Pool of the Standing Stones IV (30th April 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Gull – Thief (NPC)
Johan – Cleric
Vox – Magic User
Map (amended) courtesy of White Dwarf 12/Games Workshop
Fighters in Stitches - Sunday 28th Quinquember (Day 61) – late night
As the sewn together corpse sat upright, the fighter and ranger prodded and turned more dials on the strange wall device in the hope of reversing what they had started. More sparks flew and rivers of blue power flowed along the metal cables to the second figure. The energy from the strange contraption flowed into its mighty thews and caused it too to rise up.
The rest of the party quickly made their way to the chamber when they heard the cries of anguish that emanated from the two warriors’ throats. The reanimated corpses turned towards their awakeners and advanced upon them slowly.
Johan joined his companions and attempted to turn what he thought were undead but with no luck. This would come down to old fashioned methods; weapons and brute strength.
The combat that ensued was brutal. The slow moving corpses were hacked and stabbed at but even after several blows that would ordinarily have de-limbed an ordinary man they still advanced upon the fighters. Slow as they were, the monsters hit their marks on several occasions and caused many severe bruises and cracked bones to be heaped upon their targets. The party’s fighters were severely pressed, but eventually skill won out against brute force and the two reanimated corpses were eventually hacked to pieces and fell again dead to the floor.
Whilst the fighting took place, Gull, the thief, investigated the banks of levers and pulleys. He saw many of the contacts were made from precious metals, but as he tried to remove some of them he took a great shock of glowing blue energy which reduced him to within an inch of his life.
Jacob and the Blue Pool
Whilst the rest of the party collected their thoughts and re-gathered their strength, Vox decided to head back towards the bed chamber the party had just passed through before getting to the laboratory. He knew that there must have been some sort of secret exit as the room mirrored that of the cleric they had encountered elsewhere in the subterranean complex.
Bow, Cormac and Johan left Gull on guard at the right hand doorway and opened the door to a large chamber beyond. Half of the floor area was given over to a glowing turquoise pool. The other half of the floor contained a mixture of empty vials, bandages and a few small glass containers that contained what looked like more of the blue liquid. The room also housed what looked like the remains of a chained and starved man.
Cormac moved towards the prostrate man and prodded him. The chained man awoke and scuttled backwards further into his corner and begged the party not to harm him. The party placated him and said that they would not harm him. They then asked him to tell them what had happened. The emaciated man told them that his name was Jacob and that he had been captured by Braken and Prisilla to perform acts of thaumaturgy and artificery for them. He had created the blue pool which allowed them to strengthen the skin of the reanimated corpses; the next stage of preparation for the army that would serve at the coming of the demoness herself. Bow asked whether it would hurt him if he jumped in the pool, and Jacob responded that it would not.
Bow swiftly removed his armour, weapons and clothing, and dived straight into the pool. He swam around and coated every inch of his body with the blue fluid before he jumped out to see what the effect might be.
Vox, meanwhile had finished his search for a secret tunnel, which he found behind the headboard of the luxurious four-poster bed, and made his way back to join his companions. He saw Bow was swimming in the pool and that Johan and Cormac had a shrivelled little man under their control, so he advanced across the room past Gull and made his way through the door opposite. He found himself in a large ante-room with another door opposite.
Bow climbed out of the pool and, after he had picked up his sword and shield, caught up with his magic-wielding companion. He shoved past him, only to find that his limbs had begun to stiffen slightly. He ignored the sensation and pushed open the door to a room full of steam. He edged his way inside to find that a bench ran all around the perimeter of the room, and sat upright upon this bench were several corpses with a slightly blue sheen to them.
As he backed away, the figures stirred and began to move towards him with red menace in their eyes. The ranger backed out of the room as swiftly as his steadily seizing legs would carry him and brushed past his wizardly companion at the door.
Vox called for Cormac and Johan to aid him against the zombies as he held the doorway whilst Bow ran to vent his anger upon Jacob, who had lied to him. Cormac held onto Jacob to prevent him from escaping, but the wizened man just cackled with laughter. Johan, upon hearing the word “Zombies” strode over to Vox and saw that the first of the walking corpses had emerged from the steam room.
Johan called upon the might of Balder to strike down the abominations before him, and five of the corpses collapsed therewith. The remnants of the animated corpses carried on their advance none-the-less unperturbed.
Bow and Cormac roughly questioned Jacob, who only cackled with delight in answer until he was pierced by Bow’s sword. The two fighters realised that they could threaten the unhinged little man no more so decided to throw him into the blue pool. Bow’s limbs and digits slowly got stiffer as he and Cormac struggled with the little man who was stronger by far than either of the magically Strengthened warriors would have believed. After a few minutes of struggle, Bow slashed Jacob’s hamstrings and the duo was able to loft him into the pool. Jacob, weighed down by his chains and hampered by his injuries, surfaced once to gasp for breath before he slowly sank beneath the surface never to rise again.
Gull ran to aid Bow into his armour whilst Cormac and Johan swapped places defending the doorway from the zombies. Although the zombies were tougher than any that the party had previously encountered, they still fell swiftly to the metronomic blade of the fighter.
Johan realised that the magical effect of the pool would probably kill his companion so he cast a Dispel Magic dweomer upon him. The effects of the blue liquid stopped straight away and the radiance of the pool dimmed. Unfortunately, some of the party’s magical potions also lost their potency.
Cormac destroyed the last of the zombies whilst Gull searched through the debris on the floor. The thief found a small vial with a red liquid inside and magical writing upon its surface. He handed the potion to Vox who swiftly deposited it within one of the pockets of his voluminous cloak for later research.
Cormac and the Ogre
Whilst Bow got himself together and the rest of the party searched around the room, Cormac headed off on his own. He passed through the steam room, through a second ante-chamber and emerged into a long, shelf-lined room.
The fighter noticed the curios behind the glass cabinet doors but decided not to search within the lower cupboards. He decided to leave them for later as he advanced ever onwards. He passed through the room and exited through the doorway opposite onto a scene of carnage.
He was about to draw his breath to shout for aid when he realised that he had emerged at the point where the party, with Theoderic’s aid, had fought the black-caped soldiers of the Temple.
He now had a grand idea of how this part of the complex was laid out and so he made his way back to inform the party. As he stepped back into the cabinet-lined room his torch picked out the huge ambling shape of an ogre. He did not have time to think how the ogre had appeared behind him but only rushed towards his foe with a battle-cry upon his lips.
Bow heard his companion’s shout and dashed towards the source of the noise. Cormac held his own against the ogre but Bow’s rage gave his limbs a speed he did not know he possessed until now. He saw the back of Cormac’s assailant and hewed down the mighty foe with one sweep of his trusty sword.
The rest of the party arrived in dribs and drabs to see the two fighters’ handy-work and began to search the cabinets and shelves.
Rest and Recovery
There was nothing to be found in the cupboards except dismembered corpses and strange curios like monkey paws, coloured pebbles and such like; nothing of any value except to maybe a collector of odd items. Nevertheless, Vox picked up a few handfuls of what he thought might come in handy at a later date.
The party were in a badly beaten way at this point, and as it was getting late, being close to midnight, they decided that a few hours’ sleep and some magical healing would be the best policy.
The party barricaded themselves into the old guards’ quarters and set about resting, healing and learning or invoking new spells. Johan used up the last of his healing spells upon those who needed them most and then set himself to pray for more aid from his god.
Earthquake - midnight
An hour or so into their respite, the whole complex shook violently. Bow voiced what they were all thinking; the second doorway to the demoness’ lair had been breached. This disturbance stopped the magic users from regaining all of their spells, so the few that they had learned were used there and then. More healing was distributed by Johan, and Vox was able to read the magical inscription upon the vial of red liquid. The magical writing spelled out AGAU but the cryptic way in which it was written was deciphered to mean “from Silver to Gold”. The foul-tasting mouthful that Bow had taken as an antidote to the blue liquid had caused him no harm but he realised that this act may have cost him money.
Layout of the Land – Finding the Secret Tunnel
Several hours later, after the party had fully rested and the magic users had regained all of their spells afresh, they gathered to work out what they would do next. Vox mentioned the secret tunnel he had found in the woman’s boudoir and said that it may be best if they checked it to see if a corridor ran between that chamber and that of the cleric.
Vox and Bow returned to the woman’s chamber whilst Cormac, Gull and Johan, armed with Vox’s knowledge of the secret door’s release mechanism, returned to the cleric’s chamber.
Johan quickly found the release button to the secret corridor beyond the headboard of the large bed and shone his light within. The corridor beyond extended beyond the range of his lantern.
Meanwhile, Vox returned to the woman’s boudoir to do the same. Whilst Vox made his way to the secret corridor, Bow took a slight detour down the steps within the flesh constructs’ chamber. He saw that the bottom of the chamber was flooded with brine and within the brine were many limbs. He drew his sword and stirred the brackish waters for a better view when suddenly a long, slim shape erupted from the depths. One swift swipe of his sword carved the giant lamprey in half before it could attach itself to one of his limbs. Bow slid the dead parasite from his sword and let the parts fall back into the water. A glint from beneath the surface revealed an earring, with an ear still attached. He thrust his hand into the brackish water and retrieved the small treasure.
Vox’s patience began to wear thin with his dallying companion but his caution overwhelmed that feeling so he held his place. When Bow arrived at his side, the pair pushed the door inwards and shone their torches along the corridor.
They advanced along the corridor slowly, their eyes wide for traps and ambushers. In the distance they espied a lantern approaching them, so Bow hissed to the magic user to slow down whilst he readied his sword.
At the other end of the same corridor the other three companions also saw the approach of a lantern. They had the wherewithal to call out and the party realised that the corridor did indeed link the two bed chambers.
As Vox and Bow advanced towards their companions, there came a crashing sound as the ground ahead of them crashed down into a large pit. Cormac and Gull had narrowly escaped plunging down a deep hole in the floor that they had triggered the trip device for.
As the floor ahead was known to be safe, the party followed in Vox’s and Bow’s footsteps and emerged with a sigh of relief back into the woman’s chamber. Vox helped himself to a few choice items of make-up before the party headed out into the corridor beyond.
Another Dead End?
The party slowed to a halt in the corridor and started to wonder what to do next when Vox had an idea. They advanced towards one of the last remaining dead-ends that they had not already explored and hoped that it too was part of another elaborate teleportation device.
The adventurers formed up into their usual battle order and walked towards the dead-end wall and disappeared one at a time. When they looked around they saw that the corridor behind them was different to the one they had just walked along and was also different to any of the others they had traversed.
Maybe this was the third and final part of the complex where they would meet the owners of the two boudoirs and the bone-devil Dando and reclaim the magical sword power that would undo the magic of the Golden Orb that held Zuggtmoy captive upon this plane of existence?