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         Copyright © Randy Bowers. All rights reserved.


Campaign Excerpt: Entering the Lair of Madrasheen

Silusa 21. A few days passed by while Kukalmak could finish reading the book he had been obsessing over. The church of Arden contributed a vial of silvershine and a potion of death ward. They also mentioned a relic lost to the Shinveta catacombs called the Fotis Mantle, which would help in any fight against the undead.
    Ahnkor bestowed Arden's favor on the group and increasing their resistances against evil magic. With preparations done, the party convened at the Four Pillars on the 25th. Walks the Walls took some dust from the ground, ate it, then blew it from his mouth into a zephyr which dispersed into the air, then began looking for signs which would lead the party to the "lair of Niosha's most powerful servants on the Isle of Sepras."
    By carpet, watching the signs shown to Walks the Walls, the party traveled across the harbor to the Isle of Sepras. At the northern crest of the isle, about noon, Walks the Walls led the party to a vantage just slightly uphill from a small temple compound, whose walls were covered with flowering vines. In the center of its small grassy courtyard was a slender, small tower, twenty feel tall, windowed at its second floor, and with a twenty foot iron spire reaching high into the sky from the pointed tip of the tower.
    They observed the people there, but none were evil - neither the gardener tending the vines nor the young woman who departed the small compound. The group went in through the low gate. The place was very simple in design. Grass covered the ground within the compound, a tiny and unused well was half-hidden in the grass with a bucket filled with dirt in which someone had planted a flower resting nearby. On the ground beside the tower, in the sun, lay three humans in gauzy, thin, blue robes. They explained that they were worshipers of Nalambari, "She Who Wears Blue," a deity of the sky. One explained that in their belief they send their thoughts into the air and sky and that by doing so they alter the harmony of the world, influencing it towards their positive spiritual hopes and dreams.
    Kukalmak explored the tower. Downstairs was a simple room with a collections box, a clothes rack from which hung the worshipers robes, and a bench on which rested a bunch of day-clothes. Upstairs was an even smaller room, only five feet wide on a side, with windows that looked out on all sides. The iron rod which adorned the top of the tower, soaring twenty feet high, pierced the center of both of these rooms. Amaria noticed that there were small holes in this iron rod above the tower and posited that this might be one avenue used by the vampires whilst in gaseous form. The spell of Walks the Walls indicated that the proper way to go was down the narrow water well. Max strained against the rusty grate and broke it, opening the way for Amaria to scout downwards. The well was quite deep, a hundred feet or more perhaps, and ended spikes formed from shards of glass. She could see a small hole in the wall though. So she returned and Kukalmak changed into a little spider and descended slowly downwards. Much later he returned, by then the divination of Walks the Walls had faded away. Kukalmak reported that there was a room suitable for teleporting into. The group joined hands, Kukalmak invoked the spell, and everyone was transported into a tiny closet-like space, crammed in uncomfortably close to each other. Kukalmak said it looked much bigger when he was a spider.
    A simple latch opened the closet door, causing Max to spill out into the small room beyond. A small twenty foot wide chamber with an ancient oval table in its center and a broken, cobweb-covered bookcase opposite the closet door. As Max entered the room he was suddenly afflicted with gruesome bleeding wounds as he succumbed to the effects of a forbiddance ward. Resolutely, each party member entered the room. Walks the Walls provided healing for the worst affected.
    After some searching it was discovered that the bookcase hid a secret passage and that the mechanism for opening it was by pushing down on one end of the table. Amaria cautioned that behind the bookcase were a variety of magical auras were present; Amaria looked upon them with magical sight and identified magic from the schools of illusion, divination, abjuration, and necromancy", but she did not speak as to the strengths of the magics. The party braced itself and opened the secret passage. The bookcase slid aside to reveal a simple panel door whose face had been lewdly painted with the half-serpentine goddess entwined about a pretty female deity, drinking of its blood. The painting animated and the Niosha-likeness cryptically spoke saying, "You mortals who trespass here, spill the gift of the virgin goddess."
    Max presumed this meant blood and refused. The party agreed with Max and a decision hastily made to simply break down the locked door. Ahnkor rushed it twice with his shoulder and the second time he broke through, which is when things began to go terribly wrong.
    Although the door was split in two, the other female goddess whose blood had been being consumed, animated and began to loudly wail. Before the party could fully observe the room beyond, a powerful magic swept through the room that caused everyone to feel as though their hearts would burst, and Amaria fell dead upon the ground in an instant. Others would have perished as well except for Ahnkor's earlier blessing.
    Dismayed and fearing that foes were surely now alerted by the still screaming painted door, the party entered the next room. The plastered walls of this wide hallway were painted to show dreadfully beautiful and fanged women carrying platters with the haloed heads of deities. On the floor of the room was a larger, painted relief of the goddess Niosha, holding an empty plate with a symbol of death upon it. At the end of the room, flanked by red and wet-looking columns was a wall of darkness that no-one's vision could penetrate.
    Max flipped over the broken door, muting its wailing screams. Ahnkor began to radiate light and cursed the trapped door as Kukalmak threw a cloth over the symbol on the floor, which did nothing to abate the feelings of dread that it caused. Then from the darkness came a female voice, "Ah, Ardenite, don't be so foolish to presume that inanimate traps are all that await you here. Come, bathe in my dark embrace and I shall drink of your sanguine essence."
    Ahnkor refuted the challenge and Kukalmak made a disparaging remark. Ahnkor stepped forward a couple steps, his light pushed back the strange darkness, forming a small semicircle of radiance, which abruptly ended in still more darkness. Walks the Walls and Kukalmak glimpsed the tail of a bony serpent-like form which retreated back into the darkness.
    "Perhaps some encouragement is needed to bring you into my sanctuary," purred the sinister female voice. Then the decapitated heads painted on the walls animated, leaving the paintings and becoming real things, hair waving about tendril-like, mouths gaping desiccated and fanged, strands of flesh dangling from their severed necks, and began to attack.