Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Ravenous Crypts Pt 2 (07/25/2014)

The heroes had successfully fought off at least a dozen Thassilonian Mummies and other horrors including Xyoddin Xerriock during their exploration of the Ravenous Crypts. The cruel necromantic laboratories revealed the remains of several bodies that were in the process of being used for their foul experiments. The bodies seemed to have been taken from the recently destroyed Abjurant Halls of Envy – what precluded this war among the remaining members of the Runeforge was not clear yet, but what happened to the remains of the dead was now revealed.

The exploration of this hall was not complete yet so the party moved to the last remaining unexplored area. The doors opened easily and the walls of the Infusion Chamber were seen to be plated in iron, each plate of which bore a single rune - the upside-down, hooked "U" shape. What appeared to be two ten-foot-tall smooth crystal pylons stood in the middle of the room. A rippling curtain of blackness shimmered between the two crystals. On the opposite side of each crystal, strange tendrils of black energy - reverse lightning crackled in extreme slow-motion - extended out from the crystals into spheres of roiling blackness in circular caverns to the left and right of the entrance. The air in the room was shockingly cold.

This chamber was where the wardens of gluttony had opened a portal to the Negative Energy Plane to infuse this wing of Runeforge with the enhanced feeling of necromantic gloom that hung over the hall. The portal itself manifested as the curtain of black energy that seemingly flowed between the two crystal pylons. After further inspection the heroes decided to see if destroying one of the pylons would eliminate the negative energy stream. The pylon of choice turned out to be tough to destroy, but after it was shattered (and had strewn the area with large chunks of rubble in the ensuing explosion) the wall of negative energy was destroyed as well. The hall still maintained its sense of gloom, but somehow the gloom didn’t appear to be as distinct as it had previously.

A secret niche in the westernmost alcove of this room was discovered and in the small area beyond was a tiny cache of books and magical supplies geared toward the process of infusing a complex with wraiths and negative energy. The books here were similar in nature to those found in area Xyoddin’s laboratory. In addition, there were two scrolls of Plane Shift and a scroll of Binding that sat near the back of the cache, held down by a slender wooden box. Within the box rested a tuning fork attuned to Runeforge - the material component necessary to plane shift into this demiplane.

With all of the rooms seemingly investigated, the party decided they must have missed something. For one thing, where was the expected magic user that held domain over this area? After some back tracking and further investigation a secret door was found in one of the crypts in the rear of the hall. This led to two more secret doors which in turn led to a previously undiscovered room. In this room lanterns hung from hooks over three large tables scattered throughout the chamber. Two tables were covered with preserved human body parts stitched together with thick thread that partially formed a pair of patchwork human corpses. Stools and small steel work trays covered in slender knives, clamps, hooks, saws, screws, needles, and other less identifiable tools surround each of the large tables.

Waiting for them was the lich Azaven, the remaining member of the hall of Ravenous Crypts. With a withered finger already raised he pointed it at Stike and killed the huge fighter with a single spell (DM Note: That’s right – killed. Dead. This was a first for us). The remainder of the heroes attacked with a fury and Azaven took some major damage himself before disappearing (DM Note: The DM missed another saving throw). After taking a few moments to gather himself and regain some hit points the lich reappeared from behind a hidden door to attack again, only to be destroyed by the three remaining heroes.

Before advancing on the party looked over Stike’s body. The soonest Selinor could resurrect the fighter would be in the morning, so along with Kheo and Reynard the three ensured Stike’s body was safely out of the way so that no further damage could be taken. As they peered into the secret room and found the small room to be a crypt that contained three stone sarcophagi, each bearing detailed carvings of hundreds of capering skeletons and dancing corpses. Kheo managed to disarm the traps on the sarcophagi and further damage was avoided.

On Azaven himself the party had found a Staff of Hungry Shadows (10 charges), Bracers of Armor +5, Headband of Vast Intelligence +4 (grants ranks in Knowledge [nobility] and Spellcraft), Ring of Protection +2, and a Contingency statuette worth 2,000 GP. One of the sarcophagi contained 11 spellbooks Azaven had claimed from enemies and fallen allies. Each of these spellbooks bore the occasional notation written in Thassilonian, but the actual spells within could be identified as normal.

The second coffin contained 7,000 GP in mixed jewels, gems, and fine linens Azaven stored for fabricate spells, an Eversmoking Bottle, a Golembane Scarab, and the remainder of the lich's personal spellbooks. The final coffin was itself Azaven's phylactery. The combined spell books contained all 1st through 7th level spells from all schools except Abjuration and Enchantment. Two 8th level Necromancy spells: Clone and Horrid Wilting, and two 9th level Necromancy spells: Energy Drain and Soul Bind.

With the hall now cleared the heroes bundled up for a night of rest. The next morning Selinor was able to cast Resurrection to revive Stike, and then Selinor was also able to successfully cast Remove Curse and Remove Sickness to remove the mummy rot that Stike, Reynard, and Kheo had been inflicted with the previous day. After some discussion of where to go next it was decided that the Festering Maze was the next hall to visit. With that the four heroes started to march out of the Ravenous Crypts when they walked right into Arkhryst.

The heroes tried to mount a quick offense but the great white dragon was too much and the tide of battle quickly turned. The next step seemed obvious – run! The party ran towards the back of the hall, slamming doors behind them, and hoping the dragon would be slowed as he squeezed through the narrowed hallways behind them. This gave the party enough time to have Reynard Dimension Door them out as a group and to leave the dragon behind – for now.

The air was thick and foul-smelling in this new chamber, yet the vaporous stink here was nothing compared to the insult to the senses elsewhere. Slime encrusted the walls in swaths of sickly brown and noxious green. A foamy sewage channel ran along a slippery walkway, the thickly shuddering skin atop the slowly churning fluid seeming to hint that, despite its repulsive appearance and smell, something lurked in those depths. Although they bore a striking resemblance to sewers in both in appearance and scent, the tunnels of the Festering Maze were not designed for that intent. At second glance the heroes could see this had originally designed as a baths, but over time the proprietors had allowed this area to become little more than a fetid swamp.

Regardless, today these chambers had all the charm of a poorly maintained septic system. The walls and waters of this maze were alive with relatively harmless but nonetheless disturbing vermin: fist-sized spiders, deformed rats, pallid foot-long centipedes, and glistening tangles of worms wriggled in the corners of all these rooms.

And we’ll pick it up there next time. For tonight’s effort the party earned 46,275 XP, giving them (502,600 + 46,275) 548,875 XP earned so far, with 635,000 XP required to reach Level 15.

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