ADVENTURE 6: The Wisdom of Flail: The next morning was host to quite an argument between Telok and Jestyn, though it ended in peace if not friendship, with both agreeing to work with the other. After a brief breakfast and some talk, a young dwarf approached their table at the inn. His name was Jeb Greenhammer: expert in traps and locks. He had also seen their ad at The Delvers Den, and wished to join them, as his brother was missing somewhere in the dungeon, along with their family heirloom, a mythical axe. He agreed to come with for 750 gold, but when Jestyn convinced him that Telok might actually be a priest of Orcus, Jeb demanded more money, and soon got it; 200 gold more. Then the group set out. They got to the twin shrines again by nighttime, yet as they tried going further, they all heard a strange croaking sound coming from the nearby lakethree giant frogs, who soon ambushed the party, intent on a quick meal. Fortunately, our heroes quickly slew them, with some help of their magical trident. Afterwards, they decided to investigate the filthy lake some more. On the shores of it, they discovered a strange pathway, an ancient set of stone steps leading along the shore and down through the mountains, into a deep chasm. The steps were carved with hieroglyphs in an ancient druidic tongue, and some of the characters had heard tales that this valley was formerly a druidic holy site, long before any followers of law and good had found it. Xyun had even read of an ancient druid-lord buried somewhere under the valley. They followed the steps, which led down into the chasm and eventually into a deep and wide cave, which wound down and westward, into the heart of the valley. After walking for hours, they found themselves near the mouth of an even greater cavern, but suddenly stopped when they saw the ground littered with bones, looking like they had been charred by electricity. In the distance, they could hear a deep roar, and covering the ground were immense reptilian footprints. Not willing to face whatever threat lay ahead, the group turned around. Tired, they slept past morning in the shrine of Muir. The next day they headed for the burial halls, and decided to take on the rumored Draeligor, follower of Orcus. They went south of Gorbashs lair, eventually entering a tomb chamber where they briefly fought and defeated six animated skeletons. In a side-room was a perverse shrine to the demon prince, a large statue of him dominating it, casting an unholy curse across the room. Here, they met Draeligor: an undead being with taut and dry skin, his eyes glowing red, his desiccated body covered in grotesque spiky armor, which radiated fear. The battle was a tough one, but in the end the heroes succeeded, slaying the undead lord with healing magic, which made his skin burn off quite rapidly. He managed to hit Telok and Xyun, sucking away portions of their very souls, though later they managed to recover the lost vitality at the temple. After the battle, they raided Draeligors items, including some magical gear and plenty of money. Then they cleansed the evil shrine, toppling the statue of Orcus, then consecrating it all with holy water and a prayer. The evil symbols melted away, along with the statue, freeing this level from its supreme evil grip. After this great deed, the characters left again for town, both to heal their wounds and to watch the upcoming arena fight.
Back in Nenkal, Xyun and Telok were restored by High Priestess Karsyla, and Jerry returned to the temple of Thyr and Muir with Draeligors armor, as proof that the priesthood of Orcus yet existed. Rewarded with a small amount of money and a blessing, Jerry now felt confident that he could become a paladin. The others did a little shopping, then all got some rest. The next day, some of them put bets down on the upcoming fight: Xyun put money on Gorbash, while Jestyn bet some on Garamond, the current champion. The day at the arena was an exciting one. With thousands gathered to watch, violence dominated. A preliminary fight featured five prisoners, including former PC Pylor, against a monstrous man-scorpion, who rapidly killed them all. The main even then came, as Gorbash battled the duelist Jacque Garamond. It was looking bad for Gorbash, when a critical hit allowed him to bash in the humans head, and another one finished the champion off. Gorbash was the winner! Awarded with gold and fame, the ogre left a hero. The PCs spoke with him outside, where he was leaving with two women on his arms. Gorbash spoke of his love, an ogre lady who he was going to impress with a fine gift, now that he was rich and famous. Telok spoke with one of Gorbash female companions, Cynthia, managing to get her address and impressing her with his charms. After saying their farewells to the ogre, the party went back to the dungeon. An all-night trek took them back into the burial halls and to the third level.
Passing through the former Mobat lair that was the entry room, they headed southwest until the wide passage divided into north and south routes, split by a large wall in the middle. The south route was plagued by strangely large holes, and so the characters took the north route, where there was only five of them. In each hole there turned out to be a large leech-like creature, which darted out at them as they passed. They managed to get by without too much damage, and eventually the north and south corridors merged back together, before splitting back up further west. As they looked down the south passage, they saw two people: a shorter one and a taller one. Deciding against any other encounters, they took the north route.
This took them to a set of brass doors, covered with celestial images and flanked by two white obelisks. Upon them were writings, stating that only those who worshipped the twin gods could continue through the door. When the dwarf Jeb tried looking for traps, he was pushed back by an invisible force. The other obelisk detailed the way to open the door, and Jimwise did so, blessing it and commanding it to open. Only Jimwise, Xyun and Jerry were able to enterthe others waited outside. This was the tomb of Flail, great hero and cleric. Brightly lit, exuding a kind of holy energy, the tomb was entirely undefiled. Amongst various other sights, Flails pure and unrotting corpse was set upon a platform, showing no sign of age. After saying some prayers of wonder, Welby took out their resurrection scroll and read from it, and all were stunned as a ray of sunlight streamed from nowhere and a shining soul descended down into the priests body. He arose, speaking with the holy men. Flail was distraught to learn that his faith was in such a terrible state, vowing that if he were living, he would destroy Orcus himself. When questioned about the chalice and stone, he said that they had been moved to another tomb, a hidden tomb on the second level, behind an illusionary wall in the entrance cavern of that floor. Then, Jerry told Flail that he wished to become a paladin. The ancient priest questioned him some, then deciding that Jerry was worthy, he anointed and blessed him, initiating him as a true paladin. Afterwards, he laid back down and quietly died again, content with his afterlife. Some further exploration of this tomb area revealed another chamber full of other heroes tombs, which was home to a rat-tunnel that lead off to the south. Jimwise tried investigating this, which lead to a dark cavern somewhere, but stopped before going to far. Meeting up again, the heroes left to seek out the second floor and its secret tomb. On the way out, they decided to hunt and kill the leech-things in the walls. One by one, they lured the creatures out of their holes and struck at them, slaying the first two easily. The other three were not so simple. Attacking from both sides, the cave beings caught and ate both Jimwise and Xyun, almost devouring them completely before they were able to cut their way out. Still, the PCs defeated all five of the monsters on the northern side, and made their way wounded back to the holy shrines on the surface, to recover their wounds.
DM’S COMMENTS: Good playing this time, overall. I’m glad Telok and Jestyn didn’t kill each other. Draeligor proved to be a bit of a disappointment, as he only got a few hits in before they killed him, but the morays were fun, managing to seriously hurt the PCs just as they were getting arrogant. They managed to find level 6 briefly, but wisely decided to not go in, avoiding the nasty of that level. I’m having some fun with this dungeon; the whole paladin storyline is really interesting for me, as they’ve always been my favorite class. Soon the PCs will probably go to level 2, with all of its evil goodness.