ADVENTURE 36: Orcus Strikes Back
Jerry Springwater: Human Fighter-Paladin-Justicar, Level 14 LG
Jestyn: High Elf Wizard, Level 14 NG
Verrof: Earth Genasi Ranger-Foe Hunter, Level 12 LG, ECL 13
Kirian Ylestos: Human Figher-Barbarian, Level 12 CG
Relan: High Elf Cleric of Heironeus, Level 11 LG
ADVENTURE 36: Orcus Strikes Back: Stuffing Kirians body into a portable hole, the party explored the two rooms off of the temple. In the right one they found some priests quarters, unexciting save for an eyeless and toothless head that was lying upon a bed. A secret door in this room lead into a treasure chamber, inhabited only by a sad little girl who had been turned into a zombie. Verrof quickly slew her, knowing that he was doing only a good deed. They gathered together the treasures; including a large statue of Hecate and a magically flowing fountain (which they had to disenchant and shrink to even fit in their portable hole). The other room contained only a vast pile of bodies, rising up to the ceiling. The party swore vengeance on Orcus for this grizzly crime. Then they left, teleporting out.
Back in the city, the characters rested and relaxed. As he arrived at the Golden Hen inn, Jestyn was approached by Mindy. She asked him where Telok was. He was supposed to see her soon, and she hadnt even heard form him. Curious himself, the wizard tried Sending to Telokbut there was no response. Even more curious, he went to his academy and scried on the Cleric, revealing a most interesting sight. Telok was sitting on a bed, wearing a dark robe. It seemed to be somewhere underground, with a cold stone floor and some writing on the walls. Soon, Telok lay down in his bed to rest, and Jestyn could hear him mumbling some words; words that he recognized from all of the Orcus rituals! Telok had possibly joined the cult! Jestyn took Mindy to the Filthy Harlot and spoke with her. Getting Verrof, the two told her all about Telok and his wicked ways, finally explaining that he was now a cleric of Orcus. She was so distraught that she chugged down one of Gorbashs drinks, passing out instantly. The ogre took her upstairs to sleep it off, while Verrof went to bed.
Meanwhile, Jerry and Sartorious were celebrating victory in their temple. They were approached by an elven cleric who called himself Relan, a worshipper of Heironeus, who had come in response to the partys ad for a cleric. He apparently wished to help them defeat the menace in Rappan Athuk, and thus he was allowed into the party. Relan accompanied Jerry to the bar, where he met everyone except for Verrof, who was sound asleep. Everyone else soon joined him. Jerry had a terrible dream that night, though later he could not recall what it was.
The next morning was a strange one. As Relan woke up in his own temple, he heard a commotion coming from the central Temple area. Karsyla was giving a speech about defeating the cult of Orcus. Suddenly, as Relan watched, there was a terrible explosion of fire. Many people fell to the ground dead. He then saw a man, a mad-eyed merchant, who suddenly looked at him and exploded, as a red gem in his chest glowed. Though the suicide-bomber did not kill Relan, many others died horribly, and the survivors ran in shock. Relan stayed to heal the wounded, then spoke with Karsyla.
Another shock happened to Verrof in the morning. He awoke and decided to cook Madeline breakfast. As he went to wake her up, she would not awaken. She was not breathing. He dropped his dish to the floor and ran to find Jerry, needing help. Running back, Jerry examined her and found that while her body was warm, she did not breathe at all, and though she showed some signs of life, others were absent. They took her body and made for the temple. Jestyn, meanwhile, briefly stopped at Anna-Maries home and spoke with her, finding that everything was all right there, although her father did wish to speak with him later. The two then started heading for the temple. There, Jestyn saw a great crowd of people. Another horrible explosion happened, the bodies flying everywhere. Jestyn managed to spot several people as they left the crowd, looking rather suspicious. He followed one and trapped him in a ball of force. As he went to confront the fellow, he exploded, though harmed nobody. Jestyn then found another such person, who he followed to the low market, catching him too in a prison of force just before the man blew up.
At the temple, Relan and Karsyla were shocked by a strange visitorthe skeletal man in spiky black plate, his eyes glowing red, his forehead carved with the wand of Orcus. He spoke, taunting and laughing at them all, saying again that great curses would befall those who tried to fight Orcus. As Relan approached him, the being disappeared, his identity still a mystery. The others arrived soon after, and everyone spoke, deciding what to do next. Madeline was given to Karsyla, who said that her soul was stolen, trapped in a gem somewhere. A divination revealed her attackerTelok! Verrof had Jerry remove his Mark of Justice as he vowed to hunt down and kill the evil cleric.
Jerry patrolled the length of Nenkal, searching for more insane fire-ball people. He saw that the high-market was a wreck, few living people in sight. The coliseum had also been attacked, though the damage was minimal, and here he found Snaggletooth and the confused Rachel, who were both still alive. Going south he saw that the low market was still intact, though he spotted a young woman approaching it from an alley. As he intercepted her, she began speaking with him. He pulled his sword forth, detecting evil from her. She exploded, hurting Jerry but not killing him. Back at the Filthy Harlot, it seemed everything was safe. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up the town and making sure no more suicide bombers were around.
The following morning, the heroes got together and decided to end Teloks sorry existence. Jestyn scried on him once more, finding that today Telok was in a small temple, covered in darkness, a little shrine of Orcus on the far wall. He appeared to be praying. The party cast some buff spells and Jestyn teleported them right in, ready to fight.
They arrived and Verrof instantly leapt for Telok, nearly killing him instantly. Suddenly, from the back wall came eight wraithlike beings, who began to surround Jerry and Verrof. At that time, Jestyn cast Power Word Stun on Telok, paralyzing the traitor. As the undead surrounded Jerry, they sucked away much of his life force, seeming to age him rapidly as they drained his youth and vitality. He did not yet die, but was very weakened. Soon some shadows came through the wall too, a dozen of them, who also attacked the party. Jerry tried fighting off his attackers, but their incorporeal nature made them difficult targets, as Verrof also saw. The cleric Relan attempted to Heal Jerry, but his spell was not able to restore the lost constitution, which seemed permanent. The undead began to surround him as well.
The next round, Verrof let loose on Telok, popping his little head like a zit. The dead cleric fell to the ground. Yet his minions persisted. Jestyn killed many with a chain lightning spell, though it only hit about half of them. Then Jerry died, hit by several more attackers, falling to the ground a withered husk of a man as he aged rapidly. It was then that the heavy hitters came in. Two demonic women with six arms and snake-tails, they both surrounded Jestyn and attacked him, one trapping the wizard in her tail, the other doing the same to his lady. Next, a mighty being of flame and shadow appeared, wielding a whip of flames an immense greatsword. It looked at Reland for a moment, growling as it pointed at him. He imploded, falling into himself, dying instantly. Another thing appeared, a large and withered demon who seemed almost skeletal. It cast chain lightning on the party, injuring many. They decided to get the hell out of here. Everyone quickly gathered together, grabbing onto one another. Jestyn cast a teleport spell, managing to barely maintain concentration while the snake-demon choked the life from him. The party escaped, minus the body of Relan, which was too heavy to take. They were in Nenkal again, their lives barely intact after such a horrible ambush. Later, after spending a sick amount of money, Jerry and Relan were raised from the dead (Relans equipment was gone, of course), and so was the unfortunate Kirian, who had been dead more than a day. Happily, Madeline had her soul restored, as Verrof had found a soul-gem on Teloks body.
DM’S COMMENTS: As we can see, Orcus Strikes Back! Very much pain for the PCs here. They were ready for the other two Temples, but not the Chapel, certainly not the Chapel. They fell into the ambush beautifully, and Jerry died before he even noticed that the wall was an illusion. The demons proved the worst part–very deadly indeed. This session came very close to a TPK, and probably would have been if I had checked the monster manual and remembered one of the Marilith’s abilities. Hopefully they won’t go back there right away!