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Chapter 7 - The Deadly Mound

DM Turn 11, Finishing your Sentences ...

[Note, that I confused even myself re the two part Turn 10. What I meant was that there was no set time for the next turn; instead, it would occur when certain actions had triggered events. This is the next turn, which might as well be called Turn 11. This is what I get when I write turns when I'm really tired ...]

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)

DM Turn 12, Prisoner ...

The tendrils slither across Dainn, as the fight against the creatures continues. One of the lions roars in exasperation, unable to reach the mound.

Dainn yells out, "Try using fire!" as he struggles to keep the tendrils out of his mouth. Malikor rolls away from the mound, and rises back to his feet.

Cyvara grabs Dainn's dropped torch, but hesitates before applying it to the mound. She runs around the creature towards Khoron and pushes the torch forward, burning the tendrils attached to the dwarf's arms.

Khoron grabs his war hammer and tries to fight off the tendrils. More tendrils detach from the creature. Many, many tendrils are attacking now, fighting with Khoron, Cygar, Circe, Dainn and Lianya.

Several strike Khoron; one hits his face, exuding sticky sap across his face and nose. The dwarf drops his hammer and begins tearing at the tendril before it suffocates him. Cygar has cut himself free and, ignoring the attacks of the tendrils, moves over to the dwarf to try and clear his airway.

Circe strikes out at the tendril waving in front of him. Several more attach themselves to him. "Damn, I can't even stop to cast a spell!" he yells, as ichor sprays out from the tendril he's cut.

More and more tendrils are covering Dainn, wounding him terribly. He survives the shock as Tyrmar fires another two arrows into the mound. Both hit and damage the creature.

Lianya moves gracefully around the mound, wielding her sword one-handed and severing tendrils. She ignores the wounds the tendrils create, but her strikes appear to do no damage.

Damien fires another two arrows - both striking the creature between Dainn's ankles. Ichor spurts harmlessly out from it. Several tendrils surround Circe, but he manages to keep them off him.

Khoron manages to rip the tendril away from his mouth. He doubles over, inhaling deeply. Some ichor strikes Cyvara and Cygar, who is continuing to parry the tendrils.

Then, Dainn screams in agony - his hand emerging from the tendrils. Malikor drops his staff, and grasps Dainn's hand. With his immense strength, he _yanks_ the psionicist clear of the mound just as Lianya strikes it again, wounding it.

The tendrils falter slightly and Cyvara tosses the torch onto the wet, sticky mound. It begins to burn slightly and its tendrils begin to wither from the heat. Many of them retract to the mound and catch alight.

Circe stands back and surveys the room's entrances, knowing the party is susceptible to attack. "Where's the gnome?" he yells above the conflagration. The others shrug, their attention on Malikor and Dainn.

The grugach elf has Dainn in his arms, unsure of what to do. "He has stopped breathing", Malikor says.

Lianya runs over, and indicates for the elf to put Dainn on the floor. Meanwhile, Cyvara and Cygar assist Khoron in removing the last withered tendrils from his arms and legs, as Damien and Tyrmar quickly destroy the now smouldering mound.

Lianya kneels next to Dainn, and puts her ear to his chest. She then opens his mouth, putting her lips to his, and breathes air into him. She repeats this for a minute or so, until the psionicist sits up - coughing and spluttering. He looks around.

"You saved my life" Dainn states, grasping Lianya's hand. He turns to Malikor. The elf cuts him off; "It will make you stronger", he says with a trace of ... irony?

Using his short sword, Tyrmar flips the now dead mound over. A scattered amount of silver coinage [500 sp], three small gems, and the brass ring mentioned earlier lie there. "What now?" he asks. Circe begins to look over the items. He too is looking much the worse for wear, from several ichor sprays.

Cygar looks up from where he is examing the door. "Did anyone see the bard leave? I can only presume he has wandered off."

Damien nods. "We wait".

An hour or so passes ...

Cygar, who has been keeping watch, motions for the party to be silent. "Something is coming" he states. Damien sits up from where he has been talking with Cyvara, and bounds silently to the entrance, sword in hand. Others draw bowstrings and ready weapons. Tyrmar also approaches the door.

It's the gnome, with a prisoner- a female half-orc.

"I return - bearing a pledge, a plan and a prisoner!" Kilroy exclaims. The gnome is holding the end of a rope with which he has bound the half-orc.

The half-orc spies Tyrmar. "Elgwez!" she sneers, and spits in his face. The elf's face drains of colour, as he wipes the glob away ...

[The party has taken a beating. Damage:

Circe: hurt (badly)
Cygar: hurt
Cyvara: scratched
Dainn: critical (severely)
Damien: injured (just)
Lianya: injured
Kilroy: scratched
Khoron: injured (barely)
Malikor: injured (a lot)
Tyrmar: hurt (barely)

I'll leave the next turn open - I'd like everyone to post any discussions and actions they have while waiting for Kilroy, as well as their responses to Kilroy's relevation. We'll try to have both threads going at once; don't get confused between who is saying what when. When the party indicates it's ready to move off, I'll post again. And if anyone is interested, Medieval CPR _is_ part of the Healing proficiency ... :)]

DM Turn 13, Perchance to Rest ...

Circe takes out his blanket, and begins to spread various arcane items across it. Placing the red potion and the newly found ring in front of him, he begins reading an old dusty tome quietly to himself.

Dainn and Damien sit cross-legged across from each other. The psionicist places his forefinger and thumb upon the elf’s temples. All is hushed in the room. “Relax,” Dainn says in a low voice. “Feel my power flowing through you ...”

A few moments pass and Dainn suddenly smiles.

“My friend, you have the psychic potential of a piece of wood. That is, to say, none. I’m sorry.”

Dainn then goes and sits across from Cyvara. He senses her timidness, and speaks somewhat sternly. “You must be at peace to allow me to scan you. Try to clear your mind of all conflict”, he says as he places his thumb and forefinger against her temple. After a few moments, Cyvara begins to float gently upwards. Dainn reaches out and pulls her back down to the ground. “Perhaps, this is why you moved away from me when first we met. You knew you had the potential.”

He gestures her over to a corner of the room and begins to speak softly to her, explaining her power. She nods excitely, as Dainn goes over to sit with Tyrmar. Again, he reaches out and firmly presses his fingers into Tyrmar’s temple. “There is something there; faint, unlike Cyvara. But you too have the potential.” He speaks quietly to Tyrmar, explaining his new found power.

Meanwhile, Katya has taken the medallion from Khoron. She gasps from its heat as she places it around her neck. “I hope you are not reckless, gnomish one.” She also listens to each of the party’s comments and objections.

The party agrees to rest. The following watches be set: Damien and Malikor, Tyrmar and Cygar, Dainn and Lianya. Kilroy, Cyvara, Khoron, the half-orc and the lions all seek places out in the room for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Meanwhile, Circe is continuing what appears to be the casting of a ritual. He grunts at Cyvara’s warning, and continues chanting. Eventually his voice fades and he begins rocking back and forth. The others lose interest after he shows no sign of abating after an hour or so.

The night passess uneventfully. Katya appears to be a restless sleeper. Then, an hour into Dainn and Lianya’s watch, Circe begins to stir again.

A magical aura begins shining forth from him; his ritual has reached some penultimate stage. He picks up the ring and looks at it, almost as if he is seeing within it. He says, “Jump shatter friends”. He pauses and then announces “A ring of spell storing”. He then touches the potion - “Red fire burn”. The aura fades, and Circe slowly and unsteadily stands.

“A elixir to ward the effects of fire”, he says and then immediately collapses unconscious to the ground! Lianya rushes over to him. “Sleeping”, she says.

Over the next two hours, the rest of the party awaken and refreshen themselves. Lianya and Khoron make a nice counterpoint, each making supplications to their patrons, while others break fast. The lions prowl about, looking somewhat hungry.

Eventually, all is in readiness. You mill about in front of the door, unsure of the marching order. You remember Katya’s comment from before you rested: "A passageway leading to a junction. From there, you may travel to the Cemetary of Winds or to a tunnel that leads into the temple proper. It would best if we avoid the Cemetary, and travel _quickly_ through the tunnel if it is the Black One you seek."

The door before you 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. Khoron’s magic has detected a trap within it ...

Circe has the ring, Dainn has the gems, and the silver is unclaimed. If I've missed anyone's response, I apologise but will send amendments as neccesary. In that no one used any Keogh’s (though Circe did ask), damage is as before except for:

Dainn: wounded (badly).]

"I return - bearing a pledge, a plan and a prisoner!" Kilroy exclaims. The gnome is holding the end of a rope with which he has bound the half-orc.

"You guys seemed to forget the orc that was captured back at the room with the pit. We all walked away from her. It seemed a good idea to go back and get her. Oh, by-the-way, the barrels back there were filled with sour wine."

He leads the female half-orc into the groups midst, where she spits in Tyrmar's face. Seeing his charge acting so naughtily, Kilroy tugs on the rope attached to her legs and collapses her ineligently on the floor. "Please treat my friends as you expect to be treated or it's back to the pit for you. Imagine what would happen if you Orcish masters found you in the company of elves. What would they do to you? Ponder that while you apologise to my companion."

The intrepid gnome turns to Tyrmar. "Please accept my apology for my prisioners actions." Turning to the others in their various battered conditions he exclaims "What happened here?"

Malikor's eyes widen briefly as Lianya breathes life back into the still form of Dainn. "She must be close to her god indeed," the elf thinks, "if she can cast such a spell without prayer or ceremony!" This has certainly been a day of many wonders for Malikor.

Assured that Dainn will pull through, the wild-elf turns his attention to Tyrmar's actions near the smouldering pile. The discovery of the coins and gems barely register upon him. Since leaving his woodland home, he has begun to understand that such shiny baubles are deemed important by (seemingly) all "outsiders," but Malikor has yet to understand why.

Suddenly remembering Circe's query of Kilroy's whereabouts, Malikor quickly scans the room. The fear that perhaps the gnome was pulled into the mound unnoticed during the chaos comes and goes as the grugach realizes Kilroy's remains would have been uncovered by Tyrmar's search. Letting out a hiss of frustration, Malikor picks up his staff. The elf then seats himself against a wall were he can keep an eye on both entrances to the room, too battered to do much else.

Later, when Cygar announces that something is approaching, Malikor warily stands, watching the door. A smile begins to spread across his face (his first in a long time) as he sees that Kilroy has managed to capture a prisoner- one that far exceeds the gnome in size. But the elf warrior's smile quickly fades as he notices the orcish features of Kilroy's captive.

Orcs! By their foul hands did his wife perish. Normally not effected by hate, Malikor is overcome by rage at the appearance of the creature bound by Kilroy's rope. With a gaze that would make a basilisk run for cover, the wild-elf strides toward the prisoner, snapping his dagger from its sheath as he goes . . .

Seeing murder in Malikor's eyes and realising his prisioner's helplessness, Kilroy draws his rapier to guard the half-orc. "I hope that the dagger is for shaving" he states in a calm yet firm voice.

Hatred clearly visible on his face, Tyrmar snaps up the shortsword still in his hand to the half-orcs throat. Speaking softly in the harsh orcish tongue, "I would suggest being a little more respectful. Your life is hanging by a thread right now." If the creature tries anything Tyrmar just slits her throat, otherwise, "Now, who are you and what are you doing here?"

Kilroy turns his rapier to Tyrmar. "Put up the sword my friend. Let us discuss this before it gets any worse."

Coughing and gasping for air, Dainn sits up and looks around. Feeling worse than he ever had before, he looks over his wounds. "Thank you Lianya." With a weak smile, "It seems that I owe you one." Turning his head to look at the others, "And thank you all! I would surely have died if it weren't for all of you."

Looking over to where the mound lay, Dainn notices the burnt and chopped pieces. Vaguely remembering Cyvara using the torch, he says, "Good work Cyvara! I didn't know if fire would work against it or not. Apparently it did."

As Tyrmar turns the mound over, he watches as the small treasure is uncovered. Looking back to Lianya, "Do you wish to carry the coins?" Then to the others, "We had probably better let Kilroy appraise the gems. And what about that brass ring? Are there any markings on it?"

As the others talk, Dainn finds out that Kilroy is not around so he lays back down and tries to recover.

Seeing Kilroy return with the half-orc, Dainn almost kicks himself for forgetting the prisoner.

"Everyone, please calm down! Malikor, Tyrmar, we need to learn what we can from this creature, and we can't do that if she is dead now can we? I can enter her mind and read her thoughts, but I do have some trouble understanding orcish. It would be best if someone that knows orcish asks questions [OOC: to bring her thoughts to the surface]. Tyrmar, if you could ask her questions, I could try to say the words that come to her mind for you to translate. She will not be able to resist"

As the words that Kilroy spoke as he entered in sinks in, Dainn faces the gnome, "What is this about a pledge and a plan?"

Looking at the others, "In any case, we probably need to camp so spells can be recovered" looking at the shape the others are in, "and wounds be healed. We can also interrogate the prisoner at our leisure. This room looks to be as good a place as any. One door is locked and trapped, and the other leads to where we just came from. If we decide to camp, we would need to set guards in rotating shifts. What do you think?"

"Guy's. I've already questioned the half-orc. What else do you think I've been doing for the last twenty minutes? If you all calm down and stop acting like barbarians on steroids then I'll tell you of my brief adventure and what I have discovered so far."

Kilroy will wait for ALL his companions to agree to him telling the tale BEFORE starting!!!!!!!

"Actually, I had no idea how long you were gone. I've been going in and out of consciousness for the past little bit. I do remember some of the others saying that they couldn't find you..."

Focusing back on the present, "Anyway, you say that you have already questioned the half-orc? Please continue and tell us what you found out."

After the fight is over, Cyvara produces a rag and carefully wipes any trace of the ichorous slime from her skin and clothing. She offers the rag to Khoron, who probably needs it more than she does. She nurses her minor wound and wraps it in a loose bandage.

She fills the next hour with petting lions and talking with a stout elven ranger, easily losing track the time. Thankfully enjoying the relative peace and conversation, she hardly notices the other call alarm to somebody approaching. When Kilroy appears with his prisoner, she jumps up and closes to find out what is going on, looking back to make sure that Damien is coimng too. Weapons flash out, and she backs off a bit.

"Kilroy," she eventually says, quietly enough that it might get missed in the conversation, "what did you find out?"

Lianya smiles at Dainn, pleased to see that he is going to survive. "You need more healing and rest, my friend. But you are out of danger. Unfortunately, I cannot heal you anymore today. If the cleric cannot help you, I think we may be wise to rest a bit until you are back on your feet."

Lianya stands up and watches Kilroy approach the group with his prisoner. Noticing the murderous looks two of her companions are giving a bound and helpless creature, Lianya sheathes her sword but moves into position beside Kilroy. "I appreciate your resentment, but this prisoner cannot defend herself. I will not let you cut her down in cold blood."

After speaking her peace, Lianya turns back to Kilroy, hoping her presence as a guard will stay her companion's rage but making no move to arm herself against her friends. "Please go on with your story, bard -- this is sure to be a good one.", she says with a smile.

Tyrmar ignores Kilroy, awaiting a response from the creature.

A smile forms on Tyrmar's face, "Then in that case, there does not seem to be any reason to keep this creature alive."

Seeing Tyrmar being spat upon by the half-orc almost pushes Malikor over the edge. Seeing red, he reaches out for the prisoner . .

Unexpectedly, the creature is yanked out of Malikor's reach . . .

At first, Kilroy's statement barely registers as the enraged grugach looks down at the prone captive . . .

Lianya's appearance on the scene draws Malikor's attention to the half-orc's two saviors. Finally, the meaning behind Kilroy's clever warning sinks in. The wild-elf experiences a brief struggle with his emotions before respect for his companions and his own nature resume control.

Sheathing his dagger Malikor looks at Kilroy and says, "You know your own business, but be wary of this . . . thing. It will turn on you at its the first opportunity. Their kind is naught but a blight that needs to crushed out of existence."

Malikor takes a step back, waiting to hear what Kilroy learned from the wretched creature lying on the floor. He also briefly ponders what a steroid is, and how big one is if a barbarian can be "on" it.

After speaking her peace, Lianya turns back to Kilroy, hoping her presence as a guard will stay her companion's rage but making no move to arm herself against her friends. "Please go on with your story, bard -- this is sure to be a good one.", she says with a smile.

Seeing Dainn in trouble, Damien points at the tendrils and yells "Slay" The Male Lion moves closer, but the tendrils and Lianya circling with her sword do not give him room to move, he roars in frustration, his tail lashing about, and his powerful legs bunched waiting for an opportunity to leap.

As Cyvara moves forward, Arbra moves with her, staying close by, and roaring at any tendrils that come close. Damien watches Lianya circle and strike, and then he sees an opportunity and places two arrows directly between Dainn's ankles so that the spray splashes out harmlessly onto the floor.

Tyrmar glares at the paladin, after Kilroy states he already knows all about the half-orc. A smile forms on his's face, "Then in that case, there does not seem to be any reason to keep this creature alive."

The half-orc sneers back at Tyrmar, speaking for the first time. "Bahh, all elgwez are cowards. You could only slay me when I was bound like this".

She speaks in clear precise Common, which is unusual for an orc. She turns her attention to Kilroy, "Why do you travel with such bafjhuk, gnomish one?"

"And to answer your questions, elgwez, I have no name. I am a slave" she says. For some reason, this doesn't ring quite true.

Cyvara smiles as she seats next to him. "Thanks. I did not feel brave, I just wanted to help. The torch was Dainn's idea. Khoron looked like he needed assistance. It felt good having Arbra there, although I was a little worried about her getting hurt." She reaches over and idly strokes the cat's head.

She switches to talking in Elvish, with an _almost_ perfect accent and easy fluency: "As for travel, I cannot say that I have been much of anywhere. My Master, Rhyloren, insisted that I keep my nose in my books and my mind on the study of magic and history. And dance. He was very protective -- like a father to me actually. He taught me what he knows about life and what the outside world is like. But I did not go out of the manor very frequently, much less out of the city. Master would host guests from other cities and provinces. They would often tell tales, some of them rather tall I suppose, about places they had been and events they had witnessed. This is the first time I have really been anywhere outside my home. I never expected anything like this... I wonder how we are going to get home after our mission is written in The Chronicles of Kilroy," she muses. "Our benefactor seems to have designed his plan of action with no contingencies or withdrawal possible. It did not strike me until just now that we don't really have any support or guidance. Scary, really..."

"So, have you travelled much?" Almost as she says it, Cyvara realizes how silly asking an elf ranger that question sounds, so she rephrases, "Where to have you travelled? I am sure that you have visitted a multitude interesting places."

Cyvara comments to the ugly woman, "A slave?! That's terrible. Who is your owner?"

Khoron, after recovering from the attack by the mound, wipes all of the black icor off of his equipment and armour. He humms contently as he meticulously checks his equipment for damage. As if suddenly realizing the situation he quickly puts everything back into his pack and moves on over to Dainn. "I hope you are feeling better my friend. Here let me help you with some of those wounds of yours, then we will see about getting you up."

The dwarf kneels over the prone form of Dainn and places his hands upon one of the more severe wounds. His chnating starts as a mutter, like rolling rocks, but it grows to a cresendo. Unlike before sweat starts dripping down the dwarf's face and there is a tone of struggling in his voice. Finally his chanting stops and Dainn feels a warm soothing feeling spread out from his wound. Khoron stands up and wipes the sweat from his brow. "Whew, it tires me to call on the power of Moradin so much in such a short time. I don't think I'll be able to heal anyone any time soon, so everyone try to stay out of trouble." Khoron lowers himself into a sitting position, leaning against the wall to the right of the wooden door.

Circe dodges and cuts the tendrils, not noticing anything else until the tentacles start retreating. Once they have left him he slumps up against the wall. "I don't think I could have lasted any longer." Seeing Tyrmar flip over the mound, the dieing flames glint off of the ring. He goes over to the treasures there and looks them over. The only thing holding his interest is the ring, he picks it up and turns it around in his fingers. "If no one objects I'd like to try and figure out what this ring is." In the background he heard someone mention the ointment. "I seem to have given away all of the ointments, I wouldn't mind a little if someone could spare some?" He scims some off the top of whoever offers, goes over to the wall, applies it. He then starts studing the ring. He doesn't even notice that Kilroy is back, til he sees Lianya move over to the door. He just sits there and listens to the conversation starting.

The half-orc looks at Cyvara. "So they send children to stop the Slave Lords! Gnomish One, take me back to the pit so that I may die with dignity!"

Dignity? Dignity?! Since when did half-orcs care about dignity? Something is very strange about this half-orc. Perhaps, Kilroy knows more ...

The half-orc continues, "I am a slave of the Torn Fang tribe".

Gasping in pain (and nearly passing out again) as Khoron probes one of his more severe wounds, Dainn grits his teeth and tries to focus on staying conscious. As the warmness of the healing power spreads outward from the wound, Dainn relaxes and lets out a sigh of relief. "My thanks to you Khoron for helping, and thanks to Moradin for granting you the power to heal me."

Chapter 8

Chapter 6