Dragons of Blackminster

Shar Gazoth 08 - Now you see me, now you don't

Before they left the Keep of Norrimas, they quickly searched the rooms on the upper floors. In one of them (the chamber of Skeksis, Favoured of Lillith), Davidian found a full length mirror. With help from Clayton, he carefully carried it for half an hour or so, out into the Great Stair heading down towards the Citadel.

[GM: It will take about 20 hours of travel down the Great Stair to reach the Citadel. About 10 hours to the Cobweb Keep (the Drow settlement, mentioned in the Journal of Agraven). Each hour on the Stair will mean an Encounter Check, each time they go off into the side passages will mean an Encounter Check. Each 4 hours in Side Passages will mean an Encounter Check. Encounter Checks are 1d20 with 1-5 meaning an Encounter, 6-19 nothing and 20 is some kind of Discovery that does not immediately lead into danger. Three players were missing so the remaining players played an extra character each for this session.]

The majority of side passages around here seem to be ten-foot diameter cylinders. Clayton and Davidian worked out from the grooves in the walls, they had been made by some sort of rock-chewing maggot with hundreds of small claws in rings around a segmented body. There were a swiss-cheese of passages.

After half-an-hour, Davidian slipped into a side passage and tucked the mirror into a small side chamber.

[Encounter Check for the Side Passage – uneventful]

They needed a long rest and needed it soon, they had few spells left and had only had one short rest in the last 24 hours. They decided to head into a side passage and rest for 8 hours.

[Encounter Check for the Side Passage and two more for the 8 hours resting – all uneventful]

Moving on, they sent Mooshoo and Clayton (who cast his 8 hour Darkvision spell) to scout ahead.

[Encounter Checks 2 uneventful hours of descent, then an encounter!]

Clayton heard a noise like a single twang of an un-tuned harp string from a side passage, but decided to ignore it and keep descending. He began to feel uneasy, as though unseen eyes were watching him. The others decided to investigate and Davidian, with Abraham’s last remaining Skeletal Warrior as a bodyguard, sneaked down the side passage. He brushed against something and it gave another twang, but groping about in the dark he couldn’t find the thing he had touched.

Then, illuminated in torchlight the corpse of a dwarf hung half-cocooned in yellow goo, a couple of taut yellow strands seemed to be holding him five feet off the ground but the yellow strands didn’t reach the wall, they just vanished into nowhere!

Then two giant blue and translucent spiders appeared from nowhere and there was a terrifying fight. The spiders vanished and reappeared elsewhere. Gaston managed to kill one with his greataxe and the others took one down with spells from Davidian and Abraham (and his Skeletal Warrior) and missile weapons from Jock, Clayton and Mulan, but two more appeared. Their bite injected paralysing poison but Clayton managed to remove the effect with a Lesser restoration spell.

phase_spider.png

Finally, they killed four of the things and no more appeared as they waited tensely in the tunnels, not knowing where the next spider might appear from.

The dwarf corpse was totally mummified, drained of all moisture and soft tissue, as though it may have been hanging there for a hundred years. It wore a slave collar and a loincloth.
Abraham, the Inquisitor cast Speak with Dead. The Dwarf’s name was Matthias and he was a slave to the Orcs in the Mushroom Forest. He had been blinded at birth and lived all his life as a slave labourer for the Orcs. He had escaped through a tunnel under the water in the pool in the Shroom grove and emerged in a side passage of the Great Stair. He didn’t get far before being captured by the Phase Spiders and eventually drained and killed. They had continued to use his dangling body as a lure for unwary travellers.

Matthias told them that (at least as far as he had been told during his life) the fortifications of Cobweb Keep had not been rebuilt since Agraven had burned them down. The Drow still lived there, but now the stair passed through their settlement and they didn’t bother with a formal Gate Tower. There were rumoured to be about a dozen Drow, some priestesses, some warriors and a few Driders and a few goblin slaves.

They cut down Mathias and buried him, then moved on down the stair.

[Encounter Checks 2 uneventful hours of descent, then a Discovery!]

Down one of the side passages, Clayton and Mooshoo spotted a couple of Zombie guards, wearing platemail with ornate brass helms. This area was made of stone blocks, clearly built, not burrowed by the mysterious rock-eating maggots. When they described the helms to Abraham, he swore them all to secrecy and explained about his secret mission for the Inquisition.

Keeper.png

His old mentor, Tamric Romarnus had betrayed the Inquisition and was believed to have come to Shar Gazoth to join an ancient order of Necromancers called the “Keepers of the Undead”. Tamric had stolen or booby-trapped all the books about this Order of seemingly immortal Necromancers before he left. It seems he wanted to gain immortality too (he was over 60 and his strength was failing).

The “Keepers” seem to be dedicated to raising a Legion of Undead with the intention of breaking the Law of Death (if enough Undead are created, then there will be a world-wide Zombie apocalypse).

Tamric has been judged and found guilty of being “Apostate” (a Necromancer and Enemy of the Church). Abraham has been ordered to kill him on sight.

It seems that these Zombies may belong to one of the Keepers. They decide to attack and there is a tough battle with half a dozen difficult-to-hit Zombies who are hard to kill without Radiant damage. Fortunately Davidian and Abraham both have Spirit Guardians spell which does Radiant damage. They both cast it. Sadly for Mulan, she hid just before the two priests cast their spell so they were unable to exempt her from its effects. Abraham cast his with a higher-level spell slot and soon Mulan was unconscious and bleeding.

They managed to kill the Zombies, except for one who was “charmed” by a Calm Emotions spell. They also managed to cast cures on Mulan so she wasn’t torn apart by the spirit guardians.

A Keeper, in the full plate and brass helm, emerged from a room further in. The voice and mannerisms were Tamric’s and he clearly recognised Abraham, but his words suggested a much different personality.

Abraham suggested he had come to join Tamric, but Tamric didn’t believe him, he knew the priest was loyal to the Inquisition. Davidian noticed that on an altar in the room, there was a clay skill and two candles. Under the clay gleamed another shiny brass helm.

[GM: we ran out of time just as Tamric was about to fight back]

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MickH666

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