Our Cast of Players:
- Albrecht (Alan Bates): Human Priest, level 7.
- Artan Praxis (Dave Marasco): Dwarf Warrior/Thief, level 5/6
- Kaji the Painted (Ian Andrews): Human Wizard, level 6.
- Murky Dismal (Ricky Paginton): Hobbit Warrior/Thief, level 4/6
- Pioden (Craig Baynham-Evans): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 4/5/6.
- William the Drover (Max Bryans): Human Warrior, level 7.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 9,040
Attention now turns to the secret door behind the altar. It seems to be defined by the globe on the bas-relief on the rear wall. Murky checks it for traps or mechanisms and finds nothing, but he does conclude that it is operated by pressing the smallest branch on the tree. He does so, cautiously, and the entire globe swivels around a central axis. A smell of death and decay wafts out and the only light is that filtering through from the shrine.
In the dim purple light Murky sees a rectangular room, maybe twenty by thirty feet. The floor and walls are stone. There is a large pit at the end of the room and Murky hears a slithering sound coming from within. Murky quickly fills the rest of you in and waits for you all to gather around the open door before going in. As he enters, a gigantic, black snake’s body with a woman’s head complete with flickering and forked tongue, rears up out of the pit with a hiss. He whips out his sling and spins off a couple of bullets, but both glance off some form of protective shield.
Recoiling and rearing back from the attack in anger, she hisses again and a ball of fire roars forth exploding in the open doorway. All of you apart from Pioden are caught in its blast and Murky is instantly knocked to the ground, senseless. Pioden moves fast, darting forward, grabbing Murky and dragging him out of the room and to one side in the shrine, before pouring a healing potion into him.
The rest of you are all rocked on your feet and have suffered varying degrees of burns, staggering around and trying to extinguish the flames. You try to recover some semblance of order but not before there is another roar and another ball of fire issues forth from the secret chamber into the shrine. Kaji sees it coming and swings around, arm raised, trying to protect himself. It is lucky that he does so as the stuffed crocodile he has been carrying strapped to his back since the Great Swamp absorbs a lot of the impact. It is instantly vaporised and Kaji is still knocked down suffering from massive burns, but at least he is still alive, albeit barely.
Artan quickly operates the control that closes the secret door and takes stock of the situation. Kaji and Murky are heinously wounded and close to death, although the latter is receiving treatment from Pioden and looks to be stabilised. He quickly motions to Albrecht to tend to Kaji as a matter of urgency and the priest runs over to do his duty. All of the rest of you are heavily wounded but in no immediate danger unless the snake-woman can get out of her chamber.
Albrecht manages to get Kaji back on his feet, barely, and the shaken wizard hurriedly seals the secret door with a wall of ice. He is never more grateful than now for his magpie tendencies, even in the face of all the ridicule he has received.
Some tense moments pass as you wait anxiously to see whether or not the demon snake-woman can break out of the chamber, but there is no sign of this to much relief. With the immediate danger past, the arguments break out. Murky is greatly berated for attacking the creature and provoking her response without any evidence that she was hostile. Pioden is of the view that she may even be a prisoner or somehow trapped here. The rowing as to what to do next and whose fault it all is rolls back and forth like the tide, while Albrecht busies himself carrying out the best healing he can and trying to stay respectfully aloof from the heated discussion.
Eventually he has done as much as he can as the gods are still not smiling on him and decision time is reached. In the end, a sulky and reluctant compromise is reached of resting up in the corridor between the entrance chamber with the apocalyptic carvings and the shrine. You make camp as best you can in a short corridor and Kaji casts a locking spell on the doors at both ends. It is certainly going to be an uncomfortable night but you seem to have little option.
You are thankful that the “night” passes uneventfully with no sign of any enemies either from in front or behind. Albrecht is deeply concerned that the lesions you previously saw on Kaji and Pioden seem to have spread, especially in the case of the former who is looking grey and sheened with sweat, his face looking so distorted and rotten that you can scarcely recognise him. Albrecht prays to the gods to remove whatever disease it is that is afflicting the prayer, but as with yesterday they are indifferent to his exhortations. Murky is equally concerned and passes Kaji his silver circlet. The hobbit seems to diminish in stature and become hunched, maybe slightly feral in appearance, whereas Kaji is somewhat boosted by its effect, the appearance of the lesions diminishing slightly.
With the last of Murky’s rations eaten for a cheerless breakfast (you are now out of food), the argument resumes, split between re-entering the shrine for further exploration and retreating from the cavern altogether. Eventually the view prevails that you should re-enter the shrine and nervously, Kaji releases the locking spell on the door…
To be continued…