8 Aslala – 9 Aslala of the year 73
Having disposed of the troll at the lake, the party continued on for several more hours before stopping for the night, where Emmerick made a barbarian snowman armed with a sword-shaped stick he found. Bieito contemplated turning the snowman into a golem, but determined the difficulty was too great. Benjamin, meanwhile, who had been training in druidry with Jalad Far-Travel, professed that he believed the comet was the return of the elves who lived on the moons. The rest of the night was quiet and in the morning the party continued on, passing through ancient ruins as they followed Morden’s trail. There may or may not have been a sign at the ruins reading “TRUMP”.
Early in the afternoon they found another set of ruins where the trail appeared to end; there were multiple old tracks going up the stairs, and instead of going up them the party searched the area, where they located an opening in the mountainside; it appeared the cliff face had collapsed at some point, revealing an opening, but it was about eighty feet up a sheer cliff. Taking a rope, Sileth teleported up to it, secured the rope to a boulder, and helped the rest of the party up; Benjamin’s dogs and Emmerick’s cat Biggles stayed with the horses, however.
The room they party found themselves in was carved stone, and the work was ancient. Sileth commented that it appeared to be Hoscan and that the Hoscan culture had not advanced much from this point; Benjamin, missing Akora, sarcastically replied that Sileth was very cultured, which Sileth dryly confirmed. Emmerick, on the other hand, was relieved to meet someone who was appreciative of other cultures, welcoming the contrast with Akora’s ethnocentrism. They began exploring the passageways, not finding any traps, and then heard Akora screaming for help.
They fought the impulse to rush to his aid, reassured by Sileth that he would know if the time stop he had placed on Akora was disturbed, and remembering their encounter with the wendigo, the party held their position while Sileth cast a spell that allowed him to remotely view the area the cries for help were coming from. He was able to see two wendigos in a room with one point of entry; unfamiliar with the creatures, he asked them to describe what they were like. The main point the others made was “incredibly fast” and Sileth said he had a spell that might be effective against them. Benjamin provided him with one of his potions that boosted Sileth’s will, which proved extremely useful later on.
Choosing to explore a side passage, Benjamin, Sileth, and Bieito found a Hoscan ghost carrying a spear and with several arrows still in its back. They were able to sneak up on it and Bieito, having cast a containment spell on a stone he found, tossed it through the ghost and captured it, binding it to his will. When they searched the room they discovered 50 silver and a sample of calcite that could be used in alchemy, and then they proceeded on closer to the wendigos.
Sileth cast a one-way telekinesis field across the corridor to the room the wendigos were in; things could get in, but couldn’t get out, and containing the wendigos proved to be an extremely successful strategy. Jalad informed them that fire would be very effective; after Emmerick and Calissa struck blows on one that rushed the barrier and Jalad hit it with a fireball, the others threw bottles containing oil in, coating the back of the room, then hit both wendigos with fire bombs provided by Jalad. The wendigo that had not been injured was still alive, but barely, after the fires went out, so Emmerick entered the room and decapitated it.
The party moved into the room, with Benjamin taking wendigo fur for alchemy, along with their antlers and cracking open their skulls for head cheese; Sileth then used the barrier to push the bodies out of the way before placing it back across the corridor as the party regrouped. What he was not counting on, however, was that four more ghosts, drawn by the noise of the fight, would approach; they were unaffected by the barrier and were able to enter the room. Drawing what wrought iron weapons they had, the party prepared to engage the ghosts. Emmerick drew his wrought iron axe and gave wrought iron arrows to Benjamin and Bieito, and Jalad drew her wrought iron-tipped staff, while the others pulled back.
Taking the initiative, Benjamin and Bieito fired first and hit two of the ghosts, while Jalad and Emmerick attacked a third. All four attacks were successful, but then the ghosts swarmed Emmerick and he was heavily injured. Sileth counterspelled the uninjured ghost, causing it to explode and dissipate, while the party was able to destroy two of the others. The last ghost’s attack missed Emmerick, who then destroyed it. Calissa was able to sense the presence of Morden further into the ruins, Benjamin was able to partially heal Emmerick’s wounds, and the party then set out to explore the ruins further.
Opting to exit through the main entrance, they found a giant, extremely deep pit at the top of the main stairs. Unable to see the bottom, Sileth dropped a copper coin in, listening for almost 15 seconds before he heard it hit bottom. Unnerved by the depth of the pit and finding nothing else of interest outside, the party reentered the ruins to continue their exploration. As they proceeded deeper, Benjamin was able to hear something large ahead of them; he, Sileth, and Jalad stealthily moved up to see what was next.
They were able to see two trolls in a large hall, and Calissa could sense they were under a druidry spell making them loyal to Morden. Sileth, however, was able to perform a counterspell, breaking the control over them, and Bieito then dominated one of the trolls. He then had it attack the other troll, which lead to a massive brawl between the two; eventually the troll Bieito had taken control over won, ripping the arms off the other, although the battle had caused significant damage to the columns supporting the ceiling in the hall and there was groaning and cracking of stone in the hall. The party was felt a rumbling in the floor similar to what they had experienced when fighting the Cult of Kurat, and it seemed to be coming from further ahead. Using a dagger provided by Sileth, Benjamin stripped fat from the dead troll and cracked open its skull for more head cheese before Bieito had the troll lead the way into the next chamber.
Their new troll, however, did not last long. As soon as it entered the chamber it was picked up by an invisible force and dropped into a giant pit that occupied most of the room; across the pit from the party black smoke was pouring out of the floor, and they could make out four people chained to the back wall, along with Morden near where the smoke was coming from. The party split up: Jalad, Benjamin, and Bieito took cover behind pillars supporting the ceiling, Calissa, Emmerick, and the Grim Sea men moved around the edge of the room, and Sileth cast an invisibility spell to be able to get close to Morden and the captives.
As he approached he saw the black smoke enter all three individuals; the two women had completely black eyes, while the man’s eyes were completely red. The man inhaled deeply, caught Sileth’s scent, and grabbed him by the throat, effortlessly snapping his chains in the process. He picked up Sileth, holding him in the air by his throat, and Sileth took the opportunity to stab him in the armpit with his sidesword. The man howled in pain and threw Sileth across the chamber back to the entrance, where he hit the wall and lost his grip on his sword.
Calissa cast a holy light spell as they approached Morden and the prisoners, and when she saw their eyes she recognized it as demonic possession, something she had been trained on but never encountered. While she approached the possessed, Emmerick and the Grim Sea men attacked Morden. Calissa cast a renunciation spell, which exorcised the demons possessing the two women, the demons pouring out of the hosts’ mouths as black smoke and fleeing the chamber The others focused on attacking Morden. Benjamin, Bieito, and Jalad fired on Morden as Emmerick and the Grim Sea men struck multiple blows, and while Morden was injured he was still up. Unexpectedly, the melee attacks by Emmerick and the Grim Sea men triggered retaliatory hits on each of them from a magic field surrounding Morden. He cast a frost spell around himself, which nearly killed the Grim Sea men and Emmerick. Sileth used telekinesis to throw his side sword at Morden at the same time Jalad fired at him; the arrow and the sword struck Morden at the same time, with the former going through his forehead and the latter through his throat, killing him instantly.
Meanwhile, Calissa engaged with the red-eyed demon; her holy light was dealing it damage, but it grabbed her by the throat and picked her up. She attempted to stab it with her silver dagger, but it grabbed her wrist before she could bring it down. Emmerick capably assisted her, cutting the possessed man, and the demon had been hurt enough that it tried to flee but was burned away by Calissa’s light. Unfortunately, the possessed man was so badly injured from the fight and the ravages of possession that he bled out after the demon fled. While the others were focused on the demon Sileth surreptitiously pulled a ring off Morden’s finger using telekinesis, his invisibility cloaking it from the others.
Benjamin rushed to the Morden’s body to search for the ring; he was able to tell he had been wearing a ring, but it was no longer on his finger. Enraged, he took out his frustration on Morden’s face with his axe. He then cut off the finger the ring had been on, hoping it was concealed by magic, but to no avail. He questioned the two women, who confirmed Morden had been wearing a ring, and then began accusing the rest of the party of stealing it before he searched the rest of the chamber for any jewelry he could find. Calissa attempted to find it using arcane sight, but failed, and all Benjamin was able to find was a couple plain silver bands and a gold necklace. Sileth, still invisible, approached him and asked him to meet him outside up the stairs that exited the chamber.
When they searched Morden’s body they found gold and silver coins, a long axe, and the smite tome that had been stolen from Calissa’s temple. She was able to deduce Morden had cast a smite armor spell that surrounded him, which automatically hit back on melee attacks. They also explored the rest of the ruins, finding more silver coins and alchemy ingredients. Meanwhile, at the top of the ruins Sileth ended his invisibility spell and showed Benjamin the ring. He had hidden it to keep Bieito from having the opportunity to claim it; he was extremely reluctant for the necromancer to possess such a powerful object, warning that it had a corrupting influence and that if Bieito got a hold of it he could become another Morden. He cautioned that they should maintain the illusion of the ring still being missing while working out a plan for defeating Lady Kurral and possibly destroying the ring, to which Benjamin agreed. They descended the stairs to rejoin the others, where they chopped off Morden’s head and stuffed it in his old now-empty bag to ensure he was unable to easily return from the dead. Emmerick noticed a necklace with a stone around the stump of Morden’s neck, and when he touched it he triggered a message:
“The bard is dead and his beloved Kandari empire will fall. They took my daughter, and even should I fall the instruments of their destruction are on the move. Ziovana shall finish what is started."
Body Count: 2 wendigos, 4 ghosts, 2 trolls, 1 demon, 1 demon-possessed person, and that bastard Morden
Baller Moment of the Week: Sileth telekinetically throwing his sidesword through Morden’s neck. Honorable mentions to Emmerick for the snowman, Benjamin for wendigo head cheese, and Calissa for exorcising two demons.
Fuckup of the Week: Sileth being grabbed and thrown by a demon-possessed person while invisible.
Running Body Count: 114 humans, 56 creatures, 76 undead, 1 demon