Spires of Xin-Shalast 18

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As the group congregates in the kitchen and chats to the orc cook, the blue dragon Ghlorofaex, along with Shantak allies, prepare to ambush them when the walk out. By now news of the massacre in the great hall has reached most of the rest of the city, and the forces of Karzoug are planning a counter-strike.

After some debating whether to go after Ghlorofaex or try to find the Ice Devil Gamigin’s loot, they decide on the latter. So they teleport directly back to the Heptaric Locus, oblivious to the ambush they’ve nicely sidestepped.

As it is, there’s not a lot to the maze of twisty tunnels beneath the arena, and what I had planned was a number of random rolls to determine what was found, rather than mapping things out explicitly. The idea was, it would take a lot of (in-game) time to explore, but not be that exciting. Most of the interesting things were up top and had already been dealt with, but I had a few random encounters prepared for the odd bit of excitement.

After bypassing a few traps, they encountered a cold iron box about a metre on the side, covered in a green shimmering glow which they determined to be some form of Dimensional Anchor. After discussion about whether to open it or leave it, they decided to open it, and Solossar started unscrewing the lid.

About half way through, a cracked female voice said “I’m bored already”. Solossar recognised it as Abyssal, so they guessed it was probably some form of demon. They refused to open the box any further, and instead had a conversation that the thing inside.

It said it had been locked inside for about 50 years, and was very, very bored. She was a handmaiden of Caizel, but of course no-one in the group recognised the name. She knew Gamigin, because he had captured her, tortured her, and put her in the box and then mostly forgot about her, and she would very much like to be freed.

As it happened, she was a succubus, though the group never figured that out for certain. Being immortal, she was very bored, and Gamigin hadn’t inflicted any interesting torture on her for several decades, so even some of that would have been welcomed. The party rightfully decided she was evil and probably shouldn’t be helped, but in this instance she was only interested in getting free of the box, so wouldn’t have tried anything against them. Even a demon can be thankful, at least for a while until they get bored again.

Further into the dungeons they came to an area where the passages were more natural, and they opened into a cave where there was the sound of talking. Due to the clanking from Grodok, the talking quickly ceased at the sound of the group’s approach. Solassar identified some tracks as being Ropers, and indeed there were four of the creatures in there.

Prior to being disturbed, they were discussing philosophy – or at least having a theoretical discussion as to the nature of pain and whether mental or physical torture was worse. It was a discussion that Esheire was happy to join in on, though Serena was less pleased. They mentioned that there was something nasty deeper down in the dungeon, a big wormy thing which got in their minds.

Grodok though decided that talk was boring, walked up to one and hit it. Or at least that was his intent. For surprise, I use either a Bluff or a Sneak check to set the difficulty, and in this case it was a Bluff check by Grodok to set the difficulty (since everyone could see everyone else, it was a case of masking intent rather than presence). He rolled a 6, which meant nobody was surprised by his action, not even the Ropers. So the one he walked up to tried to bite him first.

It’s beak didn’t get through his armour, so Grodok hit it a solid blow with his axe, and battle was joined. Most of the rest decided to keep back and let Grodok deal with it, especially when the Ropers unleashed their long tentacles and started draining his strength.

Grodok may have a ridiculous AC, but against Touch attacks he is much more vulnerable. And though he has a high Fortitude, half a dozen attacks from each of the four Ropers meant he was losing strength quickly.

Solassar stepped in to help a bit with some spring attacks. After a comment of “You might roll a one on attack”, he did. And then again. But ultimately he managed to help Grodok take them down.

With Serena able to summon a Zuishin to provide restorations to Grodok, he wasn’t in any great danger, but he lost a lot of strength and several restoration spells were needed to cure him. Ultimately, the Ropers just wanted to talk, but instead they were killed for their XP.

Deciding that a big wormy thing wasn’t for them, they headed upstairs to try and find a nicer place to explore. I hadn’t prepared for them doing this, but decided there were probably some Lamia in the upper parts of the Heptaric Locus.

By now information about the massacres the group had performed had spread, so I figured most creatures with sense would be either avoiding the group, or at least trying not to upset them. There was a Lamia Priestess by the name of Atheisha waiting to talk to them – she and her sisters had decided running wouldn’t work, and as the eldest she had been pushed out in the open to do the talking.

Esheire as always was willing to talk, and after Atheisha accepted a pie and seemed to enjoy it (she was being polite), Grodok accepted that not killing her was a viable option.

She admitted to being a priestess of Greed, who followed the Most High Ceoptra who know mostly spent her time up in the Spires with Karzoug’s apprentice Khalib. Once she was felt assured that the group might keep to the agreement of non-aggression, she mentioned that she had seen the dragon Ghlorofaex up above the fortress that morning and the group realised they had avoided an ambush.

She also told them that Khalib had tracked them down to their base of operations, and had an ambush prepared for them with the help of the yeti. By now the forces in the city are actively hunting the party, and organising themselves to lay ambushes and hit them when they least expect it. It also became apparent that Esheire’s extrapolation that the yeti chieftain Voorgoor had been killed by the insane giant was wrong, and in fact he’d been killed by Khalib, and Khalib had been pretending to be him in order to command the yeti.

The party had decided to attack the dragon next, but now decide they probably want to spring the trap that had been set for them. Exactly what they decide to do next will have to wait for the next session.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn