Telok: Elf cleric of Obad-hai (level 7) CG
Xyun: Human Fighter-Bard, (level 5) LG: Killed!
Jimwise Welby: Halfling Paladin (Level 7) LG
Jerry Springwater: Human Fighter-Paladin (Level 6) LG
Jestyn: High Elf Wizard (Level 6) CN
ADVENTURE 10: Quest for the Shard: The sixth level was a mass of twisted tunnels inhabited by strange beasts. As soon as the party got down, their employer, Balcoth left them, returning to his lair. Soon after they began walking, the party was attacked by a dog-sized spider, who they quickly slew. After that, they discovered a small storage room filled with rations and water, and a well hidden cubbyhole. Inside the hole, Xyun and Jestyn could detect a bit of movement, so they went to inspect it. The wizard saw a monkey-like being, like the one they had seen before. As he went to try and investigate it, the creature lashed out at him with a psychic attack, leaving him stunned and in shock. It then leapt at him, tearing at Jestyn with its sharp claws, and nearly slaying him. A command spell from Telok sent it to sleep, where Jerry rapidly killed it. After taking a little food from the cratesa mysterious but pleasant tasting meatthe characters went on. After searching a series of dead ends and false passages, the party found themselves in a large chamber, the walls covered with char marks and bodies lying everywhere, burned to a crisp. Nothing was left to identify any of them, but one body wore a suit of excellently made plate armor, which Jerry took with him. Still, all were suspicious, as they had heard of and seen signs of the beast that was supposed to lurk in these caverns, the same caverns they had discovered on their lone trip into the valley east of the crystal lake. Here they headed north, avoiding some side passages and then heading east at an intersection. This took them to the beasts lair itself! A huge being, like a dragon with spikes down its back and a shimmering coat of scales, it was a savage thing indeed. The monster breathed forth lightning, shocking Xyun even though he managed to dodge most of it. A battle ensued. The warriors surrounded it, while Jestyn and Telok stood back and Jeb fired bolts at it. Blood and scales flew everywhere. Jerry harmed it greatly, and so did Jimwise, both constantly stabbing at it with their swords. Xyun got in a few good hits too, but he was soon brought down with a bite and several thrusts of the monsters six claws. With a final hit it plunged its metallic talon through his chest, ripping out the bards heart and devouring it as he fell lifeless to the ground. The others, enraged, fought on, though Jimwise was also brought to unconsciousness, though not quite killed. A bright ray of sunlight from Telok hurt the thing somewhat, and it was Jestyns magic missile which stuck it the killing blow. After the battle, Telok used a spell to question Xyuns corpse, asking if he wished to be raisedwhich he did not. Jerry covered his friends body with rocks, making a crude tomb, and all said their prayers over his body. Later, some of the characters collected the monsters scales. In a connecting chamber they found the things clutch of eggs, next to the body of a dead rogue and his magic ring (a ring of water walking). Jestyn decided to destroy the threat, and exploded all the eggs with his spells. Another connecting chamber, they all realized, was the path leading back to the surface and the crystal lake. Yet the crystal shard was nowhere to be found. They searched on.
In a side-tunnel the characters found a horrid thing: above a bubbling spring lurked a patch of green slime. It landed on Jerrys head, and the others were barely able to save him as they scraped off the slime. Further on, they found another pool of much clearer water, and beyond it another set of tunnels. They first went north, however, coming into a huge chamber covered in ancient and primordial hieroglyphs, silent reminders of a previous age, when druids had ruled these lands. Beyond his room was another such chamber, featuring pictographs of strangely dressed warriors on walls that the dwarf realized were hollow. On the far end of the room, a brick wall stood out amongst the cave. Realizing that this was the entrance to the fabled Gremags tomb, the characters all dreaded to go on. Only Jerry wasnt afraid at all. Activating his ring of blinking, the paladin got ready to walk through the brick wall, but was stopped by his friends before he could walk to his death. They all quickly left, instead vying to explore the tunnels beyond the water pool. There they found another pool, this one with a slight glow near the bottomnot magic but simply algae. Moss grew all about this area. Also was a room guarded by three odd beings: like little pygmies, no larger than halflings were they, but with pure green skin, and hair that resembled leaves. The beings each held leaf covered spears, and though they did not seem to speak at all, they forbid the characters to enter the room beyond, which was filled with a rust-colored mold. Failing entirely to communicate with these vegetable pygmies, the PCs left, deciding against any hostile actions.
They then went back to the room with the burnt bodies, taking the western tunnel. In a connecting chamber they took the west path again, past a curious blue flowstone, and into a tunnel filled with odd black vines, seeming to writhe as they were pushed aside. They all stepped into an immense chamberthe lair of the vegepygmies, where dozens of them lived in a kind of village, though entirely silent. Jestyn, an expert in languages, took some time to try to learn the plant mens odd signals. After many tries and many near-blunders, he gained a kind of understanding. After a giving he guard his ring of water-walking as a gift, the plant-man seemed more amiable to the party. Jestyn asked about the crystal shard, and found that perhaps the vegepygmy chief might know more. The guard led him through the settlement and to the chiefs room. Hours passed as Jestyn and the chief tried to communicate without words. Since the plant-men knew nothing of writing either, pictures drawn on the moss became the means of communication. It was eventually revealed that the crystal was possessed by the tribe of monkey-things, who lived to the south of the vegepygmy lair, and were very unpleasant. Jestyn gave the chief a magical scroll as a gift, and in turn was given a potion of invisibility.
Back with the party, the wizard gave them the info they needed to know. The potion was given to the stealthy Jeb. Also turned invisibly by Jestyn, he took the potion and went to find the crystal. He came back a half hour later, flustered and scared, but his mission a success. He held in his hands a large crystal sharda dull and sickly yellow, with a black flame burning deep inside it. It gave all a cold and unearthly chill, and when the paladins attempted to detect evil in it, their attempts were somehow repelled. As Jeb said that one of the monkeys had detected him, the party was quick to leave. On their way out, they were shot at by a pair of mysterious spiked bushes that had suddenly appeared in one of the caverns. Not wishing another fight, they quickly ran back to the lizard-things old lair, and discussed their plans. Jerry did not wish to bring the crystal back to Balcoth, knowing that he was an evil man and would only do evil with it. The others mostly agreed, not at all trusting the strange rune-mage. They left the dungeon by the nearby tunnel to the surface, heading for the church of Muir and Thyr, where they hoped they could at least identify the thing.
Marching through the night and into the day, they eventually arrived in town, tired and weary. They immediately headed for their church, though they soon learned from Jonathan that Sartorious was at the Temple of All Gods, negotiating the churchs re-entry into that prestigious society. Yet when they got there, he was just gone, having left not a half hour ago. As they got outside, all heard a horrendous scream coming from the central part of the city. More screams followed, leading the PCs to the old graveyard, built around the ancient temple to Gobito, former god of death. Here, the earth was erupting as all the citys dead began to rise, lumbering up from their graves as vile zombies. A wave of pure evil could be felt coming from the ancient black stone temple, and both paladins dashed towards it while the cleric began turning the undead. Jestyn ran as far as he could, figuring that it was possibly his crystal shard that was causing all of this. The battle against the undead was a tense one indeed. Telok could easily destroy them with his faith, but as he laid eight of them to rest, ten more came to take their place, threatening to overrun him. After two tries, the warriors succeeded in busting the doors to the old temple down. Inside was a horrible sight. Amongst the graves of the ancient priests was a new corpsethat of either a halfling or a young child, it was mutilated and bloody in the center of a circle of black candles. Behind it stood a familiar man. In a crimson cloak, with a gray mask and gloves of black metal, it was the same man who had been seen at the church burning several weeks back, the priest of Orcus! As the paladins bravely approached him, two dried up and ancient dead arose from their tombs to join the battle, while the throng from outside began to rush in. The evil priest cast many foul spells at them, nearly slaying both warriors as they tried to smite him down. They nearly succeeded too, when the mystery man slipped his hand into his cloak and simply vanished. Though they tried swinging at his former location, the Orcusite was gone, nowhere to be seen. The two undead were not hard to bring down, though they sucked some life-force from Jimwise. Telok was able to destroy one more batch of undead as he too came into the temple, but many more rose up. Yet finally the party won, managing to kill nearly fifty zombies, while High Priest Sartorious arrived and aided them in their final efforts. They then walked out, back to the church to rest and heal, knowing that the cult of Orcus was alive and well.
During the battle, Jestyn saw no such violence. He first ran to the church to try to find help. As it was empty, he then ran to the wizards district to see if any of his old friends could help him with the strange crystal. Professor Jameson, an old tutor of his, said that the thing must be of great power, as his magic could not even identify it. He hinted that it must be an artifact of some might, beyond mortal spells. Offering to research it for outrageous sums, the old wizard eventually allowed Jestyn to give him a thousand gold, in return for finding out what the artifact did. Jestyn agreed.
DM’S COMMENTS: This time, they basically did most of level 6, plus a bit of my original content, with the zombie infestation at the graveyard. I decided to replace the wererats in the published module with Vegepygmies from the ToH, since I’m kind of tired of wererats after doing Rappan Athuk. Anyway, friday night was probably the most productive session so far. The PCs even got their hands on a rather interesting artifact. The third PC death of this game happened, and it was sadly Xyun, who had such great aspirations. Gorbash the Ogre will be very sad when he finds out what happened to his friend…