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Defenders Summary #38: Impudently Walking Down the Forbidden Path

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

Welcome to the Island of the Kara-kara! See… tangled jungles filled with Morgan loving bugs! See… lightning give Morgan a special greeting! See… an orcish party! See…

The Defenders do the island!

When we last left, the Defenders were plotting an ambush against an unexpected obstacle—actual guards. Donald threw a nasty sleep spell, catching all but one of the 6 orcs, and everyone fired their missile weapons while Felix ran madly at them. Of course, all six were grunts and the one we all shot fell over from damage. We quickly dispatched the rest, dropped the bodies in the swamp for decomposition purposes, and moved on.

We reached the village at about noon, and discovered that we had a big problem. The drums were quite loud and being played by large numbers of orcs at the temple near the other edge of the town. The temple was in a cave dug into the volcano, supposedly dormant for hundreds of years. However, there were still about a hundred guards ringing the village, making it impossible for us to sneak inside without the aid of invisibility effects, which we don’t have. So we decided instead that, being adventurers, why not walk down the Forbidden Path, also known as the Trail of the Dead, presumably where the shadows had come from? This seemed perfectly logical, and we walked down the path, cheerfully ignoring the many statues with upraised hands in a “Halt!” position.

Most of the statues were very crumbled, but one mainly intact one suddenly spat a lightning bolt at… Morgan! (Thunderstruck strikes again) He saved and survived the blast with room to spare, actually shielding Alduin, the real target of the bolt. Morgan decided that it would be dangerous to use the sword for now, and handed it over to Quentin for the remainder of the path trip, but it turned out to be a moot point. One statue sputtered a lot but did nothing, and another actually blew up, making some noise, but not nearly enough to penetrate the intense and catchy ritual drum beat.

We suddenly reached a crossroads, and discovered a bamboo gate blocking what could potentially be the back entrance to the temple, from the other side of the volcano. There was a knot of some sort holding the gate shut, which Donald replaced after we passed through. Moving stealthily, we found a decreasing width chasm that led to some sort of wall, according to Chester the bobcat. We walked down and reached an iron door, which was also tied with a rope. We untied it but realized that it was magical in some way, so the best we could do was fake it being retied from a distance. Quentin’s ferrets reported that there was a giant spider in the corridor, on the order of the size of the one we fought in our earliest adventures. Larger than us.

We moved down the corridor and went down a different passage, dodging the spider. Alduin discovered a muddy trap, probably a pit of some sort, which we deftly avoided. We soon reached a door. Alduin noted that the handle was trapped, and that turning it one way set off the trap. He successfully disarmed it, however, and we moved through uneventfully. From the other side, we determined that it was likely an alarm or something, since it was rigged to something from far down the corridor.

We moved along, traveling almost a half a mile down the tunnel before coming out into a valley. The section of tunnel appeared to have been regularly used, primarily by barefoot people. Coming out of the tunnel into daylight, the party noted that the northeastern swamp was in view, set against the background of the jungle and the ocean, and it was almost panoramic, if you like that sort of thing. To our left was a set of three archways. Each appeared to have a door of some sort. Partial translation of the orc writing revealed that the doors were opened by some sort of secret action. Kodo, making fun of the silly dance positions on the right door, accidentally opened it by mimicking the motions. With a smile, we looked in. There was a coffin and a statue inside a small chamber, and it was clear that it had lain undisturbed for some time.

Thinking better of our actions, we reshut the door and moved to the center one. It had three symbols in five different orders on it, and we tapped the symbols on the top in the sixth order, the one not listed, and the door opened. Inside was more musty tunnel.

However, this section had definitely been traveled, though rarely. We moved down the passage and came to a room with four alcoves, two of which appeared empty, and two of which had a pile of bones with two gold bracelets in each of them. We resisted the temptation immediately, and decided to wait for “later.”

We continued down the passage and reached some wooden doors. Felix knocked down the first one, but due to a poor precaution on our thought, we wanted to be able to observe the Kara-kara on the other side, rather than them spotting our intense Continual Light. The strategy backfired when, instead of Kara-kara, ghouls came running at us.

Several ghouls jumped Felix, paralyzed him instantly, and began dragging him back. Then, a horrible chilling scream came at us—RANGED LEVEL DRAIN.

It was really bad.

Guess who the only person who blew the saving throw was.

The now 4th level Balinor grew extremely angry and tried to push to the front, but Morgan and Kodo was engaging the ghouls at the front. Morgan was struck on multiple occasions, but it rapidly became clear that he was immune to the paralysis effect. However, there was another screamer back there. The things were differentiable from ghouls in that they appeared to be less muscled and much more dead in appearance.

Although we tried desperately to get to him first, the other screamer got off a yelp too, and this one was more devastating. Balinor, Morgan, and Quentin all lost a level, though fortunately Kain did not (being 1st level). Quentin lost his 4th level spells, which meant Cure Serious Wounds and Dispel Magic were gone, which was quite bad.

Balinor finally pushed up to the front and bashed one ghoul into the ground with the help of a timely shot from Alduin. Having slain the front line of ghouls, and noting that two were busy eating Felix, Kodo and Morgan each moved to confront one of the screamers. Morgan continued his usual fun and stabbed at his, which of course missed on six consecutive attacks. Kodo fared well initially, and injured his, but then missed, and the thing struck back, double energy-draining Kodo back to 1st level. There went the boating proficiency.

Balinor rushed Kodo’s screamer, and smashed it twice, destroying it utterly. Morgan continued to stab his, and Alduin shot it as well. Donald held Magic Missile, hoping he wouldn’t have to use it, and Quentin remained back, hoping Flame Blade wouldn’t be necessary. Quentin did cast Faerie Fire on the screamers and assorted ghouls, making them much easier to hit.

Balinor turned to help Morgan, but then his silver hammer, Thud, broke its handle. Alduin shot the creature and it fell over, and Balinor turned to engage one of the ghouls eating Felix, while Kodo slew the other. Balinor once again hit, but this time, against all odds Maiden Basher’s handle cracked. Then the ghoul smashed Balinor, who fell over paralyzed, and totally humiliated, realizing that it DEFINITELY wasn’t his day.

Morgan finished it off.

However, we had lost tons of levels. We really hoped it was temporary. After a look into the Bestiary, the party consensus was that the screamers were “elder ghouls.” Nothing else seemed to fit. There was some gear on them, which we took.

The party decided to head back and deal with the bracelets before moving on. Balinor and Morgan stood by while Felix reached for the bracelets. Suddenly, Felix couldn’t move.

Balinor felt something enveloping his right arm. He swung Thud with his left arm and it bounced off of some substance.

Morgan sliced at it with Thunderstruck, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. Then he just stopped moving, like Felix. Balinor yelled for help, that something was killing them, and then he was sucked in as well. All three appeared to be hanging eerily in the air.

Donald yelled, “Gelatinous cube!” and Quentin cast a Flame Blade. Kodo went to grab pieces of the wooden door near the ghouls to light on fire, since Balinor and Felix were carrying the torches.

Quentin ran up to face one of the two cubes, and slashed at it. Two nice strikes by Quentin took it down, freeing Felix and Morgan, who still were unmoving. He whirled to face the other, with Balinor in it. He swung at opened part of it up, and then slashed it further, though this time it didn’t fall.

Then he missed, and was paralyzed, though not dragged inside because the Flame Blade damaged the creature when it tried to pick him up. Fortunately Quentin could still maintain its power since he was conscious. Donald ran up behind him, and used Quentin’s arm to hold the thing at bay.

Then Kodo arrived with the torches and went at the creature. However, he missed and was caught.

Now it was up to the combat power of Alduin, Donald, and Kain.

Alduin ran at the creature, sticking it with the torch, and hitting it repeatedly, and it finally collapsed.

With Balinor’s soap helping to remove the acid, damage was minimized and everyone was healed. About that time everyone’s levels returned, thankfully!

In addition, we discovered the back entrance to the left archway, the one we had been able to open, and it connected up with the central archway. It appears that only the right one was disconnected.

We rested for about 8 hours, healing and re-memorizing spells. Then we marched forward. It was about 2 AM on the night of the ceremony.

We traveled down the tunnel for about 20 minutes, and reached the back of a secret door. The drum beat, which had become too quiet to hear before, was now getting louder again. We opened the secret door and emerged into a room with two exits, symmetrically placed. The drums were quite loud, and we cracked each door carefully open.

On the right side was a room laid out for 3 people, with one exit out. It was empty. The left side room was occupied by a single well-dressed orc, presumably a shaman or chieftain, being attended to by 8 frightened servants. We took the other passage and noted a room with a pit crossed by walkways in one direction, but we moved toward the source of the drums. Reaching a door, we cracked it open an inch.

We got a view of the ceremony.

There were hundreds of orcs across a rope bridge, clearly the “mob” of the setting. We had come out behind the drummers, who were loudly banging them, though they shielded us from view. There was a giant bronze throne, and perched on it was some sort of pig being. It had some weird spectral appearance, and Donald told us that it couldn’t be reproduced by a Polymorph effect.

However, since the thing had apparently gored orcs on occasion, we aren’t quite sure what we’re dealing with. It could be a mage with some illusion ability, or an incredibly powerful illusionist, or perhaps something else…

However, we were out of range for a Dispel Magic, so we attempted to reach a better location, perhaps the tunnel leading up to the throne that we could see the edge of from our vantage point. We backed up to the room with the two entrances, and realized that the only option to go that way was through the shaman and his servants.

The plan was for Donald to throw a Sleep spell catching the servants, while the rest of us poured out and killed them before they could escape. The noise from the drums would prevent them from being heard.

Next time… will we kill Mr. Pig?



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