It was a grand gathering the other night. We regrouped at Urien-gamer-central to take advantage of the overhead digital mapping system. All were in attendance. Fellowship was enhanced with a pile of Indian food brought by Ned – although the meat dishes ran out before Nobo arrived – pays to be on time, Nobo.
After supping and glupping until we were well satiated, our group set to task and returned to the marshy field, liberally strewn with reptile-man corpses. Weapons and armor were washed of lizard man gore, the field was scoured for valuable bits and bobs and then, onward, once more into the jungle on the path of the Razmiri cultists.
Or rather, onward to find a reasonable location to rest and recover. A couple of hours walking and a few group members found their way to rest in the comfort and safety of the trees. During the slumber, Hilgari noticed the eyes of a solitary figure standing against a tree and very well concealed.
The man, Dusan Dremlock, struggled to speak at first, and then a stream of babbled fragments revealed that he and some compatriots had swam to this island some years ago – and he is now their sole survivor. He stood, seemingly uncaring, with a Razmiri arrow in his leg. “Come quickly, those with masks are opening the doors,” he beckoned to our group…He took imaginary notes on some in the group in his faded and tattered journal, and, as the new group set out, all stopped by his place (a shallow but well concealed cave) to pick up a few things. A broken sword, a sundered shield, a rotten backpack, and some moldy water skins.
Following Dremlock, the troop was approached from behind by a lone survivor of the reptile men tribe they had most recently annihilated. His face painted white in mourning, “Grrrooooooowwwl” joined the team – without purpose, without tribe, he now belongs to the tribe that slew his own.
Off again and into the jungle where Dusan warned all that they should cover their scent to conceal themselves from the “shadow demons” with a good smear of filth… Dusan was covered with fistfuls of his own feces mixed with herbs and saps from the forest. Only a few were willing to give it a try – but many paid the price. In the night, something horrible, something hungry, came calling.
The creature of shadow proceeded to start ripping up the party, until a few well aimed blows with magical weapons hit home – then it retreated upward, using the darkness as cover and started trying to lift individual heroes skyward into its dark envelope… At one point, everyone had to roll to see whom it chose. At this point, Dal was up getting some tea for himself and when asked if someone should roll for him replied, “I don’t care”…when the roll went poorly – he replied, “I don’t give a fuck – I’m a monk” and when he realized he was being hoisted up away from the trunk of the tree he exclaimed – “I still don’t give a fuck, I’ve got lots of hit points…” His compatriots threw ropes and Dal managed to catch one. From 40 feet up he began to get pulled down. The demon let him fall… 40 feet…how about a tumble roll?… Failure…”I don’t give a fuck” and I roll 4d6 in the open. The image says it all. Laughter all around. A memorable karmic moment.
When Gau’s frustrated player (demons are hard to hurt with magic and immune to lightning altogether) stepped away from the table for a moment to get some popcorn – the rest of the group decided to try a magic missile on his behalf and that brought the creature down. Lessons to be learned?
Onward and upward, actually upward, up and out of the jungle and into a clearing high on a hillside. In the distance, the three mountains (name) with a storm about them. Giant 30 foot bronze doors stood ajar. Gau sent Mr. Whiskers ahead to reconnoiter the situation. The little naked-tailed accomplice came back and informed the group that no living thing was about but two fresh graves were nearby. Rum Dey could barely conceal her excitement and after some debate, she exhumed and raised the corpses.
It was dead men of Razmir that preceded our heroes into the unknown dark of halls ahead. Down the tall tunnel, a sand covered path led to a chamber with diagrams on the walls, a sort of map room. There, one large panel depicted a circular city with a series of canals of crystal water dividing the ancient city of Xin Grafar into three large rings. A series of circular and radiating paths gave access to the city center if one proceeded in a clockwise direction, moving ever inward. Scratched and sketched in the margins, some great equations and scribblings of calculations for how much of this or that it would take to flood the city. But it wasn’t water that someone long ago sought to flood the city with – it was molten gold.
Past a pair of looming gates lay yet more dark tall corridor. But ahead, in the distance, a vast chamber lit from above by dimly glowing growths from a high ceiling. The outermost ring of Xin Grafar lay before our party, and ahead of them, a bridge vaulted a deep gutter of molten gold. The path led into the ruins and rubble of a once great city – but on the bridge stood a large figure, heavily shadowed but with occasional glowing highlights here and there.
Rum Dey sent the two animated Razmiri ahead and onto the bridge to examine the figure. As they approached, a white hot flame grew from within the guardian, it strode forward and with two sweeps of its great axe, it clove the stumbling corpses down. A fierce battle ensued but our heroes emerged triumphant in the end. Even standing near the thing resulted in burns and blistered skin for the group – they tended their wounds and followed the path toward the heart of the great chamber.
At the first crossroads, Ren proceeded and a great fire elemental was summoned by some unseen foe…a fiery fight and finally, our heroes emerged – singed but healthy enough to move forward and clockwise through the ruins. It was Ren, I think, that suggested avoiding the intersections and it seemed to work for a while.
But, at the third intersection, the group was attacked by some golden skeletons and in the midst of that fight – the skeletons were smashed and crushed without incident by our veteran heroes, another fire elemental sprang to life in the intersection. Again, with a few singe and scorch marks, our heroes triumphed.
One more push at the end of the night, over another bridge, the first crossing of the channel filled with molten gold since the golden guardian – and in the middle of that span, a demonic guardian appeared and began to wear down our already beaten and scorched heroes – finally, however, Lukin, Dal, and Degroat, Hilgari and Gau, Ren and Alazne, working together, cut the thing down.
Around the corner, a sorcerer/summoner obviously awaits. Can our heroes find Markessa? What other formidable opponents does she command? Can our heroes make it to the final chamber, conquer these fierce foes, and then escape with their lives before the city is flooded with molten gold? What fate lies before our heroes in the City of Golden Death?