(This session involved Edgar the human cleric, Galfur the dwarven inquisitor, Colin the halfling paladin, Vincent the human sorcerer and Mutt the human barbarian. All were 9th level)
It took the heroes a couple of minutes before they decided to look closer at the mysterious color resting down the hallway. They agreed to approach the situation with great caution, although they weren’t exactly sure why. It somehow rested between the lines that great danger was involved.
They decided to send down a scout in advance, and asked Colin the paladin to stealth forward, hopefully without detection. Sadly, the color sensed his presence and as he waded into its 300 feet aura, Colin was immediately enslaved by its beauty, and suddenly didn’t feel like leaving. Ever.
Thus he stood around for several minutes, before his companions decided to set out after him.
Galfur found him in the middle of the tunnel and suddenly heard the soothing voice of the color in his mind. It told him to surrender and embrace the beauty it had to show him. The dwarf, however, was resolute in his quest and shook it off as he tried dragging away Colin. The halfling paladin resisted at first, and later turned to violence to repel his ambusher. At first he punched, then he began shooting arrows which forced Galfur to retreat.
The party thought long and hard about it and decided to skip out on the color, so once again sent an invisible Galfur into the fray, who grappled Colin and ended up dragging him back into the main cavern in which he regained consciousness. From thereon, they never spoke of the color again.
(It all depends whether they intend to return later on, otherwise they’ll likely end up skipping it entirely. It’s sad since it’s a nice encounter).
The heroes explored some of the other nearby areas and found an underground lake surrounded by debris and trash. It carried a foul smell and thick vegetation on the floor so they decided to cross it quickly. They were sadly jumped by an enormous shambling mound that hungrily threw itself at them. With fury, both Galfur and Mutt hacked away at it, unleashing foul clouds of spores on the entire party. Coughing and wheezing the constitution damage rained down upon them, every man to himself getting the hell away from the carnage. The mound kept pounding at them and quickly brought the constitution damaged Edgar to his knees. Galfur knelt and utilized his dimension jump-domain-trait to lift the cleric out of the danger zone and a couple of rounds later the shambler was dead.
As they recuperated, the heroes searched the cavern and found a helmet of underwater action.
Heading onwards to the northeast, the heroes eventually found themselves in a small grotto, dimly illuminated by a faint light emanating from a large tank in the northern portion of the room. It appeared to contain an elderly person preserved in alcohol. After a few seconds, Edgar recognized him as the old head of House Undiomedes, who was supposed to have withered away several years ago. Not far from the tank they also found an old book bound in sharkskin. It detailed the count’s voyages and acquaintances with the neighbors below and how he eventually realized that sacrifices were necessary in order to retain the prosperity of Baytown.
A small tunnel with a set of stairs let to the northeast whereas a tunnel lead to the south. Colin began sneaking his way down there, as the heroes could barely hear the sound of someone talking and later shouting. As he arrived, he saw a strange sight. Covering in fear was a bunch of Skum in the far end of the cavern, and in from of them resided a huge tower of a chieftain, bellowing commands and scolding at his troops. Several of his words were pure gibberish and the party eventually had to give up understanding any of it. So as Colin decided to head back, he unfortunately stepped on a natural-1 stone and alerted the cave. Another fight erupted.
This one was more of a breeze, as Vincent fireballed the majority of the skum into oblivion and Mutt faced the chieftain valiantly. He did get bull rushed from time to time, but eventually the giant skum succumbed to his wounds and even in his death throes spat out words of insanity. Having looted the room, the heroes realized that now they only had the color left to deal with and decided to bail up the stairs. There they found an old portal that led them, in a blinding flash, into a grand room which apparently was inside of a manor of sorts. Around them were several stones, reminiscing a druidic circle of a long forgotten age, but what really stole the picture was the massive marsh giant eyeing them gloomily.
It immediately hurled a confusion at them, hitting both Colin and Mutt (I still wonder how a paladin with so massive saves can fail so many rolls?) who were then left to bash at each other for the rest of the fight. Galfur charged into the giant and it immediately cast fog cloud to cut them off from the caster and instead relied on its blind fight ability. There was a whole lot of smashing up, meaning Galfur retreated from the fog and with a savage blow burned her below 50 hit points a couple of turns later. Gasping the giant ran for the swamp, throughout the door, but was abruptly stopped as soon as she entered the first step on the main stair. She didn’t get to see freedom, as her head was blown off by a searing light.
Casing the Joint
The heroes investigated the druidic room and quickly realized that this was in fact an old druidic shrine to the outer god Shub-Niggurath. Likely, this place of worship had been dormant for a very long time. A thorough search revealed an imprint on the middle stone of a talisman, and a hidden compartment in which a strange pod-like seed rested. Colin identified this a seed of Shub-Niggurath, likely a larval stage of some kind. They ended up burning it, just for good measure.
They took a quick glare at the outskirts of the mansion, upon which evening had fallen so they decided to retreat back inside. In the south-eastern part of the house they found two old bedrooms along with some old paintings and what had likely once been a living room, now only housing an old couch and some debris from the fallen ceiling. They decided to spread out and search for any clues, but as Vincent turned over one of the pillows a vicious swarm sprung out, right into his face.
Panic broke out.
Well, frankly not bees but the reaction was pretty much the same. Blood mites, as they were, tore directly into the poor sorcerer’s flesh and ripped and devoured his precious life force for every second. Screaming he ran away and everyone split up throughout the room, doing their best to dodge the swarm as it approached. Mutt, however, realized he didn’t have any elemental weapons or alchemist fires, and decided to sit down in the corner and do nothing.
Then he got eaten.
(Blood mites are a truly nasty swarm. Not only do they eat you for 4D6 damage and force you to test versus nauseation, one of the truly annoying conditions, they also blood drain you for constitution and to add insult to injury they cling on to you for 4D6 damage every turn, unless you pass a full round DC 20 reflex save. In the end there was a lot of damage going around on the party, as almost everyone had it ticking and didn’t want to spend an entire turn putting it out. Suppose Channel Healing really proved its worth there. Don’t forget the disease either, btw.)
Shambling and coughing up blood, the heroes marched in best Home-Alone-Style to the north, through the dining room and a corridor before they heard the sound of a baby crying on the other side of a door. Someone was apparently shushing as well. This didn’t sit well with Mutt, who hadn’t exactly experienced the most brilliant night and therefore kicked in the door with a savage roar. Immediately three priests of Dagon sprang to their feet, the vicar holding a dagger to the crying baby’s throat.
”Not one more step!” he sneered ”or the child dies!”
For some moments both parts were eyeing each other, then Edgar slowly approached the vicar asking about their purpose in this house. While originally hostile, the party calmly presented the priests about their arrival at the house and the now desolate tunnels beneath the house. This especially seemed to upset the priests who accused them of lying. After all, they had arrived here to establish contact with the neighbors and beg for help. The grand vizier was upstairs already, making preparations. But seeing as they had likely slain their pet marsh giant, the priests didn’t gather the heroes were there with good intentions.
Through more persuasion, they convinced the priests that the Skum beneath the house had indeed been annihilated and that they were merely waiting here in vain. The vicar trembled slightly and nervously eyed the heroes before saying ”I don’t want any part of this madness anymore. Things are falling apart. If the neighbors are surely lost there is little meaning in carrying this child. I shall offer you a deal. Let us go and the child is yours to keep. Otherwise she dies! Mark you my words!”
It didn’t sit well with Colin but the heroes agreed to the bargain and were handed the crying baby. Immediately the order fled through the door, never to be seen again. Now the only thing that remained was to confront the vizier upstairs. But first there was a crying infant to take care of. She did lighten up, however, as she saw the dwarf and with a giggle began pulling his beard.
Despite the cuteness and lack of name, they decided to find a good place for her first and headed back to town. Hopefully they were able to find a foster home for her or perhaps even her real parents? (Although Mutt did seem to recognize her facial features from the peasant-couple he slaughtered in the temple…)
For now the primary plan was to deliver her to Professor Horace Croon and then set out to confront the vizier at the mansion.
And how that goes is a tale for the coming wednesday.