24 August 2014

Chapter the Seventh, Part the Second: Completing the Cast Dungeon or Why Does the Cockatrice Cross the Room?

While recuperating from their ordeal with the sahguin shaman, Tyrian and Ulmo, began humming then reciting an old riddle-rhyme from their childhoods:

Look to your corners and you will see Drouss and Pharthas in familiar skies,

Lady Luck and her love have longed to gaze into each other's eyes.

The Great Mother, ever vigilant of her children’s plight, peers upon her spawn,

The Young Sun with haughty eyes cast high, sees not the love that begins to dawn.

Days of dungeoneering works on the mind in odd ways.  Despite the danger to their sanity, they explored the other half of the dungeon, wading into the flooded chambers at each end.  Once entirely submerged, Grey found a dim green light emanating from a tunnel in the center of ceiling.  Tyrian scaled the rusty metal ladder, past increasingly verdant but alien foliage previously seen when the party had explored the cast of the Queen of the Wilds.  The chamber they entered was overgrown with lush, emerald foliage, a warm but sickly light emanating from the smooth surface 15 feet above their heads.  The stirrings of animals could be heard and Background Snakes slithered away into the foliage.  At opposite corners of the room, the roots of trees, creepers, and vines had been woven into stairs curving up.

The party took to the left stair, ascending into a chamber similar to the one they had exited, except that here an abhorrent collection of animals, somehow unnaturally mixed together, as if the Queen of the Wild in a moment madness had taken a mixing spoon and bowl to her servants.  The monsters many eyes swiveled madly as multiple snouts babbled maddeningly.  The cacophony confused Grey leaving him to growl at a nearby wall. Ulmo threw magical bolts at the disturbing beast as Tyrian hewed it with his blade.  It’s acidic spittle flew but Tyrian was able to dodge and then the gibbering mouther reached its end.  After the abomination fell, Ulmo spied a fist-size sphere of an unnatural purple gem stone, four notches oriented in the same direction where a deliberate blemish upon it’s surface.

Spectator Key

The Spectator Key

Two exits were woven in the vegetation in the corners perpendicular to the corner our heroes had entered from.  These stairs brought them to a level much like the previous two, except in the ceiling above a tunnel stretched to a room above, red flames casting off shadows from above.  The brave trio climbed the ladder only to find a room whose walls were wreathed in flame, standing too close led to burns, and they heroes remembered that they had to run from room to room to avoid being burnt alive in the passageways connecting them.  As they plotted their next move, the giant but familiar flaming skull of Probably Grigor appeared.  As benign but unhelpful as before the demented undead indicated that more of his brethren awaited them.  Tyrian and Ulmo began making noise in attempt to draw the more malignant flame skulls into battle in the relative safety of the middle of the room. First two flaming skulls then five more came hurtling down the passageway sloping into the fiery reaches of these hell spawned chambers.  The flaming skulls fell to Ulmo’s spells and Tyrian’s sword in seconds, and the party ran to the next room, with Ulmo getting singed along the way.  The next room they ran to was occupied by a humongous flaming skull, big enough to swallow Probably Grigor whole, but too big to escape the confines of the room.  Suicidally brave the party faced the behemoth burning cranium, and when Tyrian nearly died from the flaming assault of the creature, his Mark of the Efreet flared, healed him, and vanished.  In the end their valor prevailed and the dust of the shattered skull fell upon them.  They exited the room only to find another trapdoor in the next chamber leading to an antechamber built of skull and bones.  They entered the adjacent room and climbed the long ladder through thousands of grinning skulls, on one of these levels they found a slim bar of the same purple stone as the orb.  This bar was rounded of edges and had a small bump at one end, a rune for “1” was inscribed deep within when it was held up to the torch light.  The end opposite this quarter orb slid firmly into place on the purple sphere.  They ascended from this chamber only to exit back to the dicing room.

Back in the dicing room, Tyrian cast the dice three times again to obtain four of a kind.  They were transported to a room of multi-colored tile, a voice spoke:

Use the number that unlocked this room, join all the colors and escape this doom.

Above each tile was a silver bar, flat with the wall, of the right size to fit into the sphere.  Tyrian attempted to break one from the wall without success.  Guessing that four lines could connect all the colored squares and based on Ulmo’s knowledge of numeracy they connected light blue (9, wind), brown (10, earth), blue (11, water), green (12, “wild”), red (13, fire), and black (0, death).  They walked four lines along the colored tiles to find one of the bars pop free and small notch at one end of the bar.  They reappeared in the dicing room.

Four of a kind

Four of a Kind Challenge

Their next cast yielded three kings and two queens, and a vast sum of gold fell cascading from the ceiling.  The adventures marveled at their luck and set about gathering their loot, before casting the dice once more.  This time they obtained a series of four and reappeared in a room built of skulls and mortared by bones, hanging from a ladder in the ceiling was a tall, predatory, ebon skinned fighter who appeared to be a vampiric version of Uncle Morgrin’s secretary, S’sabis!  He held his attack when they called him by name and revealed that they had met him a thousand years from now.  Intrigued and convinced by their argument that without them he would not escape, S’sabis joined forces with our heroes.  However, Tyrian was not at ease with the thought of an elder vampire, free to walk the days under a dying sun, at the right hand of one of the most powerful men in New Roeblini City. They had to traverse two rooms of flame before climbing the heights of an overgrown arboretum some 80’ in height.  As they did so they were attacked by two sentient combinations of vine, root, leaf, and stalk.  One they slew as it descended the wall, the other they drove back mortally injured and dripping a putrid gore.  They found a wet cave opening to a pool, and breathless S’sabis was sent to investigate the dark waters.  He returned without finding a foe, but as the party swam the dark waters multiple tentacles attached to an abominable piscine came tearing through the waters.  It’s foul mucous stirred in the waters but our heroes were able to repel its attacks until S’sabis dominated the beast and it let them pass. They escaped the pool and climbed through a long slopped room of earth to a tall chamber of blowing winds, in which floated a pentagonal rod of gold with a small spherical profusion at one end.  They exited back to the dice room.

Their next cast brought them three of a kind and they were teleported to a room with three suspended platforms backed by the blackest patch of midnight.  On one of the platforms lay a slumbering cachectic cross between a panther and an octopus, a bell hanging from its neck.  The next platform a great ugly featherless chicken with a snake’s tail lay sleeping, it’s tail suspended above the last platform bearing a large chest.  Investigation of the platforms showed that they could be moved one at a time, but that moving chest would ring the bell and moving the displacer beast would drop the cockatrice’s tail on the chest.  Opposite where three cones of silence.  They moved the cockatrice then the displacer beast and finally the chest.  Expecting the chest to be their prize, Tyrian and Ulmo were surprised when it turned out to be a mimic and struck at them with great clawing hands.  It fell moments later to Tyrian’s blade but yielded up a golden triangular rod with a quarter orb at one end.  They reappeared in the dice room.


Three of a kind

Three of a Kind Challenge

With Ulmo’s halfling luck they received four casts to reach all five of the same, but were unsuccessful.  The dicing table vanished replaced with a door with a half-sphere receptacle and four deep notches.  Using the riddle-rhyme of their youth and Ulmo’s knowledge of numeracy they aligned the prongs of the Spectator Key and were about to unlock the door when S’smuliss appeared.  He was temporally our of phase and alternative futures spun all about him.  He thanked them for saving him from being fooled by the Master’s of Truth and dying at the hands of Orb Worshippers, and had taken up a new mission of protecting the time stream. He warned them that they could wait to unlock this door until their own time but that it might be difficult to find a portal to accept the key.  He told them that if they opened the door now, Korlo, the boy they had saved would never have existed.  Tyrian and Ulmo weighed this council but believed that their mission to save a god and end the decay brought on by Pharthas’ death outweighed the existence of any mortal even themselves.  With their decision made, S’smuliss came more into phase and the door clicked open.

They found themselves leagues within the world, revealed to be hollow with floating, orb-like creatures with four eye stalks awakening throughout the global cavern space.  An elder spectator, named Ordus, welcomed the group and asked about the Aberration War.  He told them that his kind had come to this world during the Third of such wars and made it a Hiveworld.  He did not know who had put them to sleep but when the acts of the illithid on the surface was revealed he deduced that they had some how infiltrated and incapacitated the spectators in their home.  He rewarded the group with magical items for freeing them and S’smuliss transported them back to the future, outside the weathered ruins of the Monastery of the Masterminds, two bright sun’s in the sky.