- 992 9 September 28, 6 PM—Saturday, May 28th, 2016
After a discussion about whether to leave the caverns (and face the tyrannosaur) or go deeper into the ruins (and check out the treasure, and hopefully find a shortcut to the City), they chose to go deeper.
Zah Eil and Riana led the way; Majelica and Eddie the Lizard went next, and Owen and Alvin followed behind. They used the existing torchlight from the walls for light, and Owen’s magical light from behind.
Zah Eil examined the altar on the balcony overlooking the chasm, while Eddie kept lookout over the bridge. “It’s been used,” he said, “and in the last few days, for blood sacrifices.” Zah Eil was also pretty sure they used cups or something like cups.
And they crossed the bridge; as they got toward the center of the bridge, Owen—the light-bearer—was attacked by giant bats, and completely surprised. Fortunately, he did not fall off the bridge. Four bats attacked him; one successfully bit him as he flailed at them. Suddenly, ten bats were swirling around the group and attacking. Most couldn’t get through any of the armor, but Eddie, who was already out of survival, gained two injuries from a giant bat bite. Owen took seven points, gaining seven injuries.
Riana talked to the bats and managed to calm them down. But by this time Owen was dying; Zah Eil figured if they kept him still and safe, he had only a few hours to live. Zah Eil called on the spirits of Ishtar to heal three points and then again for seven points, bringing Owen up to three survival. Owen would now survive, but was still unconscious. As part of her conversation with the bats, Riana promised that they would leave the bridge alone, so the group dragged Owen across the bridge to the other side1
They chose to avoid the bear and the treasure chests, because they weren’t sure if there were guards still in the treasure room.2 They investigated the other end. Through the secret door and thin hallway Eddie was pretty sure the door was easily openable, but man, did it smell on the other side. Riana identified the smell as wolverine musk and waste.
Alvin recognized that the secret area was still trafficked, so it wasn’t a good place to camp out anyway.
So they went to the other doors, which weren’t secret, and found long stairs leading down. And the smell of rotting corpses, which Zah Eil was pretty sure were human.3
- 992 9 September 28, 5 PM—Saturday, May 21st, 2016
When Owen returned from scouting the lair of the Enkian priests, he waxed rhapsodic to the others about treasure chests in a back room, but emphasized that getting to them meant going through nine Enkian guards. The others—especially Majelica—wanted to escape the underground; but no one had ideas on how to get past the tyrannosaur.
The stairs flipped back to stairs rather than a slide, but that just made it easier for them to be eaten by a dinosaur.
They hatched a plan to get through the five visible guards: the two on the other side of the bridge, and the three around the corner of the intersection twenty or so feet beyond the end of the bridge. The plan called for Owen to sleep the two at the bridge; Owen, Majelica, Alvin, and Eddie would then rush across; Alvin and Eddie would start tying the guards up, and Owen and Majelica would sleep the three guards beyond the intersection—those guards didn’t yet know that the party was aware of them.
Alvin pre-cut some rope to have it ready to tie everyone up.
To fill out your scorecard, the two guards are Daneil and Marmin, and the three plate-mailed guards around the intersection are Beilgar, Beilshar, and Bahrein.
The four that show up in round four, that Owen did not account for in his plan, are Shalm, Barirpal, Tirar, and Kordok.
Owen focused a sleep spell on the two guards, such that they had a penalty of 3 to their reactions. This meant that they only saved on a one or a two; and Daneil made his save with a 1. Since they were expecting some sort of attack (though with spears rather than magic, since they’re not familiar with it), Daneil attacked back, recognizing Owen as the source (Daneil and Marmin are prophets, after all). Daneil used a weather spirit to cast foul air around Owen, and it stuck. Owen had two rounds of activity before he was going to run completely out of breath.
Daneil blew a whistle; no one heard anything. But the three plate-mailed guards at the intersection came around.
- 992 9 September 28, 3 PM—Saturday, May 14th, 2016
During this session Owen, Majelica, and Alvin had players; Zah Eil, Eddie, and Riana, did not. So, of course, the player entrusted with Zah Eil’s character had Zah Eil lead them in crossing the second bridge; I am thus honor-bound to remind them that at the end of the last game Zah Eil had planned to look for and displace any huge bats likely to swoop down onto Owen’s magical light. There were in fact huge bats, so they shot arrows into the swarm, which swooped away from the stalactites and off into the distance.
They crossed the bridge and turned left on the crossing bridge. There were stairs. And light coming down! Not much, but some light, and it looked like sunlight. The stairs went up about a hundred feet.
Someone was moving on the other side of the rope bridge. Owen covered his light. There was someone moving across the bridge, crouching down1. Everyone climbed the stairs. At about 60 feet, the stairs turned into a smooth slide. Riana, Majelica, and Zah Eil grabbed onto the rough broken-plaster walls. Alvin, Owen, and Eddie slid all the way back down, and Eddie took 2 points damage.
Owen was blasted with some sort of foul, choking stench. He evaded it.
Eddie climbed up, easily enough being taller and a good climber.2
The top of the stairs came out onto some sort of stone platform. The opening was horizontal, covered in thin roots and dirt, which Eddie easily pushed aside. Eddie tossed Riana’s divine rope3 all the way down the stairs, tying it to some stronger roots, and it expanded to the necessary length. Everyone climbed up the rope, except Riana who became a bird.
They looked around the stone platform and found themselves in a clearing in a jungle. Hot, humid, and lots of broken stone lying around from ancient structures, and a swamp a bit to the north.
They discussed where to go. The sphinx said to go north to the road. They were also worried about the slug creatures, who they thought had a city around here. And they were thinking they could take a shortcut if they could find a crossroads teleport pad rather than walking a thousand miles.4
- 992 9 September 28, 3 AM—Saturday, May 7th, 2016
Eddie, Riana, and Zah Eil
Riana, still a skink, returned. She saw yet another band of saurians, six of them. Combined with the eight mananubi at the temple of Ishtar and the four mananubi at the pillars down the stairs, that meant eighteen potential enemies milling about. And there were more down the stairs, past some rubble, and in a place they were guarding. Riana told Eddie and Zah Eil about the long stairs past the rubble, going up, as well.
Riana, traveling as a tiny skink, had taken two hours to on her scouting run. During this time, Zah Eil studied the tablet for information about golems like the one the lizard king summoned in the abandoned ancient temple. He discovered that (a) golems are created things, and there are golems of Enki guarding the gates of the city, and (b) the thing downstairs was an earth elemental, summoned from the elemental planes. Elementals are deadly and unstoppable, but, summoned by a sorceror, nearly always turn on their master before they fade back to their elemental home, which they do within an hour. The sudden rush of information threatens to overwhelm Zah Eil, but he managed to order his mind and survived.
Which meant that the elemental was almost certainly gone. Riana the skink returned to check, and yes, there was nothing there. So they all returned, see that the altar was destroyed, that the door behind the altar was heavily damaged, and the door going left in the secret room behind the altar was propped open.
They went through. The blue lights made them drowsy. Riana was at a penalty to attack and defense due to the drowsiness, but since she was a skink no one cared. She fell asleep on Zah Eil’s shoulder. Zah Eil let the door close. They went up the stairs into the statuary hall. The green lights pulsed; Zah Eil told everyone to close an eye. But he then went and started looking at stuff. The lights flashed. Eddie and Riana managed to avert their eyes, but Zah Eil was blinded.
The place smelled vaguely of burned person without the full rankness. Eddie led them forward. There were still-smoking bones scattered around the far end of the room on some stairs leading up.
They stopped and listened. They heard noises above. It turned out to be Alvin, Majelica, and Owen.
Alvin, Majelica, and Owen were letting the web, that they’d lit in the previous session, burn. Smoke was filling up the ceiling as it filled the upward-going stairs in the hallway. A good thirty feet in, they saw a giant spider moving in the smoke—then realized it was a dead husk, five to six feet long in the body. The fire died out after about half an hour. Zah Eil, as the only person left relatively undamaged, lit a candle and went to look up the stairs. The stairs led up about fifty feet and turned right. It was dark all the way. There was probably a wall about thirty feet beyond where it turned right. He headed back down and told everyone it was safe to rest here.
- 992 9 September 28, 1 AM—Saturday, April 30th, 2016
Eddie, Riana, and Zah Eil
Eddie, Riana, and Zah Eil as you may recall, returned to the ebon demon room; the demon continued to always face Riana. They sent Eddie the giant (lizard) thief out to the temple of Ishtar to scout around. Eddie snuck loudly out the secret door, but fortunately no one in the abandoned temple noticed him. Eddie snuck around the corner where he knew there was a passage, and found himself looking straight at four jackal-headed creatures lolling about some columns that flanked wide stairs leading down. Eddie ran back into the secret room; the jackal-heads were not surprised, however, and managed to fire their arrows at him; two hit. Eddie gained an injury; he converted it into three injuries in his tail, and loses his tail.1
But Eddie managed to get back through the secret door before the creatures came around the corner to see him enter it. Since they hadn’t yet cried out, the jackal-heads at the temple didn’t see him either. Eddie tried to hold the door shut in case they came looking for it; he heard them moving beyond it and talking unintelligibly to each other, but no one seemed to try the secret panel.
They discussed going back down to where the giant stone creature had been rampaging, but Riana decided to become a skink and scout out the area that Eddie had seen. This was her last shape change of the day. She skittered past the four guards and down the stairs, finding a rubble-filled cavern. On the other side of the cavern she found (a) stairs leading up, and (b) a lone jackal-headed guard guarding a door. She scooted under the door and saw seven jackal-headed creatures and one human. One of the jackal-headed creatures occasionally looked out of a small hole in the wall. Riana went out a back door, to the right and to the right again, and saw stairs leading upward. This would be where the creature was looking. She went back out; almost got stomped by the outside guard; went back up through the cavern and up the stairs, and looked in the other passage. There was a man-made structure there, some sort of room, empty.
Zah Eil spent this time reading the tablet of the arts to find information about golems which, because he’s a prophet, is what he expected the stone creature was.
Alvin, Majelica, and Owen
Meanwhile, Alvin, Majelica, and Owen escaped through the secret room behind the altar. The earth elemental tried to grab Owen as they ran through the doors into the glowing blue room, but Owen made his evasion roll. They ran up the stairs into the room with green-glowing columns and statues of Greek monsters.
- 992 9 September 27, 10 PM—Saturday, April 23rd, 2016
Zah Eil and a few others started feeling tired. The pulsing blue light made them drowsy. They walked up the stairway, to a set of unadorned double doors at the top of the stairs. Eddie said they were probably a secret door on the other side, and not trapped.
They opened the door, and discovered a long hall with glowing green columns on either side, and next to each column a statue of a strange creature: a sphinx, a manticore, a hydra, a harpy, and on and on.
Eddie examined the door to make sure he knew how to open it again if it became necessary; pressing on the door where the lock was on the other side worked it. (They also still haven’t removed the rock holding the door in the blue room open.)
As they discussed what this room was and what to do next, the green glowing lights went out. Owen’s magic light remained, but they still freaked a bit. A few minutes later, the green lights came back on again.
Zah Eil, when he received his spirits that morning asked for two war spirits and two healing spirits. He got the healing spirits, but only one war spirit—and one prophet spirit that he didn’t ask for. He guessed (correctly) that this meant Ishtar wanted him to manifest divine guidance. Looking about this room, he realized that this whole area was the temple section of a larger city. And that meant it was a holy area that he could manifest divine guidance in.
He had the spirit manifest divine guidance. A man’s voice spoke to him.
“Why are you taking a man’s voice?”
“I am not Ishtar. She’s not speaking with you right now. I am Tammuz, and I’m not too happy about that because when she starts calling me Tammuz it means I’m going to die soon.”
“Why are you here?”
“Well, I guess, the third tablet?”
“She stole those tablets from Enki. They’re hers. She wants them back. Where are you going now?”
“A third secret, the tablet of music and the arts, waits in the court of the lizard king, beyond the ebon demon, beyond the shrine of the moon, past the temples of the dead, in a city lost, ancient beyond imagining. Look you beyond, and beware, the hidden crossroads and the guardians of the lizard king’s rest.
‘We know where the ebon demon is, and the shrine of the moon, but where is the lizard king?”
“I can’t tell you that because (a) it’s a goddamn riddle, and (b) Enki is all over this place. But haven’t you already seen one?”
“Oh, shit, that fresco in the hallway before the urns?”
- 992 9 September 27, 8 AM—Saturday, April 16th, 2016
Rather than rest in the demon room, they cut away the plaster. Riana used her claws and, after Riana did not get punished by the attentive ebon demon, Owen used his spare knife.
Eddie Lizard checked for traps, then opened the door. The other side was as Owen had described it—rubble everywhere, stalactites and stalagmites blocking the way. It went down eighty feet, turned left, and went down eighty feet again, whereupon it opened into a one hundred by two hundred foot room. There were tracks coming out of one of the side doors and leading towards the front of the room. Eddie examined them; probably some of the jackal-men. They came out of one door and went up to the altar; it looked like kneeling.
Eddie walked around the walls of the room; there were four doors on each side, many blocked by rubble and rock growths. Fallen plaster and dust was everywhere. At the far end of the room the wall was a semicircle. The half-circle was on raised stone; stairs led up to it, and within it was an altar and a podium. The curved wall was covered by the tattered rags of a faded tapestry.
Zah Eil went to look behind the tapestry, because there had to be, of course, a hidden door there. At his touch, the entire tapestry crumbled into dust on the floor. And there was indeed a door behind it—a pair of them.
They decided to hole up here. They’re worried about the tracks they’ve left in the dust betraying where they are, so Majelica cast dust wand and sucked all of the dust in the room into her wand simply by walking up the room and pointing her wand left and right. The rubble, fallen plaster, and ancient columns were now as clean as they had been when they were made. Or broken. Or whatever. But the party’s tracks are gone, because there is no dust for them to be in.
Next, they closed the door that had tracks coming out of it and Majelica cast bar passage. It will be barred for about five days. They then went back up the stairs toward the demon room, and at the landing where it turned left, they set up camp and watches. Owen prepared to create a lost corner if they hear anyone trying to open the barred door.
There were, however, no encounters that “night”. They rested twelve hours.
In the “morning”, Eddie searched for traps on the no-longer-hidden doors behind the altar; finding none, Eddie opened the doors. This led into an 80-foot square room very similar to the one they just left: plaster frescoes shattered on the floor, stalactites, stalagmites, and debris everywhere. There are doors on the left wall and doors on the wall straight ahead. They chose to go straight ahead.
- 992 9 September 27, 7 AM—Saturday, April 9th, 2016
The jackal-headed mananubi brought the captured characters to a Greek-like open-air chapel. On the way there, they saw a glass tube rising into the clouds; a gigantic oak-like tree; and a wall of thorny trees on either side of the chapel. There was a minotaur, two saurians, and five jackals on guard at the chapel. The creatures all discussed what to do with the captives. They decided (a) to send some jackals back to the platform to check out the other side, since it probably isn’t guarded any more (six people can’t sneak through); and to send one of the jackals on ahead to tell the minotaur-king that they have captives.
At that moment, Zah Eil commanded the minotaur to sleep. The minotaur walked over to a column, leaned back, and took a nap. While the minotaur was walking, Zah Eil manifested darkness. Because they’d seen this sort of thing before from him and Riana, none of the player characters were surprised.
Eddie Lizard could still see people—saurians have “underground” vision. He/she surmised, then, that the two saurians on the chapel steps could also see. They brandished their clubs and began to step down.
The jackals that had had their bows out fired in the darkness, and missed everything.
Riana manifested sunder weapons. All wooden weapons in play were warped and cracked beyond use: the bows of the jackals, the clubs of the saurians, and the battle-axes of the jackals on the steps. Since the player characters didn’t have any weapons, this didn’t affect them. Eddie saw the saurians reach for something in their armor.
Zah Eil ended his darkness.
Alvin began sermonizing about the wrath of the gods.
The saurians threw darts at Eddie and Zah Eil, and hit Eddie.
Majelica and Owen both cast sleep on the six jackals that had captured them. All but one fell asleep.
At this point, the remaining jackal behind them ran away; the five up front retreated quickly, with the saurians covering them with more darts. Riana manifested darkness on one of the saurians; it didn’t hold, but there was still darkness around the west side of the chapel/guardhouse. This covered the player character escape as they ran back to the platform they’d arrived on.
Alvin grabbed the bag of their weapons that one of the jackals had been carrying; they distributed their weapons and jumped onto the platform.
Alvin and Majelica looked at the destroyed control pillar; everyone else went into the center of the platform. After a minute, everyone else disappeared. Alvin and Majelica then went into the center.
Rather than the platform floating above the jungle that they expected, they were in utter darkness. No stars, no moon(s), nothing. Eddie could see shapes moving. Owen called out “light spell” in Anglish and cast light.