Our cast of players:
- Achmed (Dave): Human Thief, level 5.
- Albrecht (Rick): Human Priest, level 4.
- Pioden (Craig): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 2/2/3.
- Tether (Dan): Human Warrior, level 4.
- Tomas (Alan): Human Paladin, level 4.
- William (Max): Human Warrior, level 4.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 2,600
William and Tether clumsily manhandle the large log so that it stretches, just, from the edge of the pool to the plinth in the middle with the statue of Arden Brightheart. It is narrow and slippery but Achmed feels up to the challenge. Pioden solemnly returns the magic dagger and, after Achmed has checked the ring of swimming is firmly in place, wishes him luck. Achmed decides to cross as swiflty as possible and attempts to run across. Unfortunately, just as he reaches the far side, his feet slip out from under him on the treacherous surface and, despite a desperate attempt to grab hold of the log, he falls into the still water with a loud splash, disappearing from view.
As he descends into the darkness of the pool, Achmed feels wth horrow clawed hands grasping at him and before he can use the power of the ring to refloat himself, he is held fast in a bear hug from behind. Looking in front of him he sees a gaunt, emaciated figure lancing towards him out of the darkness for all the world like a shark, before it claws and bites him viciously. Within seconds Achmed can feel the paralysing effects of ghoul poison coursing through his veins and he is rendered immobile and at their mercy, several feet underwater.
The rest of you standing at the edge of the pool become edgy as soon as Achmed does not reappear and when you see signs of the disturbance underwater, Pioden grabs up the crossbow left by Achmed and starts to scan the surface, but can see no target. Albrecht lies down at full stretch and lowers the continual light lantern into the water, whereupon he sees the limp body of Achmed being savaged by the two marine ghouls. Shouting out his findings, William hurries over with the grappling hook and attempts to use it to snag Achmed, but the distance is too far and the swirling mass of bodies too difficult a target. He starts to pull the hook back in for another attempt. Pioden attempts to cast an invisibility spell on himself but fails and then begins to prepare to enter the water to rescue Achmed.
Stripping off his surplus gear, he takes the crossbow and slips gently under the water, belly first. Letting the weight of his leather armour pull him slowly down to the level of the ghouls while he lines up his shot. Praying that the intricate mechanism of the crossbow will function while submerged, he pulls the trigger and a bolt flies out and strikes the ghoul holding Achmed, causing it to release him, whereupon he floats to the surface, protected by the power of the ring. Albrecht uses the grappling hook to drag him to the edge of pool and out, and William grabs the ring of swimming and readies his spear.
Both ghouls now turn their attention to Pioden and, displaying great freedom of movement within the water, are upon him before he can attack, raking him with claws and biting at him. Pioden too succumbs to the paralysing effect of the ghouls’ attacks and sinks slowly to the bottom of the pool, dragged down by his leather armour. Albrecht tries to snag Pioden with the grappling hook, once more to no avail and, at this, William jumps into the pool, spear at the ready, but his clumy lunge in very difficult circumstances misses.
Fortunately, the paralysing effect on Pioden is short-lived but not before he has received a tremendous savaging from the ghouls and he kicks back to the surface, barely conscious, as the ghouls now turn on William. He too suffers a severe mauling at their hands and barely makes it back to the surface where he is dragged out by Tether, battered and bleeding to join the battered Pioden, who has been dragged out by Albrecht, and the just recovered Achmed, panting on the edge of the pool.
There is no respite though, as in fountains of water both ghouls leap out of the water with all the agility of dolphins and land on the shore, snarling and clawing at your disorganised and bedraggled band. They make straight for Achmed again, wrestling him to the ground and paralysing him once more as Pioden desperately manages to get off an arrow shot, having dropped the precious crossbow. As the ghouls emerge from the water, a wave of incredible stench follows them and it is all you can do to prevent yourselves from choking and gagging. Albrecht is worst afffected and vainly tries to swing his morning star at the nearest one, with hand over his mouth, and succeeds only in hitting the wall of the cave, knocking the morning star from his now numb hand.
Tether steps into the fray, wielding his twin shortswords to good effect as he lands two good blows on the nearest. William attempts to double up with him, stabbing with his spear but to no avail. Seeing the increasingly desperate situation, Pioden abandons his bow and pulls out the shaman’s wand, its blast of mystic energy striking true and rocking one of the ghouls back. Sensing an opportunity, Tether follows up, a blur of whirling steel and lands several good hits but the ghouls leaps right back at him, knocking Tether to the ground with a savage swipe of its razor sharp claws. With Tether down, Albrecht manages to retrieve his morning star and despite his choking and retching lands an almighty blow to the side of the ghoul’s head, crushing its skull and sending it flying.
William now changes weapons, abandoning his spear and drawing the dragon-pomelled sword, wielding it to better effect and slicing the remaining ghoul. Pioden changes weapons once more, retrieving his bow and hoping that One-Arm Tariq’s lucky arrow will yet again live up to its name. It does, and the ghoul topples over backwards into the pool, taking the arrow with it. With a cry, Pioden dives in after it and manages to retrieve it.
You are all in strung out shape from the encounter, and urgent healing is applied to Tether by Albrecht to revive him. Never one to be put off though, Achmed retrieves the ring of swimming and decides to swim the short distance to the statue, this time unmolested. Emerging dripping onto the small ring of stone surrouding the plinth on which the statue rests, he reads the engraving on the base.
When strength of steel in trouble fails, Silent reverence knows the way.
Arden’s arm was strong and true, But ‘twas his faith that won the day.
Examing the pose of the statue carefully, Achmed notes that in it Arden is down on one knee, head bowed in a contemplative pose. His shield is strapped across his back and his sword is in its scabbard. The statue faces towards the steps leading back to the entrance hallway. Puzzling over the cryptic message, Achmed kneels in front of the statue in a pose suggestive of prayer and then looks hopefully at the concealed door in the wall of the cave. Nothing happens so he turns and replicates the pose of the statue carefully. Again, nothing happens.
William splashes along the narrow ledge to examine the door with a view to opening it by brute force, but it is appears to be made of solid stone. Besides, with the ledge little more than a foot wide it is impossible to generate even a fraction of the leverage necessary without pushing yourself into the pool.
Albrech returns to the entrance hallway and begins to tweak and turn the many sconces and candlestands located there in the hope that one of them will release the door. Tether goes to assist and the two busy themselves twisting and turning everything conceivable in sight. Once more, to no avail.
Still searching around the statue, Achmed pulls out the Eye of the Night of which he is the custodian and slips once more into the water, using it to examine the portions of the small island on which the plinth rests just below the water line, looking for concealed handles, levers, and so forth. He returns without success, pulling himself back out, starting to shiver in the cool air of the cave. He exchanges shrugs with Pioden, stil standing on the edge of the pool, and pauses for a minute, nonplussed.
Just as he is about to concede defeat and return to the main group of the party, a moment of inspiration strikes and he examines the circular base of the statue where it joins to the plinth. Around the edge of the base he sees a perfectly circular gap between base and plinth and, in sudden excitement, he grabs both sides of the statue and twists. After a moment of resistance, the statue turns and it becomes apparent that it is resting on a concealed turntable. Continuing to push, Achmed turns the statue all the way around so that it is now facing away from the steps and towards the concealed door. As it reaches a facing directly opposite from its original orientation, there is a series of clicks and a section of the stone wall at the edge of the submerged ledge slides back!
To be continued…