Maze Rats 4 – The Staff of True Sight – part 3

***Season 4, part 52 – Black***

When Harmony touches the depression, she feels a sigil. She already has an inkling that it might be a transportation sigil, and taking a look at it this hunch is affirmed: She feels a rush and ends up in total darkness.

She cannot see a thing in this inky blackness, but she is instantly aware that she is not alone. Something huge is with her, and it moves. It is to her left, only three or four steps away, and it displaces enough air to tell Harmony that it must be at least three times the size of a human, more likely four.

There is no sound though. Apparently the beast (?) is not sure what happened, it just noticed something as Harmony showed up.

What is it? Is it dangerous or harmless?
The only way to find out is to keep still and wait for it to move again, like it did just now in reaction to Harmony’s appearance.
But Harmony has no time to stand still and wait, for suddenly Phoebe pops up behind her, and the huge creature obviously has a much clearer idea now about what is going on.

  • — Be still and quiet in the dark
  • Move away to the right
  • — Speak up
  • — Try to light a fire
  • — Use the unmissing Spear Ince Acsa
  • — Use magic – The Spawning Rot
  • — Use magic – Enlightening Plasma

***Season 4, part 53 – Blind Fight***

As soon as Harmony moves off to the right side, the creature in the dark pounces. It feels Harmony’s movement and jumps, bowling the elf over and gripping her with hairy claws. It bites, and its teeth penetrate Harmony’s armor. It burns, and Harmony cries out.

Phoebe does not waste a beat and immediately flips out her trusty axe and swings, all in one motion. The blade bites, hurting the unseen opponent, but the creature does not utter a sound.

Initiative: Phoebe wins. In a fluid motion she rips out the axe, whirls it around and hits again.

The hit is very good — the axe crashes right through the hairy torso and showers both Phoebe and Harmony with a sticky liquid.

The opponent has quite enough! The creature hurries off at speed, disappearing straight off … and that is the moment when Reinhold pops up right behind Phoebe and bumps into her, so she takes a step forward and stumbles over Harmony.

Soon the whole team is assembled in the dark. They strike fire and light two torches, only to find themselves in a bare, old room with no windows. One door leads on straight ahead, one to the right. The floor is covered with musty excretions that look very organic. Phoebe, Harmony, and the axe are partly covered in a transparent, sticky goo.

The big problem: Harmony has been bitten, and her wound has been injected with a numbing poison. Harmony is aware of her surroundings and can talk and move, but she talks slurredly and moves slow and uncoordinated.

Behind them all, on the wall, is a symbol that they can touch. Harmony translates the symbol as “exit at medium height”.

  • — Give Harmony a healing potion and wait here
  • — Inspect the room to the right
  • — Inspect the room to the fore
  • — Split up and check both

***Season 4, part 54 – Growth***

The group feeds medicine to Harmony and lays her down comfortably. Then they guard the exits to give her time to recover and get back her senses. She falls into a slumber and awakes, refreshed. During the time of her sleep, the others inspect the room for floor to ceiling and find weird claw prints in the soft places between the flagstones.

Looking more closely through both of the exits, they find that both of them lead into new rooms, each of them more or less empty with two more exits. Judging by the quality of the air they are somewhere underground, which explains the lack of windows.

In the room to the right, there are some weird growths sprouting out of the softer floor and clinging to the walls. They faintly remind the adventurers of mushrooms, but not the kind you would like to eat. In the other room, the flagstones are clearly visible, and some of them are slightly crooked, so it looks as if any of them could give way and trigger some mechanism.

When Harmony gets back up she is still slightly numbed. She wonders about the flagstones. They do not look elvish.

“I honestly cannot say where we are. This is in none of the scripts about the Sentient Tower. And whoever built these floors did a rushed job. This was not done by Elves.”

  • — Try the mushroom room
  • Try the flagstone room
  • — Try to return back to the outside

***Season 4, part 55 – Rooms and Doors***

The adventurers avoid the mushrooms and enter the flagstone room, carefully testing the ground to make sure it is safe to walk on. Their torches reveal the next rooms: In front, there is a room with weird leering faces all around the walls — a bit like the Death Masks in the temple of Kesh. It has only one exit, to the right. Several splinters and metal tips of about fifteen or sixteen broken crossbow bolts are strewn around close to the walls.

Alternatively, directly to the right there is another flagstone room, which is in better repair than the one they are in. All the floor plates are fine and unbroken, although dusty. This room has open doorways in each wall. Apart from the dust, the room is clean and empty.

“Are these nine rooms, and that one is the center?”
“Possible.”
Both of the floors are dusty, and both look like the dust has been shifted slightly, but none shows any footprints.
“I have a bad feeling about this.”

  • — Try the mask room
  • — Throw something heavy into the mask room
  • — Try the center room
  • — Throw something heavy into the center room

***Season 4, part 56 – Arrows***

The team takes Ursula’s backpack, fills it with ropes and Basil’s warhammer and three regular hammers for weight and throws it into the room, slightly to the left. As it hits the floor, the face masks that face the area spew forth a number of crossbow bolts and turn the backpack into a pincushion.

Reinhold has kept one end of rope and pulls the backpack back. On its way back it triggers more of the unseen crossbows and gets hit some more. Other arrows, higher up, miss, and shatter against the wall across from the firing mask.

“I wonder how much ammunition they have.”
Reinhold throws the backpack in for a second go, and it gets hit again.
“Stop it, please,” says Oswald. “Do you want to get our ropes seriously damaged?”

  • — Try the same in the center room
  • — Keep going until the arrows stop coming

***Season 4, part 57 – Down***

Moving to the west, the team throws their weighted backpack into the room with the three other doors. As it drops to the floor, the flagstone tilts and the backpack drops into a shaft. Reinhold holds on to the rope and breaks the fall, but the lid swings nearly shut on the backpack and traps the rope.

With the help of the spear Ince Acsa’s back end Harmony prods the first flagstone in the room and finds it stable. From there, she moves closer to the trapped one and tilts that, so the backpack is freed.

Continuing the exploration, they find out that after the one, first, safe flagstone, all of the next two flagstones in any direction tilt, and each one makes for a drop into a single shaft. All the shafts are too deep to see where they lead, but they are all narrow, just as wide as the flagstone on top, separated by thin walls.

Presumably, only the last step before each of the doors is safe. If that.

“What kind of moron built this?” asks Ursula. “It will be child’s play to balance all through it by stepping only on the lines between the stones. Too easy!”

“Except if things are different over on the far side of the room,” warns Phoebe. “Other traps, or whatever may lurk behind the doors.”

  • — Throw the backpack to the far side of the room
  • — Let Ursula try to balance across with a rope
  • — Go back to the Arrow room

***Season 4, part 58 – Acidic***

Reinhold throws the weighted backpack as far as he can, and it hits the wall right beside the opposite door. It drops onto the flagstone in front of it, which holds.
Then the backpack tilts to the side and hits another flagstone, which opens up and drops the backpack into a pool of acid!

The team pulls back on the rope, but too late — only a couple of yards of rope remain in Reinhold’s hands. The flagstone closes. The backpack is gone.

“Well…”
Ursula shrugs. “At least we saw that the borders between the traps are solid, and they even withstand acid. It is safe to balance over.”
“I guess so. But where to?”

  • door opposite
  • — door on the left

The door on the right leads to the fungus room, so that’s out.

***Season 4, part 59 – Confrontation?***

Ursula takes what is left of the rope and quickly hurries along the small ledge between flagstones to get to the other side. As a roofrunner by profession, that is easy enough for her. She rolls with advantage and gets an 11, acing the task.

She quickly inspects the opposite room … and hesitates.
She rolled another 11 on a perception roll and carefully takes a step to get out of the immediate doorway.

“I think the beast that attacked Harmony earlier is in the room after that one. By the look of it, it is some giant hairy insectoid or spider. And it knows I am here.”
The others ready their missile weapons.
“We cannot climb over when this thing can attack you at any moment. Come back! We can cover you!”
“And then what? I think I must confront it alone and clear the way.”

Ursula inspects her gear …. She has her axe, or a wand of Consuming Chaos, or the spell “Dividing Shard”. No reason to be afraid of any single foe. However, the creature is beyond the next room… which may be trapped as well. So she must work at a distance and must depend on the creature to come out of its hiding place … or can she risk it to check for traps and sneak in?

What to do?

  • — Return to the others
  • — Check traps, sneak in and attack
  • Blast it with Consuming Chaos
  • — Unleash the spell Dividing Shard
Poll page:http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=5f54a71ee4b0065ae3b50a51

***Season 4, part 60 – Consuming Chaos***

Ursula pulls her wand and aims at the doorway. The monster does not show again, so she makes a sound with her foot, as if she was stepping into the next room and sneaking around. 

The soft sound is enough to get the monster’s attention. It looks around the corner. Indeed, it is a giant spider, huge enough to embrace two humans with ease. Ursula releases one of the charges in her wand. She hits!

The blast spins all around the spider’s body in an instant, then the monster shrieks in pain as it is folded in on itself in weird ways that are not consistent with the laws of nature. Its body breaks, knits in a different way, and folds, loses legs that are re-attached in wrong places, breaks apart and shuffles back together, all inside less than 10 seconds, until the beast evaporates in a black mist.

With a “pop”, the air rushes in to fill the void that is left behind, and the black mist dissipates.
The monster is no more.
The others have not seen anything and ask: “Did it work? Are you okay?”
“All fine,” says Ursula, but she shudders at the thought of something similar happening to her.
The rest of the operation is easy: With the rest of the rope, it is possible to help three others across to gather in front of the next room.
Looking through the door, the next room looks just like the one opposite – an empty room of flagstones, with one exit to the left (where the monster was killed) and one to the right.

  • — Throw in another backpack
  • Tap the floor with a weapon
  • — Sneak in
  • — Something else

***Season 4, part 61 – Speartrap***

Tapping the flagstones with a long weapon it turns out that pressure on some of the flagstones, but not all, will trigger thrusts from spears inside the floor, hiddden under stone lids that snap shut as soon as the spears retract. The seams in the flagstones are almost invisible, but knowing what to look for they can be seen.

This one is tricky, because the trap is made of stone.

However, Ursula offers to blast a way with her wand of Consuming Chaos.

Oswald is less sure: “When we get out again and face this horde of orcs, we may need every shot we got.” He would rather try to balance across the lines between the flagstones again: Tapping them with the weapon gets no reaction of any trap. Only pressure on the stones themselves triggers the spears.

“Better to jump all over them outright,” says Ursula. “They do not cover all the flagstones. We can reach the door if we jump from that spot over to that one, and then directly to the doorway.”

“Except if there are other types of traps too… remember those acid pits?”

  • Destroy the spears
  • — Dance past them
  • — Dare to jump

***Season 4, part 62 – Exit***

Ursula lifts her wand and blasts away a number of spears between the two doors. Thus, she creates a safe passage, which the team marks with chalk. Her wand is spent.
“Return that, he said, right?” She carefully stores the wand in her backpack.

Entering the last room, there is really not much left of the monster that used to be there, and it turns out the room holds no traps. Oswald looks through the exit on the left and sees that in that room there are many earthenware-bottles that hang under the ceiling. He shakes his head. “I bet they hold something unpleasant. What kind of crazy has designed this? It is more dangerous to maintain than to pass through.”

Harmony looks at the wall opposite the door and explains the signs, which say “This is the exit”.
Right in the center of the wall, there is another of these little spots like the one that transported them into this construction.
“It seems we will have to teleport out of here again, one by one.”
“First to go must be ready for an attack,” says Reinhold.
“No need to remind me!” laughs Harmony.

  • Send Harmony first, for cultural knowledge
  • — Send Phoebe first, taking one for the team
  • — Send Reinhold first, for heroic posing
  • — Send Fernsby to let him prove himself

***Season 4, part 63 – Temple***

Harmony goes in first. She half expects to be attacked at once, but she actually pops up in a very quiet place, albeit once more a place without windows. It is not dark though: Even despite the torch she took with her, Harmony can tell that the columns and floors in this hall exude a soft blue light.

She stands where a door would be in a normal temple … and like a temple this place looks.

Eleven columns on the right, eleven columns on the left, and at the end of this room there is a raised dais with an altar and a standing staff behind it.

This is probably what they are looking for: The Staff of True Sight.
Maybe.
Judging by how these things work, Harmony expects a first traps right in front of her, and one set to one side. Indeed… she identifies the triggers and marks them with chalk.

She sighs. There will probably be more of them along the way. She wishes there were fewer of these traps, but then, they are likely the only reason this Staff is still here. Instinctively, she looks for the bones of those who came and tried before her, but the temple is almost clean. Almost! Heaps of dust with faded tracks in them, and a lone belt buckle — they tell part of the story of someone long forgotten.

The left hand wall is covered in murals depicting scenes of Elven life, as it was back in the glory days. The right hand wall is blank.
One by one the rest of the team comes through.

  • — Inspect the floor
  • — Go along the blank wall (right)
  • — Go along the mural wall (left)

***Season 4, part 64 – Living Stone***

While Ursula inspects the floor, Harmony keeps an eye on the murals to guess their meanings. They depict mostly scenes of worship and ritual, which does not make her especially nervous. However, at one point there is the sign of a tree, and in the shadows behind the trees she can see two shapes of giant guardians in the background. They are dark to blend in with the background, but they look pretty three-dimensional, as they are cleverly set into the wall.

“Wait a moment, Ursula.”
Ursula waits.
But the two guardians already move forward with a click.

Still, there is time to think the situation through, because it is the wall opposite, the blank wall, that shifts open and reveals two stone guardians roughly 10 feet tall. Both are unarmed, but they have good-sized stone fists to make up for the lack of things to hold and swing. They look primitive and slow, not at all what one would expect from an elven trap. But the lack of finesse in design and function brings its own advantage in raw resilience. They look almost like hewn from one huge block of rock.

  • — Attack them with magic
  • — Attack them with steel
  • — Retreat back to the entrance
  • Speak to them

***Season 4, part 65 – Slick Prison ***

Harmony calls out to the emerging stone figures in Elven, but they do not react. She repeats her call in Common, then in Goblin, but to no avail. They just stomp forward and attack, targeting the first in the group, which are Ursula and Harmony.

The Stone Men win initiative. Harmony and Ursula try to get out of their reach, but they move surprisingly quick and swing their huge fists at the women.

Ursula gets hit full-on, and is sent flying across the room, until she hits a wall and drops to the floor. She is down to 2 HP.
Harmony is only dealt a glancing blow, but that is still enough to send her sprawling on the floor. She is down to 4 HP.
Phoebe whips out her wand and blasts the nearest Stone Man with Consuming Chaos. Like with Ursula’s shots, the Creature is engulfed in a weird field and folded in on itself, until it disappears from the World, and air rushes in to fill the vacant space with a pop.

Oswald attacks with a shout, aiming for the other Stone Man’s knee, which he judges to be a weak spot. But no … his blade strikes sparks from the Stone Man’s body, but fails to penetrate.
Constance casts her spell: Imprisoning Oil.
The monster is enveloped in a slick, shiny substance, drops to the floor and slides out of the way. It fights against the bubble from the inside, but it cannot break free. It is captured — for now!

  • — Run to grab the spear and get out
  • — Chaos-Hex the Monster and continue slowly

***Season 4, part 66 – The gap***

Phoebe employs her wand again, and the trapped Stone Man spreads his arms wide in an attempt to hold on to something — yet he fails, and is folded in on itself to disappear into the realm of Chaos.

The team tends to Harmony and Ursula. They will need a rest, so it falls to Reinhold, Fernsby, and Constance to take point now. Two former rogues and one Chimney Sweep, used to tread carefully. Phoebe and Oswald will shield their backs.

It is Constance who finds the next trap in the hall: The last two rows of flagstones before the dais with the staff give way under pressure. A strip across the whole width of the room turns into a moat. It is dry and not very wide, but deep.

“Jump?” asks Reinhold, eyeing the other side dubiously. What if there is another trap?

“Throw another backpack?” asks Fernsby.

Constance meanwhile looks for a hint in the murals, some clue about how to disarm the trap. After all, there must be some way. She is looking at a bizarre scene of a person eating, or waiting to eat, but sitting in front of an empty plate, under a watchful eye. She is sure that this is a hint.

“Don’t make it complicated, Cons!” chides Reinhold. “Look at their primitive stone guardians. This here is a brute force temple, not a clever temple.”

Oswald grunts. “Since when are you the wise old master, Reinhold?”

  • — Jump
  • — Throw
  • — Puzzle

***Season 4, part 67 – The snap***

Constance insists and looks closely at the mural. It is obvious to her that the mural is, the earlier depiction of the monsters behind a tree, not hewn out of the bare rock wall but assembled out of different parts.

Can particular elements be pressed? She tries the eye, but it does not budge. She tries the spoon and fork. Then she notices that the plate in front of the hungry person is jutting slightly forward, out of the wall. She tries to press it.

At that moment, the face explodes out of the wall and tries to bite her hand!
Constance jerks her hand back.
She rolls too low. With a snap, the stone mouth closes around her fingers.
She loses 3 HP.
“Aaaah!”
Without teeth the stone mouth misses the necessary parts to chomp off Constance’s hand, but it still hurts, and the mural does not let go.

Fernsby and Reinhold are at the threat in a moment, and Fernsby hits it with his throwing axe repeatedly, chipping away at the stone. Reinhold has his crowbar ready and rams it between the stone head’s jaws. With an ugly crunch, he levers the mouth open, and Constance can free her bloodied and mauled hand.

Despite getting hit several more times, and losing little specks of material, the face retracts again and bites down on empty air, before the floor trap closes with a loud crunch.

The way seems to be free.

  • — Trust the floor
  • Jump

***Season 4, part 68 – One more step***

Not trusting the trap door to hold, the adventurers jump across to the other side. The ground they land on holds true, and they carefully ascend to the altar. One more step and they would have the staff that is on display there. It looks easy enough, but they are careful.

Behind the staff is a huge eye symbol in the wall, looking directly at the staff and all through the center line of the temple room.
The staff itself is held inside a simple vase made of stone.
“What do you say?” asks Reinhold. “I bet taking it out triggers another trap.”
“Sure,” Oswald agrees, for once. 
They think it most likely that the vase will trigger it, whatever it may be.
“Pull out the staff and replace it with something else? A longsword maybe.”
“Or pull it out from a distance? We have 15 feet of rope left. That should be enough.”
“Or pull it out from here, protected by the staff of Shielding Ghost,” adds Fernsby.

“We could also block the eye… cover it with blankets. I am not sure what it will do, but I am sure it will do something.”

  • — Replace with longsword for weight
  • — Pull out with rope from 15 feet distance
  • — Cast Shielding Ghost, then take the staff
  • Cover the eye symbol with blankets

***Season 4, part 69 – The Eye***

Quickly, the team spreads blankets across most of the huge eye’s iris. They do not reach all the way up to the top, but at least they get them two thirds up and manage to fix them there by hammering iron spikes into the stone surface left and right of the iris first, and into the iris too.

Finally, the eye looks effectively blinded. Everyone in the back takes cover behind the columns just in case, and the forward team draws lots to decide who takes the staff.

Reinhold is chosen.

While the others take position in the corners out of the eye’s view, Reinhold draws a breath, taks ahold of the staff — and quickly pulls it out, jumping out of the way.

It is indeed the eye that reacts.

The huge iris is drawn in with a click, and it starts rolling to the left to reveal something behind it. However, since the blankets are fixed to the iris as well as to the sides, they get pulled into the gap and slow the mechanism down. The iron first spike hammered into the iris turns with the wheel and hits the side of the fixed parts, where it stops the mechanism.

A series of rapid clicks sounds, and then a humming, and a slice of the blankets is set aflame!

“We made it!” shouts Reinhold.

Oswald groans at this blatant disrespect for the laws of jinxing, but reality backs up Reinhold’s claim: The fire consumes all of the blankets, but it does not spread out, and a lot of heat is roaring inside the mechanism. Finally it stops, and all that is left is a partially opened iris with smoke billowing out, and a huge blackened eye and ceiling.

  • — Inspect the eye mechanism
  • — Retreat and leave

***Season 4, part 70 – Eyeball***

Supporting each other, the adventurers climb up to the gap at the side of Iris and look inside. Some weird red glow is visible inside soot-blacked machinery. Oswald climbs in to take a good look. He ducks under bent and hissing cogwheels, all of them still hot, and finds a series of half-molten lenses lined up in front of a red glowing stone in the center of a round chamber.

The lenses are mounted in a complex order so that they can align in any direction, and focus the light from the red stone wherever they would. But as the lid did not open, the power of the light was locked in here and overheated the chamber.

Too much of the chamber is damaged by the firestorm, so Oswald cannot discern how it all used to work. But he can see that the red stone can be moved. If anyone has the education to understand the trap, it is Harmony.

  • Get Harmony in here to analyze the mechanism
  • — Wait for the stone to cool down and remove it
  • — Let it rest here and go

***Season 4, part 71 – Red Light***

Harmony is ready to inspect the mechanism. She climbs in to look at the molten mess. Not much is left to go on, so she concentrates on the glassy lumps.
“Apparently the iris rolls open and these lenses form a line to concentrate and send out a strong beam of hot light…. But what for? How would that deter thieves?”

She goes to investigate the wreckage close to the exit and finally finds a piece of molten and re-hardened glass: It is the rest of a multi-faceted prism.

“Ah!” She understands and looks up to the others.

“This used to be a crystal ball. It would have spread the red light beam around in dozens of directions at once. It would have meant several dozens of red hot beams to fill the whole room. Most likely, It would have been a game of chance who would have been hit by a beam, and who would have been spared.
She inspects the red crystal in the center.
Rolling against WIL, she reaches 13! She goes outside again and looks into the vase. And connects the dots.

“This bowl up here behind the crystal is a mirror! The crystal is activated by magical means, by these two metal clamps in the vase connecting. When they do, the crystal heats up and glows, and the mirror and lenses turn the light into a weapon.

“Can we use it?” asks Oswald.
“Worth something?” asks Reinhold.
“We cannot use it without a mirror and lenses. But it could be worth a good deal of money. It is heavy though.”

  • Take it back home
  • — Leave it here

***Season 4, part 72 – Moving***

The team waits for the crystal to cool down until they can safely touch it. Then they lift it out of its position and wrap it in some spare clothes before putting it into Reinhold’s backpack. That is a heavy load that he feels.

“Lordy, that is heavy! I can’t carry that the whole way.”
“We will rotate it,” declares Phoebe. “You start. I take over in an hour, and so on.”

Reinhold nods.
The team climbs out of the eyeball and return to the opposite wall, where they started this room.
“What do you say,” asks Phoebe: “Do we rest here and sleep a bit, or do we use this mechanism to return to the trap labyrinth?”
“IF it goes back to that labyrinth,” Harmony interjects. “There is no actual clue here on this wall. There is the mechanism in the center, so we do get out of here when we activate it. But where will we end up?”

“Odds are, it goes back to the labyrinth. Let’s not make it more complicated than it has to be,” says Oswald.

  • — Stay, sleep, and rest
  • — Make the jump

***Season 4, part 73 – One Night at the Temple’s***

Reinhold and Phoebe block the entrance area by moving some of the broken items and half-melted machinery from the eyeball over to the wall. The figure that if anyone or anything would come in during the rest, it would be here, and by blocking they will make it either impossible or at least difficult to enter.

Meanwhile, the wounded get medicine and lay down. Constance was lucky: Her hand is fine, and nothing broken. She will be almost hale after a good sleep. Harmony’s numbness from the earlier poisoning is wearing off. Only Ursula still got it rough. But time will heal it all.

The others while away the evening with making great plans for when they return. It slowly sinks in that they have actually done it and found the staff. Harmony has inspected it and can feel the pulsing energy inside it. It is the real deal, despite half the team betting it must be fake.

Phoebe and Reinhold sit a bit farther from the others and discuss their open adventure: The revisiting of the dungeon under the tree, to explore the depth behind the secret door. Phoebe was doubtful earlier, but meanwhile she accepts Reinhold’s conviction that there must be something truly worthwhile below these old Elven halls.

“Surely not gold … but we are best friends with a mighty wizard, so whatever old mummies and weird artifacts we may find, it will find a buyer — and a better buyer than that old fool Hasimir.”
Phoebe recoils as Reinhold speaks ill of the count. It is not wise to do so. But they are many miles away from Woodbridge, so they can speak freely.

“Not a fool, Reinhold. Do not underestimate him. The man knows what he is doing, and we must make sure to stay out of his sight.”

Finally, everyone goes to sleep, apart from one guard, rotating the duty through the night.

But the only thing that stirs are four weird little yellow spiders that crawl out of the hiding place of the stone guardians and stalk the hall. But they are relatively tiny things and do not get close to the sleepers. They are only half a finger long and seem to hunt even smaller insects. The only thing that draws attention to them is the clicking sound their legs make on the stone floor, and their weird yellow colour, which gives off a faint shimmering.

  • — Go squish the spiders underfoot
  • Live and let live

***Season 4, part 74 – Big and Small***

The spiders follow the same policy — they leave the party in peace. 
Once all are rested, they armor up and assemble at the center of the back wall. It is time to go home with the staff.
Harmony inspects the wall and the place where it can be triggered. She notices with wonder that there are two trigger spots. One is the “normal” trigger at the usual height and in the usual size.
The other is lower, about at the height where a grownup’s hips are, and smaller.
“What is this? A children’s exit? Or an exit for very small people?”
“Children ARE very small people,” says Constance with a grin.
Reinhold grabs Harmony’s shoulder. “What do they do?”
“I cannot tell where these two will lead. It might very likely be that the big one is leading back to where we came from, but that is not guaranteed. It is a temple of Kesh, after all, and Kesh is unpredictable.”
“And the children’s exit?”
“We do not know if it is for children. And we do not know where it leads. Really, no idea.”
Oswald shrugs. “Obviously, we must all stick together. We have already seen that one should not go alone through these transports. So whatever we choose, we must all go through the same exit.”
“So are you the leader now?” asks Reinhold, but does not contradict Oswald. They all still remember well how Harmony got bitten earlier.

  • — Try the “normal” exit
  • – Try the “children” exit

***Season 4, part 75 – Drums of War***

Harmony decides to check out the “children’s exit”, and the others follow her lead.
One by one they pop out in the ruined tower, on the inside, in the top floor.

The tower is in a sorry state, because the missing roof means that rain, snow, birds, and insects all have free access to this room. The floor is covered in a muck of bird droppings and slime mixed with water, and the boots of the men and women from Woodbridge make sucking sounds as they move to the side to make room for the next in line.

They have been away for a good, long while, and it is now daylight. The sky is overcast, but the position of the sun can be determined: It must be halfway before noon.

Outside, something wild is going on: Drums are beating like mad, people are shouting, and the obvious din of metal is everywhere.
“War drums!” says Harmony. “What did we miss?”
“Maybe this festival they were celebrating in the night was something about war? A blessing for warriors?”
“That fits. Then we are in luck! They might start to move off to massacre some neighbouring orc clan or something.”
“Should we try to take a look, or is it better to stay in cover and wait until they leave?”
None of them are tall enough to peek over the broken wall. It would take a jump and a pullup to look over the rim of the ruined tower. Or someone holding out a hand to step into, and suffering the slimy muck on his hands.

“Armies are notoriously slow. Waiting until they move off could take hours, maybe the whole day. On the other hand, looking over the rim in broad daylight is a risk — if anyone is looking this way, they will see us.”
Indeed, the tower is bright white despite its ruined state, and it sticks out.

  • — Risk a quick peek
  • Stay in cover and wait

***Season 4, part 76 – Hunt***

The party stays in cover and after about two hours of insane drumming, a chant rises above the ruckus — with a familiar word repeated again and again: “Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!”

It still takes another hour, but then finally bit by bit “Hunt!”-chanting groups move off in a westerly direction and the volume gets lower and lower… as the sun sets, all that is left is drum-beating all around the tower, but the chanting has ceased.

It appears as if the drummers plan on keeping it up all through the night.

  • — Use the twilight to slip away
  • — Wait for total darkness

***Season 4, part 77 – Tent City***

As the sun sets, and twilight creeps between the tents, the adventurers take a look towards the east, and see, like when they came, a huge number of tents all around the tower.
They cannot see anyone moving on this side, so they deftly crawl out from their hiding place and onto the little balustrade around the tower. From here, they can jump over to the outer wall, and drop back into the tent city.

The drums are still beating like mad, somewhere to the southwest and also somewhere to the northwest. But on this side, to the east, things look calm.

  • — Quickly cross the tent city and leave
  • — Hide in a tent and wait
  • — Carefully sneak from tent to tent
  • — Try to get a look at those drummers

***Season 4, part 78 – Lone Guard***

The team feels forward from tent to tent, always staying in cover with only one of them sneaking forward to check the next couple of yards. In this manner they dodge two small groups of goblins, one a group of armed guards checking the perimeter while squabbling about something, one a group of cripples with various old, but gruesome wounds on their way across the camp towards the north.

None of them notice the adventurers.

Finally, the team reaches the outer border of the camp, and there they see a single goblin archer peering away from them into the darkness. He is not even in cover, he is just standing there, staring into the hills east of the tent city as if he had all the time in the world.

  • — Rush out, kill him and keep going
  • Kill him and hide his body among the tents
  • — Contact him
  • — Try Magic
  • — Wait for him to go away

***Season 4, part 79 – The Singing Sword***

The adventurers decide to take the goblin archer out. Normally they would send Ursula, but as she is still hurting, Reinhold takes up the task to sneak up at the guy. Phoebe, Oswald, and Fernsby have their crossbows ready, and Harmony the spear Ince Acsa.

Reinhold’s roll comes up an 11 on the sneaking, before even adding the bonus for DEX. Ecet i Lindele, the Singing Sword, sings out, and the dice come up 10. Plus 1 for Reinhold’s skill. The archer never knows what hits him. One masterful stroke fells him, and Reinhold pulls the body back to the tents.

The party stores the body in a bedroll and tucks him in, so only a close inspection will find that he is dead. Constance takes the goblin’s bow, Oswald grabs his fine hunting knife. Other than that, he only carries a deck of cards and a brass bell… two items they leave with him.

The way out into the wilderness is free.

  • Leave the camp
  • Wait just a bit longer

The Way Home is still ongoing….

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