Monday, October 15, 2018

Lark's Landing, Episode 42

Colonial Caerdia: Lark's Landing is a story being told through a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign I'm running at a local hobby shop called the Devil's Bench. If you aren't familiar with this ongoing story, you can follow this link to Once Upon a Tabletop on YouTube to hear the start of it or read the brief summary I wrote when I switched from video to blog.

You can find the previous episode here.

28th of Waxing Spring, 1AL

The 3rd Watch stand outside an ancient ruined temple they've been in before - half their group members different now. They've come for a last adventure with Store, the sole remaining member of the original 3rd Watch, before he retires to become a guildmaster of their new adventurers' guild - and to find any treasure they missed.

There is a grotesque alter standing before them with metal bat wings splayed out to the sides - behind that is a wall with a bat-faced statue, it's wings spread out against the wall. Three of the group remember emerging from a secret door behind one of those wings several months earlier.

Fiaeorri points out a trapdoor that's a few feet in front of the alter, which reminds Stor that the last time they were here they had noticed both the trap door and that the alter could be tipped up. He mentions this and Hammer, Extang, and Logan step forward to tip the alter. As they lift the alter and tip it over backwards, the razor-sharp metal wings arc down, slicing into Hammer and Logan while Extang springs out of the way.

They're hurt, but they soon forget about they soon forget about their injuries as they stare at what they've found. In an 8 foot deep pit under the alter is a huge mound of treasure - silver coins, goblets, statuettes, jewelry, and even a marble statue. After thoroughly searching for traps, they spend a couple hours moving it all into their bag of holding - completely filling the bag for the first time.

This is more treasure than they had hoped to find, but they came here for more than treasure. Fiaeorri forces open the trapdoor in front of the alter, revealing a chute curving off below. Wanting to know where it leads, T'Zaric flies down, and returns to report that it drops down into the last room they were in before exiting the dungeon on their last visit. Stor, Fiaeorri, and Extang all immediately jump in and T'Zaric flies down after. Logan and Hammer, heavily armored, are less eager to risk the fall. The cartographer, Saifon, is unwilling to even enter the ruins, so Logan's apprentice Lykos is instructed to stay with him.

After a lot of shouting up and down the chute, and a failed attempt to find the secret door behind one of the giant bat wings, Logan and Hammer tie a rope around the alter and descend into the room below.

Having been here before, Stor, Extang, and T'Zaric lead the way through the top level of the ancient ruins, occasionally telling stories of what happened along the way. They then come to the well that leads down into the chute that'll take them deeper into the ruins. They tie off some ropes and all climb down onto the top of a hill in a room full of dioramas of the underworld.

Stor warns everyone to stay on the paths, but Hammer doesn't listen when he hears how Extang attempted, and failed, to assist some diorama people in pushing a boulder up the hill. Trusting in his strength, Hammer leaves the path and promptly falls down the hill, landing in some painful burning plains. However, he is determined, so he climbs back up to the boulder and begins pushing, to very little effect, before falling down again.

Seeing that nothing is going to stop him, Stor, Extang, Fiaeorri, and T'Zaric follow along the paths until they come to a barred door to a room the group had decided not to go into after seeing there was no door out. However, there appears to be some treasure in there, so, after inspecting the area for traps, Fiaeorri heads in.

As she enters the room, a seemingly innocuous mound on the floor opens an eye. Then another and another. Then mouths filled with spiky teeth begin to open and, within moments, the thing is covered with eyes and mouths. Every mouth starts to babble unintelligibly, making it hard to concentrate and stay sane.

Stor and T'Zaric blast the thing with magic while Fiaeorri rushes in to attack it. Logan begins running along the path to reach his friends, while Hammer - finally drawn away from his attempts to move the boulder - dashes straight across the dioramas - or tries to, but he gets entranced by how lovely the fields of hunters is and decides he never wants to leave it. He sits down.

With two bites, the babbling mound knocks Fiaeorri unconscious. Extang, disconcerted by the babbling, wanders aimlessly towards the creature. Stor is also being driven mad by this thing, and he lashes out at whatever is closest to him - which happens to be T'Zaric, who deflects the blow with a shield spell before flying into the room and pulling Fiaeorri away from the creature just as Logan arrives to the fight.

The creature turns its attention to Extang, nearly downing him as well by biting off his tail, and the decision is made to retreat. Extang casts a spell to speed up himself and T'Zaric, then flees from the room. Stor drags Fiaeorri the rest of the way out with Logan following close behind. The last to leave the room, T'Zaric drops a fireball as he exits - using his sorcerous powers to to help himself and Logan, who is in the blast radius, to avoid some of the firey damage.

The creature is incinerated and Stor casts a spell to revive Fiaeorri. They return to the room and retrieve the three items within before taking a short rest to treat their wounds and convince Hammer to leave the field to stay on the path. Examining the items they found, the discover that they have found a rod that amplifies a warlock's power, a dried strength potion, and an urn containing a heart that, when eaten, will allow the person who ate it to speak to snakes and creatures with an affinity for snakes. Fiaeorri convinces the others to give it to her, but as much as she wants the powers, she's unable to bring herself to eat the heart - so she puts it away for now.

In spite of the fight having been quite rough on them, they continue on into the temple, through a pair of double doors and into a hallway. Nearby are two secret passages they discovered on their last trip - one of which they had fled from the peril within, and one which they took one look at the room beyond and decided to avoid it. It is into this latter room that they go now.

The room is lit by an amber haze in the air, coming from a large stone basin in the center of the room which contains a steaming golden liquid. There are four mirrors on the walls: one blue, one black, one red, one white. T'Zaric goes and carefully looks into the blue one, which has a strange watery appearance to it. In fact, his reflection looks so faint that it's almost as if he's looking at a mere sheet of glass with water behind it. He tentatively reaches out his arm, turning it into its weapon form, and taps the glass. Nothing happens.

His attention is then drawn away as Hammer, Fiaeorri, and Extang have discovered that they can turn items into gold by submerging them into the steaming golden liquid! This brings on further experimentation by most of the group, leading to the discovery that magical items don't turn to gold. By breaking a copper coin that was turned to gold, they determine that the items aren't just being coated in gold - they are gold all the way through.

Several items are dipped, but Stor councils patience before spending a huge amount of time turning everything they have into gold, as they don't know if this change is permanent. They can always come back later if they need to.

While the experiments are commencing, Logan wanders over to the white mirror, which has a strange misty quality to it. He looks into it and feels a force trying to lock him in place, but he shakes the feeling off in time to see the mirror gloop out of the frame to the floor, revealing a door that was behind it. The thing attacks, but it is quickly dispatched, in spite of the fact that many of the group are too distracted by the gold to notice anything is happening.

As interest in the gold fades, some more attention is paid to the mirrors. Logan looks into the black one to see his own reflection shift to wearing ancient, tribal clothes, before saying something to him in a language he can't understand. Extang looks into the red mirror to see his own reflection getting killed by a vague, ghostly humanoid with an axe. His reflection then returns to normal. Afraid he may have been cursed, he attempts to explore further, only to get his hands burned when he touches the mirror.

Fiaeorri looks into, then touches, each of the remaining mirrors in turn. First the black, seeing her own reflection in ancient garb speaking to her, then the red, seeing her reflection getting murdered and burning her hand, then the blue, seeing the strange, weak, watery image. As she's reaching out to touch the blue one, she notices that her very valuable ring has turned to lead and glass. Horrified, she does a quick search and discovers that all the valuable metals and gems in her possession have also turned to lead and glass. She immediately dips them into the basin to turn them to gold.

The group decides it's time to move on through the new door they discovered. They follow it down a narrow, winding passage to another door, beyond which is a diamond shaped room with a raised dais. On top of the dais is a strange octopus-like alter with a large red-purple gem set in its forehead. Fiaeorri suggests that someone other than her should go and touch the gem, so Hammer does so. As soon as his hand touches the stone he begins dancing uncontrollably - his hand stuck to the gem. The others try to pull him away, but to no avail, so they turn to attacking the gem - being careful not to touch it or the alter, except for T'Zaric who forgets to consider that the weapon he can extend from his arm is part of him. He also finds himself stuck to the stone, floating in mid-air and dancing.

The gem is finally shattered, freeing the two from the spell. Extang magically repairs the gem, but it turns out to not have any value. They leave the room, heading for the other secret passage. Stor, in particular, is determined to go there. The last time they were there, they were trapped in the room and a voice told them that they were being poisoned and would die without the antidote - however, they had fled and somehow survived. It is time to find out what was really going on.

And that bring an end to this game session. Check back next week to find out what our heroes discover in Episode 43.

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