Castaway Diary, day 28 continued.

Okay, so with last night’s session everyone (who matters, Ben Tallen) got caught up to what had happened to the first three guys to go in to the dungeon all by themselves, but first they had to go through that dungeon, which the second team did, almost exactly the same as the first team… So here is what happened over the past two sessions.
So the Snakeletons that guarded the entrance to the temple/complex had just been vanquished, after they had taken down Orny and stuck a javelin quite far through Floki. In the quiet aftermath, a clear, annoyed sounding woman’s voice could be heard/felt inside their heads, telling them they should not have come. Floki and Nobody went to warn Malicia, Victor and Sasha that they had stumbled on a ruin of considerable age and danger and maybe they would like to help… what’s that? They’d just started an elaborate Japanese Tea Ceremony? No, no rush. Tradition, etiquette and hydration in tropical climes are all important. They were sure that Uun, Percy and Orny wouldn’t go anywhere dangerous by themselves and would probably be out presently. Maybe because none of them had ever met Uun.
Whatever confab was going on outside, the trio of brave adventurers inside wasn’t going to let a thing like Orny-almost-getting-killed dissuade them from investigating this ancient evil temple. This is an adventurer’s bread and butter. Percy healed Orny back to what we can put in sarcastic quotes as “health”. 
Are you ready Uun? Uh huh. Orny? Yeah. Percy? Okay. All right fellas, let’s go!
There was only one exit from this room on their current level, the bronze door dripping with blood. Orny was academically interested in the blood effect as it did seem to be constantly running with actual blood. (See, if this had been my old fighter character Marco Ventaglia – the Dungeon Gourmand, inventor of Gobologna sausage – he’d have been collecting that in buckets to make Sanguinaccino – mmm, molto bene.) Uun braced for effort in opening the doors, but they actually swung open with relative ease, given that they hadn’t seen a whole lot of use in 10,000 years.

When life gave Marco lemons, he looked around for someone to make into ceviche.

Behind the door, an alcove shaped like a massive fanged skull’s yawning mouth lay on the other side of the hallway. Stairs led left and right, both leading upwards at a steep angle. The other evil temple they had discovered had a dominant snake theme; what with the snakes on the wall, pillars, the massive snake head doorway and the pile of bodies arranged in a weird corpse-snake sculpture. Here, they realized that the fanged mouth didn’t belong to a snake skull. This was a big carving of a human skull… but with fangs. They couldn’t ascribe any meaning to this, nor to the carvings of bats (you’re welcome JIM!) that covered the hallways that led up to the next level, other than they weren’t the carvings this hallway deserved, but they were the carvings this hallway needed.

I shouldn’t have to describe what a skull with fangs looks like if you’ve led a well rounded life.

They chose to ascend the right hand stairway, travelling in a little knot with Uun at the front. The first room they discovered had densely carved walls in a language they did not understand, or at least, didn’t spend much time looking at. The room seemed to have no purpose other than the carving of pictographs on the walls, as the stone table in the middle held a few old chisels and tiny mallets. Three doors provided unexplored exits to the room – although the bronze one dripping with blood kinda suggested that this one led out onto the 40’ high walkway across the first large chamber they had fought the serpentman skeletons in. Opening one of the others, they found themselves looking down a hallway with deep alcoves and stone cots cut into the wall.

The kind of untouched ancient underground place that is ideal for discovering fresh vegetables, RIGHT, SKYRIM?

They advanced a little, with no great subtlety and so were not particularly surprised when a small group of skeletons rounded the corner, coldly lambent eyes set in their grinning skulls, bones rattling as they jerkil- BOOOOOOM. Percy blew them the fuck up. Sarenrae has zero time for undead and Percy called in a channeling airstrike of Sun-goddess power. Saranrae’s followers are expected to be merciful, but part of that mercy is being swift in dealing punishment when it is required. Percy’s channel caused three of the skeletons to explode in a shower of spinning bones, the largest of which tore apart the non-exploding skeleton. Okay, so if this old evil temple is just full of skeletons, this is going to be a skoosh case
Searching the warren of little monastic looking communal cells,  they found nothing but chisels and mallets again, so it didn’t seem like the people who lived here had a lot of fun times, or maybe they just took their fun times elsewhere. There was nowhere to go from here, the hallway looped back around to the heavily inscribed room. They opened the bronze/bloody double doors  and looked out onto the walkway from which the skeletal javelineers had been hurling. The span crossed the tall chamber and led to another set of double bronze/bloody doors, constantly dripping blood double doors evidently coming in packs of three from Evil Ikea. Opening the doors they found a long hallway that ended in a T junction. They reckoned that the right-hand passage probably met up with the stairs back down to the big human+fangs skull, but they couldn’t tell where the lefthand passage went, so they advanced to find out.
They were most of the way along when the floor swung open beneath them. Percy and Orny wobbled on their tiptoes before walking into the pit, but Uun fell all the way down, a 30’ drop to stone floor. As Orny and Percy worked to secure the pit’s hinged floor by jamming a javelin to wedge it open (as Malicia is the one with hammer and pitons, having passed her Dungeoneering 101), Uun checked out the pit. A very clean, deliberately created pit, it was marred by a thin rent in its walls. At two points in the walls (one on the north wall, one on the south) the split opened up, creating a small tunnel-like opening. Given enough motivation and a week’s supply of fish oil, Uun was certain that he could fit down it, but only just. Rather than go spelunking, he decided to work on getting out of there and he had just arranged the Rope of Climbing to climb out when he felt a sharp stabbing pain in his calves.
The sharp stabbing pain was due to him being stabbed with something sharp – the tiny blade of a doll-sized bundle of bones that had run out of one of the vents. As he was turning to see where these non-attacks had come from, they struck at him with their bone-arms, causing a burst of negative hurty-energy that hurt way worse than the little dagger-arms. Seriously, if they hadn’t stabbed him, Uun would probably have found a way to hurt himself more, just being Uun. Uun scrambled up the rope a little to get away from the horrible little things. They looked like toddlers, made out of children’s bones and hair, with bird bones and ribbons binding the roughly human shape together and their eyes glowed in the darkness of the pit. One forearm concealed a sharp blade, while the other ended in bone, the beings having no hands or feet. So, basically, almost as bad as real toddlers.
But as Uun hung there, trying to find a way to use a Longspear with one hand against toddler-sized murder-dolls, the aforementioned murder-dolls started floating up towards him waving their creepy little blade arms at him. Uun grabbed one and crushed it to pieces. Orny took a gamble to see if these things needed to sleep, laid a Slumber Hex upon the other doll and was pleased to see it curl up in a floating fetal position. Uun snatched it out of the air and worried it to pieces with his immensely strong hand.
Once Uun was topside, they used the Rope of Climbing again – not sure how… there was nowhere for it to tie itself onto, but that’s important now – to cross the pit. I think they left it open, with the Javelin still wedged in there. They rounded the corner and found another bronze/bloody door,  (I was wrong; buy one Blӧdsgat, get 3 free!) . Opening it they found a fascinating room that they spent as little time in as possible, because by law, the more unexplained shit in a fascinating room, the more dangerous it is. That’s in the Lake Geneva Convention. It’s just a rule, like spaces behind waterfalls, or that all evil altars are never JUST evil altars.
The room was eight-sided, with a door (another bronze/bloody door, but isn’t that just like it? You need 5 but they only sell them in packs of 4, so you end up with three unused, constantly bleeding bronze doors, just lying around in a corner of your garage, staining the concrete) in the far wall the only visible exit. Around the rest of the walls, there were foot-wide holes in the wall, that seemed to stretch back into darkness, set at about chest height. In the center of the room, a pool of rippling, warm blood, like a hot tub for a diminutive Elizabeth Bathory.  Around this raised pool, four intricately carved pillars.

“The tub can’t even me handle right now!”

Orny took a look at the holes and then the pillars, while Percy waited for something terrible to happen in this room and then decided to leave it. Opening the far door, he found a small room with a set of double doors opposite him. Uun stepped through and opened the doors, looking out into another darkness of an unlit room. Dark, but not quiet as the air was filled with whispers that couldn’t quite be understood. Orny moved out of the Octagonal room too, moving Dancing Lights as he cast Mage Armour on himself. The lights that now danced in this large room illuminated a vile tableau. 
At the head of the room, to their left, a substantial alcove – really more of an Apse – remained shrouded in darkness. But it seemed to hold a statue of some sort… wings could be made out on the statue, but little else. Before the statue, an altar, from which flowed a stream of blood, feeding into a trough in the floor that flowed the length of the room, before running out of a barred exit to the party’s right. The main body of the room was one high ceilinged and many columned Nave. Three alcoves of smaller size were set into the walls, the doorway that they entered from constituting the fourth. In the diagonally opposite alcove, four skeletons stood, bearing sheaves of paper and rolled parchment scrolls. They had spears too, but they were definitely busy holding paper.

“What was she like?” “Oh very beautiful, once you get past the batwing arms and the taloned feet and the fangs. A real looker.”

The woman’s voice, recognisable as Ileana’s by Uun, who boarded the Jenivere at the same time as her appeared in their heads again, clearly understood, but not really heard. “Your inconvenient arrival comes at a crucial moment in my research. I stand on the brink of a discovery – a secret that has eluded your dull and fragile race these many millenia.” From amongst the skeletons, Ileana’s poked her head around and looked at them with an annoyed expression. “It is presumptuous of you to intrude, but yours is a presumptive species: taking what is not theirs, stealing the wisdom and knowledge of your betters.” This she said with her own mouth and lips and vocal chords and tongue. She returned to her study of the walls of the alcove, writing as she did so. “This vile temple was once a holy place, before the human renegades stole it and twisted to their own use. They were unable to comprehend the workings of our magic stones. They shattered and perverted two of them; cursing this island with uncontrolled dead-slaves and treacherous storms.” Percy had had enough bad guy speech time and channeled positive energy, again nuking the shit out of the skeletons; bones and notes everywhere. Ileana did not look happy and she offhandedly commanded Uun to kill his friends.
Uun burst into a rage and hefting his greatsword, turned on Orny. Like the good old days! With a slashing blow he rocked the fragile witch on his heels but Orny managed to stay (only just) up. Orny defensively laid a Slumber Hex on Uun, his last chance to do that today, and the big barbarian sank to the ground and dozed. Percy cured Orny and then cast Spark, setting fire to the pile of notes and bones around Ileana’s feet. Orny attempted to put a Slumber Hex on Ileana, but it didn’t take, in fact there didn’t seem to be anything there to make go to sleep – a strange absence that Orny hadn’t encountered before. When that didn’t work, he tried Scare, but that seemed to have no effect.
Ileana, meanwhile cast Blur on herself, her form becoming smudged and indistinct, then cast Mirror Image, creating an overlapping cluster of eight shifting Ileanas. Defensive spells well and truly in place, she summoned a pair of Vipers and then laughed, apparently enjoying the moment as her reflected/smudged image rapidly changed. Her appearance as Ileana seemed to slough off, revealing skin of bright green scales and a ophidian head, neck and tail.
Orny pulled out a wand of Mirror Image and botched trying to cast it on himself, then tried to command Used-to-be-Ileana-now-not-quite-sure-what-she-is to flee. She did not flee. Instead she jumped the small channel as Percy lashed out with his Spiritual Weapon and his actual weapon, eventually killing a viper and landing a hit on Ileana – or maybe one of her images. She responded by channeling negative energy, hurting everyone, enough to wake Uun up. Orny couldn’t make Hold Person stick, so he whipped out his Javelin of Lightning and hurled it. I believe that’s the correct usage for a javelin, hurling it, frying Uun and the Viper to varying degrees.

Orny threw lightning. Uun was so frightening. But the party is like that, so they all started combat. And the snake at the back said “Uun, you should attack” and it turned into a TPK.

As Percy’s Spiritual Weapon struck out fruitlessly against the agile Ileana, the serpentwoman lashed her fangs at the tengu, sinking them deep in his flesh. The reawoken Uun attacked his erstwhile ally and consciousness left Percy and he slumped to the floor, defeated. Orny seeing the way the wind was blowing dropped Dancing Lights, plunging the room into impenetrable darkness, then cast Darkvision on himself,… his vision penetrating the darkness as easily as it was to oversell how impenetrable it was. Uun, now totally blind, wandered, trying to find Orny so that he could slay him, which he was maybe going to do anyway after that Slumber Hex. With Percy helpless on the floor, and the Snakelady between him and the exit, Orny’s situation looked dire. He drew his Wand of Vampiric Touch and charged for her. The wand struck her and seemed to have no effect, other than leaving Orny dangerously close to her fangs. Fangs which she happily sank into the witch, taking Orny down. Watching Uun scabble around hopelessly in the dark, she laid a soothing hand upon him and purred “Rest”. Uun had only the briefest moment of considering not complying with the request, but instead, decided that what his Mistress told him to do was probably the best course of action. 
So he sat down and rested among the bodies of his friends…

Just gonna take a nap here…

Back at the tea party, things were wrapping up when Gelik and Jask showed up, to see if they could lend a hand. Which was good because Nobody and Floki were trying to recruit whoever they could to follow the first party in. Sasha agreed because it seemed like fun, then they attempted to enlist Captain Ekubus. Asking for help  with the landing party, Captain Ekubus could not be swayed to help his brave crew and was unwilling to abandon ship, preparing to go down with it when the water reappeared as is a Captain’s duty. So Floki, Nobody, Floki’s leopard and Sasha  left Jask, Gelik and Victor guarding the treasure they had pulled from the Red Mountain creature’s cave. Malicia was off doing something. Powdering her beak, who knows?
They party (v2) ventured back in through the doors, climbing the steep stairs to the large room in which they had fought the snakeletons. Carefully, checking the bronze doors for traps and tracking the party (v1) by their footprints in the low level of dust in the carved room and cells, they retraced Orny, Uun and Percy’s steps. This led them to the walkway and the hallway beyond it where they found the yet opened pit and wedged javelin. This they avoided, obviously, but when they checked out the one area of hallway that the party (v1) hadn’t been down, they triggered an identical pit trap. Floki’s cat, fell first, failing to land on its feet and was knocked unconscious. Floki clambered down a lowered rope and noticed the rents in the walls, but didn’t see the danger until he too was jumped by a pair of horrible mass-grave-patch-kids. The pair opened up of Floki, who had only enough time to grunt before falling unconscious to the ground. The little skeletoddlers began floating upwards, which gave Nobody time to draw to beads, and land both shots, killing one of the horrors. Which is an unheard of success rate. Sasha lowered herself into the pit and began turning the air blue with distracting and colourful taunts. The little doll thing floated back down to it and she bagan sparring with her rapier. Nobody shot again, this time inadvertently shooting Sasha who also took a poisoned blade from the doll. At this point Malicia’s long stealth run ended when she appeared and shot an arrow at the doll. The doll couldn’t take more of that, and it was quickly destroyed.

Flintlock school shooters have to be the most accurate, I suppose.

In desperate need of healing, Sasha headed back and sent in Gelik and Jask to provide that. Up and at ’em again, party v2.1 continued towards the last bronze door they hadn’t been through. This led to the octagonal room with the pool of blood and the many interesting featu- no, they didn’t stay around to find out what happened if they stayed in there. Malicia confirmed that the floor was a trap trigger and so they briefly paused to look at a few things for a moment and then charged headlong into the temple of blood.
In the temple, illuminated by Gelik’s Light spell, they found Uun, resting against one of the dry fountains. On the barred exit at the end of the room, Orny and Percy had been lashed to the bars quite thoroughly. The two hung unmoving and apparently unconscious. At the other end of the room, near the altar, Ileana was gathering up papers, many of them charred. She looked up and scowled briefly at them. Informing them that she was surprised that another group was foolish enough to interrupt her,.. verge of an important discovery, etc., she replied to the question of why she had tied up Orny and Percy by telling them that she had done it for “insurance”. I bet the fucking gecko sold it to her. She was only slightly more surprised when Nobody shot at her. He didn’t shoot her, he just shot at her. Near her. Just to get the fight going. Malicia sent an arrow her way too, which seemed to have more luck.
The fight was underway. Ileana reverted to her regular form, each magically light-bending scale reverting to just a regular old snake-person scale. and she commanded Uun to kill his friends. She is kind of assuming that Uun is friends with these guys, which, if she’d been watching a bit closer, she may not have been so certain. But Uun revealed how much affection he has for them all by rolling over in a rage and clawing at Floki’s cat; then stood, the sudden rush of blood unexpectedly staggering him. Gelik burst into song that really sounded a lot like just a scream at first, but he managed to pull it in.  The gnome bard dashed as fast as his immaculately Prestidigitationed knickerbockers would carry him, to Percy and Orny. Floki took advantage of Uun’s staggered condition and charged Ileana/Snakelady, leaving his cat to kind of suck it up against Uun. Ileana/Snakelady, meanwhile, cast Sound Burst, stunning Malicia, Nobody and Jask, who had managed to get Shield of Faith off on Floki.

Oh, the pranks you will play…

Ileana/Snakelady couldn’t get another spell off because Floki was putting her off, so she moved away and when the Ranger followed her, she struck out at him and poisoned him with her needle-like fangs.  Uun, meanwhile continued his bloody compulsion and tore the finger off Nobody’s hand as he raised his arms top ward off the barbarian’s blows. Then Uun dispatched Jask just after he had managed to get a channeling off, tearing the cleric’s throat out, killing him. By this time, panicking somewhat, Gelik started cutting Orny free, Jask’s final heal restoring the manwitch to consciousness. But as he did so he cried out that he saw something big move in the dark space beyond the bars, something… blob-like. Orny tried a Command spell on Uun, but the barbarian didn’t have a will left to subvert. Uun put the witch back to sleep/concussionland. Something blob-like showed up at the bars and then oozed through them, a meaty wall of nebulous eyes and gnashing, slavering mouths, that bulged through the bars at first and then passed through them all of a sudden, biting into Uun. Uun, distracted from the task of killing his friends, bit back, the two locked in what looked like a really awkward makeout session. He gouged out eyes and bit down on tongues, but the creature simply formed new eyes and tongues. 

Gibbering Mouthers, as described in the Omnomnomicon.

Malicia meanwhile recovered her bow  from the floor and stealthed as stealthily as she could stealth to try to avoid the rampaging finger/throat-ripping Uun. Ileana, by now standing beside the altar that produces the rivers of blood that fills the room channeled negative energy, killing the leopard and hurting Floki, but not enough to put him down. She had barely managed to finish the channel when Malicia, from a hidden spot, put an arrow through a vein, the blood flowing freely across the silk robes the snakewoman wore. The snakewoman hissed, clasped a hand around the shaft and then stepped back towards the unpleasant statue. She slapped her bloody hand against the statue’s face and instantly vanished, leaving a pale green mist in her wake. Floki, none too pleased at his quarry escaping spun and fitted his Aberration Slaying Arrow to his bowstring then sent the magical missile straight into the mass of pseudopods, eyes and slurping mouths. The big blob quivered for just a second before erupting in an explosion of meaty gobbets, teeth and vitreous humour. Freed from the love-bites of the Gibbering Mouther, Uun charged Floki, who shot Uun  with a mystery arrow that didn’t seem to do anything much. Nobody shot Uun too as did Malicia and when that last arrow sank home, the big man’s rage could no longer keep him conscious and he passed out from his wounds.
The mist, meanwhile rose slowly to the ceiling of the temple, despite arrows and bullets passing through it and though it hung for a moment at the ceiling level, it suddenly left the room, as though it had poured itself into some small hole in the ceiling.
As they are left alone in the temple, they are left alone with the not-quite silent river of blood and the eerie whispering of voices long dead. All of Party v1 is unconscious, although stable, while Party v2 consists of Nobody – missing a digit; Floki – still upright, but with an unconscious maybe dead leopard; Malicia -largely unscathed; Gelik – really panicked, but hopeful that Jask’s wise words will calm him down like they usually do when he gets too high strung; and Jask – dead. 

4 Comments on “Castaway Diary, day 28 continued.

  1. Thinking about why that was such a tough encounter… it’s because Ileana does what Orny does: Crowd control, hard. Mind affecting spells, summoned creatures, debuffs.

    That said, she must have rolled better for hit points than Orny did.

    • I’m writing this comment to remind me to try a spellcraft check next week to try to figure out how it’s possible that she can keep Orny from putting her to sleep. I get that Dominate overpowers Command, but I want to figure out how that was so impossible. If she’s not dead or a robot I can’t think why she’d be completely immune to that effect.

      Also, everyone wish me luck deciding whether I want to pick up Bestow Curse or Summon Monster III. That might come down to whether I can find a good Bones mini for a Dretch.

  2. One of these days I’m going to start calling that cat by name, which is Thrima, instead of “he”, “she” or “it”. It’s not a trans leopard by the way I’m just a shitty ranger.