Dragons of Blackminster

ToA 16 - The Shrine of Moa

Click shot a rope into a tree in the garden of the Shrine (about 90 feet away). Juma dimension-doored across the 60-foot gap with Orvex (the Arab Scholar) and walked into the garden through a break in the side wall to tie the rope on securely.

From the tree, a jaculi (Javelin Snake) shot out to attack him. The wizard killed it fairly easily and retrieved the rope, but decided not to stay in the garden. He and Orvex instead hammered Orvex’s shortsword into the ground and tied the rope to that.

The others scrambled across the rope above the sickening 200ft drop into the boiling lava.

Entering the garden through the main gateway they were attacked by a couple more jaculi (easily dispatched). Ront tried to grapple one and wanted to make it a pet, but Ariel killed it.

The shrine had no door, just an archway leading into. A 5ft wide, 15ft long tunnel, with three arrow slits on either side. There were words above the shrine archway. “Moa teaches us that secrets hide the truth.”

Ront threw a dead jaculi onto the third flagstone (they are the size of pythons, so weigh nearly as much as a man). The floor opened and the body slithered in, dropping 10 feet into a pool of acidic green slime.

Juma concentrated on communicating with the Staff of Moa, asking for guidance. The Staff is very weak and barely responded. “if you hadn’t killed the guardians of my shrine, I would have helped you. Now you must prove your worthiness!”. It seems that the Staff is so weak (needing some kind of group fertility ritual!) that it might not be able to speak again [GM:The Arcana check to communicate with it is getting higher each time it is done, and goes up by 1 even if the check fails, so don’t waste the attempts unless you have an important question, the check is currently 15. It takes a full round action to make the attempt]

Ront attempts to “chimney-climb” above the arrow-slits, fails but manages to stop himself dropping all the way. He eventually manages to climb across at almost ground level, below the slits. Inside the ornately-carved chamber there are 12 statues of Omuan Warriors with bows, all pointing at a puzzle cube on a long stone block in the centre of the room.

When he starts trying to smash one of the archers with his hammer, they animate and begin shooting him.

Click tries to lasso the cube, but it is an illusion.

The half-orc rages but it soon becomes clear that the statues are tough and accurate. Half-dead before he manages to smash a single statue, He reluctantly shakes off his rage and ducks behind the stone block, out of sight from the archers.

Ariel, in the form of a spider, scuttles in along the ceiling. His greater perception allows him to spot the concealed doorways, either side of the inner chamber, leading to the rooms behind the arrow slits. He manages to scuttle and squeeze through the doorway on his right, out of sight of the archers.

There is a huge statue of a Jaculi in there, with a puzzle cube in its mouth. He webs it and then takes the Cube. Through the slits he can see into the chamber on the other side and spots a broken statue with another cube lying nearby.

Playing a deadly game with the archers, they dodge (and let Ront trigger the readied attacks) and Ariel fetches the other cube. When he is shot and knocked out, Click risks being shot in order to get close enough to Mass Heal. Juma risks a few shots with eldritch blasts too. Eventually They get out and one of the two cubes vanishes.

They have the cube of Moa, but are badly wounded and drained of spells, so decide to rest and sleep until morning. Ariel transforms into a tarantula-sized spider and goes back over the rope, finds a hiding place near the end of the rope and goes to sleep. The others camp on the pinnacle.

After a couple of hours (maybe 10:30 at night) Ariel is woken by the passing of a huge T-Rex, covered in bright feathers! After an hour more he transforms back to his half-elf form and has to adjust his hiding place. No sooner has he gone back to sleep (only needing another hour) but he is ambushed by a crazy-eyed Tabaxi (a cat man). The tiger-striped, grey-furred Tabaxi is wearing leather armour but a helm made of bright feathers. He shoots Ariel with a poison-tipped arrow [GM: getting a crit!] and almost kills him in a single hit. Transforming into a brown bear, the druid climbs back to the pinnacle. The Tabaxi calmly reloads, dipping his arrow into a pot and starts shooting the other party members from across the chasm.

All efforts to talk to him fail, he seems to be in a murderous rage (but in a focussed psychopath way, not the berserk kind). Arrow after arrow hits and poisons our heroes. When there are no targets available, he moves to the rope and begins to saw through it.

In an attempt to confuse the Tabaxi, Juma uses his disguise spell to make himself look the same, and then Misty Steps to the edge of the rope and begins mirroring the cat man’s actions. Ariel sees a second Tabaxi on this side of the chasm and tries to Thunderwave him off the cliff. Fortunately Juma/Tabaxi counterspells the thunderwave and starts swearing (in Juma’s voice) so they realise what’s going on.

Ariel cast a lightning bolt at him, but he dodges most of the damage. It destroys the rope.

Click uses call lightning to strike him, and because he is a Storm Cleric, has the power to maximise the damage (almost killing the Tabaxi) and also push his target 10ft off the cliff. Juma (for some reason!) tries to save the psycho-assassin with Featherfall, but only slows its fall into the boiling lava. Ront tries to save it with a javelin (to pin it to the cliff wall) but it is a hopeless effort. There is a brief flash as the floating tabaxi touches the lava and it is incinerated instantly.

Orvex is from an area in the south of Kesh near the land of the Tabaxi and has heard of this strange behaviour. As some Tabaxi get old, they become wild and irritable, wanting to kill EVERYTHING. The more honourable ones recognise their approaching maddness and undertake The Twilight Hunt. They head off away from civilisation to an area filled with enemies and go on a killing spree until they are killed. Once in the Twilight Hunt, everyone they meet is a target.

Next time they will have to cross back to the mainland they have two 50ft ropes left and about 20 ft of the original.