Uaithne (6) - Lindsay
Smoke (6) - George
Halbrod (5) - William
Felix (6) - Steve
Colodra (6) - Elizabeth
Ghrym (5) - Todd
Beverly (5) - Lisa
Check the online loot spreadsheet for current status of all loot (http://www.editgrid.com/user/lmarkus001/FR_Loot
). Everyone, even those not present, received 190 gp, 1 sp from sale of ill-gotten gains recovered from the clutches of deceased/defeated, nefarious, no-goodniks.
All seemed to work quite well today. All systems were up and running with minimal issues. George's secondary monitor seems to be helping in sharing displays. The sound was good (from my end) and connectivity was working quite well. There was an occasional hiccup through the night with some pieces of MapTools connectivity/communication, but, hey, we're running all this stuff on Microsoft OS's so the only thing that is suprising is that we weren't plagued with even more issues
Even Steve's reclining playstyle worked well!
Synopsis of Recent Events
The crue (motley as they are) had relatively recently made their way to the small but thriving village of Hommlett. There had been some time spent getting acquainted with the inhabitants and then they went off to investigate some structures off in the swamps. They returned a little battered and with a prisoner! There had been some effort to interrogate the prisoner, but as he still had all limbs and organs in relatively working order it could not have been too strenuous an "interrogation". There are some mysteries here for me. Due to my recent absences from the Crew (Paul? no, that is another story), I don't know what it was that motivated them to come to this village nor to engage in their investigative work in the swamps. Not that this is a secret, I just need to remember to get answers to thest questions. There was also some reference to a ten-day deadline, I need to find out the history on that, too. So, I returned from my diversions to rejoin the others on the evening of their return from the Moathouse...
The prisoner (a crazy spell-caster) was turned over to Sherriff Elmo for safekeeping and further questioning. Smoke warned us that there had to be a spy in the village and that we need to watch ourselves. (Hm, spy for whom? Probably the band of whatevers that are inhabiting the Moathouse). In any case, we spent a relaxing evening at the inn and had an uneventful night's rest despite the prospect of a spy in the village.
At dawn the following morning, Ghrym went off to the Church of Helm/Cuthbert (the gods here are known by different and varying names) to check in with a cleric there, Giday. Colodra and I went off to the Temple of Pelor to speak to Yether the Keen. Since they were just beginning their dawn rituals, we joined in with them. Yether the Keen gave us some information about how to cleanse the evil holy symbol that Colodra was carrying with her, which is what we really came here for. There was a bit of a dispute over the sanctification of the symbol, but it ended with Colodra and I heading off a bit into the woods to perform the cleansing ceremony. Well, she performed the ceremony and I got to clean up afterwards. The cleansing process involved spells like Bless, Bless Water, Remove Curse, and the application of the Holy Brillo. The symbol was consecrated (yet again if you believe Yether) and determined to still be magical. She then gave the broach to Uaithne to be used as a method for all of us to track him/her/it when he/she/it becomes invisible (but he/she/it doesn't know that).
By the time we returned from the woods, most of the others were up and about, grabbing a morning repast at the bakery or the inn. Once the local store owners opened their shops, the invasion began...
Felix bought all of the scrolls (Magic Weapon - Shield - Sleep - Invisibility - Levitate - Mirror Image - Fireball - Water Breathing) from the scroll vendor with the exception of Colour Spray and Identify; he also preordered a scroll of Tongues for which he put down a deposit of 375gp.
From the potion vendor, we purchased the following: Smoke - Spider Climb and Hiding; Colodra - Levitate and Water Breathing; Beverly - Cure Moderate Wounds and Bull Strength.
Uaithne made use of his/her/its magical powers to charm Gren (the prisoner) and was able to learn that she had some relics that are part of a "ceremony", also that we should never have gotten any of these relics. This relics are the strange collection of items that were discovered by the crew on their last foray into the Moathouse and have been divided among the crew to distribute their evil influence among as large a number of folks as possible.
With all of these preparations in place, we decided to return to the Moathouse and continue the invasion (investigation)...
The trip to the Moathouse was uneventful, although we did hear the distant croakings of the man-eating frogs. We were fortunate enough not to have attracted their attention, however. We searched through the first floor of the Moathouse again, just to see what, if anything, had changed since the previous day. As there weren't any significant signs of changes, we headed to the first sub-level. Here we did see that the bodies from the previous day had been dragged off down the hallway to the left. So, naturally, that was the direction we took. The hallway took a turn to the north shortly and opened into a large room with many alcoves in it. Before we had an opportunity to make a more detailed evaluation of the room, we were assailed by a number of ghouls! Melee ensued, magic was tossed and the power of the gods was invoked! Although, I still don't understand how a walking stool can be used effectively as a weapon, Smoke worked some serious harm with his, quite impressive to see. When Colodra first attempted to rebuke the ghouls with power of her deity (which is who?) a blast of light emanated from Ghrym, knocking some of the ghouls back and harming them with its power, very odd! Subsequent attempts at rebuking the ghouls was much less effective and impressive. Eventually, we destroyed the 4 ghouls and had an opportunity to survey the room.
This room is a large, "T"-shaped crypt with many alcoves around the room, piles of gnolls corpses scattered around. It is dismal and cold, dusty and cobweb-filled, sarcophagi are stored in dark, shadow-filled alcoves along the walls. A quick investigation of the room revealed a burrowed-out tunnel in the back of one of the southern alcoves that had bloody trails passing through it. The tunnel headed stouth a bit and then split, surrounding a central area where there were more stacks of gnoll corpses. A number of us explored through this initial tunnel area, finally determining that it ended in two different sections to the west that were filled in with collapsed rock.
While the southern tunnel complex was being explored, Smoke did a bit of investigating at a suspicious area of the northern branch of the ghoul room. He was able to discern a well-hidden door that revealed a hallway heading north. The hallway ended in a shaft that went up and had iron rungs in one wall. The top of the shaft ended in a pillar in room 22 that contained another secret door. Hm, tricksy folks!
Having finished our investigations to the north, we put some effort into examining the collapsed tunnels in the southern tunnel complex. It appeared that there was a bit of a breeze coming from the northern branch and there seemed to be an open area beyond the rock pile. With a bit of effort, we cleared enough room to allow Smoke to get through and begin investigations in the area beyond. There was another rough-hewn tunnel complex that quickly turned into a maze-like area. Uaithne used his/her/its magical powers to maintain mental communications with Smoke. Although we couldn't get an exact location of Smoke's progress, we could at least keep up, somewhat, with his progress and, certainly, his discoveries - up to a point...
Smoke's meanderings eventually led him to a room in the tunnel system, it wsa cold, a soul-numbing chill that "grips one's heart as well as one's sanity" (either Smoke or Uaithne was waxing a bit poetic). It was plain to Smoke that this room was evil, not just a hint of it, but a certainty. Rising from the floor to the ceiling is a tall, four-sided column that was natural but extensively carved so that each side (four of them) held a graven image. This was wimilar to a pillar that the Crew had found yesterday. There was an altar on one side of the pillar, it was made of a purplish stone and looked cloudy with a core of darkness, there was a depression in the top of the altar. When Smoke went to touch the altar, we lost communications with him.
A description of each of the statues follows:
The first is jet black and depicts a tall, muscular man in full plate armor with unfamiliar flanges and fluting. He wears a cape and holds a wavy-bladed sword.
The second side is dark green, carved into a man swathed in a flowing robe with long sleeves and a high collar. Covering the face is a mask resembling the one that the dead Master Thaque possessed (see Area 6).
The third side is deep blood red and depicts a man in high boots, a doublet, and gauntlets of twisting design. A hood drawn tight around the face covers his head.
The fourth side is a statue of a man colored deep indigo. The figure is clothed in a many-pleated robe with a sash covered in strange sigils (impossible to decipher). His head is cowled and he cradles a scepter in his folded arms.
A bit concerned by Smoke's lack of response, we began to move through the maze in an attempt to find him. Although we had a general idea of the direction he had taken, we had to wander through the maze to locate the room where we lost contact with him. (Lindsay saved us from further struggles in the maze by saying we eventually found the room, whew!)
In the room, we found Smoke hunched over the altar, which we now saw to be made of amethyst with an amorphous black center. Smoke appeared to be paralyzed instead of having been transformed into an amethyst statue that would be animated by the evil forces of the room when we entered. The tale would be a bit different had that been the case...
Ghrym pulled Smoke's body out of contact with the altar and felt some of the negative energy from the altar coursing through Smoke's body at first. When Smoke's body was no longer in contact with the altar, the altar began to change color and turned smoky purple, no longer transparent. Colodra investigated the altar to determine if it was related to a specific deity and determined that it belonged to the worship of Apep. As a test, Colodra shot the altar with a bolt of Searing Light, which caused the altar to revert to a transparent amethyst with a dark amorphous center. Hm, so feeding it positive energy changes it to some extent, interesting... As we watched, the altar changed back to a cloudy purple stone.
We examined the various statues on the pillar and determined that the sceptre seen on the fourth side was similar to the sceptre that had been picked up on the previous day. Additionally, the mask was similar to the one that was gotten from the Dragon yesterday. Ghrym closely examined the first statue and found a small compartment hidden in it, using his dagger, he managed to pry it open, revealing a small bead similar to the sphere that we had already found. Examining each of the statues more closely, we found similar hidden compartments containing the following items:
Statue 1 - The secret compartment contains a small black sphere. (Felix)
Statue 2 - The secret compartment holds a skin-covered black drum. (Beverly)
Statue 3 - The secret compartment has a set of silver chimes (worth 200 gp). (Colodra)
Statue 4 - In the compartment is a bronze brazier and three chunks of incense. (Halbrod - brazier; Felix - 3 chunks of incense)
We divided these items among the group, the current disposition is listed in the online loot spreadsheet. Uaithne later determined that only the small black sphere was magical.
As we pondered the statues and some findings from the previous day, Felix stated that he believed that the facings and all of the pieces that we have found are part of some process. Colodra gave us some additional information by reading through some notes that had been found that made us realize that there is, indeed, a process involving many items such as these and a living sacrifice that will give us access to an extraplanar area knows as... The Black Crypt!
We continued wandering through this tunnel complex (carrying Smoke's paralyzed body) but found nothing further of interest so we headed back towads the ghoul crypt. We attempted to cover our tracks but didn't seem to have any particular skill at that and attempted to refill the collapsed rock area to hide the fact that it had been opened. We headed back out to the north/south hallway and headed down the hallway that headed southeast. It ended in an unnatural stone wall that Felix determined was the effects of a Wall of Stone spell that had been there quite some time.
As we were trying to determine a next step, Uaithne attempted to use Detect Thoughts on Smoke and received thoughts only of fear. This led us to believe that both Smoke's mind and body have been paralyzed by some effect of the altar. We spent the next three hours searching other areas of the complex without any results. Smoke's paralysis wore off towards the end of this time, which was certainly a good thing!
*Note - Room 32 has a smaller statue set similar to the large pillar found in room 34a*
We decided that the only remaining path for us to take lies in a room to the far south (*room 32*). Among other things, there is a large hole in the floor over which is suspended a large, circular, wooden platform suspended from a pulley system. Looking down into the shaft we see that roughly 15 feet from the top of the shaft, indications exist that a stone plug was once placed here, then carefully mortared and sealed. Just above that point, a 4-foot-wide tunnel carrying an underground stream empties into the shaft, the water spilling down into the darkness below. A 2-foot-wide opening is visible just below the top of the shaft. We decided to have Beverly lower the platform down the pit and explore the area below the outpouring of the underground stream. As we are lowered, we see that the water pouring down beside the descending platform creates a mist below, deepening the chill that you feel as you go deeper. Through that mist, you can see that the floor below is just over 60 feet from the top of the shaft. It appears very smooth and black, with veins of deep violet. The shaft walls spread out into the darkness, opening onto a vast cavern.
The floor resembles black marble but has no luster, while the veins of purple are thick and jagged. The entire surface appears to be slightly convex, with sides lower than the center. Stranger still, the floor does not extend to the cave walls around it, as though it were merely a large platform itself. It is about 30 feet across — the cave is much larger than that in every direction. Beyond the floor edge, the cave walls plummet farther down into darkness. At the western rim of the black floor, another circular wooden platform hangs suspended over the darkness, with another rope and pulley system pounded into the rock above it.
Once the wooden platform settled on the stone floor, Ghrym and I began walking in the direction of the second wooden platform off to the west. Ghrym stopped to observe the stone floor which had purple veins that writhed and seemed to grab at him, becoming even more frigid and causing some discomfort. Smoke raised the first wooden platform about a foot so that we could see what was below it (there was nothing remarkable there). As Colodra and Smoke were preparing to move to the second wooden platform, we were attacked by a hideous beast from the depths of Hades and Shadow, a horrible, misshapen creature that reminds most others of agiant, floating brain with tentacles. The vicious predators have a large, bulbous body of wrinkled light gray flesh, with a sharp beak but no other visible features. Ten long, spiny tentacles hang down from the bottom of the body. The grell floats in the air of its own volition. I was quickly entangled in its tentacles and paralyzed by the poison injected through its tentacles. Before the grell could make off with me for later dining, a flurry of magical and mundane missiles and magical energies slew the beast. As it began to plummet into the depths, dragging me along with it, Uaithne cast Grease upon me, resulting in all of the grell's tentacles losing their hold on me. While others are carefully standing around the area on very slippery surfaces, my fate hangs in the balance as I am poised, paralyzed, near the edge of the abyss...