. (3) They could not tell exactly how far they had gone, but they certainly were deeper than the tower itself when the steps opened into a large round room that was nearly seventy feet across. A hallway that was about fifteen feet wide led off into the dark in the northwestern quadrant of the circle, and there was another, even tighter circular stairway (this one of stone) in the center of the floor (and thus within the metal one the party descended).

The Keepers of the Gate fanned out in the room, taking a moment to catch their breath. Martin the Green sent his radiant spark along the wall of the round room to reveal an intricate mosaic that ran around its entire length. The continuity of the mosaic was only broken by three ribbon-like bands covered in lettering which swept up and down the length of wall, creating panels that divided the chronology of the events shown in the mosaic. It started on the right side of the hallway and went all the way around to its left. Martin followed it around seeing it depicted a tall armored warrior with a winged helm and a shining solar disc and ankh upon his shield. He wielded a flaming sword as he entered into what could only be the Hells. There was a river of blood and countless fiends bounding towards the hero in vile clusters.

In the next panel the holy warrior was depicted destroying fiends by hacking them into pieces with his sword and blasting them with holy fire. The third panel showed a scene with the warrior on his knees before the spirit of a beautiful woman wearing a shining locket, but it also depicted puppet strings that were connected to wooden handles held by a naked winged demoness upon a mountain manipulating the woman. The fourth panel showed the paladin wearing the shining locket and cutting the head from the demoness as he stoods upon the gore-covered bodies of many more fiends. The final panel showed the man struggling to climb jagged steps up and out of Hell, but a small imp has torn the locket from his neck. He had the look on his face as if had given up and would lie down to die and be damned if there were another panel to show it.

The ribbon-like bands of text were written in elvish, dwarvish and common. Martin the Green read it aloud:

Welcome to Hurgun’s Maze.
Invited guests are guaranteed to be returned to the world they please But rogues, thieves and rivals beware, even if you flee you might end up anywhere.
Let those who fear to see the truth, take this other safer route. And let those here for ill-gain take this last chance to do the same. . .

The last bit of the ribbon displayed by the tiny tiles of the mosaic folded to a point as if to show the way out the hall.

“This might be your last chance to avoid doom, Dorn,” Martin turned to the cohort. “Assuming it is not another trap, that is…”

Dorn shook his head.

“So down that center stairway is Hurgun’s Maze?” Roland asked.

Martin shrugged.

“We should rest here before we enter,” Roland suggested. “We are all near dead, Kazrack more than any other and we have all but depleted all of our granted miracles and spells.”

For once there was no argument. They could only hope than no one else had figured out how to get under the statue, or even that that that was the place to go, and that they would not be taken by surprise in the night by Richard the Red’s group trying to sneak past, or scores of orcs coming down the stairs.

“At least we’ll hear anyone coming long before they get down here,” Roland said.

“Unless they come from that hallway,” Bastian pointed.

“That is the way out,” Ratchis said. “I don’t think it is a way in.”

“I guess Hurgun of the Stone depended on his reputation to turn away those that got this far,” Martin said.

“I would think that anyone that got this far would not be so easily deterred,” Roland said.

“Probably, but at least then you couldn’t say that Hurgun didn’t try to warn you when some horrible thing happens to you in his place,” Bastian said, and Roland sneered at him and turned away.

Ratchis did his best to make Kazrack comfortable, and Dorn helped him to strip the dwarf of his armor. Martin gathered up the magical items taken from the half-fiend gnomes, as he planned to identify them. It was still early in the day, so they could get some rest, make preparations and then sleep in order to prepare spells again the next day and then enter the Maze.

Roland and Bastian barely spoke a word to each other while everyone else but Martin slept and rested. Martin cast his spell and examined what items he could very closely.

A little more than eight hours later Kazrack stirred, (4) and Martin went over to attend him, calling for Ratchis to wake up.

“I am already awake,” the half-orc said, sitting up immediately.

“What happened?” Kazrack muttered, and Martin and Ratchis did their best to catch him up.
Martin the Green seemed almost happy as he described the items he had identified, and the party quickly divvied them. Gunthar took Mozek’s short sword, called Hornet (5). Roland was given the silver ring with the lion emblem (6), and Bastian was given Mozek’s elven mithral shirt, which grew to fit him. (7) There was a potion of lesser restoration, which was given to Dorn to carry, and lastly, Martin took the Ring of Marked Excellence. (8) The watch-mage slipped it on.

Greetings and salutations, I am the ring of marked excellence,” Martin heard within his head when he slipped on the ring. “I am here to serve you, or well, really anyone that wears me, but even though anyone can use me only an arcane caster can re-fill the spells I have been made to hold and I can sense you are quite a powerful one.

“I like being the only one who can talk in your head,” Thomas complained, and Martin scratched his familiar lovingly.

The ring told Martin which spells it could hold, but added, “Currently I am without the bull’s strength, bear’s endurance, or cat’s grace spells


Many hours later, deep in what they thought was night, when everyone was asleep, even Martin, Bastian and Roland were on watch. Bastian called to N’kron and fed the hawk some dried meat. The bird had been hopping around the round room restlessly, gliding short distances and then hopping again as if annoyed.

“I've found these adventurers,” Bastian told his feathered friend mentally. “As it seems I was suppose to, but now I don't know what comes next, and when I was needed I was prohibited from directly assisting them. I mean, the instant I thought about going on the offensive, my whole body seized up!” (9)

“A statue!” the hawk said, perking up a bit. “I thought about going on you.”

“Well, I am glad you resisted you natural urges,” Bastian smiled, and threw another piece of the dried meat to his familiar. He stood and walked over to where Roland was pacing along the wall. The Bastite was in human form and was obviously fretting about something. Bastian could see him chewing on his cuticles in the dim lantern light as he squinted at the mosaic.

“You wanted to talk to me?” Bastian asked. “I mean, we seemed to leave our disagreement unresolved earlier.”

"I did...I do," He put one hand on Bastian's broad shoulder and gently drew the bearded warrior further aside, away from where the others slept. He also lowered his voice to a near whisper. “I'm glad you came over. I really wanted to apologize for speaking so harshly to you during that last fight with the servants of Ptah and the air elemental. I appreciate that you're a man that looks for other solutions besides your weapon...but that's not all I wanted to say…”

Roland looked away and took a few further steps down the wall, placing a hand on the mosaic where the face of the spirit of the woman beseeched the kneeling paladin. Bastian walked over close again.

“Okay. I have something to tell you that I'm just plain nervous about,” Roland continued. He turned and looked right at Bastian, and his lip quivered the slightest bit. “I don't like being ashamed and I detest being nervous, so I'll just say it.”

“What is it?”

“I think I'm going to die tomorrow. I threw too much of my goddess' power around yesterday and got extremely lucky that the demon-gnome and his minions overlooked me. And while priests of my order are unusually lucky about evading death, but I just can't shake this feeling… All that luck has a way of catching up with you in time,” Roland sighed. “And that’s okay. I can die knowing that I've served my Queen faithfully and lovingly, but… but, I am still scared of dying and I am ashamed of being scared.”

Bastian opened his mouth to reply, letting the words roll around in his head and his mouth before speaking them in that near whisper of a voice he had, but Roland continued yet again, his voice getting just the slightest bit louder, “That probably leads you to ask, why am I telling you this? Why would I think you'd care? But I do think you'd care. I feel it. I also feel…” The Bastite looked down again. “I feel like I am falling in love with you.”

Bastian’s mouth open again, but this time it was a gape of surprise. There was a long moment of silence, but he never broke eye contact with Roland. The bearded warrior put a calloused hand on the narrow shoulder of the svelte priest of Bast.

“Roland. I am flattered that you think that much of me. It takes a strong bond for those feelings to develop, one that I was not fully aware that we had,” Bastian began in his quiet way, a small smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “You spoke of being fearful, yet you show tremendous courage to share those feelings with another. As for your apology, it is much appreciated, but hardly necessary. You only did what you felt was the right thing to do, as you are doing now, and that is all that can be asked for. But I have to ask, your mind is preoccupied with death on the morrow, have you received some sign or vision that suggests this?

"No, Bastian, none of the gods gave me a sign. I don't need signs," the young priest said with a small amount of heat, his soft voice gaining a strident tempo. His eyes narrowed as he nearly hissed out his next statement, "And I didn't say that I was falling in love with you to flatter you, so wipe that smirk off your face."

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to..." Bastian began to say.

"Shut up," Roland cut him off. "Just listen. I think it obvious that I largely go through my life by instinct. I have two major drives that govern my instincts...survival…" It was Roland’s turn to smirk slightly. “And pleasure."

Roland continued, "My survival instinct is telling me that I'm going to have to be a little more cautious than usual in order to live through what's ahead of us. That's fine. Can do. But I'm really not so sure if others will let that happen. Kazrack alone has made me leap into danger a few times in order to keep him from dying. It's gotten me hurt, but up until now, I've done it. If I keep doing it...if I do the same tomorrow, I don't think I'll live through it. But I can't abandon them when they need me. I won't...even if it means I might die. So there you have it. No divine interventions...just plain, old-fashioned instinct. Bast teaches us to trust our instinct."

Roland sighed again, but even if Bastian had the propensity to fill up every silence, he knew that it was not the time to speak, and he let the Bastite continue when he was ready.

"And as for pleasure...well, when I think about dying I get angry and frightened and lonely," Bastian thought he saw Roland’s eyes begin to tear up in the lantern light. "And when that happens, when I need someone to comfort me, I can't stop thinking of you, Bastian. I can't stop thinking about what it'd be like to be close to you. Please, help me feel better, Bastian...if only tonight," Roland pleaded, touching Bastian's face gently.

Bastian drew the Bastite close and held him tight for a few minutes and then they sat very close together with their back to the wall. Bastian tore a patch from his robe of the wayfarer and in a moment he had a bottle of very fine golden wine to share.

They spent the rest of the night talking of old loves and dreams for the future. Roland rested his head on Bastian’s lap and Bastian stroked his hair tenderly. In the morning, when it was time to wake the others, they hugged tightly again and shared a quick kiss before doing so. (10)

Isilem, the 2nd of Ese – 565 H.E.

The healing prayers to Nephthys, Rivkanal and Bast were a chorus of raised voices in the morning. It was decided, however, that Kazrack and Ratchis would use most of the healing granted to them right away to get the group into fighting shape, while Roland would keep most of his in reserve for later.

“Before we go, I just wanted to say that I’m pleased to walk into certain death with you,” Roland announced to the group. “You are loyal, brave and true and that doesn’t happen often. Now, feel free to praise me back…”

There was a long awkward silence, finally broken by Gunthar’s guffaws and his rude gestures.

“Well,” Ratchis said, glaring at Gunthar, more to not have to look at Roland in the eye than from any real anger. “We would never have made it without you.”

“Why thank you!” Roland responded.

“We are only doing the duty that befell us,” Kazrack grumbled. “We are due no praise and the quest is not yet complete, so let us get to it.”

“I love you, too, Kazrack,” Roland quipped with a wink.

The dwarf grumbled some more.

With a final check of their gear and a quick discussion of the spells they had prepared, the Keepers of the Gate began to make their way down the central stone spiral staircase. Ratchis led the way, followed by Kazrack, Roland (still in human form), Bastian, Martin the Green, Dorn, and finally Gunthar took up the rear. “I’m the rearguard from Neergaard!” he laughed.

The stairway was tight and deep and after a time Ratchis began to feel a bit disoriented, as if he were going no further and the steps were just turning in endless tight circles to oblivion. Finally, the end of the stairway came; Kazrack could only guess that they had descended another two hundred feet deep in the earth. Ratchis could see a red glow coming from the opening below and there was distinct rise in temperature. Sweat immediately began to bead on the ridge of his brow. They could all smell the nearly over-powering scent of burning sulfur. They stopped to cast some spells to protect them from heat and fire.

They came down into a square room that was seventy-feet to a side. The spiral stairway they had just come down was enclosed in a black stone cylinder in the very center of the room, and all about it were eight trapezoidal columns in sets of two that reached from the brown stone floor to a similar ceiling twenty-five feet above. Ever-burning torches within sweating golden sconces hung on the columns. Each corner of the room was roiling with a different energy. (11)

The stairs opened to a corner that gave off the heat and some of the smell. It was a roiling glowing pit of fire and magma., and at its center was a moving statue, a twirling bird of lava floating on the hot gases being emanated from the pit. The bird shifted multiple hues of reds, oranges and yellows, and then exploded, spattering back into the magma. The Keepers of the Gate were startled, and then suddenly the statue began to reform itself. The roiling magma seemed to be kept in check by the pillars in that corner, which were of a blood red stone.

In the corner to the right of this was a dark impenetrable cloud of brown, gray, black and even blue smoke. The puffs turned and spun around each other expanding and dissipating. A variety of smells wafted through the two gray columns that held this corner in check. There was hickory burning, incense, perfume, fish frying and then rotten eggs.

To the left of the fire was a pit of foul ooze with spouts of black and gray and green varieties of different consistencies. The spurts of ooze would freeze into geometric shapes and then melt back into the goo with a hissing belch. Here there were brown columns

Finally, in the corner diagonally opposite from the magma, were columns made of ice that sweat and wheezed. Beyond was a frozen fountain that seemed to have overflowed, and at it center the statue of a translucent woman, her hair, and hands and elbows and back covered in sharp jagged icicles.

At the center of each wall was an arched doorway beyond which was a portal devoid of light. It reminded them of the passage they took to Topaline. (12)

“It looks like a junction of the para-elemental planes,” Martin said, wiping his brow of sweat. Bastian had to calm his bird, which flapped its wings angry at the heat and glare.

“It says something here,” Ratchis said. He was looking at the stone cylinder that held the steps they had just descended. There were letters in common, dwarvish and elvish carved into the stone and traced in gold paint. Martin the Green read it aloud.

It said: Born of neighbors ever-struggling and volatile, act as a good neighbor or no fence can mend their anger.

“Hmm, it seems like a riddling version of the traditional wardings against outsiders,” Martin mused aloud.

“So we should be safe here as long as we act as good neighbors?” Bastian asked.

“Well, it won’t hurt to try,” Martin replied. “Do not attack unless you are attacked. Clearly and unequivocally attacked.”

“That would be worth taking the first blow to avoid conflict,” Ratchis agreed. He turned to Gunthar. “You get that?”

“Oh, we’re gonna get it alright,” Gunthar replied. “But that’s alright, ‘cause I can take it and I can dish it out.”

“From what I remember from the notes in the probably false vision I had when I first touched the Book of Black Circles, (13) the rooms here in this place move around, so any way is as good as any other I guess.”

“Wait! I fear this riddle is about this very room and these elemental nodes in these corners,” Kazrack said. “It may be that they are a form of ward, or that guardians emerge from them if we do not ‘act as a good neighbor’. What else do good neighbors do?”

“They certainly don’t wander around someone else’s house uninvited,” Roland snapped. “But it looks like that is what we came here to do, so we might as well get it over with.”

Kazrack nodded. “Remain alert,” the dwarf said.

Ratchis began to lead the way to the portal between the ooze and the ice corners. The stone cylinder at the center of the room and began to turn of its own accord and rose into the ceiling, taking with it the entrance.

“I guess no one is going to be following us in here,” Kazrack said.

“There is a kind of relief to that,” Roland replied.

“It may be set for a certain amount of time, or there may be some other way to extend it,” Martin said. “So we should not assume no one else can come down here.”

As the half-orc passed between the columns, Kazrack and Martin right behind him, Gunthar called out.


The ooze in the corner on the right was taking a large dripping humanoid form.

End of Session #91


Moderator Emeritus

(1) DM’s Note: Kazrack fumbled, rolling the following result: Distracted: Intended opponent gains immediate attack of opportunity at +4.

(2) Derek was killed in Session #59? He fell from Ratchis’ grip when the steps the half-orc was climbing down collapsed.

(3) DM’s Note: Radiant Spark can be found here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Spell+-+Radiant+Spark

(4) DM’s Note: Kazrack naturally regained enough hit points from his rest to go above 0 hit points. Thus, he was not exhausted when he awoke. As Ratchis and Gunthar had rested eight hours they were no longer exhausted or fatigued either. For a look at the recovery rules were use go here.

(5) DM’s Note: You can read about Hornet here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Hornet

(6) DM’s Note: You can read about the Ring of the Sentinel here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Ring+of+the+Sentinel

(7) DM’s Note: You can read about the magical elven chain shirt here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Enchanted+Elven+Chain+Shirt

(8) DM’s Note: You can read about Ring of Marked Excellence here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Ring+of+Marked+Excellence

(9) See Session #89 and #90

(10) DM’s Note: While the foundation for this scene between Bastian and Roland was set during the session, with a general agreement of what it was pertaining to and a little bit of an exchange, the majority of it was left to be handled between session via email. I took large portions of the dialogue from those emails, though I edited it for length, while still wanting to give the two new-comers some spotlight time in the story hour.

(11) See the scan of the first room of Hurgun’s Maze behind the spoiler tag. I drew all the rooms ahead of time in scale for miniatures. [sblock]
[/sblock] Sorry for the crappy scan and my shoddy artwork - it was the best I could do.

(12) See Session #82

(13) See Session #62


First Post
Very cool update. I suppose the romantic part will garner the most conversation, but I was thrilled to finally be in the maze. I love the unique magical items, as well.

I was somewhat fascinated with the PC/NPC romance btw Jana & Chance. Did the Bastian/Roland thing happen as part of In-character play, or was it decided upon in metagame & then played out IC?


Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
Very cool update. I suppose the romantic part will garner the most conversation, but I was thrilled to finally be in the maze.

As was I. I can really taste the end of this story hour coming, though I wonder if I will finished it before we have our "reunion session" which is set for sometime this summer (or perhaps as late as September).

I hope to be able to provide a scan of each of the rooms of Hurgun's Maze the party visits.

Manzanita said:
I was somewhat fascinated with the PC/NPC romance btw Jana & Chance. Did the Bastian/Roland thing happen as part of In-character play, or was it decided upon in metagame & then played out IC?

Well, for Chance and Jana, it was just a matter of Chance always acting in that over-obvious flirty way with Jana and not thinking it'd go anywhere - until one day Jana's player (Helene) having the young witch ask him to share a room with her. From there, the matter never really had to be discussed - except for the occasional scene to reinforce their relationship a little bit.

For Bastian and Roland, it was more a matter of Roland's player (Black Cat) announcing that his character would wanna try to "get some" before going to near certain death inside the Maze and that Bastian seemed the most likely target of his affections. So once it was determined that Bastian would not react in a negative way to this and that they would share an intimate moment of some kind, they RPed it out over email. At least that is how I remember it, maybe the players can come in and make a comment on the matter.


el-remmen said:
Well, for Chance and Jana, it was just a matter of Chance always acting in that over-obvious flirty way with Jana and not thinking it'd go anywhere - until one day Jana's player (Helene) having the young witch ask him to share a room with her. From there, the matter never really had to be discussed - except for the occasional scene to reinforce their relationship a little bit.

For Bastian and Roland, it was more a matter of Roland's player (Black Cat) announcing that his character would wanna try to "get some" before going to near certain death inside the Maze and that Bastian seemed the most likely target of his affections. So once it was determined that Bastian would not react in a negative way to this and that they would share an intimate moment of some kind, they RPed it out over email. At least that is how I remember it, maybe the players can come in and make a comment on the matter.
It's funny you should mention Jana, actually. The fact that Chochokpi had heard of her and not of him made Roland really scared and even more miserable as they got closer to the Maze. He'd figured that it was possible that they would find her somewhere in the Maze and that he would die and nobody in the party would care, except for the fact that there was one less priest around. We'll certainly have an opportunity to revisit this point in the future.

But out of character, we knew there was a time when the party was asleep and I'd been thinking that Roland had been way too snippy with Bastian, so it made some sense that he'd want to be close to him.

We'd already established that Roland had been dating Mercy before but I pretty much saw Roland as an equal opportunity dater/lover. Gender really wouldn't figure into his love life terribly much...which worked well because the party was such a sausage fest.

I was pleased that Bastian's player wouldn't be adverse to the possibility of a relationship between the two characters and we decided to roleplay it out via IM.

I'm glad it's been included in the SH and I hope that everyone here enjoys reading it as much as I did. I have to admit to being somewhat nervous about it being read by the "audience" here.


I think it was tastefully done. I don't feel that it overshadowed the update, or took away from the update. The character development is interesting and often enjoyable to read.



First Post
I enjoyed the update for several reasons. One was the tasteful handling of a homosexual relationship. I though this was done nicely by the player's and Nemm as DM/Author. I also am very excited about finally having made it to the maze, and the descriptions of the room with the para-elements was quite amazing.


Richard Rawen

First Post
Enough about the 'relationship'. Like it or hate it, it was a few lines depicting role playing of charaters. Meanwhile a few Hundred Pages of story has led us to the Maze...

Are they truly 'in'? Will they survive the first round!? =P :)
This Inquiring Mind Wants TO KNOW! =-)


Moderator Emeritus
I was very excited to finally get the group into Hurgun's Maze as well - and that I had done a good enough job of building the reputation of the place that they really were scared of every possible encounter in there, at the same time that they realized that just going in and fighting everything would not work as a strategy, especially if they might need to get the help of possible allies to be found among Hurgun's servants and guardians.

Something else I really like about this point in the campaign as well is how well Roland had meshed into the group - he finally came into his own somewhere between being "rescued" from the dwarven fortress by Kazrack and returning from Topaline.

Unfortunately, I do not think Bastian ever hit his stride in the same way. I think his player/character was introduced too late to really have a fair chance of being as deeply involved, or have as much influence.

Lastly, at this point the players (*NOT* the characters) were also joking about a deadpool for Dorn. How long into the Maze would he last? He was but a 5th level cohort among a group of 8th to 10th level characters - so the fact that he would not survive seemed fairly certain. However, when you see what happens I think you will pretty surprised

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