Borderland of Adventure #50: Unexpected Aid

At the end of the last session we left our heroes resting after a near-disastrous exploration of the cellars below Tumbledown manor. Undaunted by the perils within, they had decided to return to the cellars to clear them of the foul taint lurking within.

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However, in the previous assault Hemgor has been seriously injured and the party waited for a week or so for him to regain his strength. Adoven used this time to augment the party’s equipment with several continual flame spells so that they would not be trapped, helpless in magical darkness a second time.

Their preparations completed, the party returned to the cellars on the 17th of Fireseek. Swiftly, they returned to the small chamber in which they broke down a wall to escape from the tentacled horror that sought to slay Adoven and Hemgor. The chamber was now empty and so they entered the large room to the north and began to poke about. Here they found many old crates, boxes and pieces of furniture along with a kitchen area. Behind other doors they found a few abandoned rooms and a long stairway that led to the manor’s overgrown gardens.

Behind one door, they discovered a small bed chamber in which Squinty found a secret door leading to a low, narrow crawl way. Krorz declined the offer to go first and so the brave half-orc ventured ahead instead. The crawl way ended in another door beyond which the party discovered a cobwebbed crypt. As Squinty climbed down into the chamber, a hitherto hidden scythe trap chopped down at her, inflicting a serious wound. Sadly, Squinty’s woes were not at an end! A giant spider scuttled down from the ceiling and attacked her, but she quickly slew it. In short order the party entered the tomb and began to explore – immediately discovering six coffins and an altar. Before they could proceed any further, Hemgor advanced up another corridor and found an iron gate blocked further progress. Beyond the gate was a horrifically burnt undead humanoid standing in front of a shrine.

The creature seemed horrified at the party’s presence and commanded its pets to rise. Immediately thereafter, skeletons arose all about the party from the coffins – although the progress of two was impeded by adventurers standing on their coffins! The skeletons were no match for the party and were quickly destroyed, but their master – a juju zombie – proved harder to destroy. Still, eventually, the party drove it off. It retreated into a fog cloud shouting that it would “get the master.”

The party did not pursue, but instead chose to destroy the shrine (which was dedicated to Amon-Pyr) and search the coffins (in which they did find a rather fine clerical robe decorated in silver, gold and platinum thread with Python’s symbol).

Their search concluded, they continued their exploration, but as they returned to the large northern room a woman’s scream rang out from further north from a scream-filled passageway. Krorz was spectacularly unkeen to investigate, but when the rest of his comrades dashed off he had no choice but to tag along. As they reached a larger chamber (that contained a low waterfall and two other exits) three spouts of water burst forth from the stream and attacked! In the chamber itself a crowd of zombies dressed in faded and scorched finery ignored the party instead facing into the room from which the screaming emanated.

While Krorz and Squinty kept the strange water creatures busy, Oreal, Hemgor and Adoven splashed through the stream and attacked the zombies. Adoven blasted them with holy energy while Hemgor dodged through the mass. Oreal clambered onto the other bank and started shooting into the chamber beyond. Within, the tentacled horror that had nearly doomed the party last time was holding a book from which another man chanted passages while wrestling with a young woman.

Hemgor darted forward and attacked the chanting man who moments before had been silenced by the cunning Adoven using clerical magic. Hemgor forced the man back toward a pool in the rear of the room but then disaster struck. Although the man failed to cast the first spell he hurled at Hemgor the second took its full, malign affect on the warrior and blinded him. While this had been going on, the tentacled humanoid hurled several spells at Oreal – but the redoubtable ranger resisted them all. Meanwhile, in the stream the battle raged on between the half-orcs and the water creatures while Adoven somehow kept the zombies at bay.

In the sacrificial chamber, the chanting man ignored the now helpless Hemgor instead returning to his victim (who by now had been pummelled into unconsciousness by the tentacled humanoid). As he began to drag her toward the pool, Oreal opened up a barrage of missile fire that eventually forced the man to drop his victim and cloak himself in a cloud of mist. However, Oreal kept shooting and was rewarded with several more hits.

By now, the battle in the stream was balanced on a knife’s edge. While one of the creatures had been destroyed Squinty had been knocked unconscious, but Adoven’s arrival and subsequent healing of Squinty turned the tide and shortly thereafter the water creatures were slain. At this point, the party’s resources were running low – Adoven being all but completely out of spells. Hemgor was still trapped in the other chamber and the party had a half-dozen or so zombies to deal with and the tentacled horror. Things looked bleak.

At that moment, a figure wearing a black cloak dashed out of a passageway behind Oreal and hurled itself at the tentacled humanoid. While the mystery benefactor’s attacks were most ineffectively he did buy time for the party to regroup somewhat and the badly injured chanting man to call for help from his tentacled minion…

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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