Breathing World

Steamvale Session 4: Snakeskinned

Mog (primordial ape) [Michael], Scant Halftail (ratling) [Simon], Morgan (sylari) [Iris], and Calloway (kiskov) [Shaun]

Monsoon season, and the Festival of Bumbershoots, with the bat nests hung all around the Tuggernuts fort to keep the bugs down. Drunken bats dipped in ink, prostitutes dancing with bumbershoots, celebration of the city founders (kung fu monk bumbershoot combat artists) while the rain pours outside.

Assssssssassssssination

Le Frond sent the two-oh (instead of duo) of Scant and Mog to assassinate Lisssssandra, a yuan-ti noblewoman, ideally making it look like an accident (like one of her pets ate her, if possible.) If they succeeded, they would be promoted to the new Alcovites (the scary elite agent of the court that gets to stand in the alcove by the throne.) They got the mission from Ron Brohammer, the axe warrior who was the new Tuggernuts majordomo. Morgan and Calloway agreed to help out for hefty payments.

Asking around, they found out LIsssssssandra and her people were up in the Kilnacombs, catacombs under the ruin of the Emberflesh fort, where the Emberflesh built in kiln-like heaters to dry out the area to contain Seabloods and keep them from being most enough to be dangerous.

Concerned about poisons, they visited the Flava Brothers, kiskovs who run a poison and potion shop, acquiring some general-purpose antidote. Also visited one of Mog’s people, who remembers a story of a primordial who hid in there because he knew that the stone-shaping wizard Darnell Lion, a Khuselbite, monitors the maze and its shifting walls using little stone eyeball critters.

The Hit

They avoided the rickshaw rides to the fort, sneaking around the back and climbing up by the waterfall dumping the monsoon runoff down the cliff. Together, the mighty kiskov and primordial tore a grating out of the way, and they went into the underground, seeing the traces of where some monster once lived down here and had victims dumped down a hole to be devoured.

They broke into the Kilnacombs from there, breaking eye spies as they encountered them, eventually following Scant’s nose to a secret vent above the chamber where Lisssssanda lounged having swallowed her consort for digestion. Crashing down through the grating, Mog crushed their target, and the others followed. Arrows, rat-stabbings, and kiskov poundings knocked down the elite guards and tough yuan-ti, then they opened the doors to where one of the big snake turtle pets was kept, and it gleefully began eating the bodies as they withdrew. Morgan helped grow roots out of the hillside to pull the grating back into place as they left.

Party

Back at the Tuggernuts fortress, a huge party celebrated “Mogg’s birthday” because they wouldn’t admit celebrating an assassination, and the two-oh became the Alcovites. Scant got a magical hood that allows him to magically disguise himself. Mog was given the cosmic gift of the ability to detect evil.

Requested Proposals for This Session. See more Guilds (yes), Meet Le Frond (yes), Find a sea plant person (no)

Usual Proposals. Combat (yes), Missions (yes), Tourism (yes)

Occasional Proposals. Faction Politics (yes)

PLOT THREADS

Baron Shallows Revenge

  • Shokoro ambush with primordial undead

Menace on the crystal flows

  • Mace of Geldurk restrained, but it freed skittering things

Who’s Who of Steamvale, Tuggernuts Edition

  • Warspire, shrine to Geldurk, Bloodmoon the dracotaur high priest, elven assistant, marines hang out there.
  • Welcher’s Quay, run by Commodore Machin and his seablood family, with fog
  • Dame Candelabra of the the Immortal Dreamers of Seadweller Cove
  • Lady Cascade of the Poolstalkers of Thrush Wastes
  • Darnell Lion, wizard who runs the Kilnacombs
  • Yuan-Ti
  • Flava Brothers, Kiskov shop for poisons, venoms, and solutions

FAVORITE PARTS

  • Jumping through a grate to kill a snake woman, like Assassin’s Creed
  • Getting a magical hood of disguise
  • Using contacts (and revisiting the Warspike)
  • The concept and exploration of the Kilnacombs
  • Shaping wood and sniping
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Steamvale Session 3: Beware the Poolstalkers

Mog (primordial ape) [Michael], Scant Halftail (ratling) [Simon], and Morgan (Sylari) [Iris]

Morgan, a Sylari with more temperate forest clime foliage (as a plant person) traveled to Steamvale pursuing rumors of Sylari-like plant people who were focused more on aquatic plant life.

Pleas of the Immortal Dreamers

As Morgan took in the sights and sounds of Le Frond’s chaotic throne room overseeing the Tuggernuts Syndicate, Dame Candelabra arrived leading a delegation from the Immortal Dreamer village in Seadweller Cove. Apparently the fishing village was a nursery community for the Immortal Dreamers Below, who would venture onto land to breed with humans who raised the hybrids until those who morphed into Immortal Dreamers could return home. In exchange the community was supplied with fantastic fishing and gifts of white gold.

The Immortal Dreamers and their interbreeding offended the senses of the Seabloods (more elemental and human hybrids) who rule Steamvale, so they are exiles who are forbidden to escalate their engagement with the Immortal Dreamers Below on pain of annihilation, but also are not likely to receive any help from the Seablood rulers.

Now a brutal tribe of barbarian elves dressed in heron regalia and armed with spears have taken up residence in the Thrush Wastes at the edge of Seadweller Cove, and as they settle in they have been killing villagers who stray out of the village into territory the elves claimed.

Lacking warriors, forbidden to ask the Immortal Dreamers Below for help, shunned by the ruling Seabloods, the villagers were desperate and they offered a massive load of white gold to Le Frond in exchange for protection from the Pool Stalkers.

Le Frond agreed to send help in the form of Scant and Mog, who in turn agreed to allow some others to come along; Morgan, who heard rumors that the Thrush Wastes might have leads to find aquatic plant people, and Jimmy Scrambles, a scrappy duelist.

Wasted Elves

The Tuggernuts traveled out to the cove with the villagers, but didn’t care to spend much time in the fish-crusted town. After a short night of studiously ignoring the locals, they headed out to the Thrush Wastes.

They discovered a border marker with skulls, warning against intrusion. Morgan scouted the area, moving between copses of twisted salt-water twisted trees. She saw the makeshift village where the Poolstalker Elves set up base.

Encountering a scout, they discovered that Scant’s fluency in the fey language was a way to communicate; so far the elves had not been able to penetrate the language barrier with the locals. The conversation was civil but strained, aware of concealed elves in position to strike, and the elves wary of the danger posed by intruders.

Refuge

The elves follow their leader, Lady Cascade, and they used to live in the ruins of the Port of Pilings, a formal penal colony for the Emberflesh, on the shores of Mount Cragface on the Isle of Bits 120 miles north. They were driven out by the Birdsnatcher, a cave hag, and her goblin army. They were not sure why she abandoned her caves on the slopes of Mount Cragface, but when she claimed the ruined port the elves retreated rather than risk destruction.

The elves were not keen to share their hunting ground with the pasty-faced villagers, who they did not see as a threat. Scant suggested the elves discuss the possibility of relocation; there was plenty of coastal space in the Thrush Waste that was not next to this cove.

The elves withdrew to discuss, and the Tuggernuts returned to the cove to update the villagers. The next day the elves met the Tuggernuts and agreed to move in exchange for local information on good fishing grounds and more elbow space between neighbors. The Tuggernuts handled the introductions with the villagers, then considered the task complete and returned to Steamvale.

Requested Proposals for This Session. (We forgot to do this)

Usual Proposals. Combat (no), Missions (yes), Tourism (yes)

Occasional Proposals. Faction Politics (somewhat)

PLOT THREADS

Baron Shallows Revenge

  • Shokoro ambush with primordial undead

Menace on the crystal flows

  • Mace of Geldurk restrained, but it freed skittering things

Who’s Who of Steamvale, Tuggernuts Edition

  • Warspire, shrine to Geldurk, Bloodmoon the dracotaur high priest, elven assistant, marines hang out there.
  • Welcher’s Quay, run by Commodore Machin and his seablood family, with fog
  • Dame Candelabra of the the Immortal Dreamers of Seadweller Cove
  • Lady Cascade of the Poolstalkers of Thrush Wastes

FAVORITE PARTS

  • Ratkin translating a fey conversation with the elves.
  • Scouting and sneaking as a tree person.
  • Finding a bloodless solution to the conflict.
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Steamvale Session 2: Mace of Geldurk

https://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/2018/12/28/mace-of-geldurk/

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Steamvale Session 1: Ghosts of the Dammed

https://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/ghosts-of-the-dammed/

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Four Priests
Settling down some post-blasphemy haunting.

Skritt was getting positively old when the Darkseer of Gorvale, Feldratch, told him that he would get a mission to potentially earn the favor of Dufell, Goddess of the Deeps. Skritt enthusiastically reached out to his comrades to come help out. Vayu, Ell, Wayland, and Tuleo joined him for his expedition.

Briefing by the Deepseer of Gorvale

Those that could not see in the dark got blindfolds, strips to cover the eyes that let them see in the dark. Feldratch told them that Valance Striker took a team of about 9 and invaded the Tomb of Dorellis, where the four high priests of the Dorellis temple were interred. Striker’s team looted the tomb, bringing light to all its corners and mapping it. Dufell animated her high priests to defend their resting place, but Striker cut them (and the other guardians) down.

When Striker’s team returned to the surface and boasted of their deeds, of course they were poisoned to death, and eaten by rats. A group of Dufell’s servants went to the tomb and rearranged it in the dark so it was no longer known.

Now, two years later, dreams indicated that the tomb was still desecrated and Dufell wanted the high priests to be returned to their slumber. They formed bodies of earth, which must be defeated or talked down, and their teeth returned to their burial shrines. That was Skritt’s mission.

Into the Tomb

The adventurers got on a balloon piloted by a blind goblin who used the echolocation of his pet bats to navigate. Down, to a fissure off the main pit, to the entry to the tomb. Skritt got a flare gun to use to summon the balloon back, and they bravely entered the tomb.

They found the central shrine of Dufell, and four shrines with frescoes and decorations indicating the nature of each of the four high priests.

  • Morfin, the Mechpriest (inventor of goblin war machines.)
  • Zelgraf, Lord Clawstinger (a badgerbee wrangler.)
  • Abbidex, the Drowned Priest. (Strange mystic focused on deep water.)
  • Soontek, Guardian of the Gate. (Earthbending temple defender.)

Soontek was guarding the gate area, and they did battle with him. Vayu used his connection to earth magic to slow Soontek’s killing wall-smashes and pitfalls long enough for the others to cut apart his improvised earthen body. Skritt returned his teeth to the wall of his tomb, and he was laid to rest.

Further In

The adventurers cautiously examined all the shrines, including the Dufell shrine in the center of the entry where the goddess’s depiction seemed enraged. Then they explored deeper in, finding walkways over what might be a badgerbee lair. They reached a massive ant pit, which Tuleo scouted by flying. Skritt saw almost-invisible goblin walkways, and the adventurers jumped onto the magic bridges and followed them to a dead end.

Vayu was able to sense a thin spot in the wall, he animated a massive rock monster. The rock monster and Tuleo worked together to dig a corridor in the wall, to another area of the tomb.

They found a tectonic orrerry with an animate mass of earth in the center, surely the remains of Morfin. They hit it hard with everything, and as it tried to pull together a defense they managed to tear it apart. Skritt gathered the teeth, and they moved on.

Wandering to the Skulls

They traveled the strange twisting passages, sure to resist the impulse to map it out as they traversed the endless dark. They found a room that spun, and only risked it once. They found the skull of a giant swallowed by the earth, that had served as a badgerbee lair.l Finally they found a rutting/battle chamber of the badgerbees, with over a hundred badgerbee skulls of different sizes.

The skulls were slurped back into the rock, but Tuleo managed to grab one and follow its pull through the compound back to where a reconstituted earthen Zelgraf was using the skulls as focal points to animate earthen badgerbee replicas.

They did battle with Lord Clawstinger, who summoned a replica of his massive badgerbee mount. Vayu flexed his power and the stone that was disgorging badgerbee copies gripped them instead, just long enough for the adventurers to bring Lord Clawstinger down.

Skritt bagged his teeth up, and they trotted back to the fourth site they had quickly passed while following the skull—a deep pit of water with amphibious eels around it.

The Drowning Quarry

Tuleo relied on the eels speaking the language of sea creatures, and he asked them to take him to Abbidex. They agreed. Wayland’s ring let him breath underwater, and Tuleo’s goddess mother Thogro let him breathe underwater, so they followed the eels into the dark waters.

At the bottom, Abbidex meditated. They proved they could wait underwater as well, so he graciously surrendered his head full of teeth to them. They made it out of the water in the surreal swirl of eels.

Tuleo asked an eel to show them the way out, and it obliged, skirting another nasty ant infestation.

Conclusion

They put all four priest teeth sets into the appropriate shrines, then Skritt went in to see the statue of Dufell. It was smiling, and it restored a measure of youth. They left the tomb, riding up on the balloon. They celebrated their success feasting on an immature hydra that had been slain and pulled up for bounty. Job well done.

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Rarified Blood
The Royal Ward has secrets.

Common Knowledge

The High King Duventel used a cult of Oblivorix, the Forgetters, in his conquests. He fought a war for about 15 years to consolidate this area and others as his kingdom, and his Forgetters murdered everyone over the age of about 50, to suppress memories of the “good old days” and passed down knowledge. He’s ruthless, but the area is less violent now that it is unified.

The Forgetters are a pretty powerful cult in the High King’s government. That’s starting to cause some friction. Both the Forgetters and the High King’s armies are really tough, ruthless veterans.

This area used to be ruled by monarchs of the Kyvan Dur line. Nobody remembers much about them now, but even the name is a reminder of a golden age of prosperity and unity. Their bloodline was mingled with the blood of the gods, it is said. No one knows who their heirs might be, if anyone in the bloodlines even survived. Their empire fell about 800 years ago. There was fighting in this area, all around here, as they went down. Their former capitol, Delrethia, is in ruins not 50 miles from here.

The Job

A merchant named Elizer Hardel hired the adventurers. The Asylum of Kyvan Dur was a place where the Order of Whispers, a Cyclarian cult, took insane royals and nursed them through their lives. Towards the end, they became corrupt, and used the royals as studs to put royal blood in other noble lines, for an obscene fee. The asylum was destroyed by a wrestling dragon and giant, all within killed. Now Hardel has discovered there was possibly an underground part that survived.

His family passed down the secret of royal blood for 900 years. He has spent a fortune to research and find the location of where the asylum once was, and he’ll pay well if they go and explore it, looking for proof of his ancestor’s royal blood. Then he can raise an army and lead a local revolution. He offers 500 gold each, and a bonus for treasures and the jackpot (proof of his royal blood.)

He hired Disuke, a samurai; Sila, an orc; Ty, a duelist; Pith, a gnome with a voice in his head; Magnar, an ape warrior; and Zazskar, a shokoro infiltrator. The adventurers chose Disuke to lead them.

The Approach

About midmorning, the adventurers sent Pith and Zazskar ahead to scout. They spotted guards in black ponchos watching the entry to the caves, and recognized them as Forgetters. They continued scouting up in the ruins of the asylum, and found a gray blurbeast sunning and napping. Returning to their crew, they gathered and approached the ruins in force.

They hacked down the blurbeast, and three more attacked! The adventurers dispatched them, and investigated the secret trapdoor the blurbeasts revealed. As they headed down into the dark, the scouting gnome and shokoro found more of the blurbeast lair, and they slipped past as quietly as they could, following the stairs down into the dark.

The Padded Constructs

The stairs came out in a huge chamber. As they cautiously entered, blades and flame ready, a padded construct tried to hug their leader. Two more loomed out of the darkness to help as the samurai whacked the first one apart. After a pitched battle, four of the constructs lay shattered. Investigating, the adventurers found obsidian stones in the chest compartments, with the symbol of the Kyvan Dur asylum etched on them.

They crossed the room to check out another door, and found more constructs; after a brief and violent clash that left one in pieces on the floor, they withdrew and held the door shut; the constructs eventually gave up and returned to their passive state. The adventurers warily continued to explore.

The gnome felt the wrongness of the place, and the ghost of an orderly leaped out at them and fled screaming. These seasoned adventurers kept their cool, and continued.

The Shrine and the Peace Garden

They followed the length of the echoing hall, and the long corridor beyond, coming upon a shrine. They realized if they put their weapons and fire away, they would not trigger aggression from the padded constructs. Out of curiosity, they encouraged the gnome Pith to aggravate one; he was gripped, and carried to a peace garden, stuck to a pillar that magically held him while other constructs looked on. The walls were decorated with peaceful scenes.

The base of the 4 pillars had bones, and 2 of the pillars had desperate Forgetters stuck to them. The adventurers quickly realized each column had a command word that released its prisoners, and they rescued their gnome friend (then put him back up, to see if that would work, and released him again.) The constructs looked on, disinterested.

The adventurers released and questioned one of the Forgetter scouts, telling him they wiped out his people and finding out the Forgetters had “slithers” and more would come, and that they had not explored very far. They put him back on the pillar, after taking his costume. They also released his comrade and took his costume as well, then put him back.

They left the Forgetters stuck to pillars, and returned to the shrine.

Chambers From the Shrine

In one direction they found an antechamber with genealogy of the Kyvan Dur on the walls. They put a bar down on the double doors, so no one could come in from that direction.

On the other side of the chamber, they found a receptionist chamber with 2 more constructs. Every time they moved to go through one of the 2 doors in the chamber, the constructs got in the way. They withdrew.

The shokoro could not sneak past them, but the gnome could create blind spots. He took the shokoro and the samurai with him, and slipped through one door.They found the Warden’s office, where another orderly leaped at them begging for help, and fled shrieking.

The shokoro found the book with information on the breeding program, and the gnome picked the lock on the desk and got 3 bracelets with the Kyvan Dur asylum symbol on them.

Investigating the other room, they found a big bed and dresser; the conjugal chamber. They left it alone, regrouping out by the shrine.

The Royal Ward

They headed back to the alcoves with the constructs, who had forgotten about them. They headed down the corridor to stairs that wound down, and came to a glowing screen with the asylum symbol on it. With bracelets and obsidian hearts, they walked through without a problem, finding themselves in an ancient wrecked dining room.

The whole area was magically lit by moonlight—but then something wicked approached, bringing darkness. The warden greeted them, and two of the inmates attacked; the violent adventurers made short work of them, and pursued the warden through screens of impeding ghost orderlies. The samurai whacked him in half. The warden’s body began disintegrating, the dust flowing up the stairs. Grim, the adventurers continued on.

They moved through the play room, and the game room, finding the quarters of the creatures they destroyed. They continued on past the shrine, where the shokoro pulled off the silver globe marked with phrenology and moon mapping; the ghosts wailing for release there fled, and the globe seemed to lose its magic. The ape put it back on the altar and apologized to Cyclaria, and they continued.

Through the chapel, and now they were ghosted by a figure in white. Refusing to engage, they found the library at long last! They loaded up on over 40 scrolls of authenticated pedigree, and then they ran. They found the connecting passage to the dining room, and withdrew in haste, wildly successful.

The End

They got out and got 1,000 gold each from their employer, also selling the bracelets and obsidian hearts. Job well done!

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Plusevian Plaza Part II
Appeasing the God of Rains

Bulls by the Horns

Continuing where Skritt, Vayu, Ellinda, Wayland, and Tuleo left off last time.

They headed down through the door with the stylized bull head on it, finding a junk room before discovering an arena style room. Wayland carefully listened at doors, but did not hear anything. One door led to a short corridor between rooms, the other was a broom closet—but one with a secret door at the back. In the broom closet, there were supplies to clean up after brutal battles, and Wayland helped himself to a few minotaur teeth.

Tuleo opened the secret door, and came face to face with a minotaur that had been waiting to ambush them when they went past. As that battle snapped into violent action, the other door popped open, revealing another minotaur that had been waiting to trigger the ambush! Vayu blocked off one door with ethereal thorns, and the minotaur had to pick through them to leap at the adventurers only to be hewn down. Tuleo made short work of the other minotaur, and the adventurers caught their breath before continuing on.

The Shrine to Pluves, God of Rains

They found a corridor that opened up from the arenas to the shrine of Pluves, God of Rains. An expensive idol shaped like a dodecahedron was on an altar in a strange chapel. They explored around the chapel, finding a preparation room and a hall of fungus where hornfrills grazed. Thinking they had an exit identified in case of need, and now knowing the location of the altar, they withdrew back to the minotaur arenas.

Mazes and Monsters

The adventurers navigated the minotaur maze using the trusty algorithm of following the left-hand wall, and they found their way to a long stone corridor. Skritt and Wayland (who constantly borrowed Ellinda’s ring of darkvision) scouted ahead and spotted the monstrous abomination they were here to slay. They crept back to their comrades, and had intense whispered conversation—interrupted by the monster’s attack!

In the narrow corridor, they fought for their lives and managed to bring the shadowed thing down. Pistol shots, god-like strength behind magic weapons, mystic bolts, and enchanted bladework carried the day. As Ellinda thrust the final stab into the obscenity, the entire group channeled their animosity towards it through the battle princess, and it died a writhing and horrible death.

As Skritt steeled himself to gut it and dig out three chunks of amber-like substance, others scouted the monster’s lair and found the well from which it had crawled up from a deeper place.

Apologies

Reluctantly, the company turned back from their explorations and returned to the Plusevian shrine. There, Skritt arranged the amber on the altar and apologized to Pluves, God of Rains. The rain stopped, the curse was broken, and a rainbow with twelve colors shimmered for a moment in the dimness. Skritt smiled, free of his curse.

Onward into Darkness

They returned to the monster lair, continuing past it down long aimless corridors. They found an entry into a fungaloid compound; wary and respectful, they withdrew. Realizing they could not be sure what time it was, they pulled back to the hornfrill territory, hiding in the great hall full of fungus as a hornfrill and calves wandered through. Wayland’s tracking identified how the hornfrills entered and exited, matching up with the outside entrance he found before they delved in the first place.

Escape With Trophies

They let the hornfrills go past, then headed out to clean air deep in the Pit shaft. They saw their goblin scout descending in his hot air balloon—noting they had some time, the adventurers decided to gather trophies.

Tuleo, Skritt, and Wayland headed back to the front entrance where they dropped a couple minotaurs with gunshots. There they encountered a handful of rats, and Skritt spoke for the group, telling of their mighty deed in slaying the alien thing, and intimidating the overwhelmed ratmen. They retreated, and Wayland used his expert butchery to take the head off one minotaur corpse, and the horns off the other. They staggered back to the rendezvous point just as the balloon was tying up, and they all floated back up to Assignation (except Tuleo, who flew up with his gristly prize.)

Again safe up in Assignation, out of the Pit, they celebrated and then went their separate ways.

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Plusevian Plaza (Part I)
Adventuring in Assignation.

Skritt feels his age breaking him down, and wanted to break the curse from Pluves, God of Rains. So, from his base in Courvon, he gathered a group and traveled via ship and caravan wagon to Assignation. He took companions from the adventure slaying the Widow Dragon; his manservant Wayland, questing knight El, brawny wizard Vayu, and of course the godling Tuleo.

To avoid any entanglements from his past, Skritt took on the alias “Tirks.”

They traveled into Assignation, down the mighty avenue from the Gate, and settled at a drafty tavern, the Gambling Watchmen. They also contracted with a goblin fixer, who helped them with various arrangements for food, clothes, housing, and so forth. They rested for a meal at the tavern (their fixer brought them food from elsewhere), then they traveled past the Plaza (looking down into the impressive Pit for the first time) to the Winding Stair. They reached the Temple of the Healing Dark as the cleric staff were becoming active in the darkness.

Their fixer arranged them entry, and they traveled through the dark temple with goblin guides. They met a High Seer, and Skritt explained he sought shelter from Pluves curse and death from age. The others were dismissed, and the seer did a reading for Skritt. He said there was a dark monster around the temple to Pluves down in the Fringelands on the south side. Kill the monster, offer its heart at the Pluvian shrine, and that may do the trick. As for the other, after he’s done he can stay in the Temple and possibly become an acolyte if he is faithful enough.

Skritt hired a Pit guide, Svell, an odd goblin who arranged for them to meet him in the Plaza the next morning. He had a balloon ready, and they drifted down the the area of the Plusevian Plaza. He would return in 7 hours, and again at dawn. Then not any more.

Ambush at the Entry

Wayland saw evidence of large grazing herbivores, and found the entry they used. The party hid as a hornfrill and its calf came out to feed. Not wanting to mess with that, they skulked around to the main entry.

Tuleo led the way, finding it useful to be able to float when the pit traps opened below. As they approached a mural to see what it depicted, crossbows fired from a hole in the roof and from arrow slits flanking the mural, as reinforcements raced towards the battle from behind. The adventurers returned fire, and Tuleo punched through the mural to confront those firing through slits. The foes were hulking big man-rat-things, but the adventurers slew them out of hand (except the ones that managed to scramble away.)

Vayu blocked the route for reinforcements using an enchanted ethereal thorn wall, and they followed the tunnel behind the wall. Periodically they ran into clusters of flustered rat men, and they casually wiped out any that did not flee fast enough.

They found a barred door, and left it alone until they’d knocked a few more rat-men down. Then they opened it and explored, finding an alligator pit. Taking another tunnel from the pit, they found more rat and blew them away.

Rain fell in the stone tunnels, a leftover from when this area was full of holy energy.

Challenge of the Bull

Something roared challenge to them, and they ignored it until they encountered a rat who told them to go the other way. They let him live, and found their way to the chamber over the entry plaza. They saw two mighty minotaurs issuing challenge to them (but not seeing where they were.) Wayland and Skritt settled into position with their firearms, using their practiced skill as hunters. They blew the minotaurs away with a single crash of gunpowder, and the rat-men scattered as the minotaurs toppled gushing gore.

They explored further, and Tuleo grappled a rat-man to interrogate him. They found out the rats called themselves “Ratguard” and that their mighty leader had a wizard advisor. Also, the monster of shadow was beyond the minotaur maze, the minotaurs kept it out. The ratguard expressed some skepticism that they could successfully reason with either a ratguard king or minotaurs. They released him, and went back to the overlook to rest.

A Little Rest

Wayland wanted to rest and heal after a clash with rat-men earlier. While they were waiting, the complex’s defenses rallied, sending a massive wave of rat-men at them led by a minotaur. Close-quarters fighting in a gory stairwell saw the adventurers triumphant as Tuleo stood in the storm of blades and fangs and did not bend, supported by Vayu’s rock soldiers and others stepping in to help out. Skritt was knocked unconscious, but he recovered with minimal damage.

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