Thursday, May 21, 2015

Session 28 Synopsis

After gathering up the treasure they had found and taking a few minutes to investigate the secret door, our heroes decided that they should take a look at where the other gnolls had come from before opening the secret door, just to make sure nothing came at them from that direction. Beyond the two doors the other gnolls rushed in from was another room that had more rancid sleeping mats and broken down furniture as well as a circular stone pedestal. Just after the party members entered the room, they had a vision of sorts...

Everything goes dark for a moment, then you see a knight in gleaming armor kneeling in prayer before the pedestal which once had a small statue on it, apparently oblivious to the battle raging around him. There are other knights engaged in heavy battle with strange orc-like creatures, but none that you've seen before. They look like they are some cross between orc and some kind of frost or cold dwelling demon. The knight then stands and draws a deck of cards from a pouch at his belt and places it on the pedestal. Hands trembling, he turns the top card over. His face is anxious for a few moments and then quickly turns into one of horror as he recoils from the card. Chaos erupts around the knight as magical energies swirl out from the card and engulf everything and everyone in the room. You see a rift appear where the statue was. It looks like the fabric of the multiverse has been torn and all manner of strange alien creatures begin pouring out and joining the fight against the knights and the orc-like creatures. The slaughter continues as your sight again fades, plunging the room into darkness once more. Your sight clears to reveal the decimated centuries old ruins of that one knight's actions.

A quick consensus between our heroes brought them to the conclusion that they had seen an echo of the past. Most likely it was the event that doomed Gardmore abbey and caused the downfall of the knights who had inhabited and guarded the temple of Bahamut. Sir Berrian would be interested in knowing what they saw in the vision. It may give him more clues as to the fate of his and his sister's father.

Once the vision was over, everyone cautiously looked around at the room itself. There was much damage done to it and Kel had told the party that the room was definitely not safe. It could collapse from any more violent actions done in the room, such as battles, very loud noises, etc. There was one door leading out of this room that was closed. Blackwell searched the door for traps and did not find any. The door wasn't locked either, but it looked like it was a bit skewed, as if the door jam had shifted and was now putting pressure onto the tops of the doors. They could be dangerous to open, so Blackwell and Asphodel listened at the door to try and hear if anything was beyond it. Asphodel heard grunting and other noises that were being made in some sort of rythm, like a language, but it was none that she had ever heard before. Zerak and Blackwell also tried to decipher what they were hearing and finally determined that it must be minotaurs talking to each other.

They also thought that it would be too dangerous to open these doors and instead opted to go through the secret door instead. So Blackwell decided to ram two silver short swords in between the door jams in hopes of completely jamming the doors shut. Unfortunately, the Minotaurs heard him do this and went silent. The party all retreated back into the sun room where the gnolls were and closed the door to the unstable room. Then they heard a loud smash as the jammed door splintered apart from what they assumed was a minotaur ramming the doors. Kel was up close to the still closed door and braced herself to keep a minotaur stuck in the doorway and not allow it to pass through to the others in the group. Only a few seconds passed when a minotaur broke through the door, splintering it into hundreds of pieces! The hulking minotaur had so much momentum left that it bowled over Kel and slid to a stop on its face right under Asphodel, who was hovering about 5 feet off the ground some 15 feet away from the door. Then another minotaur showed up in the now empty doorway as well.

Now the battle was on with Kel, Zola, and Asphodel concentrating on the one on the ground and everyone else using ranged attacks against the other minotaur. Asphodel casted haste on everyone to begin, allowing our heroes to make even more attacks each round. Kel and Zola hit the creature and caused it some damage but it was Asphodel who finished it off. Asphodel attacked the back of the minotaur from her hovering position above it and had done some immense damage to the creature in only a single round of combat, essentially making it just a bloody mess with body parts severed and eviserated it from its back around its spine. And something inside Asphodel snapped. What follows is a description of what the party saw and what Asphodel saw as she would later recount what it was like for her...

With a haste induced rapid succession of claw swipes and wing buffets, the eidolon empowered Asphodel quickly and quite bloodily dispatched the large minotaur beneath her. Somewhere deep inside her core, she felt a shifting. Ashpodel’s tiny halfling body convulsed suddenly as she hovered within her draconian eidolon. For a split second, it looked as if the eidolon was being banished as it staggered slightly; however, this was not the case. Those that might have been able to see magic would have witnessed a truly marvelous and almost terrifying series of chaotic waves radiating from the Asphodel dragon. The eidolon clad Asphodel dropped to a knee as if in pain. The waves seemed to twist and contort as they began to wrap around the dragon’s body.

Mere seconds later, an almost feral roar erupted from the dragon’s maw. The once translucent draconic form was now blood red and as solid as the minotaur upon which it crouched. Only a close, visual inspection of the dragon’s scaly body would reveal the small convulsing shape of a halfling girl with burning red eyes floating within. The dragon let out a throaty growl as he glared around at every possible threat, both enemies and allies. Settling on what he perceived as the biggest threat, the dragon beat its wings once and plowed into another minotaur. The dragon’s rage made him oblivious to the creature’s spiked armor.

It was at this time that two other minotaurs made themselves known. One had charged through the other door into this chamber and was engaged by Zerak, Jobi, and Zola by using webs, burning hands, and melee attacks. The other, much more dangerous minotaur had actually charged and broken through the solid wall next to the splintered door. It was wearing heavy armor complete with spiked shoulders, helm, and gauntlets which went unnoticed as Asphodel charged it for the attack. And this one was also right beside the still kneeling Kel, who kept on fighting from that position, fearing a direct hit if she stood up so close to the minotaur. Asphodel's recollection continued on...

Within the eidolon, the young halfling’s mind was also in chaos. She was suddenly back in the strange laboratory strapped to a cold metal table as her mother’s dragon shaped eidolon exploded into being. At first, it was the same as every nightmare she had ever had about that day. Suddenly something changed, some of the figures of people mutated into minotaurs.The rest changed also, but only slightly different looking. Her eyes stung when she tried to focus on them. A large minotaur came into her view and the dragon seemed to leap in front of her and attacked it. As it fell to the ground dead, the dragon leveled a hate filled gaze at a heavily armored human about to rise and strike out with a hand and a half sword. Not giving the warrior a chance to deliver his attack, the dragon leapt toward him and dealt it several massive claw swipes.

Something inside Asphodel clinched. The cry of pain…it was familiar. Somehow... she knew that person. With that, the blurry armored form shifted slightly until the person’s face was clearer. Kel was crouched defensively on the ground. She watched as the young princess cast aside her long blade and pulled behind her heavy shield. No, Asphodel tried to scream, but the words seemed to die in her throat. The dragon between her and the severely wounded princess seethed in anger as it readied its massive claws and wings for a full out assault. Tears of pain and helplessness poured from Asphodel’s eyes as she fought to call off the deranged dragon. She knew that if he were to launch his next attack then... he would... kill her.

Suddenly, the dragon shifted his stance as a new combatant came into view. Unlike the previous, this figure’s features sharpened almost instantly. Zola! Asphodel managed to gasp aloud. The dragon growled and angled to attack the fallen angel, the only one that she truly thought of... as a... friend. The aasimar threw up her empty hands and began speaking to the dragon. A second later, the beautifully exotic tiefling, Jobi, was standing at Zola’s shoulder. The two were unarmed and looked to be pleading with the enraged dragon.

Then, their words began to carry past the overly protective dragon. She heard them begging her to stop, that the minotaurs were gone. The laboratory faded away. All that was left was a few ravaged piles of minotaur remains and her companions. Kel was huddled protectively behind her shield bleeding from the claw wounds that she had given her. That was when she realized the truth. It wasn’t the dragon that had attacked the clerical princess... it was her. She began screaming...

The blood-red eidolon stared in confusion at the odd pair of enemies that entered his vision, an aasimar and a tiefling. He growled loudly and readied himself for an attack. Suddenly the dragon convulsed and wrapped its arms protectively around its body. The dragon pounded it wings launching it into the air. It unleashed a bellowing roar that went on for several seconds before it began tapering off into a decidedly different sound, a screaming halfling girl. The bloody red color faded from the eidolon as the roar subsided, and when all the red had vanished, the eidolon winked out of existence. Asphodel’s scream stopped instantly as she fell limp to the hard stone ground.

Zola carried her away from the blood spattered ground to a relatively clean area to sit down and comfort the halfling. Jobi also sat with them lending her support to Asphodel as she slowly regained her senses and became more alert to her surroundings. Our heroes sat for a while in this room allowing Asphodel the time she needed to compose herself and be able to continue their exploration of this place. While this was going on, Blackwell decided he wanted a souvenier and started to rip off one of the minotaur's horns. He was having difficulty so Zola helped out and with a ripping and crunching noise, the first one came off. And Jobi nearly lost her trail ration lunch. So she ran towards the other side of the chamber and covered her ears as they tore off all the other horns. Then someone got the idea of cleaning them out and stuffing them with some of the black powder they had and making minotaur horn bombs out of them. So, after building bombs and some washing off of the blood everyone had on them with water creation spells, they decided to move on towards the other secret door instead of going into the room where the minotaurs had come out of since that connecting room was now even more unstable than before.

The secret room revealed an ancient secret temple:

The air in this chamber is stifling and oppressive, as though the doors had not been opened in centuries. You see no sign of creatures within, but you can feel a presence in the room as if you were close to an enormous sleeping beast, its slow, heavy breathing just below the threshold of hearing. In contrast to the elegant artwork that adorns the other chambers in this area, the walls here are carved with leering demonic faces and depictions of minotaurs engaging in brutal acts of savagery, wallowing in gore and drinking blood. A stone altar is against one wall and holds a sacrifical bowl, a stone rod, and an ancient book. On small shelves above the altar are 4 small stone idols carved in the image of some demonic minotaur beast-like creature.

Zerak believed that this room was a temple to Baphomet, the evil demon-god of the minotaurs. The party decided that they should take the bowl, rod, book, and statues up out of here and present them to Kharas the Just. He would be very interested and pleased that they had found some very ancient relics of the minotaurs. The book was in very bad shape, but with several mending spells, they were able to get it to the point that they could handle and store it without fear of destroying it. At the other end of the chamber was another set of double doors. When Blackwell checked them out, he discovered that they were barred from the other side and could not be opened from this side. So he got an idea to use his Deck of Many Things card to teleport to the other side. It was risky since they had no idea what was on the other side (for no sound could be heard beyond the doors), but they thought it a better course of action than going back the other way. So he teleported to the other side and saw that he was in a long corridor that continued on beyond his sight. The door turned out to be barred with a 4x4 bar of iron, which he was incapable of lifting on his own. So Asphodel, now back with her eidolen, also teleported over using the card and was able to lift the bar without any problems.

Once the doors were open, our stalwart band made their way down the corridor and around the corner. There they came to another set of double doors. This time Blckwell found that they were trapped with a Glyph of Warding and set about disabling it. Meanwhile the party moved back up the corridor to hopefully make it out of harm's way in case he did not disable the glyph successfully. Which turned out to be the case. Blackwell did something wrong and got lit up with a whole bunch of electricity; hair standing on end and scorched too. Nasty burnt dog smell, yuch. Um, yeah, anyway, no one else was harmed by the glyph and Zerak administered some healing to Blackwell. Then Blackwell picked the locks and Asphodel pushed open the doors to reveal:

This enormous chamber was the heart of the minotaurs' temple, and it remained a place of worship for the knights of the abbey in addition to the larger temple above ground. Statues depicting saints and heroes-both human and minotaur-offer eternal praise to a great statue of Bahamut installed by the knights. The abbey's greatest treasures were displayed in this room for Bahamut's glory, but those treasures were an irresistible lure for the dragon that now makes its lair here. Treasure stripped from the walls and given in tribute by the gnolls and minotaurs is now heaped on the floor to make the dragon's bed.

This chamber glitters with flakes of gold leaf that still cling to reliefs of minotaurs and statues of human knights, all offering homage to a huge statue of a noble-looking dragon. The marble f1oor is adorned with elaborate designs that form a path toward the dragon statue, accentuated by parallel lines of faceted metal columns. The ceiling ranges from 20 feet to 40 feet at the center of the room, about where the double doors are where the party entered. A heap of treasure is piled in one corner where it forms a bed for a living dragon, its scales are black and all its colors are muted. Roughly two dozen kobolds mill about the room. Many are clad in armor that echoes their dragon patron. Several others are in robes, standing in various places spread about the room. The rest are wearing leather armor. All have weapons out and everyone is looking towards the doors when the party opens them.

Asphodel recognized the dragon type as an umbral dragon - one that breathes negative energy and uses spells effectively and whispers this to the rest of the party. Only three members of the party are visible to the dragon at this time. And it speaks, "Who are you to enter my domain?" Asphodel began speaking to the dragon trying to play upon its egotistic nature by flattering it and debasing the party. She was able to keep the converstaion going for a little while, when they noticed that one of the kobolds had a card from the Deck of Many Things. That's when the party thought of using the explosive minotaur horns along with vials of alchemist's fire and the last of the Stygian Fire Water bottles that Zerak had procured from Mordai Vell's estate after that crazy party they went to. They spaced them out evenly along the corridor to the door to the dragon chamber all the way to the 90 degree turn in the corridor, probably 120 feet or so. Plus they also laid down a cask of black powder right near the double doors so the blasts would carry into the room itself. The dragon so far had only seen three of the party members, which left Zerak, Kel, and Jobi free to get this trap set up. Their thinking was to lure as many kobolds as possible into the corridor and then set off the explosives with a fireball bead from the necklace of fireballs Zerak still had. He gave on of them to Kel since her aiming ability was better than his. Plus he and Jobi, being the squishiest ones of the group, could then hang further back in case there was a backlash of fire or whatnot and not get injured from it. Or at least, that was the idealistic version of the plan they had formulated.

Meanwhile the conversation with the dragon hadn't been going so good. Now it seemed that the dragon could sense that our heroes had a lot of magic on their persons and was beginning to demand payment in exchange for letting them live through this intrusion into its lair. So Asphodel began formulating her own plan...

Staring across the large chamber, Asphodel quickly calculated the chances of her and her companions surviving the battle that seemed imminent. With well over 20 kobolds, several of which seemed to be casters and an umbral dragon... the situation seemed grim. Tapping into her newly discovered intuitive knowledge of dragonkind, she attempted to play up to the dragon’s ego. She knew that it would only work while the dragon believed he would come out ahead. The Donjon card seemed to burn in the back of her mind. Possibly... I’ll have to get closer to him. She glanced over her shoulder at the others. She saw fear, not so much in their faces, but in their reactions. She felt guilty for what she did to Kel and nearly did to Zo... everyone else. She had to try.

And so Asphodel strode into the room; not with arrogance but with purpose while trying to fool the dragon into thinking she was going to capitulate to his demands. She got to within 25 feet of the dragon and stopped right in front of one of the heavily armored kobolds. The sight was almost comical - a kobold "warrior" no taller than 3 feet trying to look brave standing next to the hulking form of her eidolon. She the whipped out the Donjon card and used its power against the dragon and her hopes rose just a bit when the dragon actually disappeared. Then she shouted at the top of her lungs that she was now in charge and all the kobolds now served her, and smashed the kobold standing in front of her on the head, knocking him down.

The intimidation tactic didn't quite work, for though the kobolds were stunned for a few seconds, they quickly came back and started to charge the party to attack! But those few seconds gave Asphodel enough time to run into the corridor while shouting at her comrades to do the same. They all ran into the corridor with the kobolds right on their heels. Asphodel stopped to block the kobolds from advancing further down the corridor so that the rest of the party could be a good distance away. Plus she was immune to fire and had cast a stoneskin spell on herself so she felt like she was pretty invulernable to what was coming. The kobolds piled in one after another, just as planned. Then Asphodel gave the signal:

“Throw the fireball NOW!” A cacophonous explosion threatened to knock the eidolon clad Asphodel forward into the rushing kobolds. As planned, the series of minotaur horn bombs, alchemist's fire vials, and Stygian firewater bottles blasted its way down the corridor past her. The eidolon shell was immune to the fire, and with the stoneskin spell she placed upon herself as backup; she braced for the impending concussive force of the chain reaction. It wasn’t until the first rock from the tunnel roof began falling that she began to doubt her chances. She dove to the ground and prepared for the worst.

And she wasn't disappointed. The series of blasts did their job, killing a lot of the kobolds outright and causing major wounds on the others in the corridor. But when the cask blew up, that's when things turned bad. The roof began collapsing! It started with a very loud rumbling sound they all could feel through the stone floor and walls, and then it quickly cascaded down the corridor. Asphodel only managed to get a little way before she was engulfed by the falling stones. The rest of the party saw fire then dust come quickly around the corner, then saw the cave in rushing towards them. They ran as fast as they could, only barely keeping ahead of the violence they had created. They ran through the doors back into the temple to Baphomet and were trying to get out of that room when they saw that the cave in wasn't just following the corridor, but the room where they had seen the vision of that first cataclysmic event happened, which was already structurally compromised, had collapsed as well. Not only were they running from the crushing stones behind them, now they were also just to the left of them! They sprinted as fast as they could out into the sun room, narrowly missing a crushing fate. Luckily the collapse had lost its steam and stopped before the last room on this level also got swallowed by tons of stones and dirt. Only by diving out of the way did Zola avert becoming another blood stain on these stone floors.

When the dust had settled, the five heroes saw that there was nothing left resembling a corridor or room beyond the one they were in. They feared that Asphodel had been crushed to death. But Zerak thought of summoning an earth elemental to start digging towards the last know location of her, in hopes of finding the halfling alive. But luck was with them this day. The elemental dug out a tunnel and found her alive! With the whole party back together again, they were happy that they had all survived a near death experience together.

Contemplating on what they had done, they collectively learned a little bit about dungeoneering and engineering: Explosive, concussive bombs undgerground, even in worked stone, is a very dangerous thing and should not be done willie nillie as they had just done. Everyone kind of had this notion in the back of their minds as they were prepping this trap, but none thought that it could be this bad. Now they knew that it could have been much, much worse. And this could have been their collective grave.

But now that it was done, they had another problem, well several problems. One was that they knew at least one of the cards they were searching for was buried in the aftermath. Plus, most likely the dragon had escaped the Donjon and was now completely enraged at them. Plus if one of the kobolds had a card, who's to say that others didn't or even the dragon had one or more other cards. They were going to have to dig their way to retrieve the one card they knew about and they were still going to have to face the dragon. Besides, it had a lot of treasure that it slept on...

In our upcoming adventure, we'll see what else can go "BOOM" in the dead of the night...

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