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Chapter 6 - The Pit...

DM Turn 9, The Pit ...

Cygar and Malikor slowly stand up from where they fell. Tyrmar quickly sheathes his sword, and plunges the room into semi-darkness - illuminated only by the sphere. The sylvan elf fires several arrows at the corner where the creature was last seen.

"Wait!" cries a very hurt voice from down below. Cygar continues, "The creature's not here ... but there's some kind of hidden door here." He applies some ointment to himself, and applies some to Malikor, who is too hurt to be offended at the half-elf touching him.

Suddenly, there is a snap as the flaming sphere extinguishes. In the darkness, no one sees Circe smile.

"Yes, I can see it now with my infravision" says an equally battered Malikor, "Hot air ... is seeping out of ... its edges." He seems to be struggling for breath.

You hear someone slowly light a torch. It's Dainn, who looks down into the pit. "I believe that Cygar and Malikor may need some help - and quickly! Does anyone have any rope they can use to climb down there?"

Khoron nods, and Circe hands both Khoron and Dainn a jar. "It's power is potent; use only a portion", the mage warns.

It is decided that the dwarven priest and the paladin will venture into the pit. Khoron places the piton and rope, and then begins his slow descent down into the pit. Reaching the bottom without incident, he looks up at Lianya. She swings over the side, and repels down into the pit, pushing off against the wall and reaching the bottom in rapid time.

Kilroy, meanwhile, has tied _his_ rope securely on the other side. Dainn tests it and moves across to the other side - ignoring the now questionable wooden planks that sit across the centre of the pit. He then walks out into the passageway and ties up the frozen orc, just as Khoron's spell begins to wear off. Dainn blinks, and his face relaxes - obviously he has ceased using his mental powers. The orc's eyes bulge, and it collapses into unconsciousness.

Kilroy quickly searches the bodies of the three remaining dead orcs (the fourth is in the pit). He then walks past the now-tied orc and peers out the doorway, rapier in hand, keeping an eye out for unwanted visitors. Dainn scrapes a fifth out of the jar of ointment, and places it upon Kilroy's wounds which magically begin to close up.

Lianya places her hands upon Cygar's chest. "This is beginning to be a habit", she smiles as she calls upon Celestian to heal his wounds. Khoron gives the other jar to Malikor, who smears one-fifth of its contents upon his remaining wounds.

A few minutes later, Damien, Cyvara and the two lions return.

The party is scattered across the room: on the far side stand Kilroy, Dainn and the bound orc; in the pit are Cygar, Malikor, Khoron and Lianya; on the close side are Tyrmar, Circe, Cyvara, Damien and the two lions. A rope is strung across the pit, while another hangs from the close side down into the pit.

Damien looks around in suprise. "What ... what has happened here?" he asks.

[Good question. Damage:
Circe: scratched (barely)
Cygar: scratched (heavily)
Cyvara: uninjured
Dainn: scratched
Damien: injured (just)
Lianya: scratched
Kilroy: scratched
Khoron: uninjured
Malikor: injured
Tyrmar: hurt (barely)

Damien looks at the injured members in the pit, and then across the pit to the others, "Well, where to now. I am for crossing this room and continuing on. What do the rest of you say?"

Damien will take his rope from his pack and turn to Cyvara "I'll tie this around you, so that you can cross safely, if you slip, you will not fall far. We should get across and then help bring up the injured"

If the others agree Damien will hold the rope and wait until all on this side have crossed over, and will then secure the rope about the lions and they will cross, once all have crossed Damien will cross.

If the group decides to go into the pit, Damien will help the others down and will once again go last.

Dainn gives the jar of ointment to Kilroy, "Since you are up in the lead most of the time, maybe you should carry this. There is still quite a bit of it left. By the way, did the orcs have anything interesting? Later on we might want to move the orc bodies down into the pit so that it will look like they and the ghouls had a big fight - just in case another patrol comes looking for them."

Looking down at the orc prisoner, he says, "When he wakes up later, we will want to interrogate him."

Seeing that Damien and Cyvara have returned, he mutters "Well, at least we are all together again."

Looking down into the pit, he calls out, "Is everything going all right down there? Do you need any help?"

Calling out from the other side of the pit, "If you are going to come over here, you may want to use the rope Kilroy has already set up".

Cyvara thumps down the last of the stairs and steps up to the pit room. The light from her dagger spills into the open space. Quickly, she takes account of the slaughtered and burnt orcs and the lesser amount of floor and wall than there used to be, and notes that several of her fellow adventurers are gone.

At Damien's words, she sneaks a peek over the edge, down into the pit. A streak of vertigo convinces her to quickly retreat. "Yes, a rope seems like a good idea." She sheathes her dagger, the pommel of it still glowing brightly, and secures Damien's rope around her waist. Then, using Kilroy's guide rope, she attempts to cross (circling right). If she makes it to the other side, she will help any other across, and then move to explore the corridor a short distance.

After using some on himself, Malikor hands the jar of ointment back to Khoron. "That's two that I owe you now, friend," he says appreciatively to the dwarf.

The dwarf chuckles and pats Malikor on the back. "How about you forget about owing me anything and focus more on not getting hurt so much."

Malikor then glances over at the half-human, and seeing that he is being tended to by the holy knight, fixes his attention upon the hidden door once more. "I do not like the FEEL of whatever lies behind that door," says the elf. With a shudder he says, "Let us return above and rejoin with the others."

Circe waits till Cyvara crosses over the pit, then follows her over holding tightly to Kilroy's guide rope. Once across he will sit on the other side of the door to the stairwell from Kilroy, ready for anything that might come following the scent of the dead orcs.

"Thank you, Dainn. I am in your debt. What do you make of this?"

Kilroy hands Dainn a sheet of paper with the word 'Rhyloren' written on it.

Seeing Cyvara making her way across, the gallant Gnome will attempt to assist her passage as best a 3' fellow may!

Damien turns to Tyrmar "You're next, and then I will follow"

Khoron nods his head. "I think it would be better if you all went back above, I'll follow when you are all up. Go now, no arguements." The dwarf pulls his warhammer out from his belt and hefts it in front of him. Even though he seems to be a jovial dwarf you can tell that Khoron still has that dwarven spirit in him. He stands tall, as though he is as immoveable as the stone that he loves.

Lianya shrugs. "Makes no differences to me if we go back up or stay down. I just want everyone together so we have gathered our forces."

Unless anyone raises new objections about staying below, Lianya will help the injured to the rope and see them safely up, then she will climb up behind them.

Taking the sheet of paper from Kilroy, Dainn starts wracking his brain trying to remember what "Rhyloren" means.

Seeing that some of the injured are coming up from the pit, Dainn puts the piece of paper away and goes over to help them up. Before Khoron and Lianya start coming up, Dainn calls down, "I have an idea. Maybe we should make it look like the orcs and ghouls killed each other in case another patrol is sent to find this one. That might give us a little more time before our presence here is known, and they start searching for us.

"After Kilroy is finished going through the pockets of the orcs up here, we can toss them down there so you can position them. It might also be a good idea to shove some of the crossbow bolts into the ghouls' bodies. What do you think?"

[Cygar]

"Thank you Lianya for your assistance. I agree that it seems that you are doing this often." Turning to the hidden door I will say "It seems that the noise I heard after seeing that creature must have been that door opening and closing. That means that whatever that thing was it is somewhere on the other side of the door."

Before leaving the pit I will check over my equipment to make sure that I did not drop anything in my fall. Should anything be misssing I will look around for it . If everything seems okay, I will grab hold of the rope and climb up the wall as easily as if I was walking on flat ground.

Once at the top I will grab hold of the rope across the room and make my way to the other side. I will then await the rest of the party to decide where we go from here.

DM Turn 10, A Very Good Choice (Part 1)

[Apologies for the delay - hopefully in future, I will be able to announce such things prior to their occurrence]

Some five to six hours have passed since the original eight entered Highport’s corrupted ruins …

Tyrmar unties Khoron’s rope and throws it across to Dainn, who ties it securely down.

Khoron’s softly spoken but very serious words ensure that the others climb up from the pit. Lianya and Malikor climb up, and Cygar gestures to Khoron to follow, with assurances he’ll follow in a moment.

Dainn tucks the tattered scrap of paper Kilroy handed him into his pocket as he examines the passageway beyond the pit room. The passage appears to be as burnt as the rest of the temple, but the torches on the wall and the tracks in the ash on the floor seem to indicate it is more traversed than the rest.

Cyvara, Circe and Tyrmar cross over on the pit attached to or holding on to Kilroy’s rope, each lightly treading on the boards that are the only remaining path across the pit. They reach the side without incident, as Damien and the lions remain on the side you entered - watching, guarding.

Cygar collects a dagger that has fallen and gazes longingly at the hidden door, one last time. A loud dwarven "Hrumph" echoes from above - and Cygar rapidly scales the wall to stand on the far side, just as Dainn pushes the orc bodies into the pit with his foot.

Across the boards thump the lions, followed lastly by Damien. The party return to their order (with one lion next to Damien, the other next to Cyvara) and set off into the passageway.

Dainn’s flickering torch illuminates the passage; several of you speak softly to each other regarding what you have seen or done.

The temple is eerily silent.

Abruptly, Circe starts - his face looking all around. "Who said that?" he asks angrily, but no one answers. He looks apologetically at the party, and you continue on …

After twenty minutes or so, Kilroy and Cygar comes across a small alcove set along the centre of the passage. The alcove has three barrels in it, sealed and dusty. The wood is stained a dark brown. A sour smell emanates from them.

A few yards from the alcove, another staircase leads up.

This one is well lit with several sconces, and leads into another large, almost empty room. Many flies buzz about and the air has a sweet honey smell.

This room is almost bare except for the stairs where you enter and the door on the opposite wall. In its middle, about five feet from the door, is a mound of tarry looking rags. The mound is some five-six feet across itself. Looking carefully at it, you notice what appears to be a shiny brass ring just an inch or two in front of it.

The door beyond the mound of rags is very large and made of oak. In its middle is a very ornate lock, gleaming in the torchlight - its newness a contrast to the rest of the temple you’ve experienced so far…

[Damage as before. Without revealing too much, note also that Part 2 will occur when enough appropriate responses have arrived - this may be by tomorrow, or may be a few days. Player Question: Experience … is everyone happy waiting until a rest period or would they care for me to award every set number of turns? Your call.]

Lianya carefully approaches to within 10 feet of the mound. "Stay back a moment", she cautions, "something feels wrong here." Lianya reaches a hand up to grasp her holy symbol and concentrates intently upon the mound and ring, sending out a pray to Celestian to warn her of coming dangers.

OOC: Lianya detects the presence of evil.

Cyvara's voice breaks the silence, "Has anybody else noticed that every creature that we have encountered in this place has been associated with a trap? The Ghouls jumped from hiding spots above, the orcs tried to ambush us accross a pit and were carrying ready crossbows like they were expecting to fight at range -- like accross a pit... The first door we opened was trapped with spikes. It just seems like we are expected. There have been traps and obstacles the entire way. If it were me, I'd be very careful looking at that mound and brass ring up there. It's probably a trap; there's probably something hiding under it."

Once everyone is across, Damien looks down at Kala and points across and makes a gesture with his hand. The lion runs quickly across and stops on the other side, Damien does the same thing for Arbra and then he follows, running swiftly and lightly across the boards.

Once across Damien bends down to Arbra and whispers in her ear, and rubs her head and powerful shoulders, and then points to Cyvara. Arbra moves to Cyvara's side and stands there, and when Cyvara moves forward Arbra stays with her. "She will guard you from danger now. If we have time later I will teach you a few hand signals that you can use. But for now she is a guardian and will attack anything that is hostile to you, but she will not go far from you."

Damien also retrieves his continual light coin, and returns it to his pocket.

At Circe's question Damien looks around "I heard nothing"

Damien looks over at Cyvara as they pass the barrels, "I do not want to know what is in those"

Damien nods and keeps a close eye on Lianya as she approaches the mound. Damien will move position only if he has to in order to maintain a clear shot at the mound. Kala is at his side, but does not like the smell of this place, his tail twitches, and a low rumbling can be heard from his throat, and his legs and shoulders tense.

Arbra also seems uneasy and watches Damien and Kale, and then moves to stand in front of Cyvara placing her body between the pile that Damien is watching and Cyvara.

Cygar, after listening to Cyvara's comments, also nods in agreement and quietly moves over towards the wall. Then moving a silently as possible he slides his way down the wall towards the far side, sword in hand and never taking his eyes off the mound. Once on far side he continues to move towards the door. Stopping just short of the door he signals the others that he is going to examine it and turns and begins checking the door over, moving forward as necessary. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary [I hope]he places his ear to the door and concentrates on any sound from the other side, all the while keeping a watch on the mound from the corner of his eye.

Malikor warily enters the room with the rags. Keeping his back to the wall opposite from the door that Cygar is creeping up to, the wild elf assumes a ready stance with his staff.

His attention focuses on Lianya as she nears mound of rags. Personally, Malikor would rather toss a torch on the pile than allow anything that may be lurking beneath it to spring a surprise attack. His indoor "encounters" can be counted on one hand, but his faith in his companions' wisdom from their past experiences tells him to watch and learn. "Let those who know what they are doing do what they must," thinks the elf warrior, "and should something attempt to harm these good folk, then let it know the fury of elven rage!"

A little unnerved at Circe's outburst, Dainn looks at Circe, "What did you hear? Sorry for asking, but I really don't want to have anyone mentally taken over by that big bug we saw earlier - or something else."

Reaching the room, Dainn looks skeptically at the mound of rags. After Cyvara speaks her misgivings on the situation, Dainn nods his head, "I agree. I don't think that we should trust anything in this temple."

Finding a place to deposit the torch for a moment (where it will still illuminate the room), Dainn draws his scimitar. He then moves forward to stand just a little behind Lianya in case something should jump out and attack. Dainn watches and waits for the paladin to either speak or for something to happen.

As the group pass the smelly barrels Kilroy, fasinated by the smell, drops back from the lead. He drifts unobviously through the group then quietly moves back down the trail to the barrels.

Khoron creeps close to the mound of rags, not quite touching either the mound or the rags, and peers intently at the door. He stands there looking over the door and the ornate lock imbedded in the middle. After a few minutes of looking at the obviously newly constructed door the dwarven priest steps back in order to get a better view of the whole room. He grasps his holy symbol, mutters a few words through his beard, and stares in the direction of the door and the mound of rags. After staring in that direction he turns around and stares back out the way the group entered and down the staircase.

Circe walking through the hall after his outburst, shakes his head to clear it. When asked what he heard from Dainn he replys. "I don't really know, I'm just trying to figure it out myself." Once in the room with the mound he smells the honey smell. "There is something about this smell, that is triggering something, but I can't quite remember what it means." Seeing Cygar go around the room and look at the door. Circe decides to also go to the door creeping along the wall, in case something tries to attack Cygar while the door has his attention, as well as to help if something decides to come through the door.

Tyrmar keeps his bow ready with an arrow nocked to the string, ready to pull should a threat materialise. The elf walks silently with the others into the room, trying to keep a clear avenue of fire towards the doors.

DM Turn 11, Finishing your Sentences ...

Damien stretches back the string of his bow, as the paladin moves toward the mound of tarry rags. Two arrows are targeted at it. Tyrmar also stands ready with his bow.

Li steps forward, her sword in one hand and her holy symbol in the other. Dainn draws his scimitar, and follows a pace behind her. The paladin stops about ten feet from the creature and closes her eyes; the symbol glowing a soft white.

Stepping back, she opens her eyes. "I sense no ... malignancy here". Turning around, she says "But something ... something is not right". Dainn nods, "I don't think we should trust anything in this temple."

Unnoticed by the others, Kilroy steps back out of the room.

Cyvara comments about everything being a trap, to which Khoron nods. "We shall see, lass" he says and moves over to the wall.

He nods at Cygar who, brandishing his short sword, moves slowly along the side wall. Circe and Khoron follow, both keeping their eyes upon the mound.

Cygar reaches the ornate door, and looks at Khoron. The dwarf waves his Moradin talisman at the door, and rumbles a few syllables.

The door shines a bright red. "This door is dangerous - mechanically trapped. The lock has some sort of device in it", Khoron says.

Cygar holds a finger up, indicating the dwarf should be quiet, and places his ear against the door. "I hear a soft rumbling, like running water at the other end of a long tunnel. But, something isn..."

He never finishes the sentence.

A screeching sound, like that of giant angry bird, is heard, as nine sticky grasping tendrils unwind from the mound inhumanly fast and lash out at Cygar, Khoron and Circe.

Damien fire his arrows, as both Lianya and Dainn leap forward to attack it - one arrow is harmlessly absorbed by the mound, but the other causes some sort of ichor to spray out. The ichor strikes Dainn, causing him to yell in pain. Lianya strikes the creature with her broadsword and slashing two great chunks from it.

She dives out of the way from the ichor spray as one of the tendrils wraps around Cygar's leg, a sticky substance oozing from it, while another two grasp Khoron's left arm. Circe has drawn a dagger and is fending off another tendril.

Still recovering from his burn, Dainn swings his scimitar down but misses the creature. Cygar cuts through the tendril holding him, but gets hit by the spray upon his legs.

The screeching sound increases twofold as another five plant-like tendrils emerge and lash out at Dainn and Lianya. Malikor leaps forward and bashes the creature a mighty blow with his staff - but then a sticky tendril grasps his foot and trips him into Dainn.

The psionicist flies forward, landing on top on the mound - instantly, tens of tendrils begin enveloping him! He cries out in disgust, as the tendrils begin slithering across his flesh ... crawling ... crawling ... The screeching sound is getting louder.

"I can't breathe!", he cries.

[How many 1's can Malikor roll? Damage:

Circe: scratched (barely)
Cygar: injured (just)
Cyvara: uninjured
Dainn: too horrible to describe ... oh, I mean - scratched (badly) :)
Damien: injured (just)
Lianya: scratched
Kilroy: scratched
Khoron: uninjured
Malikor: injured
Tyrmar: hurt (barely)

Chapter 7

Chapter 5