EPISODE TWENTY-NINE: The Fists of Madryth, Part One (Level 12)
Kristy Eagar (Nirvani)
Mike Eagar (Sadhai)
Adam Rodger (Arhuzmel)
DM: Graham Ward
In a dark recess of the central chamber Nirvani and Sadhai came upon a naturally-formed oubliette with an iron grate resting over the top. Sadhai peeked over to see half a dozen captives, and two corpses. Among them was a strange man who introduced himself as Arhuzimel. His skin was the color of charcoal, and his eyes white, with no pupils. At first Nirvani thought he might be a daemon in Elder Form, but his skin color reminded her of something she once read about men who involuntarily host a parasitic spirit from the Shadowfell. The book had called them “shades.”
As the freed prisoners caught up with Kloric and the others departing the hive, Nirvani and Sadhai talked with Arhuzimel and found his gear in a hoard of equipment and valuables. He was caught and imprisoned in a nearby village, the only one left alive out of his entire company.
As they made acquaintance, the cry of a child rang faintly through the cavern. Nirvani sprang into action, and with Sadhai’s help found a crevice in the wall that led into a deeply delved tunnel. It was only a few feet in diameter, but Nirvani started down toward the cries. Sadhai followed, casually inviting Arhuzimel to join if he wasn’t too weak. The shade looked around quickly, then darted down the crawl space after his new companions.
After a quarter of an hour or more crawling down the descending passage, they reached the far exit, which was nearly blocked by a fallen statue. The tunnel here opened into a large chamber, where three grimlocks skulked in the dark chamber, holding stone clubs or axes. One was crouched to the floor, chewing on a haunch of freshly killed meat. As Nirvani (blind in the pitch-dark) went to light her torch, Sadhai silently grabbed her wrist and gestured for her to be quiet. With a look between them, Sadhai and Arhuzimel leaped toward the grimlocks in a surprise attack. Nirvani lit her torch and joined the fray.
As they fought, several more limber grimlocks dropped from the ceiling, their arms and fronts covered in a short white fur that seemed to help them grip against the stone. It wasn’t long before the subterranean scavengers were killed or sent running.
On closer examination they found that this chamber must have been the first level of a temple to Senfaer. The ceiling above the main entrance had fallen in, blocking it completely. The walls were draped with a thin paper (weighted on the bottom by rolled steel rods). Stars, planets, and other elemental images were painted on the paper drapes, along with the phrase Free from persecution, free from Vinramar in Trentsmin. Neogi and human bodies littered the room.
They followed the path of the fleeing grimlocks down a narrow staircase through the far wall. The next room was a wide hallway, divided into temporary rooms by the same paper blinds. Sadhai listened to the door opposite the entrance, and heard a gurgling, gibbering sound oddly like a child crying. He wondered if this was what had lured them down into the temple.
In this hallway they found the corpse of a priest in blue and silver robes. In its hands were clutched several scrolls. One was a sort of inventory of treasure delivered to neogi. The other was a journal, dated about eighty years ago. It told that the priests had been persecuted by the anti-religious dwarves. In desperation for sanctuary they turned to the neogi, who in return for handsome payment dug the plot for this subterranean temple. But the men were foolish to trust the neogi – the creatures dug secret entrances into the temple, and collapsed the ceiling on the main stair toward the surface. The priests were trapped and attacked. Despite unfavorable odds, they killed the neogi attackers, but they were still stranded underground. Something else continued to plague them. Some hideous thing was playing with their minds, and snatching them up from their prison one by one. The journal ended with the phrase “Madryth with protect us.”
Apart from the scrolls, the monk’s corpse bore a crystal phylactery with a chain, just like the one the adventurers had found in the neogi vault. Nirvani took it from his head and dug the barbs into her own forehead. Immediately she felt a rush of psionic energy, and became aware of a new fighting style, the Viper’s Fist. Arhuzimel next donned the Viper’s Fist, and Nirvani tried on the first glyph, which turned out to be the Spider’s Fist.
Armed with their new psionic artifacts, the three heroes staged a surprise attack on the room from which the gibbering was coming. There were two neogi, an umber hulk, and several disturbing creatures, which Nirvani recognized as foulspawn, humans misshapen from being taken as slaves to the Far Realm. Their skin sagged like wet burlap, and they sported extra limbs, almost like a neogi’s, that had sprouted from their core.
It was a short fight. Sadhai aimed perfect shots at each of the neogi (killing them instantly), while Arhuzimel used the Viper’s Fist to teleport around the room, attacking everything in sight with deadly speed. At one point, with the aid of the Viper’s Fist, he broke through a foulspawn’s face with his bare hands. Nirvani carved up the umber hulk and dropped it dead with her fierce sword.
Down a staircase to the right, the party found a bathing room, where a third corpse clutched a second journal-scroll. It told of how the Senfaer priests created Madryth, an extra-dimensional world where they could escape from the tormentor in the sealed temple. The Fists of Madryth open the gate to the alternate dimension. This body wore a third Fist of Maryth: the Eagle’s Fist, which Sadhai donned with a shrug of his shoulders.
Down another staircase lay a small altar room, where a priest’s disemboweled and brain-bereaved body lay across the altar itself. On the body they found another piece of parchment, this one a diagram of what it called “Madryth, the bridge-world.” As they walked deeper into the continuing temple complex, they felt the metal objects on their persons get soft, as if melting. They interpreted from the diagram that Madryth is a world of different physics, where wood and metal behave differently. They rearranged their gear and prepared to descend into the last chamber of the temple, and closer to the bizarre world of Madryth.
XP: 2,242 Each
[Releasing Prisoners: 25 XP
Grimlock Encounter: 3,000 XP
Foulspawn Encounter: 3,450 XP
Critical Hits: 200 XP
Investigating the Temple: 50 XP
TOTAL: 6,725 XP]
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