Codex III-Chapter 8

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Khaska was awake early the next morning. His dreams had been troubled, and he was anxious for their investigation to continue. Haalak had sent a messenger to pay for their breakfast meal, a small reminder that he expected them to stay and testify against the Sendylus guild. The rest of the party joined him, though there was an air of tension through their breakfast. Jenika was, surprisingly, the first to finish and be ready to head back to the Shrine. Amara took her time, but very soon they found themselves walking back to the site. As discussed, Khaska and Rynn entered first. Another cleric, this time of Oldimmara, greeted them, but he was pleasant enough—and slightly tipsy to boot—and went to go and get Natalya. The human woman came out and seemed a bit standoffish, but still put on a smile and greeted them. Khaska asked to come to the side where they might speak quietly and not disturb the others, though, Rynn noted, the other cleric was the only person in the room at the time.

“I fear we were not completely honest with you, last night,” the cleric began. “And that pains my soul. So I must first ask your forgiveness?”

“You have it,” said Natalya. “What were you not honest about?”

“My moving the altar wasn’t a drunken accident,” Rynn said.

She raised her eyebrows, then her eyes narrowed. “Why would you do such a thing? I watched you sprinkle holy water on Fharlanghn’s altar. If you worship the God of Roads, you would know he would not look kindly on …”

Rynn waved at her. “No offense to the gods was meant. And I rather think that they would approve of what I was trying to do?”

“Which was?”

Khaska explained, again, their reasoning for coming to investigate the Peaceful Children. He explained Rynn’s nagging feeling that the altars were arranged deliberately in some way, and his flash of inspiration that the altars were the symbol of Nerull. Natalya glared at him. “Nerull? I fear perhaps you might have had too much to drink last night.”

“I do not drink,” the Maha’i said. “I do not know what other Maha’i you have met do, but I follow a narrower path.”

“Then there’s the matter of what I saw under the altar,” Rynn said. “There looked to be some kind of hole, deliberately dug there. Hiding something. Look,” he walked over to the rug. “These marks, looks like the altar was dragged repeatedly across the floor here, scratching it and ruining the rug.” Natalya’s face was less skeptical. She stepped a few feat away, centering herself in the shrine. “Show me what you think the symbol is?” Khaska pointed it out—the shape of the face, two eyes, a nose, a mouth (the symbol of Correlon Larethian), and the sickle. Her face grew serious.

“At the very least,” Rynn said, “there is some kind of hole under the Garl Glittergold altar. Maybe it’s not deliberate, and the ground is naturally giving way. You would want to know that before it fell through the floor, would you not?”

That argument persuaded her. She walked over to the other cleric, and sent him away. The half-elf nodded and left, his overly ornate cloak trailing him as he left to go back to the office areas.

Khaska went to go get Amara and Jenika. Rynn inspected the altar of Garl Glittergold as they waited. It was then that he noticed a stick behind it, wedged between the altar and the wall. He reached down and went to grab it. “Looks like something is stuck here. Didn’t see it last night.” He grabbed the end of it and began to wiggle it. It looked like part of it was trapped underneath, but it moved easily. The altar of Garl Glittergold slid away from the wall of its own accord after he jerked it towards him. It startled him and he jumped up. Ranna also ran back a few steps. The ranger looked over at Natalya, whose eyes were wide, and whose hands were at her mouth in shock.

The clank of Khaska’s armor alerted Rynn to the fact that the others had arrived. The Maha’i stepped forward, looking down. The opening was square, deliberately cut, just smaller than the size of the altar’s base. Beneath it were a series of very steep stairs.

“Underground chamber? That would be for worshippers of Nerull,” quipped Amara.

“You do worship all the gods indeed, in this shrine,” Rynn intoned at Natalya. Jenika cracked her knuckles, as Khaska muttered a prayer to Teresh under his breath.

Amara peered down. “Nerull is known as the reaper. His goal, and that of his followers, is to kill every living thing. We must be careful.” She glanced at Khaska, who was surprised to see genuine fear in the sorceress’ eyes. “What do we do now?”

Eryx (DM)
I took the liberty of rolling a diplomacy check for both Rynn and Khaska. It helped get Natalya to concede to an investigation, then a spot check revealed the lever that controls the altar’s movements. (You would have been able to push it open anyway.)

Well, there’s a secret chamber of some sort underneath the Garl Glittergold altar. What do you want to do? It’s clear that Natalya had no idea about it.

BlackWolf
There is, of course, only one thing to do. Investigate!

"Natalya, I want you to use this switch to close the altar once we go down. Don't tell anyone about this, not even Therylassa. We'll pound on the altar if we need to get out, so please listen for us. If by chance we haven't come back up in three hours, go tell the Knights what you know."

Although a bit risky, Rynn will want the altar shut behind us to avoid any cultists realizing that their cover has been blown. The three hours is to give us plenty of time to investigate without needing to send a messenger which might alert the wrong people. Rynn has some torches in his pack, though one of Amara's sunrods might be better — or Khaska's Light spell. Maybe we should have two lights, just in case.

Due to the probable close quarters, Rynn will draw his sword instead of his bow. He's willing to be the first to descend. Here are some skill checks, for good measure.

  • Handle Animal (heel): 11 (rolled 5 + 6 bonus; for getting Ranna to follow)
  • Climb: 14 (rolled 12 + 2 bonus; for traversing the stairs)
  • Move Silently: 14 (rolled 10 + 4 bonus)
  • Spot: 26 (rolled 20 + 6 bonus)

Thevarou
Khaska is very wary about descending into the underground chambers. Besides the fact that he's simply not accustomed to being below ground - and thus it is a bit unnerving - he's also worried that there might be booby traps set up for anyone who tries to enter. He would like to check to see whether there's any way that the presence of booby traps could be tested for - no one wants a decapitation or poisoning to cap off the day. If, however, he can be assured that they've done what they could to detect dangers, he will go down - but with extreme caution.

Actually, he'll use his Find Traps spell as he descends:
15 (Search roll) + 4 (INT) + 1 (insight bonus) = 20

  • Climb: 8 (rolled 7 + 1 bonus)
  • Move Silently: 4 (rolled 4 + 0 bonus)
  • Spot: 9 (rolled 4 + 5 bonus)

He's also willing to use his Light spell to illuminate the passageway.

(The DM can re-roll my Move Silently check, or any others, at his discretion, of course.)

DeltaWolf
If Amara isn’t going down then Jenika will offer to stay with her. If she is going or if she declines her offer, then she will go down with the others. She would try to keep her eyes and hears open for traps or trouble.

  • Spot 21 (15 rolled+6 mod)
  • Move silently 7 (2 rolled +5 mod)
  • Climb 24 (18 rolled +6 mod)
  • Listen 26 (20 rolled+6 mod)

I guess she probably won’t be falling on her face.

Eryx (DM)
I've talked with Sayya, and she will be going down with you all. I'll try to have the post up tomorrow.

The silence was broken by the rasping sound of Rynn drawing his sword. The metallic noise was fairly quiet, but in the empty marble chamber it echoed.

“We go down,” the ranger said, matter of faculty. He glanced at the others.

Khaska straightened. “I agree.”

"Natalya,” Rynn said, “I want you to use this switch to close the altar once we go down. Don't tell anyone about this, not even Therylassa. We'll pound on the altar if we need to get out, so please listen for us. If by chance we haven't come back up in three hours, go tell the Knights what you know."

The acolyte nodded mute acquiescence.

“Um, light?” said Amara.

“I’ve got torches, or you could use a sunrod.” The sorceress reached into her pack and grabbed a sunrod out, handing it over to Rynn, who struck it against the floor. The light flooded forth, little enough in the chamber with sunlight streaming in through the windows on the second floor, but Rynn could see clearly down the steps. He looked at Ranna, who gave a small whimper. “Heel, girl.” Her tongue lolled out, then she moved to his side.

He began to descend. Jenika came next. Khaska whispered a spell, touching the wooden symbol around his neck, and it too, began to shine with light. He drew his scimitar, then descended. Amara came after, and saw the fear on Natalya’s eyes as the acolyte pushed the lever, swinging the altar back into place. The soft sound of stone grinding on stone dissipated, and the party was alone in the dark.

The stairs went down what would probably be the equivalent of a single floor. Maybe a bit more. They were rough and hewn unevenly, making the party move carefully. Rynn was already at the bottom, where he was staring at a long hallway. He moved quietly down its length, Ranna trailing behind him. It was narrow, and barely wide enough for Khaska as the Maha’i made his way through. Amara couldn’t see much beyond Khaska, the Maha’i’s height interfering and blocking her view. Silently she chewed herself out for going last.

The end of the hallway opened into a room. Rynn glanced in.

Also roughly hewn from stone, the room was about forty feet long. Along the walls were chains and manacles. Instruments of torture lay on shelves, and the ranger didn’t need Ranna’s heightened sense of smell to detect the faint odor of decay. The dominant feature of the room, however, was a stone table. Dark stains fell from its top to the floor, where dried puddle stains darkened the stone. The light shone around the room, illuminating the situation.

“Yup,” whispered Amara, as she took it in, staying behind Khaska, but pushing forward into the room. “Definitely worshippers of Nerull.”

“I will look for traps,” Khaska said. He said a prayer and a short chant in the Maha’i language.

“You can do that?” asked Jenika.

“It’s a spell,” said Amara. “Otherwise, we would need Orensland back.”

Rynn noticed that as Khaska moved forward into the room his feet made prints in the dust. “Nobody has been here for a while,” said Rynn. “Look how much dust has collected.”

It was true. Looking around, the party noticed that everything in the room was coated in a thin layer of dust. This place had not been disturbed for some time. The dark stains down the sides of the altar were long-since dried blood.

“Door,” whispered Amara, pointing. Khaska had been so focused on the floor he hadn’t yet begun to inspect the walls, but glanced up. On the other side of the room there was, indeed, a door. His Light spell illuminated it. He took a few steps forward, examining it, then beckoned the group forward.

“Well,” he said. “The door has a trap on it. It’s pretty simple, as far as I can tell. It activates something …” he followed his magically-enhanced senses up the wall and then around he side of the room. “Ah.” Back at the entrance from the hallway, he glanced up. “Portcullis.”

“So, we open the door, and the portcullis drops down and traps us here?” said Amara. “Lovely.”

Ranna was staring at the door. The hair on her head had risen, and a low growl came from her throat.

“What is it, girl?” Rynn asked. “You smell something?”

Khaska came back over to the door, examining the mechanism he had found attached to one of the hinges. “I know not how to disable such a device,” he said. He glanced up at Rynn and the others. “What should we do?”

There was a low moan from the other side of the door. Ranna dropped to a crouch, baring her teeth. Amara took a step back, and Khaska straightened from his kneeling position. Then there was a bang against it, from the other side, and everybody jumped back. The moaning grew louder, and appeared to be coming from more than one creature. Something began systematically pounding on the door, but the door looked like it would hold. For now.

Eryx (DM)
You have a pretty good idea what is in the room. Some shelves with various instruments of torture, rusty knives, corkscrews, pinchers, things like that, the stone altar (5’ x 10’), and the door.

Khaska was able to discover that opening the door will trigger a portcullis trap that will effectively shut you in the room. He doesn’t know how to disable it. Also, there is something on the other side that has heard you, and is now banging against the door. The door looks pretty sturdy, it’s made of oak, so it doesn’t look like you’re in any immediate danger.

If you decide to open the door, I will post in this grey box to give you an idea of your situation, so you can decide what to do next.

BlackWolf
"Unless there's some food in there, or another exit, whatever is on the other side of this door hasn't eaten in a long time."

As a player, I'm guessing zombies. But I don't think that would be Rynn's first guess (he's more familiar with natural things out in the wild). So I think it might be good for somebody to make a Knowledge (religion) check to see if they can be identified. Rynn will make a Knowledge (nature) check for the same purpose:

  • Knowledge (nature): 17 (rolled 10 + 7 bonus)

Whatever is behind there, Rynn believes it must be connected somehow to their current investigation. Therefore, he thinks we need to find out. We may be able to build a barricade from the shelves, and maybe use one to try to jam the portcullis trap as well. If we get trapped in, I'm hoping we can just lift the portcullis (once the threat has passed) — working together we will hopefully be strong enough.

DeltaWolf
I knew it; they are going to eat us! It seems unlikely to Jenika that whoever build and used this place would want to have to go through what ever is on the other side of the door. She thinks that before they open the door that they try to find a secret passage way. It is at least worth a look.
Here are my roles for trying to find a secret passage.

  • Spot: 11 (5+6)
  • Search: 15 (14+1)

If the group does decide to open the door to doom, she will suggest that the group position themselves to be able to release arrows and magic as they try to filter in, Jenika could open the door then jump back, unless someone is faster…
Over all she has a bad feeling about this. :(

Eryx (DM)
The door is pretty sturdy, and whatever is on the other side isn't going to be able to break through any time soon. You can take a 20 on your Search check, and you do not find any hidden doors or passageways.

Sayyadina
Question: does it look like a fairly standard portcullis? That is, if Amara stood on the other side (that is, the portcullis between her and the party), she should still have line of effect and line of sight to the room, right? She's definitely leery of opening the door, but I don't think she'd argue against it.

Also, are there any hard and fairly sizeable objects nearby (i.e. loose blocks of stone)?

Eryx (DM)
Yes, a pretty standard portcullis, from what you can tell. Aside from the shelves and the items on them, there isn't really anything else in the room. The stone altar/table is not moveable.

Sayyadina
In that case, Amara will get back behind the portcullis, so she's not trapped with the party but can still cast at whatever that is if they decide to open the door. She'd probably leave the debate up to the rest of the party, though she'd strongly encourage them to do whatever it is they're going to do quickly so hopefully fewer things have a chance of going wrong.

Eryx (DM)
It looks like there are 2 votes to open the door, Rynn and Jenika, and 1 abstention from the decision, Amara. When the door opens, a few zombies come shuffling out. I'll put this all in the narration, including building a barricade from the shelves. Will you be building a barricade around yourselves, or by the door? (Make that decision as if you didn't know it was zombies.) Also, if you barricade the door, Jenika will have to make a tumble check to get over the barricade when she opens it.

Please roll initiative and give me 3 rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
I was thinking that we'd make the barricade near the door to restrict the creatures as they try to enter the room. And Rynn will still want to try to use one to jam the portcullis, if that still leaves line of sight for Amara.

Because the room is only about 40ft in length, Rynn will keep to his sword for now. Plus shooting into melee is troublesome, and he wants to keep whatever they are contained by the door.

Rynn doesn't know this, but zombies have damage reduction which is overcome by slashing weapons (my sword decision was made independently of this). If Jenika finds that she needs a blade — or better still, if somebody knows this with a knowledge check — he'll gladly toss her one of his daggers.

Initiative: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 bonus)

  • Round 1 - longsword attack: 15 (rolled 9 + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 17 (rolled 11 + 6 as above), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR);
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 8 (rolled 2 + 6 as above), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR);

Because it would take a full-round to "push" Ranna to attack, Rynn won't try. So what she does is up to the DM at this point. (Looking forward to gaining level 4 to make her my official animal companion…)

Thevarou
So, Khaska's going to try turning some undead. He's never seen any before, but has studied them; nevertheless, this is still unfamiliar and somewhat frightening to him.

Initiative: 18

  • Turning Roll: 6 - 1 (CHA) + 2 (Knowledge - Religion) = 7
    • Considering his cleric level, he can turn zombies of 2 hit dice or lower.
  • Turning Damage: 2 + 4 + 3 (Cleric Level) - 1 (CHA) = 8
    • He can turn undead of a total of 8 hit dice.

After turning them, he'll pull out his shortbow and shoot at them:

  • To hit: 5 + 1 = 6
    • Damage: 1
  • To hit: 4 + 1 = 5
    • Damage: 5

DeltaWolf

*Tumble Check: 19 (14+5 Mod)

Jenika will hang back and won’t engage unless they come up to the group. Here are the rolls and you (DM) can decide how the timing works with her trying to jump over the barricade.

*Initiative: 8 (4+4 Improved Initiative)

Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 17 (13+4) Damage: 6 (4+2)
*To Hit: 16 (12+4) Damage: 8 (6+2)
Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 12 (8+4) Damage: 6 (4+2)
*To Hit: 23 (19+4) Damage: 3 (1+2)
Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 21 (17+4) Damage: 6 (4+2)
*To Hit: 5 (1+4) Damage: 8 (6+2)

“Unless there's some food in there, or another exit, whatever is on the other side of this door hasn't eaten in a long time," said Rynn.

“I knew it!” Jenika said. “Now they’re going to eat us!”

“Not unless the door is opened,” said Khaska. “It looks pretty secure to me.”

“So, we either open the door and fight whatever is in there, or just go back,” said Amara, looking around. “Because there are not any other doors or exits that I can see.”

“I doubt that whoever made this place wanted to go through that room with … whatever that thing is,” Jenika replied. “Perhaps there is a secret passageway?”

They searched around the room, all getting slightly unnerved by the banging, but the sorceress was right. There were no other ways in or out of the room.

“Well,” said Rynn, “we’ve come this far. Whatever is on the other side of that door is likely related to our investigation. I say we open it.”

“And get trapped in here?!” Amara blurted out. “No thank you.”

“We can try to jam the portcullis with one of these shelves,” he said. He looked at Khaska. “What do you think?”

The Maha’i cleric was staring at the door. “There is evil in this place. It must be confronted!”

“Not by us!” said Amara. Khaska turned to her. “If you do not desire to help, you may leave. But your powers would be greatly beneficial.”

“We should use the other shelves to barricade the door, so the creatures have to clamber over them,” Jenika said as she grabbed one of them.

“Good idea!” While Amara stood in the middle of the room, arms folded, the others began to move the shelves. The sturdiest one they placed under where the portcullis would fall. The others the stacked up against the door. By the time they were on the last one, Amara had joined them.

“I’m going to stand on the other side of the portcullis. I can still use my crossbow and my magic, even if it closes all the way. Also, then I could go bang on the altar if we need to get out or need help.”

Khaska took a long look at her. “Your logic is sound, but I do hope it is your logic that compels you to these actions.”

“Of course it is.”

Amara stepped back behind where the portcullis would fall. Jenika clambered over the shelves by the door. Khaska drew his scimitar, held his holy symbol up, and said a quick prayer. Rynn looked at the others, then nodded at the monk. Jenika took one deep breath to calm herself, rehearsed her actions in her mind, and then opened the door.

She nimbly dodged over the stacked shelves as the portcullis came crashing down. The wedge did not work, and wood chips flew back at Amara and into the room as the metal grating smashed through the wood shelves. Rynn and Khaska stood at the ready, and a shuffling figure came into view. Several shuffling figures, actually.

Zombies.

There were three of them, all human. One was little more than a child, the other two towering over it. They moaned and reached for the party, but had to get through the barricade first. It was slow going.

Khaska was horrified. He had heard of the undead, and as a cleric had studied about them, but this was his first encounter with these abominations. Who had these people been? What fate had brought them here? Who had turned them? He felt outrage at their fate. He grabbed his holy symbol and chanted a spell, thrusting the symbol in the direction of the zombies.

Holy white light blazed forth from the symbol of Teresh. It raced across the room to hit the three zombies. The young one exploded in a flash of light. The other two held their hands up as if shying away, then turned and shambled away. He dropped his hand, righteous anger coursing through him. He snorted once, his nostrils widening, and he stepped forward.

Past the doors they could see a small circular room, probably about 25 feet in diameter. Along the walls were chains and shackles, and in most of those were various human bodies. One had torn loose from their shackled arms, the bodies collapsed on the ground while, grotesquely, its arms remained in the shackles. All of the others, though hung there, limply. Khaska felt he would be sick, both from the smell, and from the disrespect that these people had been afforded in death—which was to say, none.

“What’s going on?” asked Amara. Rynn quickly described what he could see. The two zombies were trying desperately to get through a door on the other side, but it appeared that they could not get through just as they had been unable to get through the door Jenika had opened.

“How long will they run from you?” asked Jenika.

“The Turning will last for one minute. During that time, they will not attack you at all. But I cannot come too close, or the effect will be broken.”

“Well, then,” Rynn said. “We’d best not waste that opportunity.” He moved over the makeshift barricade, sword in hand. Ranna stayed behind, alternatively whimpering and barking.The ranger paused for a moment to see if any of the bodies chained to the wall were also zombies, but none of them moved. Jenika followed him over their barricade, and Khaska came too.

“Wait! Don’t leave me here!”

“I would not think to do so,” Khaska intoned as he nocked an arrow in his bow.

Rynn and Jenika converged their attacks on one of the zombies. The monk’s hits were not very effective, but Rynn managed to do quite a bit of damage to it. Khaska fired his bow at the other, but its thick skin prevented the arrows from doing damage. The cleric was prepared to turn the creatures again should his spell wear off, but it appeared that they had acted quickly enough that they could keep attacking for a few seconds more. Nonetheless, Khaska was ready to to use his holy symbol at a moment’s notice.

Eryx (DM)
Sayya has asked me to play Amara for a short while as she is very busy with some things in her personal life. I’m happy to do so for a limited time, so we’ll not need to wait for her to post for at least a few weeks.

In an enclosed space with no other zombies (the corpses chained to the wall are not moving and have given no sign of being reanimated) I figured that the party would attack to take advantage of the 10 rounds of attacking with impunity against the turned undead. However, this prevents Amara from helping, because there are now line-of-sight issues from where the sorceress is. I just transferred Khaska’s attacks to his scimitar, since he wouldn’t fire into melee.

The zombie that Rynn and Jenika attacked is looking pretty haggard, even for a zombie. You suspect another blow would finish it off. The zombie that Khaska attacked is still undamaged. You have 4 rounds until the turning wears off, so instead of the normal 3 rounds of actions, give me 4 rounds.

Also, give me the actions your characters would take after the zombies are defeated.

BlackWolf
Rynn will just continue his longsword attacks:

  • Round 1 - longsword attack: 19 (rolled 13 + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR).
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 15 (rolled 9 + 6 as above), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR).
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 17 (rolled 11 + 6 as above), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR).
  • Round 4 - longsword attack: 8 (rolled 2 + 6 as above), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR).

Once the zombie threat is over, Rynn will briefly look around this new room to see if there are any other threats. Once satisfied he'll want to figure out how to open the portcullis. Hopefully there is a lever or switch, but if not, he'll just try to lift it manually.

  • Search check: 22 (rolled 18 + 4 bonus).
  • Strength check: 11 (rolled 9 + 2 bonus).

Hmm… maybe we can take 20 on that strength check?

Thevarou
Likewise, Khaska will continue his attacks with his scimitar:

  • Round 1: Scimitar attack: 21 = 17 + 2 (base) + 1 (STR) + 1 (mwk), Damage = 5 = 3 + 2 (STR+mwk)
  • Round 2: Scimitar attack: 15 = 11 + 2 (base) + 1 (STR) + 1 (mwk), Damage = 5 = 3 + 2 (STR+mwk)
  • Round 3: Scimitar attack: 11 = 17 + 2 (base) + 1 (STR) + 1 (mwk), Damage = 5 = 3 + 2 (STR+mwk)
  • Round 4: Scimitar attack: 22 = 18 + 2 (base) + 1 (STR) + 1 (mwk), Damage = 10 = 2x (3 + 2) (crit, STR+mwk)

Afterwards, Khaska will do what Rynn is planning on doing - search as much as possible through the underground chambers. He'll also cast the "Find Traps" spell again, just in case.

  • Find Traps: 24 = 19 + 4 (INT) + 1 (insight)
  • Search: 15 = 11 + 4

DeltaWolf
It looks like this may be an overkill, but Jenika is the type to punch the stuffings out of the things she is afraid of.

Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 21 (17+4) Damage: 4 (2+2)
*To Hit: 6 (2+4) Damage: 6 (4+2)
Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 12 (8+4) Damage: 7 (5+2)
*To Hit: 19 (15+4) Damage: 8 (6+2)
Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 8 (4+4) Damage: 8 (6+2)
*To Hit: 9 (5+4) Damage: 4 (2+2)
Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 20 (16+4) Damage: 3 (1+2)
*To Hit: 19 (15+4) Damage: 5 (3+2)

She will help Rynn try to open the portcullis;

Strength: 13 (11+2)

His next shot stuck into the zombie’s back, while Rynn’s stabbing motion managed to kill the other. Khaska was content to let the ranger and the monk finish off the other one—he had no wish to fire his bow at them. It took them a few seconds, but eventually it fell to their blows. The zombie collapsed against the door that it had been scrambling at, then fell in a bloody heap.

Ranna was pacing at the entrance, whining. She kept digging her nose down towards the ground, wiping at it with her paw. Khaska snorted once. “I have smelled death before, but not like this. We should get these people down. It is not proper.”

“I’m a little more worried about what else might be down here,” Rynn said. “First things first.”

“Besides,” Jenika replied, looking at the manacles holding the bodies in place. “I don’t think any of us can pick locks.”

“Hello! What’s going on?” Amara’s voice wafted into the circular room. Khaska gave a small smile to the other two, then stepped out.

“All is well.”

“Is it safe?”

“For the time. There were three zombies in the next room, but they have been dealt with.”

Rynn came out as well, a rag over his mouth, as he breathed heavily, trying to flush the smell out of his nose. Jenika came as well, slightly more stoic, but a little pale even in the light of the sunrod and Khaska’s Light spell.

“Come, let’s lift the portcullis,” the ranger said. “Unless you would like to get left behind again?”

Amara shot him a withering glance. “If someone raised the dead, but just three zombies, then they’re not that powerful of a spellcaster.”

“Perhaps they were using a lesser spell,” Khaska said. He put his shield down and together the four of them lifted the portcullis up with a bit of strain. It landed with a soft thud once Amara was through and they let it go.

“Shall we proceed?” the cleric said. “I would like to, what is the phrase? ‘Get to the basement?’”

“The bottom,” said Amara, looking into the circular room. “Get to the bottom of this.”

Khaska cast his Find Traps spell again, but found nothing in the room. The door was locked, but the group was smarter than the zombies (“I would hope we’re smarter than them,” muttered Amara), and bypassing it was not difficult.

Rynn took the lead again. It took a small bit of coaxing to get Ranna to go through the room with the dead bodies, but she came. Past the circular room there was another hallway, but this one was not very long and ended at another door. Rynn came creeping through, sunrod held in front of him, and opened the door slowly. The next room was another large chamber. This one was dominated by one thing only … a large obsidian statue straight ahead. It was a gaunt, skeletal figure wielding a scythe, and cloaked in robes. Its eyes were flaming, but upon closer inspection this was a gimmick. A torch behind the statue lent its flame through the hollow eyes. Amara, upon entering, noted it was likely an everburning torch, an eternal vigilance kept in this room to this statue of Nerull. In front of the statue was a bowl, much like the ones above in the Shrine. It, however, was filled with dark stains instead of water. To the left of the statue left was another exit, and they could see stairs ascending.

Rynn peered into the bowl slowly, then backed up. “Also dry,” he glanced around. “But the dust hasn’t collected in this room like the last one.”

“Does that mean it’s been used more recently?” Amara asked, whispering so quietly she could barely be heard. She had not fully entered the room yet.

“Maybe,” he responded.

“I see no other exits,” Khaska said. “And I detect no other traps.”

Jenika ghosted over to the stairway and glanced around the side. “I can’t see very far. Bring the sunrod over here.” The three of them moved towards it cautiously, moving quietly. Amara finally stepped into the room, staring and (though she wouldn’t ever admit it) even trembling at the sight of the statue of Nerull.

The door slammed shut behind her, and a bar fell into place. Amara heard chanting practically next to her and she jumped back, whirling towards the door. But as she did so, she felt the air thicken around her. It became difficult to breathe, though not impossible, but her arms were frozen at her side and she could not speak. Panic swept over her as a figure materialized just a few feet away.

Therylassa brandished a sickle at the other three. “Your deaths will make fitting tributes to Nerull.” Then she again began to chant a spell.

Eryx (DM)
Well, Amara did not make her saving throw. She has been bound by some kind of spell. The door you came in has shut and been barred, but from a quick glance it won’t be difficult to get open … assuming you’re not being attacked at the time. Amara was able to deduce that Therylassa was cloaked in an invisibility spell that wore off when the cleric cast the spell on the sorceress.

You are in combat again. Therylassa has her same robes on as before, but has in her hand a sickle. She's begun to cast another spell (it will be cast in the next round).

A DC 17 Knowledge (Religion) check from Khaska can tell what happened to Amara and what spell was cast on her.

Initiative from the last combat was cleared, so please roll a new initiative and then give me three rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
Initiative: 17 (rolled 15 + 2 bonus)

Rynn will immediately lunge out and attack with his sword. I'm hoping that she won't be able to do much casting with the heavy melee that she's about to come under. At this point his plan is to just hack and slash until Therylassa drops. He is niether striving for nor avoiding her death — if she goes down then he'll see if she survived and figure out what to do with her later.

  • Round 1 - longsword attack: 17 (rolled 11 + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR).
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 13 (rolled 7 + 6 as above), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR).
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 18 (rolled 12 + 6 as above), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR).

DeltaWolf, here's an idea to consider: you may want to grapple Therylassa. If you can restrict her motions, she won't be able to cast spells, attack, or defend very effectively. Or you can help punch the snot out of her… either way works. I'm just throwing out an idea, you can look at your character stats to see if it works for you.

DeltaWolf
Initiative: 24 (20+4)

Jenika will attempt to grapple with her; if Jenika fails she will keep trying. But it looks like that may not be a problem.

Round 1:

  • Touch attack to start grapple: 19 (15+ 4)
  • Grapple check: 20 (12+ 8)
  • Damage: 6 (4+ 2)

Round 2:

  • Grapple check: 22 (14+ 8)
  • Try to pin opponent: 17 (9+ 8) Stop her from speaking.

Round 3:

  • Grapple check: 20 (12+ 8) Maintaining the pin, stop her from speaking.
  • Attack: 21 (13+ 8)
  • Damage: 4 (2+ 2)

Wow, that was fortunate!

Thevarou
Khaska's going to use MAGIC. However, he does not want to kill Therylassa. Not only does he have pity for her evil ways and hope she could reform (Khaska just had the chat with Rynn about Tawru the previous morning!), but she also probably has a ton of information that would be useful in figuring out what the Peaceful Children are up to. If she gets severely wounded, Khaska will stabilize her - but only to a degree at which she won't die.

Initiative: 6

  • Bless
  • Hold Person (on Therylassa).
  • Heat metal (originally going to be directed at Therylassa's scythe, but forthcoming information will cause Khaska to quickly change his target…)
  • Knowledge check (for spell cast on Amara): 6 = 1 + 5

Quick as thought, Jenika leapt into action and charged the evil cleric, arms wide, attempting to grapple the elf. Therylassa tried to dodge, but was unable to. She was able, however, to throw the monk back, hissing at her and finishing her spell.

The two clerics completed their spells at the same, time, Khaska casting Bless on himself and his allies, and Therylassa finishing some dark incantation. Khaska felt his mind grow clouded with fear, but he was able to focus and, with a quick mental prayer, continue forward.

Rynn was hacking and slashing at Therylassa, but seemed unable to get past her defenses. Ranna also began to attack, growling and snapping at the elf’s legs. The distinct clang of metal sounded as Rynn’s sword hit her arm. “It’s glamered!” he cried out.

Jenika jumped in again, again trying to grapple with the elf, and this time managed to grab onto the cleric. Together they went down in a heap. “Nerull give me strength!” Therylassa cried. “You will … ” She was cut off as Jenika jammed her head into the ground. Ranna tried to clamp down on one of the cleric’s legs, but Therylassa managed to kick her off.

Khaska was about to cast a spell, but then realized that Jenika had the situation well in hand and simply charged in with his scimitar. He slashed down at the cleric, and was rewarded with a cry of pain and the sensation of his scimitar biting into flesh. Just then, however, Therylassa managed to break free of Jenika.

Jenika immediately jumped back on the cleric, and again the two were tangled together. “Nerull eat your flesh!” Therylassa spat at the monk.

Amara shouted in exasperation as she finally broke free of the spell and wheeled towards them, hands up. A Ray of Frost went wide, however, coating the wall behind the grappling women in a small patch of ice.

Rynn and Ranna were both attacking in tandem, the ranger and his wolf companion seeming to be working better as a team, the half-elf slicing at Therylassa’s chest, and the wolf savaging one of her legs. Khaska’s scimitar blow went wide, however, sparks flying from the ground where he hit.

Eryx (DM)
I apologize for getting the combat wrong last time by neglecting Jenika’s “Improved Grapple” feat.

Therylassa managed to beat Jenika’s first grapple attempt, then failed the second round, then managed to escape on her turn that same round. Jenika, however, immediately was able to begin grappling again in round three. They are currently grappling, but Therylassa is not pinned yet.

And because she’s been so busy trying to deal with Jenika, she’s taken a fair bit of damage, but hasn’t managed to hurt any of you yet. She looks in good shape, still, though, and is still very much fighting back. This isn’t over yet.

Please give me three more rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
Yar! That's more like it! Rynn will continue to press his attacks. (He doesn't really have any special attacks to bring to bear.)

  • Round 1 - longsword attack: 25 (rolled 19 (CRIT!) + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 13 (rolled 3 + 2 STR + 8 max longsword damage).
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 19 (rolled 13 + 6 as above), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR).
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 14 (rolled 8 + 6 as above), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR).

Thevarou
As Khaska doesn't want to endanger Jenika with the Heat Metal spell, he'll continue his scimitar attacks. Still, he doesn't want Therylassa to be killed.

  • Round 1 - Scimitar Attack: 11 (7 + 2 base + 1 str + 1 mag), Damage: 7 (5 + 1 str + 1 mag)
  • Round 2 - Scimitar Attack: 25 (20 (crit!) + 2 base + 1 str + 1mag), Damage: 13 (6 + 5 + 1 str + 1 mag))
  • Round 3 - Scimitar Attack: 13 (9 + 2 base + 1 str + 1 mag), Damage: 3 (1 + 1 str + 1 mag)

DeltaWolf
Jenika will keep trying to pin her down.

Round 1:

  • Grapple check: 14 (6+ 8)
  • Try to pin opponent: 11 (3+ 8)

It doesn’t look like that is working. Jenika will just try to beat her senseless,

Round 2:
Flurry of blows:

  • To Hit: 9 (5+4) Damage: 5 (3+2)
  • To Hit: 17 (13+4) Damage: 4 (2+2)

Round 3:
Flurry of blows:

  • To Hit: 23 (19+4) Damage: 7 (5+2)
  • To Hit: 22 (18+4) Damage: 5 (3+2)

Grrr!

Eryx (DM)
Why Grrr? 23 and 22 are very good rolls!

As the monk and the cleric rolled over each other, Rynn managed to get a vicious strike in on Therylassa. Blood sprayed from the wound across the floor, and she cried out in pain. But just one moment later the cleric again managed to heave the monk off of her. Jenika was fed up and simply moved in, her fists moving like lightning, but the cleric managed to dodge the blows as she stood, and swung her sickle in a vicious arc that caught Jenika and sent her spinning, just as another Ray of Frost hit her from Amara. Khaska managed, however, to land a deep blow in. His scimitar bit into Therylassa’s side, and the evil cleric staggered at the blow. But, yet again, she seemed to get a second wind, and took another swipe at Jenika, managing to catch one of the monk’s arms as the monk landed two blows to Therylassa’s face.

Amara stepped forward—now that Jenika was no longer grappling with the cleric, the sorceress could use some of her more potent spells. She raised her hands and fire poured forth. She deliberately aimed it so that it would not hit her companions, and was overjoyed to see the flames wash over the elf. But though Therylassa merely grunted and bore the pain, nimbly dodging a portion of the fire, a scream of pain echoed in the room. Somebody else had been hit by the spell!

“There’s somebody else here! They’re invisible!” Amara shouted.

Eryx (DM)
There is another opponent in the room, but you are not entirely sure where.

Therylassa has taken a severe pounding. She’s currently looking very haggard, but the evil cleric has managed to hit Jenika twice. Jenika is now at 0 hitpoints, and is “disabled.” The monk can only take one standard or one move action her turn, until she is healed at least one hitpoint.

Please give me three more rounds of actions.

DeltaWolf

Jenika will back away from the fight as fast as she can (without injuring herself).

BlackWolf
Rynn will spend a round retrieving the Wand of Cure Light Wounds from his gear and healing Jenika. Then he'll rejoin the fight, placing himself between the visible enemy and the monk. As for the invisible person, Rynn is ignoring that issue for the moment — he wants to focus on what he knows he can deal with.

  • Round 1 - wand cures for: 5 HP (rolled 4 + 1).
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 19 (rolled 13 + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR).
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 22 (rolled 16 + 6 bonus above), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR).

Thevarou
Since Jenika will be somewhat stabilized by Rynn's use of the wand, Khaska's going to concentrate on fighting Therylassa until she's out of commission - it will be much easier to figure things out once she's down (again, he won't try to kill her, but disable her). While surprised and somewhat worried that there is someone else, invisible, in the room, he won't address it until Therylassa has been dealt with.

  • Initiative: 16
  • Round 1 - Scimitar Attack: 24 = 20 + bonuses - Damage: (crit) 2 + 2 + bonuses (2) = 6
  • Round 2 - Scimitar Attack: 7 = 3 + bonuses - Damage: 6 = 4 + bonuses
  • Round 3 - Scimitar Attack: 10 = 6 + bonuses - Damage: 3 = 1 + bonuses

The sorceress poured fire again at the evil cleric, and this time Therylassa was unable to move out of the way as the fire enveloped her. The smell of burning flesh filled the room. Rynn grabbed a wand from his pack and managed to touch Jenika with it. The monk felt much better, but stayed back to catch her breath. Rynn and Khaska reconverged on the cleric, just as she finished casting a healing spell on herself—just in time as Khaska’s scimitar caught her across the face, sending a spray of blood across the room. Undeterred, the cleric laughed and ran past them to strike yet again at Jenika, the sickle biting deep.

Jenika fell to the ground, unconscious.

Amara blasted Therylassa yet again, but stepped a bit too close. The cleric managed to get back at the sorceress, carving a vicious gash out of Amara’s arm. Rynn managed to land a blow on her from behind. Therylassa made a perfunctory swipe at him, but missed. The evil cleric backed away, momentarily free from being surrounded by the group. Ranna closed in from the right side, teeth barred, a low growl in her throat. There was a lull in the combat. Therylassa smiled, wiping the blood from her face with her free hand.

“You enjoy this,” Khaska said.

“I serve the God of death. Even if you kill me, Nerull’s designs are still accomplished. You cannot win!”

Eryx (DM)
Sorry for the delay this time. I was preparing for a presentation that I gave, twice, and that just ate up a bunch of time the last two weeks, then the opportunity didn’t really present itself to work on the campaign until the last few days.

Jenika is at -2 hitpoints. Amara is down to 8. Therylassa managed to get a big heal on herself. You have no idea where the other person in the room is.

Khaska knows enough about clerics and their spells to know that Therylassa probably cannot sustain herself much longer. She’s used a decent number of healing spells on herself, the hold spell on Amara, the fear spell on Khaska, etc. She’s running out of options, but is still in some kind of heavy glamered armor and has managed to take down Jenika and quite severely injure Amara.

Give me three more rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
At this point, Rynn is just going to keep swinging and hope to bring the enemy down.

  • Round 1 - longsword attack: 13 (rolled 7 + 3 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR).
  • Round 2 - longsword attack: 14 (rolled 8 + 6 as above), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR).
  • Round 3 - longsword attack: 18 (rolled 12 + 6 as above), damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR).

Ooh, not very stellar rolls today.

Thevarou
If you rolls are not-very-stellar, mine are plain dark matter.

“If the extinction of his own followers be Nerull’s goal, may it be accomplished!”

  • To hit: 21 = 17 + bonuses ; Damage: 8 = 6 + bonuses
  • To hit: 5 = 1 + bonuses ; Damage: 7 = 5 + bonuses
  • To hit: 8 = 4 + bonuses ; Damage: 4 = 2 + bonuses

With that, the cleric sprang forward, rushing straight at Amara. Ranna followed right behind, snapping ineffectually at Therylassa’s legs. Flames from the sorceress’ hands blasted her with fire again, but she burst through the spell to again strike Amara, who collapsed to the ground.

“If the extinction of his own followers be Nerull’s goal, may it be accomplished!” said Khaska as he and Rynn continued to swing at her. Rynn’s sword grated on the armor. Khaska cried out as he swung his scimitar, and as Therylassa turned to him he landed a solid blow on her head. She was unprotected, and the force of his swing brought her down to the ground.

And there on the ground she remained.

Rynn sagged a bit, sucking in air, but he didn’t stay resting for more than the length of a breath before he and Khaska were looking around some sign of the other person. They didn’t see one, but Ranna began to growl, and both of them heard the flap of shoes on the stairway that led up from the room, followed by the sound of a body hitting the stone stairs, and then some scrambling.

Eryx (DM)
Therylassa is down! Unfortunately, so are Jenika and Amara, but neither of them looks like they are bleeding that much. In fact, they look remarkably well for having taken so much damage. Metagaming, Jenika is actually still at -2 hitpoints, and Amara is at -6.

Rynn and Khaska, and Ranna, all hear the panicked flight of someone up the stairs the party saw when they first entered.

What will you do next?

As a small hint, perhaps you could heal Jenika, so DeltaWolf can actually post something for his character. :P

Sayya is still, as far as I can tell, out of commission for posting. Isn't the semester ending soon, Thev?

BlackWolf
First, Rynn will spend a round trying to "push" Ranna into chasing and attacking the fleeing invisible prey. She won't be able to see the person(?), but will hopefully be able to pinpoint via scent (special ability).

  • Handle Animal Check: 20 (rolled 14 + 6 bonus)

That's probably not enough, given that Rynn hasn't taught that trick yet (normal DC for this is 25). Oh well.

Quickly Rynn will ask Khaska if he wants the healing wand (should he prefer to avoid using up his spells; we may not be out of danger yet). If so, he'll spend a round giving the wand to the cleric.

Seeing that Therylassa is staying down, Rynn wants to follow the invisible person. He'll chase up the stairs, trying to catch up with the person before they can get away. I believe that Rynn still has the sunrod, and Khaska has his Light spell on his symbol (so I'm not leaving them in darkness). Hopefully he'll only be a couple rounds (seconds) behind, and it sounds like the person stumbled.

Does that work for you Thevarou? Leaving Khaska behind to do the healing and to make sure Therylassa is dealt with?

Thevarou
That's actually precisely what I was going to suggest! Khaska would recommend that Rynn hurry after the invisible person - we don't want him/her to escape - and would stay behind to take care of Amara, Jenika, and Therylassa. Said care will consist of Khaska healing them until Amara and Jenika awaken and can move, but with Therylassa he'll settle for stabilization. We don't want her to die, but we don't want to wake her up, either.

Eryx (DM)
Since Jenika and Amara will be able to be healed to functionality, I'll check with Sayya if she wants to post, but DeltaWolf, you can just go ahead. Now that Jenika is awake, what will she do?

DeltaWolf
Jenika will suggest that Therylassa be tied up. Then she thinks that we should go back and give her over to the authorities.

“Ranna, get after him!” Rynn said, pointing up the stairs. “Go on!” The wolf, just stared at Rynn for a moment, then turned back to Therylassa, growling.

Khaska moved over to cast a spell on Jenika. “Go! I’ll finish healing them!” Jenika was immediately awake and bounded to her feet as Khaska’s divine magic healed her. She relaxed at seeing the comatose form of Therylassa.

Rynn bared his teeth in frustration for a moment at Ranna, then turned towards the stairs, but paused. “Do you want the healing wand?”

“Please,” the cleric responded, holding his hand out.

Rynn gave it to him, then whirled and ran up the stairs. “Come on, girl!” Ranna followed him this time.

It took two castings from the wand to get Amara on her feet. All the while Kirza was squawking and fluttering around her mistress.

Khaska moved over to the fallen evil cleric, glancing at his two companions. They were shaken and bruised, their injuries not fully healed. “I will stabilize her,” he said. He reached a hand out, but by then, it was too late. Therylassa had bled out. She was dead.

The Maha’i reached out to gently close her eyes. “And thus your service is repaid.” He straightened. "We should assist Rynn. He is chasing the other who was in the room with us. Come."


Rynn and Ranna burst through the entryway at the top of the stairs. They emerged from behind a bookcase into a room. It looked like somebody’s quarters-a quick glance noted a desk, chair, the bookcase (which was on tracks, like the statue had been), and a bed that was meticulously made. The only other door in the room was slightly open, leading somewhere he couldn’t see.

The ranger glanced around, senses alert, hoping for some sign that the invisible assailant was in the room. He sensed nothing. Ranna seemed unperturbed, though, and somehow he just knew that his companion did not think their quarry was in the room with them. Without even speaking to her, he moved for the door. She followed after, responding unconsciously to his desire to continue onward. He opened the door a bit further and poked his head out. It was a hallway, but as he glanced to his left, he didn’t see any sign of passage. He swung his head to the right, around the door, and caught the eye of a Halfling woman standing there, just a few feet from the door.

“Hey, what …” The Halfling looked up at him. “What are you doing in Thery’s quarters?” Ranna poked her head around, to look at the Halfling. The short woman, grabbed the door and swung it open. “Thery?” She glanced down at the sword in Rynn’s hand, and saw the blood running down it. She screamed, bringing her hands to her mouth, and quickly backed away.

Eryx (DM)
Therylassa bled out while Khaska was healing the others, unfortunately. Since Therylassa is dead, the rest of you, I presume, will be coming up after Rynn. If that’s the case, you’ll be stumbling into the situation. Rynn gets first crack at reacting to this Halfling woman, however.

What will you all do?

I should have mentioned it last time, but you are now out of combat. With Therylassa down, the combat session ended.

DeltaWolf
Jenika isn't in the mood for this. She will let the others deal with the halfling (she isn't good at that kind of thing anyways).

Thevarou
With Therylassa dead, Khaska wants to make sure that the party is able to gather information about the Nerull cult so as to conduct a proper investigation and solve the mystery of the Peaceful Children, which has gotten much more sinister. Nevertheless, he'll leave the tracking to Rynn and Rana, for when he hears the halfling's scream, he'll immediately follow Rynn up the stairs and try to talk to her, sheathing his sword before he does. He'll introduce himself with his name and say that the party's friends of the Knights; then, Khaska will inquire after her name and explain what happened. "We discovered that Therylassa was secretly a cleric of the God of Death, and the door we just came through leads down to the shrine where she would perform her infernal acts. Because we found her, she attempted to kill us; we were obligated to fight back, and she died in the battle. I do not wish for you to see the scene, but if you do not trust me, I can show you your lady."

Diplomacy Check: 6 = 3 + 3 [Oy, that's abysmal.]

BlackWolf
This halfling is the last thing that Rynn needs. Although he's sorry to have upset her, she's likely to interfere. So he'll quickly wipe his blade and sheath it while saying, "Please calm yourself. Don't rush to conclusions." Then he'll proceed to ignore the halfing, waiting for someone else to deal with her as necessary.

Rynn is worried that if the invisible person gets away, many or all of Therylassa's confederates will go to ground. So he's most interested in finding that person. Luckily there is one possible clue: the person was caught in Amara's fire spell and may have singed clothing. He'll look for that on every person he sees.

The enemy has a head start and it doesn't seem likely that rushing around will help anything now. So Rynn will work backward from the room, down the stairs, searching for clues that will help him track. Ideally we'd find some bit of cloth or something. If possible, Rynn wants to find something he can use to put Ranna on the scent. Otherwise, maybe she can follow the smell of the basement itself.

Here are my rolls:

  • Search: 11 (rolled 7 + 4 bonus)
  • Track (survival): 17 (rolled 9 + 8 bonus)
  • Handle Animal: 16 (rolled 10 + 6 bonus; this is to get Ranna to track - normal DC 10)
  • Ranna Track (survival): 11 (rolled 6 + 5 bonus)

Well crap, those weren't very good rolls. I need to start bringing my real dice to work or something… But if we can get Ranna tracking, it just might work for following a fresh scent. We'll see.

Rynn will suggest that the rest of the group might also want to search around, though they'd be looking for different things. Hopefully we can convince the halfling to bring the Knights for help.

Rynn quickly wiped his blade and sheathed it. “Please calm yourself. Don’t rush to conclusions.” He glanced down at Ranna, who, without being prompted to, began to sniff the ground. The sound of footsteps running up the stairs sounded from behind him, and he turned to see Khaska emerge from the secret passageway, followed by Jenika and Amara.

“We’re searching for the other,” he said. “He eludes us for now.” Ranna had moved out into the hallway and the Halfling had backed away from the wolf as she sniffed the ground. Rynn himself emerged into the hallway, looking around for any signs of the other person. Khaska came out and then saw the Halfling. Another door opened, and a human in full plate emerged, took one look at the situation, and reached down to touch the Halfling protectively.

“What is going on?” he demanded roughly.

“They just came from Thery’s room!” the Halfling wailed. “I think they killed her.”

Amara scoffed, but before the sorceress could say anything Khaska stepped forward, his hands raised in a gesture of peace. He noticed that the cleric had on a tabard with the symbol of Heironeous. “I am Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven of the Maha’i. I serve Teresh, whom you call Pelor. My companions and I are friends of the Knights of the Silver Dragons, and have been sent by them to investigate a … hunch.”

The human placed his hand on his longsword. “What hunch would that be.”

“I regret to inform you that it is no longer a hunch. We discovered that Therylassa was secretly a cleric of the God of Death, and the door we just came through in her quarters leads down to the shrine where she would perform her infernal acts. Because we found her, she attempted to kill us; we were obligated to fight back, and she died in the battle. I do not wish for you to see the scene, but if you do not trust me, I can show you your lady.”

“Thery was no such thing!” The Halfling screamed. By now several others had appeared. Khaska thought they were in the quarters of the different clerics who lived and served at this shrine. They must have traversed most of the length of the building while underground.

“I assure you,” said Amara, “she was. Jenika and I have the scars to prove it now.” It was true, the too women looked a little worse for wear. The cleric of Heironeous glanced at another of the clerics. “Go, get the city watch.” The half-elf bowed and left quickly. Another cleric muttered some words, and stepped forward, scanning them. Khaska was easily able to identify the spell—detect evil. “We are not evil. And I speak the truth.” He stepped forward, directly in front of the cleric who had just cast the spell.

The man glanced him over, then turned, clearly looking at Rynn, who was still looking around, and then at the women. He frowned. “One of you is.” He stepped forward. Amara cringed, but then, looked the man right in the eye. “Evil clings to this one. She serves the dark gods.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic, Makmor,” the cleric of Heironeous said. But then he drew his sword. “Show me this secret chamber.” Khaska nodded, and then proceeded to show the man the way. As he passed Amara, he stared at her, but then moved past.

Jenika was also looking intently at Amara, but Rynn was still in the hallway, looking for sign of the other person, but unfortunately he could not find any. No piece of robe, no singed hair, nothing. Ranna also came up empty in her search, looking up at her master and whining a little.

One look at the underground chamber was all it took for the cleric to be convinced. “Heironeous have mercy on us!” he muttered. “All this time.” He slammed his sword into its sheath. “We must report this to the city watch!”

“And to the Knights,” Khaska said. “They will be expecting our report sometime today.”

Jenika still hadn’t said anything to Amara by the time Khaska and the other cleric returned. The cleric spoke to the gathering crowd. “We should close the shrine down until further notice,” he said. “What they have spoken is true; there is a shrine to Nerull hidden beneath our building.” Gasps went up.

“There is yet another who we fought down there,” said Rynn. “I chased him …”

“Or her,” Amara snapped.

Rynn continued, barely pausing, “up here, but my wolf and I cannot find a trace of their trail.”

Amara pushed into the hallway. “Looks like there’s another evil cleric to be found.”

“But you yourself serve not the good gods,” the Halfling said to her, staring her down.

Amara stared right back. “I don’t serve any gods.” Then, turning dismissively, pivoted away from him. Her eyes swept the gathered crowd, looking at them one at a time. It was then she noticed the cleric of Oldimmara standing in the back—the one who had been in the front room when they had first arrived. His hair was wet, and he had changed his clothes.

“Hey!” She yelled, and then pointed at him. “It was you that my spell hit down there!”

The man grew a look of panic, and then turned and bolted.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska’s diplomacy was enough to keep the gathering clerics wary, but in the end the truth came out—Therylassa was a cleric of Nerull. Now they know it.

However, in this investigation, a new fact has been revealed. Amara is evil. You are not sure when this switch happened. (Sayya and I are, however.)

And … the cleric of Oldimmara changed his clothes and apparently washed his hair, and is now running. Amara’s spot check was good enough to spot him lurking in the back of the crowd. What will you do?

BlackWolf
Rynn will immediately give chase. He doesn't want this man to get away again. If it seems that anyone else (like guards) could help, he'll call out to them to stop the cleric. At this point Rynn's only plan is to stop and subdue the cleric. With Therylassa dead, this might be the only person left who can answer questions. (He's also curious why the man didn't attack during the fight. What was he doing exactly?)

As for Amara, Rynn will be slow to believe people claiming that she has turned to evil. He'll tell these clerics that they shouldn't be so quick to judge, given how badly they'd failed with Therylassa. But he'll keep an eye on Amara, just in case. If there are any signs of altered behavior, he'll wonder if the evil cleric had something to do with this.

Sayyadina
Hey all! Sorry for the absence, but I'm back now. :)

Amara won't offer any conversation or explanation unless she's questioned directly; if any party members would do so, it's probably easiest to handle that via chat or preemptively in the grey boxes. In the meantime, Amara will chase the cleric as well.

Rynn doesn't have spells yet, does he? If so, Entangle would be lovely…

BlackWolf
Welcome back!

Spells? I wish. Entangle would be great; I'll have to remember to prepare it.. that's the hardest thing; choosing prepared spells! Level 4 is going to be very nice for Rynn. He'll get his first spells, Ranna becomes a true animal companion, and if I bump his DEX score then I'll get another +1 for archery!

Eryx (DM)
You'll get your XP soon enough. But you gotta catch this dude first!

Thevarou
Well, Khaska has it in his mind to "catch this dude"! Though not in those words. He'll cast Hold Person on him, and if it doesn't work, he'll try to chase him down. Once he's caught, Khaska will turn him over to local authorities, but will ask to be notified of the results. He wants to know all he can about the Peaceful Children.

Also, he's kind of shocked that Amara has been identified as evil. He'll be wary and on his guard from now on.

BlackWolf
Eryx, I wasn't trying to imply that we needed you to dole out the XP right now. I'm sure you'll give it soon enough; though I'm not sure if Rynn will earn quite enough to level anyway. I'm just exited about the prospect, be it sooner or later. :)

DeltaWolf

Jenika is startled that Amara was identified as evil, however she is more concerned about catching the man on the run. Jenika is more worried about behavior then alignment, particularly regarding illicit behavior.

Rynn didn’t hesitate. He bolted after the man, and Ranna lunged after, her speed eclipsing that of her master as they dodged through the clerics. “Out of the way!” he shouted, and the gathered crowd, mostly having just stepped out of private offices or rooms, jumped to the sides of the hallway. Amara and Jenika were hot on Rynn’s heels, followed by the cleric of Heironeous. Khaska raised his holy symbol and shouted a spell, his words, even in Maha’i, echoing with forceful command down the hallway.

The cleric of Oldimmara froze in place as Khaska’s spell worked on him. Hold person, the same spell Therylassa had used on Amara. The man was unable to continue his flight and within moments was surrounded.

Rynn moved in front of him, his sword drawn, cutting off the man's escape route. Ranna crouched down beside the ranger, teeth bared and slightly growling. Jenika stood next to him and cracked her knuckles. Amara just smirked but held her hands in preparation for a spell.

The cleric of Heironeous drew his sword. “Best not to run, Cerlis. You won’t escape now.”

The man’s eyes darted to and fro, looking at the people now surrounding him. As Khaska approached, the man managed to break free of the spell, but didn’t try to flee. “The authorities are on their way,” the Maha’i said. “You should confess to them, lest you compound your sins.”

“Come,” the cleric of Heironeous said. “Let us move to the front room and wait for the authorities there.”

“I’d really rather not do that until he’s been arrested,” Amara said. “He may try to flee again.”

“Then we will wait here.”

The cleric of Heironeous looked from Cerlis to the party, one at a time. “Forgive my harsh words and mistrust earlier, friends. I am Arthur Claymore, a cleric of Heironeous.”

The city watch officials appeared a few minutes later. Their officer was shown the secret shrine and listened to the tale of the party. Cerlis was arrested on the spot, and Arthur opened his private room at the request of the officer. Inside they found the clothes he had been wearing, scorched and singed, as well as a wand of healing just lying on the bed. On inspection, it was shown that a wand was missing from the shrine’s storage.

“He shouldn’t have that wand,” Arthur said. “We’re supposed to use them only for emergencies if we have no remaining spells.”

“I’m sure that he felt it was an emergency,” Amara said. “After all, we had just discovered their secret lair, and attacked Therylassa. He must have snuck down with her and used it to heal her while he was invisible.”

“Cerlis was not a high-ranking cleric here,” Arthur said, glancing at the city watch officer. “He had recently come to apprentice under Therylassa, even though they ostensibly served different gods. He was undisciplined and spent most of his time drinking and sleeping with women-ostensibly as an homage to his deity. I kept asking if he could be sent somewhere else, but Therylassa insisted he could change.”

“We will get to the bottom of this,” the city watch officer said. “I’m sure my superiors will want to have a long chat with Mr. Cerlis.”

“Do not forget,” Khaska said, “he may be using a spell to hide his true nature. Such a spell will wear off every day and must be recast if the deception is to be maintained.”

“We will watch for that. But I am going to leave some of my men. None of you here are to leave the shrine.” He looked around, suspiciously. “There may be others in hiding as well.”

“Including us?” Amara’s voice was indignant.

“I can vouch for them,” said Natalya, who had come on the scene with the soldiers. “They are not part of our organization.”

“Yes,” said Arthur. “They should be allowed to depart.”

There was some haggling over that, but eventually the officer agreed that the party was allowed to leave. With that, several of the city watch departed with Cerlis in chains, hands bound to prevent him from casting spells. The officer stayed to set up the remaining soldiers.

Khaska turned to Arthur. “What now?”

Arthur’s face was grim. “I wish to close the shrine for now and pray for forgiveness. I’m sure the city watch will want to come investigate further.” He sighed. “That we did our business atop a shrine of Nerull and in the presence of the death god’s clerics … I feel we have all failed our god in some way.” He turned and left.

Many of the other clerics also vanished into the various rooms in the hallway. Most were obviously shell-shocked. Natalya thanked them, grimly. As they left, yet more soldiers were arriving on the scene, including one liason from the Knights. They were asked about their involvement again, but let go as the officer explained the situation.

Khaska immediately wanted to go to the Knights to fully report. Amara was ambivalent about doing so, and the cleric gave her a long, hard, look before nodding. He went off on his own. Rynn decided to follow him, leaving Jenika and Amara alone. Amara took one look at Jenika, then turned on her heel. “I’ve had quite enough this morning from this adventure. I’m going to report to Master Hiddel, and then go to take a nap!”

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter.

For finding the portcullis trap, defeating the zombies, and killing Therylassa, you get a grand total of 2000 XP. You should all be hitting level 4. Congratulations!

I tried to add some flavor text for Rynn and Ranna to indicate their bond as ranger and animal companion was growing stronger, and I hope that worked out a little. It might have been too subtle.

Chapter 9 will pick up in about a week’s time. If any of you want to have in-character discussions with Sayya, as she suggested, I’d really like it if that could happen between now and when Ch. 9 picks up. If you don’t want to do that or don’t have time, maybe you can post some questions and just get answers in the gray box, or I could write up a small story myself of how it went down (with your approval). That also means I might retcon just a little bit of the intro to Ch. 9. But we’ll see.

Also, BlackWolf, the week break here means you can attempt to train Ranna in another skill. She is now officially your animal companion.

BlackWolf
Hurray for leveling! I have given Ranna the "attack" trick as her bonus trick. I will now attempt to train "down" (DC 15):

  • Handle Animal: 31 (rolled 19 + 12 bonus)

Nailed it.

As for Amara, I don't think that Rynn will really try to broach the subject. He will keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, and he may sit in if any group discussion happens. But more likely he'll just let the others discuss it. He is concerned, but doesn't see a need for a confrontation at this time.

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