Annals of the Frothy Tankard

Session 13

The party left the swampie outpost, with Tork as their guide, and headed south into gatorman territory. This, Tork assured them, is where the ancient elven temple would be found. Tork guided the ship over a series of hours, during which time the ship often backtracked as Tork changed his mind or decided they taken a wrong turn. Finally, the ship moved along a narrow channel in the direction Tork indicated.

Roundnig a bend, the ship suddenly encountered a fallen tree that effectively blocked the path. Some of the ship’s men grabbed hatchets and prepared to swim to shore, from where they could chop the tree down. As they began to climb into the water, gatormen rushed onto the boat, pulling one man into the water and killing them, then setting upon the party. The captain and ship’s men ran into the captain’s cabin while the party and Tork remained outside.

Shamash exchanged blows with one of the gatormen, then managed to wrap the creature up in his arms and squeeze the life from him. Little Walder made use of spells to blind some of the creatures, and with the help of his dog managed to knock one forward into a deck rail, knocking the creature out. Walder’s dog was subsequently knocked unconscious by a vicious gaterman attack. Ava fought valiantly until being knocked unconscious by a brutal blow from one of the gatormen.

Lady Eveen was set upon by two gatormen, Tork cowering near the railing close by. Eveen delivered damaging blows to the gatormen, but was taking a brutal pounding in the process. Tork, gathering his courage, pulled a handful of sand from a pouch at his side and dashed it into the eyes of one of the gatormen attacking Eveen. Having done that, Tork leapt from the railing to the lower deck, but caught his legs up in the railing and pitched headfirst to the hard wood below, knocking himself out.

Moradin used his rune magic to blind on of the gatormen, then tripped the creature and set on it with a spear.

Eveen continued to battle, and by this time Shamash had arrived on the scene to assist. The boat was cleared of gatormen, except for the single gatorman Walder knocked out earlier. That gatorman came to to find the gnome on its back, daggers held at its throat. Moradin chained the gatorman and the ship’s men removed the tree blocking the ship’s path.

The ship continued for the better part of the day, then traveled between two ruined stone towers flanking the waterway. Unfortunately, the ship ran into a sunken gate extending between the two towers and was damaged badly. The captain estimated that repairs would take two to three days.

The party elected to set out on foot, still being some distance from the temple. Tork and the gatorman were taken. Using Tork as an interpreter, the party was able to learn that another gatorman tribe inhabited the temple, and that this tribe was not friendly to the tribe of the captured gatorman. The captured gatorman led the party for a time, and was released prior to entering the temple.

The decayed Temple of Cedrus was quite large and resting at a slight angle to the water. The party entered to find slaughtered gatormen and a single human littering the massive interior of the temple. The group moved into a prayer room and Eveen, Walder, and Moradin all sensed a great magic permeating the room. Moving beyond that the party found, to its surprise, a tunnel excavated in the floor of the temple leading to some place beneath. Following the tunnel, the party emerged into a hallway that was much older than the Temple of Cedrus and was neither dwarven nor elven work.

Inside the temple, the party discovered the bodies of many slain gatormen, as well as a dead human clad in leather. The interior of the temple was overgrown and in disarray, and the once-intricate elven carvings that decorated the stone of the temple was largely chiseled and scratched in a purposeful attempt, by someone, to erase images of Cedrus and other elven artwork from the temple. Moving further in, the party discovered a chamber used for prayers and for healing when the temple was under the control of elves. A large statue of Cedrus was in the center of the room, also damaged and with an alligator skull places over Cedrus’ head. Lady Eveen, Walder, and Moradin all felt a palpable sense of magic in the room. Beyond the prayer room, the party found what appeared to be the remnants of an office of a high priest of the temple, and in the rear of the room a crudely excavated tunnel disappeared into the depths below.

The party decided to explore the tunnel, sending Ava ahead to check for traps or other dangers. There were none. The tunnel lead downward to a nicely crafted corridor with walls of dark stone. The stonework was clearly much older than the elven temple above, and its length was lit by strange glass globes with a luminescent orange-yellow mist swirling inside. The light was dim and some of the glass orbs appeared to be broken, but there was enough light to see. In on direction, the corridor disappeared further into the structure, in the other it ended at a metal door.

Listening at the door, that party overheard a conversation between two individuals speaking common. They discussed pursuit of a person they identified merely as “the bitch.” The party surmised that this may be Tyra. There were also references to someone named Oberon and discussions of a missing person named Olaf.

The party charged into the room, which turned out to be an ancient library, and managed to subdue the two individuals inside, humans named Rhys and Davos. This was accomplished through Walder’s use of a charm spell on Rhys, and a more physical subduing of Davos until he, too, could be charmed. The party learned that the men were indeed pursuing Tyra, and had also been instructed to dispose of the party, because of the party’s interference with Oberon’s plans. The men claims there were nine other members of their team in the structure, including Olaf, who had initially been left with them to guard the entrance into the lower corridors, but who had left some time before to find the rest of the team. Rhys said his team was overdue and he had no idea what happened to them.

Walder questioned Rhys and was able to establish that Oberon was the wizard who appeared behind Tyra in the graveyard and stabbed her in the back. Rhys asserted that the party had been interfering with Oberon from the start, but while it was clear that giving the black sword to Tyra went against Oberen’s wishes, the party wasn’t sure why their initial attempts to thwart Tyra would upset Oberen.

Still under the influence of the charm, Rhys and Davos agreed to accompany the party deeper into the facility in an attempt to find the rest of the team, as well as Tyra.

The structure proved to be strange indeed. The strange, glowing orbs lit every corridor, and metal doors led further into the depths. The party entered a great hall and saw, suspended from the ceiling, a statute of a person that looked feminine, but also appeared to be almost insectoid or armored, or perhaps constructed from metal. The party soon encountered human-sized versions of this creature attending to the slain bodies of three of Rhys’ team. They were indeed constructed entirely of metal and ignored the party. Walder suggested that they may be some sort of golems. Investigation of the creature uncovered a disc on the back of each, apparently of glass and each with the same glowing, swirling mist that lit the glass orbs. On top of each disc was a handhold that looked like a knob that could be turned. Walder instructed the charmed Rhys to turn the knob, and doing so caused the creature (or golem, if that is what it was) to become deanimated.

Also off the great hall, the party discovered a enormous chasm with a walkway extending across it. Lady Eveen dropped a copper sheet over the edge (which she had picked up in the library – a thin sheet of copper with holes punched, apparently randomly, across its surface), and the sheet feel for some time before she head a faint clang.

The party pressed on, finding more of the strange metal creatures, already in a motionless state. They eventually came to what appeared to be a dead end, except that a shaft dropped away from the end of the corridor. A small hole was set just inside the doorway. The far side of the shaft included a metal rail that ran down the length of the shaft, disappearing into the floor far below. The party determined that the shaft must be some sort of mechanism for moving up and down in the structure, with some device riding along the length of the rail. Unsure of how to proceed, the party searched the inanimate metal creatures and found a long cylinder filled once again with the glowing mist. The cylinder terminated in a flat surface with four small pins extending therefrom. An inspection of the hole in the wall near the shaft revealed that it was a shaft-like opening with a flat end having four small pin holes. The party inserted the cylindrical “key” into the hole and was rewarded with a faint tremor as the floor of the shaft began to rise. A box-like opening rose level with the party, and proved to be large enough for all of them. Inside the compartment, three key holes were found spaced vertically along the stone. The party chose the lowermost hole and the compartment began to descend.

The compartment continued downward for some time, bypassing an intermediate level as it continued its descent. The party was confronted with another chamber and another door, and upon opening the door discovered another metal creature, though one that was different from the others. This one appeared vaguely feminine, with coiled strips of flattened metal for hair hanging down past its shoulders. A cloak concealed much of the body. When the door opened, the figure extended a hand, palm up, as though expecting something. The party decided it was best to go up one level to see if they could find something this strange creature might want.

Up one level, the party came to another room of strange creatures, including four female metal creatures like the one on the third level, and a larger metal creature in the midst of them. The larger creature attempted to speak to the party, but the language was unfamiliar. Then, the creature began to switch languages, trying one after another until it hit on an strange and possibly ancient dialect of elven that Eveen could understand (in part).

The creature referred to the Maiden of _ and indicated that the party should submit to receive her blessing. The party was apprehensive of doing any such thing and decided to send Rhys forward, under charm, to receive the blessing of these strange creatures. Lady Eveen did not object to this use of the charmed man. Rhys was lead into a side room, and moments later an unhuman, agonizing shriek emanated from the chamber. The party was able to investigate without being bothered by the metal creatures, and found that Rhys had been flayed alive, vivisected, and dismembered in a strange chair with deadly attachments extending from it.

Concerned, the party tried to move past the creatures, but they blocked the way. It was clear Davos was starting to lose his sanity, and the party decided to make their way hastily back to the third level.

The female creature was still waiting, hand outstretched, but the party moved past her, having nothing she seemed to want. This caused an immediate attack, and the creature proved to be very quick at withdrawing two long, curved blades and attacking. A pitched battles ensued and the party was triumphant. They resolved to rest while the Cleric of Odin, Bob, who had been with the party all along but had been utterly silent and skillfully hidden, healed the party as best he could.

The party explored further and discovered many strange things. In one room, strange metal creatures like the ones the party first encountered sat hunched over machines with strange buttons on them, each button having a character from some strange alphabet engraved on it. Most of the creatures were inert, but some were still moving. They punched at the buttons, and then pushed down on a lever protruding from the side of the machine. After they did this, certain of the buttons on the machine lit up. The creatures then copied the characters corresponding to the lit buttons into larges books that lay open before them. The creatures did not bother the party, or even acknowledge their presence, and the party wasn’t sure what to make of them.

In another room, the party discovered a tremendous map carved into one far wall. The map showed in great detail lands the party did not recognize. The map was labeled, but the characters were foreign to the party. Far to the north on the map, the party was able to locate the coastline of known lands, as well as the location of the temple. The map gave the impression that whoever made it had little knowledge of the known lands of the world, apart from a few stretches of coastline here and there.

The party also made a grisly discovered, namely the body of Olaf laying on a table where a space for a human form had been carved out. It was not clear what killed him.

Pushing further, the party found a lower portion of the enormous chasm they’d spotted on the first level. This time the floor of the chasm was only around 75 feet below, and looking over the side of the walkway extending into the chasm, the party spotted Tyra, wielding the strange black sword and battling one of the strange, robed, female metal creatures. The bodies of others of the creatures lay strewn around, but Tyra looked to be wounded and tired. An enormous crystal protruded from the floor of the chasm, and on a flat portion of that crystal lay the body of Tyra’s mother. The half of the chamber on the other side of the crystal was floorless and dropped away into yet another black depth.

The party wished to remain inconspicuous, but Davos yelled out upon seeing Tyra. The party decided that a plan was in order and set about discussing what to do next…

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Steerpike

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