Guest Blog by Max Bryans
Our Cast of Players:
- Aaron (Dave Marasco): Human Priest, level 10.
- Albrecht (Alan Bates): Human Priest, level 10.
- Artan (Dave Marasco): Dwarf Warrior/Thief, level 6/9.
- Edward Nevar (Ricky Paginton): Human Paladin, level 10.
- Elfire (Max Bryans): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Kaji (Ian Andrews): Human Wizard, level 10.
- Patroclus (Jason Paginton): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Pioden (Craig Baynham-Evans): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 4/8/9.
- Nogri: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Tal: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Uthilian: Elf Warrior, level 2.
- Vermox: Human Warrior, level 2.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 217,145
After healing, the party are not in physical danger, but their mental health is clearly in danger.
Artan realises that they have left Rashid’s body and it is likely to be defiled by the surviving Goat Ogre. This sacrilege would be horrible enough, but Rashid still had items on his person which could proof useful !!
This creates a stunned silence as indecision between two paths racks the party. North to the chamber with pentagram and altar? Or south to finish the remaining Goat Ogre and preserve the dead Rashid’s dignity.
It is Kaji who breaks the silence.
“North. Let’s clear the summoning (or whatever it is) room first, then we’ll probably have to retrace our steps anyway.”
“Thank God for that,”, growls Elfire, “a decision. Let’s do it. Pioden … lead the way.”
So with Edward guarding the southern door to the room with the wave of blood, Pioden advances cautiously into the northern chamber with it’s vast pentangle and altar. As he is expecting the unexpected, he prepares to not be surprised by it. He casts an invisibility spell on himself and moves with the silence natural to his elven kind. Once he is in the room itself, he realises that the pentagram is drawn with fresh blood. The thought of how many poor mortals had to perish to provide it sends a shiver down his spine.
But despite his disquiet, he is still a professional thief. It takes him just a matter of minutes to establish that there are no traps in the vicinity. He whispers for the remainder of the party to advance.
One by one, they do so.
“Pioden, I hope you can get us back again,” growls Elfire, which Pioden considers a most strange statement. For he sees Elfire standing not 20 feet away from the exit.
“Damn right”, I’m not sure of the look of this", curses Atan, “back to back, fellas. This is going to be a big one !”
It is clear that something is amiss.
Whereas the majority of the party are standing in the expected chamber. With foul pentagram and altar. The trio of fighters Artan, Patroclus and Elfire are experiencing a completely different reality.
This three are standing in the middle of a fetid swamp, the only growth being clumps of bog grass and moss. It is marshy underfoot, and the partially overcast sky is lit by a faint green-yellow sun. Which seems to cast more of a chill than any real heat.
They can see their comrades (except Pioden, of course) around them. But those other than the three warriors seem oblivious to the strangeness of their new environment. With shouts of warning, the trio form up back to back in a defensive posture as they scan the horizon.
There we shall leave them for the minute. But suffice to say, events in each reality are happening simultaneously.
Edward notices the strange behaviour of his warrior friends, but quickly determines that they are more than capable of looking out for themselves. The real evil in this room, and possibly this entire complex, is manifestly the 10 foot high altar, which sitting smugly in the centre of the pentagram.
Shouting a howl of defiance, he charges headlong towards it. Kaji winces as he see the Paladin break the pentagram boundary, but breathes a sigh of relief as he seems to cross it with no ill effects. With a prayer to his gods to dispel all evil, he smites the altar with the Sword of Conviction! The sword is glowing in his hands, it’s empathic connection with Edward reinforces his belief that this is a Good and Worthy course of action.
But the altar still stands smug. The sword, for all of it and it’s wielder’s strength, has no effect. Sparks fly and the ground shakes, but the altar itself is untouched.
Back in the swamp, Artan, Patroclus and Elfire see a completely different story unfold. They see Edward running, shouting and beating at fresh air. But he seems oblivious to the real threat ! For all around them, for as far as they can see, the swamp is starting to bubble and boils. From these mini-geysers of mud, filth and methane grow a veritable army of first weapon points, then spears, then the tops of green slimy heads. There must be thousands of them !!
“Missiles ready !!”, barks Artan as he thrust his handful of javelins in the mud in front of him. Elfire in turn prepares the balista sized Orge Cross bow. Scanning it across the horizon. This in turn makes Kaji dodge out of the crosshairs as the bow points towards him.
“Most odd”, he thinks when he considers himself out of danger. "It’s as if they are reacting towards ghosts or phantoms. HANG ON …… ". The truth of the two simultaneous realities starts to dawn on the genius wizard.
Meanwhile, Edward decides to change tack. He vaults atop the altar, calls for the Sword of Conviction to bless the venture, and with his stomach over the pommel drives the sword with all his strength down into the middle of the stone altar. A man of lesser faith would have believed it impossible. But the Paladin never has any doubts. Slowly, inch by painful inch, the Sword of Conviction impales the Altar. The ever present voices in the chamber raise volume until they are veritably shouting in Edward’s head. He is oblivious to everything, except the voices and the tortured screeching of stone being sundered by sentient steel.
In the boiling Swamp, the three warriors finally see their foe. They are presented with an army of frog like humanoids. Primitives by all reckoning, but their sheer numbers make it seem like a vain fight. To make the desperate situation worse, there is a further massive seething they can see about 400 yards away. From which slowly, and malevolently, rises a colossal frog like figure.
Elfire recognises the desperate situation and barks towards Kaji.
“KAJI … stop dicking about! We need to FLY … NOW !”
Kaji, never one to follow orders blindly, realises that whatever is going on in the three warriors minds warrants his action. He calls the words of power to himself and bestows flight on Elfire (who darts upwards immediately) and then turns to do the same to Artan and Patroclus.
Edward meanwhile finally manages to sink the Sword of Conviction pommel deep into the Altar. With a dull CRACK, the stone splinters and fissures appear throughout it. Pioden tries to lever parts of it away, but despite his strength and the power of Rod of Lordly Might, he cannot effect any damage.
Kaji completes his fly spells. Artan and then in turn Patroclus, rise to a safe height above the swamp. They are watched by the baleful stares of thousands of Frogmen, who are clearly frustrated by the escape of theri prey. They watch as Elfire scuds towards the now fully manifest 100 foot tall figure of Frogroth. For surely it is him. Artan says a silent prayer. He knows that Elfire, with his prowess and armed with the Obsidian Elemental Greatsword is their only true hope against this despoiler of worlds.
As the airborne warriors seemingly staring into the distance (and as far as he can tell at a blank wall), Kaji turns his attentions to Edward and the Altar. He uses a magic Rod on Edward. Providing the noble Paladin with even more strength. And it works, the altar heaves and further cracks appear. It can no longer be described as smug, but it is still on one piece. As he considers his next move, he turns to watch the receding figure of Elfire. To his amazement, when the giant man encounters the wall, there is not a fatal collision. Elfire, with crackling great sword in hand, flies straight through the wall and disappears !
The view is very different for Artan and Patroclus. They see the retreating Elfire charging towards the fight which could well decide the future of the universe. They cross their fingers and hold their breath as they see Elfire close with Frogroth.
Then DISASTER !! As he approaches, Elfire slows and his attack posture softens. He lands square in front of Frogroth and kneels in supplication. The Obsidian Great Sword on which all their hopes resided offered, blade flat, above his head. With horror, the keen eyes of Artan see Frogroth slowly reach down and accept the offering. With a twist of his fingers he snaps the blade in two, and despite the distance both of them can clearly hear his deep bubbling response.
“YOU HAVE DONE WELL, MY SON”
As they reel in shock from this turn of event, Artan and Patroclus turn to stare at each other. Slack jawed in stunned silence. Then the swamp around them dissolves and they find themselves in the vast chamber with the others. They see Edward atop the cracking altar, and the rest aiding how they can.
Of Elfire, there is no sign.
Unaware of Elfire’s betrayal, Kaji still has his mind on the Altar. He unhooks the Decanter of Endless Water, and barks a set of instructions to the rest. Aaron complies and blesses the water as it is poured into the fissures that permeate the altar. Edward receives the power of flight and at the appointed time releases the Sword of Conviction and flies 20 foot upwards. As he does Kaji freezes the water.
And this idea from the wizard works too! With a final tremor and grumble the altar splinters into a thousand pieces and collapses into a cairn of rubble on the floor.
Edward has now thoughts for only one thing. He hears the Sword of Conviction crying emphatically for help and he darts down to retrieve it. But the sword is splintered and mangled. He manages to collect the pieces, and off to one side he re-assembles them into order. But restoring the sword is beyond the ken of clerical types. Pioden realises and tells him that a repair will take great Magic from a Wizard. And a number of other items of power.
Artan then manages to collect himself to blurt out, “Eh …. important as this maybe, we do have bigger fish to fry. Have you seen Elfire lately?”
He then recounts, with the aid of Patroclus, the tale of Elfire’s defection. The rest listen in disbelief. Artan, despite the evidence of his eyes still cannot believe his comrade in arms would so knowingly doom them all. Patroclus is less forgiving and swears he will kill Elfire on sight.
But he is not there, so the veteran party resort to what they do best. They loot.
The shelves on the far wall of the chamber turn out to be a cabinet. In it they find
4 vials, which Kaji with a shudder realises are the desiccated remains of people. Which enables them to be summoned for purposes of interrogation or torment. A Spell Book, which contains many spells, but not the ever elusive Fireball spell. A chest with 4 potions, which are identified as flying and longevity. And a plain gold ring.
Unable to identify it by means of lore, Kaji attempts to identify it the old fashioned way.
He puts the ring on, and almost swoons.
“My God. Its a Ring of Wishes !! I think it has two. Last time we had one of these, we defeated that dragon.”. He hastily removes the ring and puts it in a deep pouch for safe keeping (and to prevent inadvertent use). “Let me think on this one”.
With the looting complete, thoughts return to Elfire.
“Ok,” asks Kaji as he fingers the Amulet of Locate Object, “what does Elfire have that no-one else does?”
“The Ice Trident”, ventures a still uncomfortable Artan.
“Right, lets find the treacherous bastard!”, cackles Kaji with a determined look in his eye.
To be continued…