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Defenders Adventure #39: Feline Loyalty

Party Roster:

Felix, 5th level fighter, 53 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 5th level fighter, 50 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 3rd level woodsman, 36 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 5th level fighter, 27 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 6th level druid, 25 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 4th level mage, 21 hp, NPC
Alduin, 4th level thief, 15 hp, played by Vic
Kain, 1st level cleric, 6 hp, played by Jeff

Special Thanks to Chester, Quentin’s bobcat, and Lenore and Morris, Quentin’s crows

When we last left the Defender saga, the party was planning to take out some orcs. A shaman and 8 of his servants were in a room through which we intended to go. First, we decided to finish exploring, and we moved through the dark room with the pits—in one was 3 Kara-kara, but they were blue instead of green, and were cowering, starving in the corner. In the other were some bones.

Ignoring them, we noted two exits. One, we suspected led back into the shaman room. The other led somewhere close to the ceremony. To confirm, we opened up the first door a crack. Unfortunately, the perceptive shaman noticed the movement, and motioned for us, who he thought were servants (the door wasn’t fully opened yet), to come in.

Oh well. Donald began a Sleep spell, while Balinor, Kain, and Quentin rushed around to block their escape from the other side. Morgan continued to slowly open the door.

The Sleep spell went off, catching all of the servants. We threw the door open and charged. Unfazed, the shaman yelled something and drew his mace. Before we could reach him, one of the statues from the previous room burst through the door. Another quickly followed, and soon we couldn’t even get a shot at him. Felix charged the first golem, and stabbed it—but his magic sword got stuck in the creature.

Kodo went to work on another with normal axes, which also got stuck. The thing grabbed Kodo and began to headbutt him. Morgan sliced at one with Thunderstruck, yelling the name and blowing the thing up! He turned to kill another one along with Kodo. Morgan lost Thunderstruck to a golem, but yanked it out. Felix had meanwhile finished off his golem and was moving toward the last one. Then the shaman’s Hold went off, catching Felix and Kodo.

Alduin had his bow out, but couldn’t do much to help, and Donald was preparing to cast a spell. Morgan was injured but still fighting.

Then Balinor burst through the back door. The shaman was not expecting an attack from that direction and thus was not guarding it. Kain told him to “Die!” but he didn’t understand the command well enough (weird orcish dialect). Quentin began to sling bullets at him. Balinor reached him, and ruined his spell. When the shaman missed with the footman’s flail, giving Balinor four attacks before his next swing, it was over.

As soon as he died, the two standing golems stopped.

We took from him a mace, some jade (including an amulet) and some other miscellaneous equipment in a bag, including some nails. The dead golem that hadn’t been blown up had a good amount of jade on it. We suspect that what the shaman had yelled was a command word, through the jade amulet.

We then made a nasty discovery. The golems had shut the secret door. We couldn’t get out without a Stoneshape, and then the door was no longer reclosable.

Seeing no options, Quentin Stoneshaped it open. We checked out the other door in the pit room.

This time, the five alert guards on the other side spotted us doing so, and we were in combat. One orc broke for each of the two doors. Felix cut one off, but Kodo was hit and held back by spears and could not pursue the other one. Fortunately, Donald threw a Web, but it didn’t catch the escaping orc fully.

The one Felix had blocked lunged left. He was not going for the door, but for the cord. Felix gutted him as he leapt away… to slow to reach the cord.

We lit the Web quickly, and with loaded ranged weapons shot the escaping orc. We then finished off the other three quickly.

Next, we decided that we would go for the gusto. Our explorations had turned up little enough information, and it seemed like our best chance was to strike at the Pig avatar itself. If we could cut the bridge to the other side (the one across the lava), we could delay pursuit by the thousand orcs for half a day. We would then just have to kill the eight drummers and their conductor, plus the Pig Guy.

We decided to free the three blue Kara-kara after they volunteered information. We tossed the bodies of the shaman and the guards into the pit, and called down to the orcs. The most vocal one said his name was Naku-maru. They told us what little they knew about the tribe, noting that they were POWs. We lowered a rope, and they climbed up. We gave them a bit of food, armed them with spears from the armory near the guards, and they decided to at least support us. Naku-maru indicated that prior to the arrival of the Pig Guy, no one had dared go behind the throne, supposedly the domain of the Ancestors.

We decided to make the attack.

Balinor, Alduin, Felix, and Kodo poured out of the doors into the orcish ceremony. The eight drummers raised their mallots, but looked panicked. The Pig Avatar spoke a single word in Human, a word that Quentin understood, not as the Word of Power we were expected, but a simple and yet elegant phrase that summed up his feelings about the situation:


Then the Pig Guy vanished into thin air. Ha!

Balinor had cornered all of the drummers while Felix, Kodo, and Morgan ran for the rope bridge. Huge numbers of mean-looking elite troops were charging across the bridge. Felix and Kodo each took down one of the four supports.

The huge number of mean-looking elite troops turned around and ran the other way.

One drummer had leaped at Balinor and been turned into paste. Another one had been too slow to get out of the way. Kain took one down as well.

The conductor, realizing he had only one chance, earned our sincere admiration. Showing amazing athletic prowess, he leaped off the platform, dodging a shot from Alduin, and landed past Felix on the bridge. He then began running up the bridge, hand-over-hand.

The remaining three drummers decided to rush Balinor and overbear him, but they only managed to hang on to him. He smashed one, and the other two fell off.

Felix and Kodo cut the last two bridge supports. The bridge collapsed and swung toward the other side, carrying the still climbing conductor. It slammed into the other wall, and the conductor lost his grip. He made a grab for the ropes, but missed, and plunged screaming into the lava. Too bad, at that point we were rooting for him.

With a sniffle, Balinor smashed another drummer, and the last one actually jumped into the lava.

Ignoring the milling and confused crown on the other side, we charged toward the huge bronze throne. Tracking from Kodo and sniffing from Chester was inconclusive, and a quick test revealed it was hollow. There were two passageways leading back from the throne.

We followed the near one, and it led to a strange bronzewood door. We assume the door had been built by the Ancestors. Balinor opened the door, revealing a weird room.

There were crystals everywhere, and five other identical doors leading out. Balinor tossed a rock in, but realized that he couldn’t actually locate the rock in the room. It had some weird scrambling effect that we concluded was created by some sort of Magic Mirror spell. Alduin attempted to mark the door with chalk, but suddenly a beam shot out of one of the crystals, injuring him and completely and seamlessly erasing the chalk mark.

The other passage led to a similar door, which led into the same room. We tried leaving one door open for orientation and opening the other, but there was a weird delay as the other door closed automatically before ours was allowed to open.

We decided to navigate the room anyway. Naku-maru wanted to come, but the other two orcs were skittish and stayed behind to wait for us. Prior to this and with the help of the Kara-kara, Felix gave a brief speech to the milling orcs, telling them that their false ruler had run from us. Whether his speech fell on deaf ears, we don’t know, but we hope we’ve messed things up. With Quentin’s direction sense and amazing wisdom, he was able to navigate the room a bit, and shuffle through the illusion toward a door. Without him it would have taken much longer even to make that step. It was clear that the room could be learned. This would take Quentin a few days (due to wisdom, intelligence, and direction sense), while it would take most of us between a few months and a year (for Felix). It should be noted that under infravision, the doors appeared to jump around, though the crystals were invisible.

We tied ropes together, and despite some confusion, managed to move through a door. We marked each passage with chalk as we went through. The first of the four new doors led to another door, behind which was a room with mirrors on two walls, and a blank third one. Infinite Balinors appeared on the walls every 20 feet, from the mirror effect.

We rolled stuff into the room, and it didn’t explode or disappear or anything. Balinor fired a sling bullet into a mirror, through which it rippled briefly and vanished. Seemed like some sort gate, especially from the sucking effect. When we cast a nail at the end of twine into it, Balinor felt it pulled, and let go. This was consistent with Nbod’s portals.

We decided to not jump through random portals, and went back.

The next passage led to another door, on the other side of which was blackness. Continual Lights couldn’t even light the area. However, with a pole we determined that the corridor just continued. Again, since our Blind Fighting abilities were poor, we decided not to continue.

The third passage led to a storeroom of some sort. Lots of useful but inexpensive stuff from plundered ships was here, some of it still packed neatly in boxes. We noted names of the ships, and moved on. The back door to the storeroom was opened slightly. On the other side was some sort of glass furniture set, which seemed odd. Chester shivered, and we quickly shut the door. He told us there was another cat on the other side.

We knew that the Mouse of Cats could be used on a very large variety of cats, including hobgoblins, which are vaguely descended from cats. So the thing on the other side could be anything. Quentin spoke to it around the door, but we couldn’t see it.

The “cat” was fairly dumb, but really wanted us to come inside. It had a problem that it couldn’t break “the rules.” It wouldn’t admit to much, so eventually we threw it some food, which it sat on. It wanted something with pointy ears, preferably alive. It liked weasels, but its favorite dish was black squirrels. It tried to convince Quentin to come inside, indicating that it was smarter than him, and they could chat much better from inside the room, but Quentin somehow was unconvinced.

The final corridor led to another mirror room. It seemed to be just like the other one, but it was different since our stuff was not lying there.

Having explored all the rooms, we thought about what to do. Eventually we decided that since we could at least talk to the creature, the glass room with the cat seemed best. Especially since someone specifically put them there to stop people like us.

We returned, and Quentin began a long but outstandingly clever conversation with the cat. Despite the fact that the cat couldn’t tell us what the rules were or who made them, and it denied everything except a desire to have Quentin come into the room, Quentin tricked it into revealing a lot of information. There was a female cat in the same room with him, who kept trying to tell him to shut up, though we couldn’t hear this. A fat man who was not a Kara-kara had given them orders to guard the place. Our Pig buddy had probably run through the room. They had not been free in several years, but were bound to service through some “Way of giving rules,” a spell-like effect. Eventually the other cat must have gotten our friend to quiet down, since suddenly he wouldn’t talk to Quentin. The cat had two tentacles that were not used to bite people. A quick look in the Bestiary indicated that there were two displacer beasts in there.

With few options, Quentin threw a hopeful Dispel Magic. The lights went out, but Quentin asked the cat if it was there. The rules were gone! Quentin told them we would lead them to the forest again. They happily agreed and came out of the room. They were indeed displacer beasts—weird flickery things that seemed to be everywhere at once. They were catlike with several tentacles.

We led them through the room, back to the door to the swamp, and pointed the way for them to go. For the first time, the female spoke, saying “I understand,” and they went gallivanting off into the wilderness.

Well, that went swimmingly.

Having removed the guardians, we moved through the glass room. There was a lot of weird glass furniture, and a door on the far side. We passed through, into an even weirder room.

The walls of the rather large room were covered in reddish-yellow gems that gave off a faint and eerie light. There were four translucent columns in the center of the room, each that had a swirling group of shadowy beings that seemed constrained by the columns. We tracked around, and noted that this passage was used regularly.

There were five additional exits out of the room: one additional one on our end, three on the left wall, and one at the other end. We began to track, and discover which doors were commonly used.

Suddenly, Kodo, Balinor, Felix, and Donald were assaulted by shadows. They hit Kodo and Donald, draining their strength. Lights flared from our pouches and we clocked them quickly.

Just as the last one fell, there was a weird popping sound, and then it was quite bad.

There had actually been three people on the other end of the room, invisible and behind a Silence spell, preparing a lovely ambush. There was an elf in field plate, an elf in green robes, and a warrior in full plate wielding a falchion.

The cleric, in field plate, threw a Hold Person that failed to catch anyone, but the mage Slowed Balinor, Felix, Morgan, Kodo, and Alduin.

The warrior was invisible and appeared next to Donald, swinging the obviously magical falchion. He clocked Donald, but being the buff wizard he is, Donald didn’t fall. The other two calmly began advancing.

Well, we found our people. The question was, would we live?

Felix drew out the Horn of Valhalla and began blowing, so we scrambled to protect him for the full round it took. Alduin shot the wizard, Quentin sent his birds to distract the cleric, who was casting a spell. Kain began casting a Cure Light, as did Quentin.

The elf fighter/mage, who was in some sort of armor, drew a glowing short sword and began casting a spell. Slowed, Alduin could not fire another arrow before it went off.

Naku-maru advanced toward the wizard, staying out of the combat, but hoping to help. He is a second level fighter and wants to be Felix’s henchman.

Slowly Balinor closed with the falchion warrior, who slashed Quentin for significant damage, and Balinor clocked him once with Maiden Basher. Kodo moved toward the cleric in field plate, brandishing his hand axes. Donald received a Cure Light from Quentin and threw up his Shield spell to protect him from the mage, and jumped back from the falchion man.

The wizard threw a Sleep spell taking out Chester and Kain, who lost his Cure Light and collapsed.

Alduin held his shot, waiting for the wizard to start a spell. The falchion man smashed Balinor twice, holding him at bay. Kodo closed with the cleric and disrupted his spell with a whack from a hand axe.

The falchion man finally missed, and Balinor smashed him once again. The wizard began casting, and Alduin shot him. The arrow nailed him, and the wizard Magic Missiled himself!

The falchion man and Balinor missed each other again. Alduin was not going to be able to stop the next spell…

The wizard began casting. Nearly forgotten in the slow combat, Donald threw a Magic Missile at him, disrupting his spell, and taking him out!

The cleric walked away from the slow-moving Kodo and moved to help the mage. Naku-maru moved to harrass the cleric, who threw a Command, and he fell over.

Then the right wall shimmered, and wind chimes were heard. Out of the fog came six weird swordsmen with bastard swords. Felix grinned and drew his short sword.

Four of the swordsmen ran at the cleric, while two attacked the falchion man. The four swarmed over the cleric, who took a bunch of hits and injured one, but was doomed. The warrior resisted for a long time, but continued to miss Balinor and between Balinor and four swordsmen, he finally went down.

Then we hit the motherload.

A Detect Magic revealed:

Short sword
Mace (off of the shaman earlier)

In addition, the elf wizard was wearing a suit of elven chain mail! He also had three rings with words inscribed on them in elven, saying Life, Death, and Beauty.

There were numerous other valuables as well, including a hundred platinum pieces.

We piled the stuff on us. We were so close. None of these people matched the description of the fat man, but we were simply out of resources. He was probably nearby, but we couldn’t afford an extended fight and couldn’t decide which door to go through. We decided to get out of the place, since our window of time was running out.

The plan is to exit the catacombs and cross the Trail of the Dead at first light, using Levitate, and get far away from the orc village, taking the direct route to the boat. Evasion seems likely, since they don’t know even where we’re going.

In two weeks, we will resolve the adventure!



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