Spires of Xin-Shalast 12

With the vampiric decapus slain, and its slaves now fled into the deeper ruins, the living Spared were very happy with their heroes who had obviously come here just to save them from the beast and fulfil the prophesy. The party do find the Sihedron Ring that the decapus was wearing (exactly how it was wearing it, I’m not sure), and figure out some of its abilities, including the ability to allow them to get around some of the magical protections in the city. It is decided that they need to find a few more such rings.

Though they can’t offer much in the way of physical help, the Spared do provide some information about the city, providing a rough indication of the more interesting and/or dangerous places which should generally be avoided. Obviously the players interpret these as places that need investigating.

Map of Xin-Shalast, provided by the Spared

The first place on their list is the Giant’s encampment, with a vague plan to wander in whilst polymorphed as giants and try and find out information. During the discussion, and verifying how long polymorph lasts, we discover that the spell is quite restrictive and it doesn’t actually allow Esheiri to take on the form of a giant. This basically means that she couldn’t have done what she did in the previous session, but we ignore that and decide to continue with the rules as they actually are.

It’s then decided that they want to sneak around the Giant’s camp and head north without being seen. To do this, they first try to make use of the abandoned tunnels and passages beneath the city, but there are so many dead-ends and twisty turny passages that turn out to be all alike, that they have difficulty finding their way. A Knowledge (Dungeoneering) check (and a few hours) later, and they find they haven’t progressed very far.

So they decide to keep to the edges of the city, and try to sneak around in daylight – which is actually a lot easier than they feared. They make their way to a gigantic, 700ft tall, dome where there are meant to be some yetis, and with Serena keen to see them since she hasn’t seen yetis before, they head inside.

The interior is full of old replicas of monuments, built as practice works by giant apprentices many millennia ago. The yetis soon turn up, yelling and screaming, trying to scare the party away. Esheiri uses her diplomatic skills and calms them down, managing to get them talking if not super-friendly.

Their leader, Voorgoor, is apparently a special guest of Karzoug, and most of the time resides with him up at the top of the mountain. He comes down to give them instructions every week or so, mostly to tell them to have sex and produce more strong yeti, or to hunt around the city. He last came down a couple of days ago, so the group decide that it may be worth coming back in five days to see if Voorgoor knows anything, or has another Sihedron Ring.

Leaving the yetis without incident, they head further north along the road, being less subtle now about hiding. Eventually they are spotted, but with a couple of them now polymorphed into orcs (and Serena invisible), they are assumed to be slave workers skiving off work, and are ordered to help with some of the excavation of the ruins by a couple of stone giants.

Though Esheiri tries to talk her way out of it, the stone giants aren’t willing to listen to the excuses of a scrotty little orc. Grodok wanders up to do as the giants command, then nuts one of them in the nuts, causing him extreme pain. Surprised, and now somewhat intimidated, the giants let them go.

A short while later, and now equipped with a squeaking wheel barrow to make them look like they’re busy, they are spotted by another stone giant, this one ordering around some hill giants. This giant though has a magical aura around him, and seems to be under some transmutation effect. He notices the party, and seems to pay them close attention, but doesn’t interfere with them.

Eventually them make their way to their destination – the Sihedron Temple where they think they might find some more rings.

The temple, through somewhat grand and covered with runes of the goddess Lissala, is in a state of near collapse. In the entrance way are the recent remains of a very flat yeti – apparently crushed by a large weapon. From inside come the maniacal sounds of laughter, and maybe sobbing. They head inside cautiously.

It turns out they are right to be cautious, and Serena who was leading the way sees a gigantic giant come rushing out of the shadows towards her. She flies up to a balcony, hoping to be out of reach, but it swings a gigantic mace at her, smashing through the stone in front of her and hitting her hard.

Though they don’t know this, the creature is Gelgothig, an oversized Taiga giant who has been touched by the Dark Tapestry and gone insane. Not only is his mind not quite there, but neither is his body – and several attempts at spells have no effect on him. Grodok is also unable to hit him, though he is able to hit Grodok – a surprising turn of events for the normally well protected fighter. The Sihedron Temple was one part of the city that wasn’t described beyond a simple suggestion of there being some large beast here, so the giant was something of my own. Unfortunately, I felt it could have been run better, with more clues as to what was wrong with the giant, but I hadn’t been expecting the party to come all the way up here so I had to re-read my notes quickly and didn’t have the time to properly think things through. Problems were compounded by the fact that Roll20 (which I use for tracking combat) was playing up, and refusing to show the initiative track on my screen (but was showing it on the TV the players could see).

Esheiri eventually hits it with a Dimensional Anchor, which I decide does have an effect and binds it to this reality. Whilst the giant takes out some of Serena’s summoned Kami, Grodok and Solossar begin to wear it down.

Serena then tries a domination against it, touching its mind which gives her a glimpse of the infinite darkness of the Dark Tapestry, making her question her own nature and got a little bit insane. Solossar notices that the acid from his sword seems to be quite effective against it – so Esheiri follows up with some acid spells which greatly hurt it and stop its regeneration, and Grodok is finally able to take it down.

They have defeated it, though are still unaware of exactly what ‘it’ was. Serena is beginning to come to understand her insanity – she now believes that she is a vampire. There was some confusion due to my note to the player – at first he thought Serena believed she had been turned into a vampire, but it was actually that she ‘realised’ that she had always been a vampire, and probably wanted to keep that information hidden from the rest of the party who might not look unkindly on her if they realised she was some evil undead.

How that resolves we’ll find out next session.

Samuel Penn