Dragons of Blackminster

Shar Gazoth 12 - Arghul Norimas

The Lich Priest

lich.jpg

Outside, Mulan covers the scuffed ground and the mended lock with illusions. At night fall, the procession of Red Priests wanders through the graveyard, examining the locks and graves with their long lantern poles. The Crypt they have chosen is obviously special, as they bow at this one!

Jock and Davidian try to spot traps, Davidian wanting to go ahead and detect magic. However, Clayton’s insistence that they should wait for Mulan, turns out to be right. When Mulan joins, them, about 30 mins after nightfall – she and Gaston manage to spot the next trapdoor and disable it. It is very advanced clockwork/mechanical, not magic.

Past that they find four more Valkyries with Harpons carved into the walls, just before the final chamber. These radiate the same kind of animation/Trap magic as the ones near the entrance.

In the chamber beyond, short stairs lead up to a dias with a casket. Two “statues” of young rock worms flank it and a “Lich” slowly rises from the top of the casket where he had been lying.

“I am High Priest of Torkas – Arghul Norrimas – what is your business here?”.

Clayton politely asks about the Storm God, but Norimas is obsessed with “The Horn of Torkas – it was blown twice in the last month, where is it – I NEED IT!”

Gradually he draws it out of them, what they are here for and where the Horn is – with the Captain of the Inquisitors in the city of Eastport. He offers to teleport them there so they can fetch the Horn. He tells them his special Teleport spell will automatically bring them back to the origin point – if cast during the day, returns them at nightfall, if cast during the night, brings them back at daybreak. In life, he had a Teleportation Circle in a hidden chamber in the Sewers beneath Eastport, so he can get them there.

They agree a compromise, Norimas will teleport them closer to the Dome of the Mirror and his rubber-band effect should get them and the mirror back to the Crypt. Only then will they go and fetch the Horn from Eastport. Norimas reluctantly agrees.

They could also escape on the Hammer of Torkas (The Great Ship). He can’t fly it himself as he is bound by ancient rituals to this crypt – his obsession is just to have it launch.

Clayton wants a written letter from the Lich, to any other Red Orcs they meet that grants them free passage and amnesty. He is thinking that they might fetch the Horn and then give it to some red Orcs to take to the Great Ship.

Norimas tells them “Torkas, Lord of Storms, is my Master” is the password thru the Valkyries. Clayton goes forward to give him pen and paper to write a note to other Red Orcs, to assist and not kill the bearer and their friends. The note also explains that the Horn must be placed in a secret compartment in the Chart Room of the Ship. The Ranger has to step back quickly as just being close to the Lich drains some of his life-force and regenerates the Lich.

Abraham approaches, forgets to say the words and is almost killed by the first two Valkyries who impale him on harpoons and begin to reel him in – he stammers out the words just in time. Then he staggers close enough for the Lich to drain some of his life-force and almost passes out. [GM: all part of some cunning plan, known only to Abraham!]

Abe then sleeps in the corner of the Lich’s room, so gets to hear the bargains made by the others who “sneak” in to talk to the Lich during the long rest.

Clayton, impressed with the craft of the Citadel, the fine carvings and high power of the Red Orcs and with tales of Torkas and his magical flying ship hunting Star Whales, wants to know more. The undead high priest is able to give him insights into Torkas, who teaches strength through Chaos and battle. He asks for a Holy Symbol of Torkas (earning a frown from Abraham, as even though Torkas is secretly worshipped quite a bit by humans, it is officially heresy… and Abraham is a member of the Inquisition!)
The Lich opens his casket with a hidden switch and rifles through a mound of jewels and coins to fetch out an ornate silver and gold holy symbol – a miniature harpoon with stylized lightning bolt design. There is a lot of treasure in there and it glimmers with magic.

Later Gaston bargains to be teleported near to where the Keepers are. He hopes to go on his own, defeat a Keeper and steal a Helm. [GM: I’ve stressed that as soon as Helm goes on, he would not be Gaston anymore, just a host for the Keeper. It makes no sense to want this! So we are now assuming there is an addictive quality to the Helm and it isn’t really Gaston’s fault]
The Lich isn’t interested in Gaston or in the Keepers – his only concern is getting Torkas’ Horn and launching the Great Ship. Just to get rid of him, he agrees to teleport him further back up the Western Stair close to where the Keepers are (he has a Teleportation Circle at the Gate of Norrimas too). However, Abraham intervenes, he says he needs Gaston for the mission and will suicide (by walking up to the Lich and being life-drained) if Norimas sends him away.

Having decided Gaston isn’t worth the trouble, Norrimass tells him to fetch “the Caledonian”. Jock wanders in…
“What use are you, Caledonian?” the Lich says “You are an archer, no doubt a pretty good shot, but you are unlikely to want to shoot the Captain of the Inquisition for me. You seem to have no other useful skills for the return of the Horn, would you like me to help you ?”
Before Abraham can intervene, Jock mutters “yes” which seems to be enough for there to be an exchange of mystical energies between them. As Jock returns to the sleeping area, his face is glowing with excitement.

Davidian also confers with the Lich – he asks about getting back to the Gate of Norrimas as there are a couple of Helmed Horrors there that he knows how to control. Unfortunately, the bridge is guarded by one of the Favoured of Lillith (who also knows the command words!). He abandons this plan for now.

  • * * *

With two hours to go before dawn (when the rubber-band effect of Norrimas’ special Teleport spell should pull them back to the crypt) they all gather before the lich and are transported to a Church of Torkas, “close to the Dome of the Mirrors”.

As they are disintegrating, Norrimas lies down on his casket saying “Caledonian, there may be some discomfort… bwaaa haaa”, and Jock, who appears in the deserted church with the others, has an insane look on his face. He is now the host of part of Norrimas’ spirit, coming along to help, but also to ensure they fulfil their part of his bargain and inside, deep inside, Jock is screaming.

The Church of Torkas is disused, dust sheets are laid over the altar and pews, all the gold and silver candelabra have been stripped and the stained glass windows are thick with dust and smoke-stains.

“Jock” tuts about the lack of respect, but the Circle still worked even though obscured by dirt and blankets. They slip across a short courtyard – the city seems to be mostly sleeping and they can time their run to avid the patrolmen on the walls. The place is lit by gas-powered street lights and the patrolmen carry gas-bags and long thin copper tubes with the lights at the end.

The massive doors to the Domed chamber are locked, but Mulan makes quick work of them and they slip inside. It is a large building, carved out of a big rock that fell from the cavern roof a thousand years before. It looks like a smaller version of St Pauls cathedral. The only door is in the base although there is an open balcony around the domed section with inlets into the roof space. Jock tells them there are (or used to be Gargoyles along the balcony).
Norimas’ spirit is having some trouble squeezing his vast intellect into the archer’s mind, so he doesn’t remember much about the layout and contents of this place.

They sneak up some stairs (the Hall of Mirrors is on the 4th floor, just below the Dome) and find a crossroads with the two side passages each leading to a stone door, and each with two Orc Guards. Beyond them the corridor leads on to a T junction blocked by a portcullis.

Mooshoo sneaks past to wriggle between the bars but there is a flash of fire as a glyph goes off and The plucky little familiar is instantly destroyed. The noise alerts the guards and there is a short but bloody fight.

As soon as they are down, Clayton advances to the left-hand door but is blasted by another glyph – this time Lightning. There is a deafening thunderclap. It probably wouldn’t be heard outside the Dome, but will have been heard by any within.

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