Tam, hesitates a moment before going through the doorway and onto the sands of the bright desert. Illusion or not, he can't help but squint coming from a torchlit, shadowed hallway, into glaring desert dunes.
He looks back toward the door to watch Dewydd enter this so called illusion. He wants to see if, after everyone has entered the "room", the doorway disappears.
And that would be the trap! --- A one-way door!
Posting on behalf of several players, in order to advance the story. Despite recent set-backs in our posting regularity due to COVID-19, I refuse to let this campaign die, and I applaud all of the players whom have decided to stick it out with me, through thick and thin. There are no hard feelings for the players who didn't; I understand their reasons. But rather than focus on the negativity of players leaving the game, I have decided to focus on the positive aspect of the players who stayed. Cheers to all of you. Now, let's get this ball rolling again.
All of the party members (including the twins) step across the threshold, into the desert environs. There are only four notable exceptions: Sir Duncan, Lady Ebony, and the twins. Both of the bards wear looks of regret upon their countenances, Lady Ebony even going so far as to shed a tear.
Lady Ebony says, "We've been discussing this in private for some time. There are urgent matters that we neglected in order to come along on this journey with you, and now, we fear time may be running short. We MUST return home. As you know, neither Duncan, nor myself, accepted the gift from Khubsheth, and therefore, we are not obliged to finish this task, either. We have the means, amongst ourselves, to magically travel away from this place, but the amulet is keyed to us, and to the twins, only; we know that, since the twins accepted the geas, that they will have no choice but to stay. That is why I shed these tears; Lenny, Travis, you have both been loyal companions to us, more than mere henchmen, and we shall not be complete until the day you return to rejoin us. Duncan and I wish all of you well, and we will keep all of you in our prayers, but especially the two of you, whom we think of as close kin, not children, but perhaps nephews, mischievous young scallions who have brightened our day and covered our behinds more than a few times in the past couple of years. Farewell, and may the heavens favor your destiny."
Ebony spends a few moments hugging it out with the twins, while Duncan merely shakes hands, trying to remain stoic. The twins step across the threshold, to join the rest of the party in the desert environs.
Duncan nods solemnly, saying nothing more than, "Come. Lets' be gone from here before we are too late."
Duncan and Ebony stand together in the hallway, activating their amulet; a mystical, blue energy begins to swirl around them, as motes of yellow and orange light begin to shimmer and sparkle within the swirl. There is a momentary, blindingly bright flash, and then there is nothing. No lights. No sound. Nothing but silence. The pair of marshal bards are simply gone.
Duncan, the blinding flash was not supposed to happen; in previous trips with the amulet, the two of you simply faded away. Something is definitely not right...
You both appear in mid-air, in the middle of an unknown forest. This IS NOT your intended destination! You appear about 30 feet in the air, and begin to fall, crashing through dense tree foliage, which serves to slow your descent somewhat, although it is still a painful ride.
Damage from falling 30 ft.: 3d6 each. Hitting branches on the way down: 1d4 damage each.
Duncan: 2+1+3+2 = 8 pts. damage from the fall.
Ebony: 1+1+5+1 = 8 pts. damage from the fall. ...That's the luckiest fall damage I think I've ever seen, ha ha.
Both of you land hard, having the wind knocked out of you; you lie there for a moment in agony, almost panicking, until both of you realize that nothing is broken, and your scratches and bruises are minor.
Duncan sits up, slowly. "What in the nine hells? Where are we?"
Duncan: I will send you a PM as to where your characters are.
EVERYONE: As the two bards disappear, the door to the evirons slams shut, and disappears completely, sealing you inside! WHAT DO YOU DO?!?
Thallok looks around, and says "good thing I followed, and did not stay behind. That would have been bad...for you all" Kleborn looks at Thallok and shakes his head. Thallok then turns his attention to Tam, "Giant slayer, what is going on?"
+2 Artifact Bonus (stacks with everything) to saves vs. Fear
Buffs from Khubsheth:
(Affecting: Dewydd, Sylvar, Respen, Vale, Kleborn, Thallok, Lenny, and Travis) [Basically, everyone except Tam.]
Geas for the duration of the adventure.
+5 bonus to all saves (Guardian Bonus, stacks with everything) for the duration of the adventure.
DURATIONS: (Original duration) [Current count against duration, in rounds]
Fly: Less than 12 mins (117 rounds) [-115]
Armor: 24 hours (14,400 rounds) [-115]
Shield: Less than 24 minutes (237 rounds) [-115]
Alter Self: Less than 120 minutes (1197 rounds) [-115]
Dragonskin: Less than 120 minutes (1197 rounds) [-115]
Prot. vs. Evil: Less than 24 minutes (237 rounds) [-115]
Blur: Less than 12 mins (117 rounds) [-114]
Everyone (except Dewydd, whom has already rolled) needs to make a Will save. The base DC for the save is 30. But remember:
Factors Affecting Will Save:
Dewydd tells everyone it's an illusion: +5 [Everyone receives this bonus]
Khubsheth's Blessing: +5 [Tam does not receive this bonus]
Lenny: (22) = Failed Travis: (23) = Failed
The Twins look around, obviously uncomfortable. Travis says, "Feels real enough to me. I'm already starting to sweat." Lenny nods in agreement.
Respen: He doesn’t trust his eyes, and states as much. He doesn’t care for the heat; it reminds him of Erypt, by and large a place of traveling he did not enjoy. He studies what’s in front of him, determined to figure out the extent of the illusion.
Vale: He is wholly skeptical as well. He knows that they are not on the surface, so if it isn’t an illusion, then it must be the other side of a portal. He attempts to ascertain what’s going on.
...Dallenbor and Shalistaurimon; using surface map as reference; Nelvandra had the direction slightly wrong when she told you about it, way back in chapter 4. She said Shalistaurimon was NW of Dallenbor, but it is actually SW of it. The distance between the two is approximately 1,110 miles of twisted passageways, tunnels, caverns, etc.
Party investigates reported undead presence in village of Skorane
Party encounters and kills minor, named demoness (Dorinda The Damned) and several Red Orcs (Orcs with Fiendish blood.)
One of the Orcs surrenders, and joins the party (Thallok Oakspear.)
Party descends into cavern, and destroys the undead contingent that is present there.
Party investigates passageways, and discovers teleportation circles.
Party teleports to cave near Hochoch, except for Respen, who stays behind to investigate further.
Respen is captured by Dame Clare, and during negotiations with her, becomes both her brother-in-law, and her apprentice; Respen is betrothed & bonded to Nelvandra.
Respen & Nel are teleported to where the party is; they join the party amidst a swirl of turmoil & argumentation.
The party launches a sneak raid on the ground level of the giant fortress, and lays waste to the first level of the fortress; they flee the keep just ahead of the Orc Army contingent who rush the fortress after being alerted by a fleeing Hill Giant guard.
The party befriends Collin, a young Golden Dragon who had been trying to infiltrate the fortress by shape-changing himself into a Hill Giant. He reveals himself during the battle, and when the party flees the fortress, they flee in a giant sled, with Collin filling the role of reindeer.
The party journeys to Hochoch, to the Tower of Lady Abigail, who turns out to be Collin's mother. Lady Abigail offers the party help and information. She also offers to allow Nelvandra to stay with her in the tower until her children are born, and aged enough to travel. Nelvandra agrees.
The party takes a long period of downtime, during which Nel's twins are born. Also during this period, much is learned from Lady Abigail, whose agents report back to her about various things, including the giant fortress that the party assaulted, as well as news of a criminal network in Hochoch that is masterminded by The Shadow, an ancient Shadow Dragon with a blood vengeance against Abigail. Sylvar is attacked by two of The Shadow's agents, but his cunning allows him to kill one of the agents, and escape through the use of an Invisibility spell. Lastly, during the downtime, Respen receives a mental message (via the Ord of Errinder) from Dame Clare that her minion, Serindak, has gone missing. She commands Respen to find him at once. Respen agrees, and the rest of the party agrees to go with him. Nel and the twins stay behind with Lady Abigail.
Nelvandra: "My sister was hired by Lady Alyssa, of House Alonkarr, to set up Skorane as a base of operations. There is a passageway beneath Skorane that leads into the deepest depths of The Underdark, and eventually to the Drow City of Dallenbor. The City of Dallenbor is second in size only to Shalistaurimon, which is where Lady Alyssa resides. Shalistaurimon is many hundreds of miles Northwest of Dallenbor, by surface reckoning. The nearest surface city to Shalistaurimon is a large settlement known as Hochoch, which is located in the Grand Duchy of Geoff. Normally, the great distance between the two Drow cities prevents the inhabitants from collaborating with one another. Lady Alyssa is trying to change that. She has been building an alliance with the Giant-kin in the mountains near Hochoch, for reasons unknown to me. But I'd be willing to bet that it spells bad news for Hochoch. The teleport circles that Clare built for her beneath Skorane allow Drow from Dallenbor, whom Alyssa has recruited as allies, to move large amounts of men and materials without being seen. The choice of Skorane probably spells trouble for Dyvers, as well. Lady Alyssa's plans must involve the surface in some way, or she would not have bothered to set up "shop" so close to two surface-world sites.
Alyssa felt that mindless undead would make good guards, because their moaning, amplified by the well shaft, would add to the perception that Skorane was haunted, and keep the curious away. She figured that adventurer-types would find the undead, see how many there were, and figured that the sheer number of them, combined with their location at the bottom of an abandoned well, would act as a deterrent. My sister warned her that someone might eventually be brave enough to challenge Alyssa's little "horde." And sure enough, a bunch of fools clad in platemail did just that. And they were so strong, that Clare's minion, Serindak, was forced to intervene.
He dominated their leader, turning him against his comrades, and routed them. From what I understand, he captured two of them, and turned them into vampire spawn. Clare was not happy about that, so she ordered Serindak to leave, and to take his spawn with him.
It was Clare who summoned the Succubus, as a distraction. Clare knew that if word got out that there were vampires in Skorane, that someone would come to investigate. So she set the Succubus up to take the fall; her intention was that someone would encounter her, and dispatch her, believing her to be the source of the threat.
Clare is very good at misleading people and spreading misinformation. The rumors of a vampiric spider would be chalked up to exaggeration, once a demoness was confirmed to be in the vicinity. She summoned a named demoness, one that could be identified, to make it seem more plausible. She even gated the demoness, rather than simply summoning her, so that she would fight harder, and so that her destruction would be permanent. The first rule of espionage is to kill the assassin, as it were.
However, I know for a fact that Clare has reached the limit of her involvement. I overheard her complaining to Ky the other day that she isn't being paid enough to clean up Alyssa's mess."
Abigail Speaks Up About the Shadow...
Lady Abigail says, "I'm afraid that you were attacked because of me. My contacts have been warning me lately that The Shadow was planning a move against me. And when I say 'me,' I mean myself, and all of my associates. Apparently, your stay here in this tower has marked you as such. And for that, I apologize."
She pauses a moment, then continues: "The Shadow is actually a Shadow Dragon, hence the design of her minion's buckler. I have seen others like it. The cloak you acquired, with the lace trim, is also a mark of service to her. It is part silk, part lace, and part shadowstuff; those that wear it are hard to see at night. If my hunch is correct, The Shadow is a racketeer, dealing in illegal wares, substances, and activities. I suspect that she is new to the region, and attempting to stake a claim, and to establish a territory. It makes sense that she would want me out of her way, and her boldness in moving against me in such a forward manner tells me that she must be quite ancient, and extremely powerful."
Abigail sighs, "You and your friends should leave, and be about Clare's errand; in your absence, I shall take steps to deal with her myself. I hate that you were caught in-between our two interests; in gratitude, I shall identify the items you found at no charge, as well as giving you safe passage out of the city through the use of my magical mirror. It's the least I can do, so don't be shy about accepting my offer. Your dignity is intact, and you have my sincerest thanks, admiration, and respect."
SUPPPLEMENTAL POST: INFORMATION THE PARTY NEEDS:
Margull grins at Respen's cold declaration, "My dear Respen, you should ask your little friend Tam here, whether or not he thinks that's a good idea. The actions that you propose could very well start an invisible, private war amongst the guilds. We do not yet know the extent of the Brotherhood's influence. Now is the time for gathering information, not for stirring the pot."
Margull and Laramon bring the meeting to a close. They tell the party that they will be in touch. In the meantime, the party returns to Dewydd's manor house, and subsequently back to Lady Abigail's tower in Hochoch, where they take a long period of rest (36 days) to recoup from the enormity of the implications of recent events.
CURRENT TIME: Goodmonth 23rd, CY 964.
Abigail speaks: “As you might have guessed, being Collin’s mother, makes me a Dragon as well, and a much older one at that. I am of sufficient age to have seen the calamity of mutual destruction that led to the fall of the Suloise and Baklunish empires; I have lived sufficiently long to not only amass a great deal of knowledge, but several potent enemies as well. My greatest foe is a red Wyrm known as Mythendrixxelonn, who is as powerful an agent of evil as I am an agent of good. Both of us have gone to great lengths to hide our presence from one another; Myth knows, as I do, that allowing our locations to be known is tantamount to inviting unwanted attack, and even sudden death. My late husband, Collin’s father, discovered the harshness of that reality first-hand; Myth not only killed him, but also took his very soul, draining it with a powerful gem known as the Mother of Darkness, a jet-black pearl some 12 inches in diameter, which was created in ages past, by a dark Magus named Kolmar. Thus, both Myth and I work behind the scenes, through other agents, and through obfuscated channels, to further the goals of our respective deities, who are themselves also enemies. Myth serves the goddess Tiamat, while I serve the mighty Bahamut. Neither of us acts directly against any problem, nor against any foe. I am far too wise to expose myself needlessly, and Myth (and rightfully so!) fears my wrath; thus, we both remain hidden, lurking in the shadows, so-to-speak, waiting, and watching. But we both lend aid where we can to potential allies, such as yourselves. I am a learned sorceress, and I have untold wealth and abundant resources at my disposal. Would you be willing to act in my service, and thus, ultimately in the service of Bahamut, in return for my aid, sponsorship, and mentorship?”
While the party ponders her offer, she goes on to explain: “Regardless of your acceptance of my offer, sundering the power of Nosnra and his dark queen was a great service to the region. I would be happy to provide you with respite, hospitality, advice, and training. Consider this tower your second home, for as long as you’d like to stay. If you decide to accept my offer, you can even go so far as to pick out a room of your own, and to furnish and decorate it as you please.”
The party has since answered her, saying that their loyalties lie elsewhere; therefore, I should clarify. Swearing loyalty to Lady Abigail will NOT force you to change your deity to Bahamut. It simply means that you agree to work for her, to support the CAUSE of Bahamut, and that by agreeing to do so, you become her MAN, and she becomes your SPONSOR. In modern-day terms, it's like being an adjunct professor; Bahamut is the President of the "University," and Lady Abigail is the Provost. Abigail offers you work from time to time (various, individual assignments) which you can either accept or decline.
However, choosing to take up residence in Abigail's tower implies that you plan on accepting ALL of the assignments that she offers to you. In such a case, you become Abigail's VASSAL, and she becomes your LIEGE. Becoming her Vassal has a lot of benefits, especially if one is a spellcaster, since one of those benefits is unrestricted access to her private library.
Around the third day of our time off, Dewydd takes his time going to each of the various party members to inform them of Lady Abigail's request. "Lady Abigail has asked that when we go back to the steading, we be on the lookout for a plain, wooden staff, about 7 feet in length, with a plain, gold band at the top. The band is 3 inches in width. We are to bring it back to her. It is highly magical, but its powers can only be awakened by a Druid of Ehlonna. It is nearly impervious to harm, and will not harm you by touch unless your heart bears the taint of evil and corruption."
Lady Abigail says, “...The staff was taken by Vulka for a specific purpose; the staff belonged to an order of Druids known as The Woodland Sentinels, who made their home at the edge of the Dim Forest. They were followers of Meilikki, and they were tasked with not only protecting the Dim Forest from despoilers, but also keeping the Great Portal open; the Great Portal is a doorway between four sacred trees, which allows the Druids from three different orders, in three different parts of the world, to travel to the Great Tree Temple in Krigala, the domain of the two sisters, Ehlonna and Meilikki. Needless to say, the Great Portal is essential to the faiths of the two sisters; the staff, known as the Key of Krigala, is the means by which the portal is made active. The portal has been closed for three years, ever since Vulka and her minions wiped out The Sentinels and took the staff. It was unknown who had perpetrated this foul deed until about three months ago, when an agent of mine discovered the truth. If you can obtain the key, your compatriot Lathir can use it to open the portal once more. It merely takes the touch of one who is pledged to Meilikki’s service to awaken the powers of The Key. Once you have it, I can take you to the tree myself; it is a mere 30 miles north of here.”
During the next ten months, several things occur:
Vale cast Speak With Dead with the following results:
DM NOTE: Between the three heads, and multiple castings of the spells, Vale obtains the answers he seeks.
1) Who compensated the orc army? I did (Nosnra.)
2) How was the orc army compensated? With the signing of an alliance.
3) How many levels of dungeon are under the steading? Just the cellar, although there are deeper natural caves.
4) Who will replace you now that you are dead? Nosnra's Daughter will become the new Hill Giant Queen.
5) If you had to leave the Steading in retreat, where would you go? Southwest, into the Crystalmysts, to the Glacial Rift.
6) What is the least defended entrance to the steading? The rear entrance.
7) Who are the spellcasters in or near the steading? Vulka, Darris, Quinnlan, Varnella, Vlagg, Cyndalla, Morienne, and Lorella.
8) What is Glimval's most significant weakness? I do not know who Glimval is.
9) Where is the treasure room under the steading? Near the bottom of the stairs, behind a secret door.
10) What traps are set to protect the treasure room? There is a pit trap.
11) What will the other giants and orcs do now that you are dead? Continue the war to reclaim our ancestral lands.
12) How much treasure is in the treasure room? A fortune in gold and magic.
13) What will the trolls do if the underground is invaded? They will fight to the bitter end, and savagely kill any invaders.
14) What will draw the trolls out of the underground? The Trolls go where Brunk commands them to go.
15) Who is in command of the red orcs? Lieutenant Gozer of Brahnn.
16) What will happen if Steading is attacked from the outside? It will be defended.
17) What different ways exist to enter the steading? Front, back, and side.
18) Who are the giants' allies? The Drow, The Jarl, The Fire King, The Pomarj Orcs, The Skull Seekers, The Arm Breakers, and their master, Myth.
19) Who are the giants' enemies? The Humans, Dwarves, Halflings, Elves, and Gnomes of Geoff.
20) Where are the giants' allies? The Drow are below, The Jarl is in the Rift, The King is deep within, The Orcs are on the move, the Bugbears and Trolls are with us. We do not know where the master is.
21) Where are the giant's enemies? Everywhere.
22) What is the plan for the steading? Expansion and reinforced fortifications.
23) Do you have spies? Yes.
24) Who are your spies? The Drow.
25) Where are your spies? Everywhere.
26) How did you obtain the Helm of Veldomar? It was Kraven's reward, for serving the Drow mistress.
27) Will anyone attempt to locate the Helm of Veldomar? I don't know.
28) How did you obtain the Staff of Krigala? Queen Vulka ripped it from a dead Druid's hands.
29) Where is the Staff of Krigala? In the cold bowels of the Rift.
30) Who has the Staff of Krigala? The Great Jarl of the Rift.
Other things that happen during that time period:
Lady Abigail introduces the party to a powerful ally, her lover, Ellis Kvar, the Hierophant Druid of the Vesve Forest.
During their 10-month stay, any mages in the party enjoy unlimited access to Abigail’s spellbook library; a few of them are hers, but fully hundreds, perhaps thousands of them, are obviously captured spellbooks, from enemies long dead.
During the first two weeks of downtime, Abigail gathers the party together and says. “I have been scrying on the Steading, and I have news; Nosnra’s daughter, Varnella, has assumed leadership of the remaining Hill Giants. There are only 6 Hill Giants left, or 7, counting her. She is being advised and counseled by a Drow Wizard named Glimval, who also seems to be her lover. She has the support of the Troll and Bugbear tribes also, but from what I can surmise by listening in on their conversations, both the Trolls and the Bugbears see Glimval as the true leader at this point.”
Abigail pauses a moment, then continues, “I cannot scry upon the Troll leader, Brunk, nor upon the Troll Shaman, Vlagg, but I know they exist, from the context of what I overheard. I also have previous knowledge of the Armbreaker Tribe; they are minions of my enemy, Myth, and I know that he has bred with them. Many of them no doubt have Dragon blood coursing through their veins, and are probably resistant to fire; if you approach the Steading again, be prepared to deal with them. Being among his strongest minions, I have no doubt that Myth has shielded them somehow from scrying. Besides Brunk and Vlagg, there are 18 Troll Warriors in the Steading; and they are supported by Wyggum Vrendar, Chief Bugbear of the Skullseeker Tribe, and I count 51 Bugbears, all armed with crude armor and weaponry; apparently, the Drow-crafted equipment that the Giants enjoyed did not make its way to their weaker allies. I have also been able to determine that there are 3 Drow Clerics in the steading, who seem to be giving Glimval his orders. But even these 3 sisters are not in charge; they have been sending magical messages to a Drow Priestess by the name of Eclavdra.”
Nelvandra gasps at the mention of that name. “Oh, no!” she exclaims. “The Grand High Enforcer of Lolth, second only to the Queen. This does not bode well.”
Abigail nods, continuing, “Fortunately, although the Trolls serve Myth, I do not believe there to be any dialogue between Myth and The Drow. The Trolls talk constantly of the need for the Drow Sisters to raise Nosnra from the dead, but they keep refusing, citing the fact that his failure in battle has angered Lolth. This is a point in our favor.”
Abigail turns to Dewydd, as if he had posed a question, despite his silence this whole time: “By the way, three days ago, I visited the Giants at their campsite, and they were exactly where Collin told them to be. I opened a portal for them, depositing them about three miles away from your manor house, in a small copse of trees. I told them to wait for nightfall, and to approach your house and ask for lodging. I gave them a token of mine, that will prove their good intentions to anyone who sees it; it bears the Holy Mark of Bahamut. Barring any unforeseen complications, they are resting comfortably now within the confines of your estate.”
SIDENOTE: Kleborn and Thallok have actually sworn oaths not only to serve Lady Abigail, but also to act as direct agents of Bahamut. (i.e., to join his church.); Sylvar has pledged to serve Abigail, but has stated that his deitific fealty belongs to Uller. Tam has sworn to serve Lady Abigail "in his own way," and Lathir has stated, just as Sylvar did, that although his deitific fealty belongs to Meilikki, he will aid Lady Abigail however he can. In a similar fashion, Dewydd, owing his deitific fealty to Tritherion, has also pledged to help Lady Abigail however he can. Respen has said that he will aid Lady Abigail, but that he has other obligations to tend to first. THAT'S 7 PARTY MEMBERS. I still need responses to Lady Abigail (Yes / No on the question of helping her) for the following party members: Vale, Sir Duncan, and Lady Ebony. Travis and Lenny are not expected to do anything, and neither is Nelvandra.
"I have been working on a spell lately, which has consumed much of my time. That is the reason I have been out of contact. I noticed that you are in a location that cannot be scried by normal means, so I invoked the power of the Orb; your hostess, Lady Abigail, is quite impressive. She must be ancient indeed, to be so beautiful. The humanoid forms of metallic Dragons get more comely with age, and judging by her angelic appearance, I would surmise that she is no younger than 2,000 years in age. Take my advice, learn all that you can from her, she is a powerful ally to have. And do not tell her than I am able to fully scry her domicile through my connection with you; she might not take too kindly to that knowledge. She knows of the Orb, but it is probable that she does not know the extent of its powers, else she would have banished you from her tower."
Dame Clare pauses briefly, before continuing: "Things in Shalistaurimon are heating up. We've had an incursion by the Illithids recently, which resulted in one of the High Daughters of Lolth being taken captive by them. The fiends are demanding either a million pieces of gold, or a thousand male Drow slaves, for her safe return. I suspect that no Drow male who is not an only child will be safe from the Dark Sisterhood; they are loathe to part with wealth, but they will gladly give up expendable resources on behalf of a sister."
Parts that Respen has shared with the party:
Dame Clare chuckles lightly, before moving on to the next subject: "Serindak is in trouble. He sent me a mental message about a week ago; he is helping me find an item of extreme importance, which I must have at ALL costs. All of my plans hinge on finding it. It is an artifact known as the Helm of Selreen. Serindak went to seek the aid of a Sphinx known far and wide as Khubsheth The Prophet, hoping he might know something about where the helm could be or about who could have it. Khubsheth attacked him, forcing him into gaseous form. Serindak slipped past the Sphinx, and discovered that the statue that he rests in front of conceals a hidden passage, which leads to some sort of tomb. Serindak decided to explore the tomb, in hopes of finding something there that might be useful. The last mental message that Serindak sent to me was that he no longer cared to seek Khubsheth's advice, when he could have the counsel of the Dark Queen. Then, I suddenly lost contact with my childe, and have not heard from him since. I can feel that his essence still exists, that he has not been destroyed, but also that he is no longer on the web of blood, i.e., I can no longer feel his thoughts, nor his blood connection. It's as if he no longer has a physical form. I am not sure what to make of that, except that it cannot mean anything good."
Dame Clare pauses again, before finally coming to her point: "I know that Abigail wants you to return to the Steading, and destroy Brunk and the other minions of her rival, and to find the Key of Krigala for her, but finding the Helm of Selreen is a far more important task, one that cannot be put aside. I would like for you to seek out this Khubsheth, and find out what happened to Serindak. I doubt he would attack one so amiable as you. I think Serindak probably fell victim to the prejudice borne of his eight-legged form. In that regard, I would surmise that you could succeed where he failed. The priority is to discover whether or not Khubsheth knows anything about the Helm of Selreen. If he does not, then your second priority should be to ask him about the tomb below the statue, and inquire as to what fate Serindak might have met by venturing into that place. The Perch of Khubsheth is at the base of a large, sandstone statue, in the Kingdom of Ull, in the hills just south of Kester. The statue is a remnant of a fallen kingdom; it is a depiction of the Sphinx Queen, Ankharet. I suspect that she might be the Dark Queen that Serindak was referring to, which probably means that she is some form of powerful undead being. Finding Serindak will be a dangerous undertaking, but it must be done, because Serindak is too important for me to simply abandon him. YOU MUST DO THIS FOR ME. You will be generously rewarded if you succeed; your party is now large enough that a few of you could split off to do my errand, while the others return to the Steading. Or perhaps you could talk all of them into helping you. Those matters, I will leave to your clever little mind."
Dame Clare continues, giving Respen more relevant information: "I have been scrying the Steading. There are a few things you should take note of. The Orcs were non-plussed to find most of the inhabitants dead upon their arrival. The entire force has left the canyon, and is heading Southeast, into the Stark Mounds, where there are known to be large tribes of Hobgoblins. My guess is that the Orcs are less of an attack force, and more of a recruitment force. They are carrying extra weapons and armor, which they could no doubt give as gifts to potential allies, and there are many expert soldiers among the Orcs who could train potential allies in the areas of weapon use and battlefield tactics. They're laying the groundwork for something big, and the Giants were only a small part of their overall plan."
Dame Clare's tone becomes more serious as she moves on to the next topic: "The three Drow Clerics in the Steading are gearing up for some major rituals. They are preparing to resurrect Delliak, Darris, Nosnra, and Kraven, along with three of the Hill Giant Commanders, but not in their original forms; having failed Lolth, they will likely all return to life as giant-sized Driders. They are also casting many divinations, and asking a lot of questions about the Lady of the Hool, which I believe to be a very old Black Dragon, from the way they talk about her. I'm not sure what they want with a Dragon, but it cannot be good for your newfound allies. YOU SHOULD USE THIS INFORMATION TO GAIN THE SUPPORT OF YOUR FRIENDS. Tell them that these rituals will require a lot of prep time, and that I will aid you in their defeat, if you will do this thing for me FIRST. And like I said before, all of you don't have to go; but some of you must. YOU YOURSELF MUST GO, FOR SURE. It would be wise for ALL of you to go, although I doubt that all of them would agree to act in my service. I must return to my spell now, but I will contact you later. Act in haste, my little Elfling, and do NOT fail me."
SYLVAR'S SIDEBAR AND PALLENDER'S RECONNAISSANCE REPORT
Patchwall 23, C.Y. 963
Dewydd's Party / Interrogation of Brotherhood Operatives:
Reaping 03, C.Y. 964
Clare's Mental Message to Respen:
Goodmonth 11, C.Y. 964
Abigail's Report to the Party (Pallender's Findings):
Goodmonth 13, C.Y. 964
Downtime Officially Ends:
Goodmonth 22, C.Y. 964
Keep in mind, this happened in the steading, just as the battle had ended. Lastly, the Solar points out, “As a parting gift, all of the items you were planning to take from the ground level of this place are now within the confines of your magical pit, including the contents of Vulka’s and Delliak’s hidden treasure chests. There is still more treasure below, in the cellar, but you will need to wrest the master key from theTroll Lord’s grasp, if you hope to claim it. You now have 10 minutes or so before the Orcs are upon you. Uller wishes you well, in whichever endeavor you decide to pursue. Know that sometime within the next year, you must visit his temple in The Great Kundarian Seameast, in the city of Dane. There will you undergo the purification ritual. In the meantime, know that Uller has invested you with special powers, powers which you will begin to discover over the next few weeks. Use these powers in fulfillment of his greater glory. You are the chosen one, the one among Frey’s people, who is destined to unite the three shattered tribes. Your life shall be long, and your glories great.”
When Sylvar arrives at the temple in Dane, he is amazed. The layout and decor of the temple are in the ancient style, and walking into this place is like stepping back over a thousand years into the past. The floors are polished granite, as is the ceiling, and the walls are smooth sandstone, which have been carved with thousands upon thousands of intricate runes, which the priests explain as being the chronicle of this temple over the last fifteen centuries, since its founding and dedication. They explain that the temple stands upon consecrated ground, and that the walls are enchanted to remain strong and clean, so that the temple's story shall be preserved for all time. The temple is huge, the main worship area being 120 feet wide, and over 500 feet long. The ceilings are vaulted, ranging from 12 to 60 feet in height. The areas behind the temple, where the priests have their residence, are massive as well, albeit without the vaulted ceilings. The temple is filled with massive torches, which adorn the hundreds of columns, providing light and warmth, proof against the continual winter conditions outside. Grated vents in the ceiling allow all of the smoke to escape. Massive wooden beams reinforce the ceiling's superstructure.
At the Northern end of the worship area is a raised dais and a massive granite altar. There are two rows of massive wooden pews, and in the middle of the worship area, is a clearing, where stands a massive feasting table, used for special feasts of religious significance. The table looks to be capable of seating 102 people; 1 at each head, and 50 on each side.
The priests greet Sylvar, and welcome him to the temple, showing him to his quarters, before telling the handmaidens to escort him to the bathing pool. Nothing sexual ensues, as this whole endeavor is aimed at Sylvar's purification. The handmaidens help to bathe him, not only with lye and warm water, but also with scented oils, and specially prepared mud, along with various herbs and fruits which have been mashed into a pulpy paste. The whole process takes almost two hours; when the bath is complete, Sylvar feels cleaner and more refreshed than he has ever felt in his entire life. The priests give him purple silk robes and fine, brown leather slippers to wear while in the temple; the clothes are a great fit, and are very comfortable. Sylvar is then led around the temple, and given the grand tour.
That evening, there is a great feast in Sylvar's honor, which to Sylvar's surprise, lasts the entire evening, until midnight, pausing for eight hours, before beginning again; and this pattern continues for the next two days! Over the course of that time, Sylvar spends all of his daytime hours in celebration, feasting, drinking, dancing, and sparring. His nights are spent in a restful state, and he notices that the combination of activities expends sufficient energy so as to prevent him from feeling gorged and/or bloated. The days are exhausting, resulting in deep, restful sleep over the course of the night.
On the 4th day, after 3 days of celebration, Sylvar is initiated into the church of Uller, in a ceremony that lasts for eight hours. During the ceremony, Sylvar spends 2 hours chanting and praying, but the rest of the time is spent performing challenges that test his strength, endurace, willpower, and fighting prowess. The culmination is an archery contest, in which Sylvar barely edges out the temple's high priest, to win highest honors. Afterwards, the priest informs him that his victory was foreseen, and that Uller's blessing now rests upon him, his victory in the contest ensuring his place as Uller's chosen champion.
After a night of much-needed rest, Sylvar returns to Hochoch the next day, via a Succor Disc that the priest had prepared in advance. Sylvar appears on the road, about a mile outside the city, and he and Collin enjoy a leisurely walk back to Abigail's tower.
On the 13th day of the following month, Pallender Nightwind returns to Lady Abigail's tower, and reports his findings to her. The party is present for the meeting, and Abigail tells him to hold nothing back, saying that the party are her trusted agents, and should know all of the details of his report.
Pallender says, "My Lady, the denizens of the fort have been hard at work. I managed to get inside the ground level of the fort and have a look around. There are three Drow priestesses there, all sisters, who wield tremendous power. All of the dead Giants have been raised as Zombies. The ground has been consecrated with some sort of ward, I'm not sure what its function is, but I suffered no ill effects while walking around. They have also raised Nosnra, Delliak, and Kraven, restoring them completely to life, only to then put them through a ritual which disfigured them horribly; they are all now giant-sized Driders, a punishment for their failure in the battle."
Abigail frowns, clearly worried about this turn of events. She nods at Pallender, and he continues.
Pallender goes on to say, "Vulka was restored to life as well, but her will is not her own, and her bodily form has been greatly altered; she is merely a vessel now, a physical, worldly apparatus for the spirit of a great demoness; her torso now has 6 limbs, each of which wield deadly, demonic-looking blades. Her legs are now gone, and in their place, the body of a massive snake. A friend of mine knowledgeable in such lore says that she is now a type of demon known as a Marilith. She was frightening to behold! I must admit, though I was safe in ethereal form, her cold voice made me tremble with fear."
Abigail gasps in astonishment. Pallender holds up his index finger, politely indicating that she should allow him to continue.
Pallender continues, "I overheard them talking strategy. The Drow Mage known as Glimval, and his lover, the Giantess Bard known as Varnella, are still in charge of raids, and the plan is to use a small band comprised of Hill Giants, Troll Warriors, and Bugbears. The main level of the Steading is being guarded by the Giant Zombies, which is a good move on their part, since such sentries never look away and never tire. Assaulting that place will prove to be a formidable task, for there are no battle tactics which can succeed against a foe who can not be distracted or discouraged. All of the living residents of the place, Giant, Troll, and Bugbear alike, all live on the basement level now. Nothing living stirs on the ground level."
18 Troll Warriors, 1 Troll Shaman, 1 Troll Chief
3 Stone Giant Miners (Don't appear to be fighting types)
Varnella, The Beautiful Giantess (Bard)
6 Hill Giants (Well armed / armored, as before)
16 Hill Giant Zombies
1 Bugbear Captain
4 Bugbear Lieutenants
47 Bugbear Warriors
Glimval The Dark (Drow Wizard)
3 Female Drow Clerics (Cyndalla, Morienne, and Lorella)
Delliak (Giant Drider)
Kraven (Giant Drider)
Nosnra (Giant Drider)
Vulka (Giant Marilith)
Collin, who was also present for the meeting, adds his two cents. He manages to say this before Sylvar stamps away in a huff.
Collin says, "From what I remember from my time disguised as a Hill Giant inside the Steading, the only real changes to their forces involve the presence of the Troll Lord, Troll Shaman, the 3 Driders, and the Marilith. The Troll Warriors were always there, being promised by Brunk, the Troll Lord, to assist the Hill Giants. Apparently, when your party killed several of Brunk's men on your patrol raids before assaulting the Steading, he became concerned and showed up in person. And apparently, his advisor (the Shaman) came with him. The Drow Priestesses have always been present in the Steading, although they come and go sometimes; once, they were absent for almost a week, for reasons unknown to me. Duncan is correct, the three Drow sisters are powerful spellcasters, and should not be underestimated. The four Giants who have now been turned into monsters represent the true 'increase' in the fort's compliment. So they haven't really increased their numbers at all, they have simply consolidated and concentrated their power. Having said that, I think it likely that the Drow will also recruit other Giant clans to their banner, perhaps some of the Frost and Fire Giants who live not too distant from the Steading. You should act in haste, before that becomes a reality. But I think you also have time to tie up the other loose end for Respen's mistress; in your absence, I shall do daily fly-bys of the Steading, to see if there are any major movements occurring."
Margull continues, “I am now going to confide something in all of you, something that must be kept strictly secret, for the sake of this city, and of the stability of the entire region. I am what most people would call a vampire, although this is technically incorrect. I am indeed immortal, and possessed of a tainted life force. My kind are few and far-between; we call ourselves The Ones of the True Blood, although some people who have discovered our existence erroneously misinterpret that title, referring to us as the True Vampires. But the term “vampire” does not do my kind justice; we are so much more than that. The power of The Abyss itself runs through our veins, and we are all connected by a single lifeforce, spread across a vast web of consciousness. The lifeforce is said to be demonic in nature, but in our long history, only two of my kind ever proved to be truly evil. While it is true that we are cursed to require fresh blood as our primary source of sustenance, most of us struggle daily to slake that thirst without the taking of sentient life.
I am now over 2,200 years old; but early in my existence, upon reaching my 150th year as an immortal, at the age of 309, I was captured by a mortal Wizard who was bent on obtaining immortality at any cost. He kept me prisoner for over 200 years, experimenting on me, making potions from my blood, extending his lifespan, and finally, succeeding in turning himself into a rude mockery of my kind, an abomination, which my kind refer to as Vampyr, which literally means, Those of the Stolen Blood. By the time I freed myself from my imprisonment, that fiend had spawned thousands of his kind, and it is those creatures, The Vampyr, whom your kind despise and fear, calling them “vampire.” And I have made it my life’s purpose, since the time of my escape, to hunting down Vampyr wherever I can find them, and eradicating them completely. It is for this purpose that I pay so well for the hunters of the undead; where there are minor undead, there are usually also Vampyr, and seeing proof of their destruction helps bring me closer to my life’s goal. Alas, the one thing about the Vampyr that makes them formidable is the rate at which they can breed. Those of the True Blood are slow to breed, and selective, because most mortals never survive the transition. My kind only breed for companionship; carrying our curse for all eternity is truly and deeply lonely, which is why some of my kind choose to procreate. But the Vampyr have no compunction, no morality, no honor; they spread their diseased existence randomly and carelessly, leaving destruction and ruin in their wake. They are hated by my kind, although I am the only one, thusfar, that actively seeks them out.
I am one of the oldest of my kind; there are those among the True Blood who call themselves “elders,” but most of them are more than a thousand years my junior, and none of them have the slightest notion about the true extent of our powers. True Bloods of my era are known as The Antediluvians, and we exist unseen, even by the rest of our kind. The older we become, the more we are able to mask our presence from the younger True Bloods.
Respen, Laramon has told me that you have become indebted to one of the Vampyr, a Drow Sorceress named Clare, who calls herself The Empress of Darkness. He told me that she not only spared your life, but also mated you to her mortal sister, for reasons that neither Laramon nor I myself can begin to fathom. She could have literally chosen anyone, and quite easily forced Nelvandra to comply with that choice; I must say, I am deeply intrigued. Most Vampyr wield their powers without concern for the living, nor even the slightest consideration for others of their kind. Most Vampyr are completely self-absorbed, and deviant to the extreme. Hearing of one that engages in diplomatic relations with lesser beings is nothing short of astounding. Other Vampyr would consider her actions as the equivalent of playing with one’s food.
However, I am still inclined to end her, should we ever chance to meet. I doubt that there is anything that she could possibly say that would convince me to spare her life. But as a favor to you, and to your new wife, I am telling you this with the utmost sincerity, so that you may warn her to steer clear of dealings on the surface, especially within the Domain of Dyvers. If she remains in the Underdark, I might never chance to meet her, thus ensuring her continued longevity. If she does not, she should be aware that I have it within my power to kill her with but a single glance. She would not survive our encounter.”
Respen Gets Answers!
Laramon's spell requires the asking of YES/NO questions; however, it also forces the subject to give short explanations which clarify the yes or no answer.
1) “Are you under a magical or blood oath such that you cannot voluntarily answer questions without losing your life? “
Answer 1 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes, I swore a Blood Oath to the Crimson Sensei.
Answer 1 of 15: (Rutterkin): No, I am immortal. My only loyalty is to Demogorgon.
2) “In return for your life and freedom, notwithstanding that oath, will you truthfully, in good faith, here and now to me, lay bare your brethren and / or their plans?”
Answer 2 of 15: (Doppleganger): Never. I do not take my oath lightly. This spell forces me to answer, but if set free, I would gladly attempt to kill you.
Answer 2 of 15: (Rutterkin): No. If you granted me my freedom, I would kill you and drink your heartblood!
1) “Do you have full knowledge of your organizations plans and strategy?”
Answer 3 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. I merely serve my part.
Answer 3 of 15: (Rutterkin): No. I do not care for the mechanations of mortals. All evil serves the will of Demogorgon. Therefore, I shall spread corruption whenever, and wherever I can.
2) “Will your brethren attempt to find and/kill you in captivity?”
Answer 4 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. I would have killed myself, if I had been able. Death is preferable to capture.
Answer 4 of 15: (Rutterkin): No. I am expendable. I live only to further the cause of Demogorgon.
3) “Are you currently being scryed or tracked by your organization?”
Answer 5 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes. The ring I wear facilitates this.
Answer 5 of 15: (Rutterkin): No. Demogorgon does not care. I am expendable. I can easily be replaced. However, I suspect that the ring I was asked to wear might allow the Wizard who summoned me to track my whereabouts.
4) “Is/are your leader/s of your organization mortal?”
Answer 6 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. The Scarlet Sensei is a god. He lives beyond the veil of time.
Answer 6 of 15: (Rutterkin): Yes. I am controlled by the Wizard who summoned me. He is flesh and blood, as you are. But he is not my leader. My service to him is a gift from Lord Demogorgon, who is indeed very much immortal.
1) (2 Question Set): “Does your organization plan a coup, attack, or takeover in this region?”
Answer 7 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes, but the goal is to do so slowly and discreetly, over time. Power is always lost at the same rate as it was gained. The Scarlet Sensei is not interested in sudden victory.
Answer 7 of 15: (Rutterkin): Yes. I am positive that the Wizard who summoned me has ambitions of power. Ambition is the driving force behind mortal servitude to demonic forces.
a. If Yes, then “Will it be in Dyvers?”’
Answer 8 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes. And other realms as well.
Answer 8 of 15: (Rutterkin): I don’t know the answer to that question. Tonight was my first compelled task.
2) (4 Question Set): “Have you infiltrated any of the following: the Dyvers Mages Guild, Dyvers Thieves Guild, or the Dyvers City Guard?”
Answer 9 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes. All three.
Answer 9 of 15: (Rutterkin): I don’t know the answer to that question. Tonight was my first compelled task.
a. If Yes, “Did you utilize magic rings to do it?”
Answer 10 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes, of course. Greed is a powerful ally to patient usurpers.
Answer 10 of 15: (Rutterkin): Yes. I have been instructed in the use and distribution of magical rings for the purpose of espionage.
i. If Yes, “Are the infiltration magic rings the same as your magic ring?”
Answer 11 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. Gold rings are for pawns. Silver rings are for handlers.
Answer 11 of 15: (Rutterkin): No. Gold rings are for pawns. Silver rings are for handlers.
a) If Yes, “Are the rings easy to notice like yours?”
Answer 12 of 15: (Doppleganger): Yes. All of the rings have a similar appearance.
Answer 12 of 15: (Rutterkin): Yes. All of the rings have a similar appearance.
3) (1 Question): “Do you have an outpost or safehouse in Dyvers where your organization meets or passes intelligence?”
Answer 13 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. We pass intelligence through magical means.
Answer 13 of 15: (Rutterkin): I don’t know the answer to that question. Tonight was my first compelled task.
4) (1 Question): “Is Caltaran currently infiltrated with ring-wearers after your earlier failure with Sheriff Denby?”
Answer 14 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. It would be foolish to try again so soon.
Answer 14 of 15: (Rutterkin): I don’t know the answer to that question. Tonight was my first compelled task.
5) (1 Question): “Is your organization targeting Margull or current Regional leadership?”
Answer 15 of 15: (Doppleganger): No. Margull is an unknown quantity, and also an ally of The Fearless Five. Since we cannot usurp him, we must deceive him.
Answer 15 of 15: (Rutterkin): I don’t know the answer to that question. Tonight was my first compelled task.
So basically, there are several things going on:
First, the Scarlet Brotherhood has been using both Fiendish and magical means to infiltrate various governments in the Central Flanaess.
Second, the Drow and the Giant-kin, as well as other humanoids, are banding together, potentially to wage war against surface nations. One of their goals involves the Key of Krigala, a staff of immense Druidic powers.
Third, the Drow Sorceress known as Dame Clare has commanded Respen to find a powerful artifact for her, known as the Helm of Selreen. To what purpose, she has not yet said.
You guys are currently in an underground labyrinth, trying to fulfill Clare's quest, but being mentally weighed upon by the fact that the forces in the Giant Steading are steadily growing, and that the Scarlet Brotherhood continues to move against governments using espionage. There is definitely no time to waste.
Factors Affecting Will Save:
Dewydd tells everyone it's an illusion: +5 [Everyone receives this bonus]
Khubsheth's Blessing: +5 [Tam does not receive this bonus] (Dewydd made it.)
(Tam made it.)
Lenny: (22) = Failed
================ Travis: (23) = Failed
================ Respen: (40) = Made it
================ Vale: (23) = Failed
================ Thallok: (30) = Made it
================ Kleborn: (22) = Failed
================ Despite being told that this is definitely an illusion, half of the party falls victim to it.
(Failed = Lenny, Travis, Vale, and Kleborn.)
Buffs from the axe, affecting whole party:
+2 Artifact Bonus (stacks with everything) to saves vs. Fear
Buffs from Khubsheth:
(Affecting: Dewydd, Sylvar, Respen, Vale, Kleborn, Thallok, Lenny, and Travis) [Basically, everyone except Tam.]
Geas for the duration of the adventure.
+5 bonus to all saves (Guardian Bonus, stacks with everything) for the duration of the adventure.
DURATIONS: (Original duration) [Current count against duration, in rounds]
Fly: Less than 12 mins (117 rounds) [-105]
Armor: 24 hours (14,400 rounds) [-105]
Shield: Less than 24 minutes (237 rounds) [-105]
Alter Self: Less than 120 minutes (1197 rounds) [-105]
Dragonskin: Less than 120 minutes (1197 rounds) [-105]
Prot. vs. Evil: Less than 24 minutes (237 rounds) [-105]
Blur: Less than 12 mins (117 rounds) [-104]
(Counting the minute spent in conversation, below.)
Those members who failed their Will saves (Lenny, Travis, Vale, and Kleborn) suddenly become extremely tired!
If a target fails his Will save, he automatically suffers the
effects of fatigue (can’t run or charge, -2 to Str and Dex,
plus any strenuous activity causes the target to become
exhausted) and thirst (Con check every 10 minutes (DC 10
+1 for each previous check) or suffer 1d6 points of nonlethal
damage) as well as a mild form of confusion.
As the reality of the harsh sun begins to set in, the party members who made their saves try in vain to convince the ones who didn't that all of this is not real. After about a minute of conversation, the four who failed begin to feel the effects of the heat!
For every 1 minute under the effects of this spell, the target
must make a Fort save (DC 15 +1 for each previous save)
or suffer 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. Heavily-clothed
targets or those wearing armor receive a -4 circumstance
penalty to this save. A PC reduced to unconsciousness
begins to suffer lethal damage.
Vale's Fort Save: 1d20+11 (+16 w/ Khub. Blessing) Vale has -4 to saves because of heavy armor, but Easy Travel property allows him to apply armor's rating of +3 toward mitigation of heat retention in this instance, so penalty is only -1. Kleborn's Fort Save: 1d20+10 (+15 w/ Khub. Blessing) Lenny & Travis' Fort Saves (Same): 1d20+10 (+15 w/ Khub. Blessing)
Vale's save: (18) = made it
Kleborn's save: (24) = made it
Lenny's save: (20) = made it
Trav's save: (24) = made it
No one has yet begun to suffer from heat exhaustion, although the heat is now, ALREADY, almost unbearable.
Dewydd's Memories: ...The sandy wastes of a desert stretch in all directions. The air is stifling and heat waves emit from the scorching sands, obscuring your sight. In the distance, the verdant tops of vegetation can be discerned, perhaps from an oasis. It’s difficult to determine if this is a chamber at all, or if it’s a portal to an actual desert...
The party notices, in the distance, the green tops of trees, popping up in the midst of the seemingly endless wastelands. An oasis, abundant with shade and cool water is a tempting destination, given the circumstances.
To everyone that made the save, the sand is real. It is a white, glittery, blue-glowing, obviously enchanted substance. The trees in the distance look real as well, perhaps actual vegetation that was transplanted? You can't be sure without drawing closer. The sun is not the sun at all, rather a simple, magical light, floating in place. There seems to be a "horizon" or edge to this area. You estimate the boundary to be circular, about 500 yards in diameter. You and your companions are somewhere in the southern hemisphere.
Kleborn, feeling the effects of the heat, and feeling tired, sees the oasis ahead. A sense of urgency overwhelms him. "I need a drink of water, and that area ahead looks like a great place to get a drink. Perhaps we can stop for a moment and rest under the shade."
Thallok will accompany Kleborn, mainly because he wonders if it is an oasis at all, or some trap. He turns his attention to Tam, "Giant slayer, I am going to accompany Kleborn to the water ahead. Perhaps you can take a look and see if there are any traps?"
Kleborn looks at the group and says, "Perhaps we can all go and check it out, nothing good is happening sitting here."
Kleborn and Thallok both wait for the group to join before going to the oasis.
Tam, agrees to scout forward, though he feels it is unnecessary since he feels it is all a trap.
OOC: I will do some DC rolls for this, but am presently at work...again. Getting lots of overtime and building my PTO.
Tam, it occurs to you that if the sand really is there, which you know it is, then there is no possible way to build a stable trap in it, much less detect one. Instead, you focus on spotting movement, especially creatures like Sand Worms, that are known to travel just beneath the surface of the sand. However, your eagle eyes spot nothing. If there IS something hidden under the sand, it's very well hidden.
Moving things along to prevent bogging down the game due to over-analyzing everything
The part advances toward the oasis; at a regular walk, with Tam just in front, and Dewydd flying alongside, it takes just under a minute (5 rounds) to reach your current position. To those that failed their saves, the heat is now stifling.
Green = Dense foliage, half visual distance, x3 movement cost
Beige = Sand, x2 movement cost
Blue = Water
ST = Statue
Finally, after cresting a sand dune, you spy a lush stand of trees crowding a small pool of clear water. Situated among the branches of the massive palm trees is a simple stone statue of a female sphinx. The tan statue is kneeling at the water’s surface, admiring its beauty in the glass-like surface of the pool. Three questions immediately spring to mind: 1] is the water safe to drink? 2] Is the sphinx statue looking at her reflection, or 3] is there something in the pool?
"Um, guys, would one of you detect magic on the water, or the statue?" Tam asks of the party. There is nothing in this place that he entirely trusts what his senses tell him. Though the sand seems, and maybe is real (and the heat, too), his thieves' distrust makes him question everything (well, except when he's stone drunk).
First, he notices how one claw touches the pool of water. Is it enscorceled to turn anyone or anything to stone that touches it?
Second, or --- does just looking into the pool cause the same enscorcelment?
Third, is the stone statue an excellently crafted golem, just waiting for the party to get too close because there may be something to protect?
In secret, he was hoping it was a golem. That meant there was the possibility of an amazing treasure, besides gems, coin and jewelry.