Before further venturing into the city, the group decides to return to the surface to rest up and get supplies. Also, they realize that perhaps they should check in with Allkirk, Treona and Marius Amketch. Upon arriving at Kiris Dahn, they send a message to Allkirk, then spend the rest of the time resupplying. They also take a good sum of the money they have accumulated to pay Tenpug and his band for both their services and their assistance in the previous battle.
The next day, they receive a message from Allkirk. He is very interested in this city that the group has discovered and wishes to send along an assistant to help the party. They also discover that the templars in Nibenay have suddenly and inexplicably begun to find and capture Veiled Alliance members. Allkirk is in hiding, and Treona is not to be found. Several days later, they encounter their newest member, a Half-Elven female Bard named Pa Mela. The group and the Bard do not hit it off too well.
Soon after upgrading some of their magical items and resupplying, the group (plus a bard) return the the underground city. Before moving in, though, Kratas asks the group to wait while he investigates something they saw on their way.
Next to the entryway into the underground city, the party discovers a smaller area, domelike, with a series of runes and patterns on the floor. Kratas does an Arcana check and discovers that the runes, and indeed the entire dome they are in, has an otherworldly resonance. Noting this, the group heads to the city.
As they approach the entry archway, they are suddenly attacked. Several spirits wielding glowing silver swords rushes to attack them from a nearby guardhouse.
This fight was interesting. These were customized creatures called Sword Spirits, and they came in two flavors; a long sword spirit and a two-handed sword spirit. I had realize that, while the encounters that the party had been fighting so far were challenging, I was afraid that they weren't challenging enough. So, I increased the difficulty of the encounters down here. The Longsword spirits used displacement to frustrate the party, while the Two-Handed spirits used devastating area attacks while being extremely mobile. The fight was intense, but not extraordinarily difficult. Soon, the spirits are gone, and the swords they were wielding fall to the ground, no longer glowing.
As the dust settles, Pa Mela apologizes to the party for her earlier antagonism. Realizing that this was a well organized and dangerous group of people, she confesses that her original impression of the group was from Allkirk. Mistakenly believing that the party was a group of amateurs, she treated them as such. The group is not pleased to discover this little bit of information and vow to discuss this with Allkirk when they next meet. The six of them then continue.
The city beneath the Black Spine mountains is like nothing ever seen before. Bridges and archways span the streets. The buildings are curved; no angles ot straight lines grace the habitats. Each building grows upward, and the Bard determines that it is evident that the more wealthy members of the city lived on the upper floors. Likely, there were some members of the city's elite that never once set foot on the ground level of the city. The stonework is nearly flawless. Pa Mela and Kratas determine that the buildings were carved using a combination of magic and metal tools. They decide that the central spire, which has no bridges linking to it, would be where the leader of the city would probably reside. In other words, if there was treasure to be found, that was likely the best place to look. They begin crossing the city, moving across the vegetation-choked rooftops.
Soon, they encounter a group of large lizards. To their horror, they discover that these are Basilisks.
This fight turned out to be extremely difficult. Some of the basilisks had the ability to mark their enemies, while the rest were the traditional type. I wasn't expecting this fight to be this difficult, but unfortunately for the group, the dice decided that they would not be kind. I did not expect some of the players to fail 3 saving throws...
Tor Val and Gundrek move to the front, hoping to prevent the basilisks from striking at the rear of the party. Katrie and Dryder then wade in, attacking one of the psionic basilisks. At this point, one of the basilisks uses his gaze attack, hitting Katrie, Tor Val and Gundrek (and one of the psionic basilisks). Tor Val uses one of his Barbarian powers to shrug off the immobility. Gundrek, and later Dryder, are not so lucky. They fail all three of their saving throws (over 3 rounds, of course) and are petrified. Katrie fails two of her saves, but is fortunate enough to make her third. Katrie, desperate, summons HypnoToad (All Glory to the HypnoToad!!) to help take up the slack. It is when one of the basilisks attacks HypnoToad that the party realizes that the fight is won. True to history and form, HypnoToad crits with his very next attack, and between him, Pa Mela, Tor Val, Kratas and Katrie, they mop of the last of the creatures. Realizing that they had no way to cure their petrified party members, they decide to head back to Kiris Dahn and hope that they can find a cure. Pa Mela uses a Tenser's Floating Disk ritual to carry the two of them, and they head back to the surface.
Arriving back in Kiris Dahn several days later, the group is relieved to find Treona, safe, and deep into research on a way to discover the dangerous artifact that is confined beneath Kiris Dahn. She readily agrees to cast a ritual to cure Dryder and Gundrek, and then explains some of what she is researching. Realizing that the Eye of Abalach-Re is a very powerful defiling artifact, Treona theorizes that powerful Preservation magic could destroy it. Only one type of creature has that type of power; an Avangion. She also explains that her sister, Dreus, is the one behind the attacks on the Veiled Alliance members in Nibenay, but she is unsure how Dreus is coming across her knowledge.
Kratas, during this time, purchases a Remove Affliction scroll for future use, and then moves off to do some research of his own. Realizing the strength in magic, Kratas decides to find a way to use this power to further enhance his own abilities. He secretly makes a pact with powerful outside forces to grant him the ability to use magic. This transformation begins slowly, while the party decends back into the underground city.
(Side Note: The player running Kratas wished to make several changes to his character. He wanted to keep Kratas, but also wanted to play something slightly more interesting, and that also kept in line with how he eventually envisioned his character arc. As a house rule, I allow a single character re-write for each player. This allows for inexperience and mistakes they made originally in creation. Retraining is still a viable solution, but once they re-write their character, they are stuck with it until the character dies. The player running Kratas decides to re-write him as a hybrid Ardent/Warlock. The new character will be implemented next session.)
The party returns to the underground city. Eventually, they are forced to get down from the rooftops and approach the central spire from the streets. It is then that they are attacked by a Behir.
This fight was tough. Not only were the dice rolling horrible for them, but I was hitting on almost every single attack. This was a younger Behir, which is a level 12 solo, but it was still extremely difficult for the party to hit him.
After breathing lightning on the group (and dazing a few), the behir attacks Tor Val, swallowing him. While Tor Val attempts to escape, Dryder, Katrie and Kratas try to attack the behir, hoping that they can force it to release Tor Val. Gundrek marks the creature, but is unable to hit it. Tor Val, after taking a small amount of damage from being munched on, succeeds on his escape check. Meanwhile, Pa Mela casts a Stirring Shout on the creature, which grants a small amount of hitpoints whenever an ally hits the behir. Soon after, she casts Vigorous Cadence, which grants a small amount of hitpoints the first time the behir makes an attack. So, essentially, whenever anyone hits the behir, they get healed. And, whenever the behir attacks anyone, they get healed. Bard=Good Times.
The behir attacks Gundrek and devours him. It is at this time that the fun begins. Gundrek as used Mind Spike maybe twice since character creation. However, since the behir was marked and had devoured Gundrek, it was free to attack everyone else. Which triggered the Mind Spike. After a good bit of laughter from the party, the behir decides to spit Gundrek out, throwing him into a small area of vegetation...which then proceeds to attack Gundrek and immobilizes him. Katrie summons her Elemental Spirits, and soon the party has defeated the monstrosity. Almost all of them are bloodied during the fight, and nearly all of their dailies have been used.
Tor Val helps the party ascend the central spire. Soon, they enter the Overseer's quarters; a small set of apartments that apparently was used by the city's leaders. Kratas finds an almost intact skeleton and uses the Last Sight ritual to see how it dies.
He sees the Overseer sitting at a desk, writing something in a language Kratas isn't familiar with. Hearing a ruckus outside, the Overseer looks out the window and sees a sudden flash of light, which swiftly expands outward, sweeping over the city, killing everything in its path, but leaving the buildings intact. Kratas, unfortunately, was unable to determine what type of creatures inhabited the city prior to its demise.
On one side of the room is a statue of a tall, thin, stately woman, her face covered by a hood. As Dryder looks it over, a Magic Mouth ritual is triggered, and a male voice harrangues the party in a harsh, gutteral language. Kratas uses a Comprehend Languages rituals and then triggers the Magic Mouth again.
"Beware, mortal, the wrath of the Queen. I shall bind my enemies and feed them to the Blind Dark."
Pa Mela, meanwhile, is investigating one of the exits from the room when she triggers an explosive glyph. Dryder then hears something in another room shatter, and then hears an angry, wild roar. Soon, a horrible creature bursts into the room.
This creature is a heavily modified Grey Slaad, which I bumped up to a solo. It immediately attacks the party, lashing out with tentacles of pure chaos. It is at this time that the party's dice decide to do the good deed. Kratas crits not once, but twice in one round after spending an Action Point. Soon after, Tor Val crits. All in all, there were a total of 5 crits during this combat. A creature that had almost 500 hitpoints was completely obliterated in the space of 3 rounds.
The group finds a chest that contains over 500 gold pieces; not the ceramic "gold" pieces found in the cities, but REAL gold, each imprinted with the symbol of ancient civilizations. They also discover 5 +2 javelins and a set of Scale Mail of Fire Resistance +3. In another chamber, they discover that the Slaad had emerged from an urn, a prison of some type that had been confined in the tower for thousands upon thousands of years. It was likely that the Slaad had been driven completely insane (well, more than it already was) by its imprisonment.
This was a tough session plagued by unlucky dice rolls. Since there are now 6 players in the party, I've had to increase the difficulty a bit so that they can be properly challenged. The session ends with the party achieving 8th level.
The day is now the 22nd day of Wind, in the Season of Sun Ascending, in the Year
of Enemy's Vengeance, 190th King's Age.
Next Session: The Square of Gurdek.