The Acts of The Lords of Rannick, LII

It’s been raised a few times, because it isn’t a particularly obvious place to go, but this is why you’re in Runeforge:

You’ve got nowhere else to go. Kind of.

I mean, you could flee, but then you’d just be roleplaying sensible people with no particular desire to obtain wealth and power. There’s no clear Macguffin here, while in previous parts of this path, there have been clear goals of varying sorts. The goal is distant and moving towards it requires a bit of maneuvering.

You have to defeat Karzoug. Karzoug is in Xin-Shalast. No-one knows where that is, now that Mokmurian is dead. You know of two ancient repositories of Thassilonian lore: the Thassilonian Library beneath Jorgenfist and the Runeforge. The Library turned up dry when you tried to locate Xin-Shalast, beyond descriptions of the city and references to a river that no longer exist. Whatever catastrophe befell ancient Thassilon, it befell their geography too. Runeforge is currently your best bet for investigating Xin-Shalast’s location.

From the Dragon’s Hoard to the Iron Cages of Lust.

Standing around the hoard, swimming around in money and new magic items lost its appeal after a few hours. Kerplak grew bored of all the formerly-new stuff and began investigating the side tunnels. Others joined him as he chipped some ice from the walls to look at the passages underneath. Don cast a Flaming Sphere for ice removal, revealing swathes of chiseled rock underneath. As they searched further, they found rooms of enormous size, hallways and corridors winding down into the mountain, long covered in thick ice. No sign of habitation or ornamentation was found and the decided that it looked like an underground quarry.

Returning to the central hub, they set about examining the pillars again. Finding the keyholes, Dagfinn placed the first key in and turned it twice, since he had paid attention to the poem that the Scribbler left. BARD!

The pillar lit up, surrounded by a pulsating aura of orange. The next one lit up too when the key was turned, with a different coloured aura, then the next and the next and so on until all seven of the smaller pillars were bathed in a different coloured light. At which point the central pillar began pulsing with a bright white light. As their eyes adjusted to the brightness, they saw a portal form in front of them. The portal seemed to wrap around the main pillar, but from whatever angle they viewed it from, it showed the same scene, a clean, well-lit marble hallway stretching towards a large chamber of some sort.

With very little hesitation, they stepped in.

Wheeee!

To Don’s relief, when he turned back, he could still see Arradin guarding the dragon’s treasure, but that relief didn’t last long as the portal suddenly disappeared and left only a dead end.

Kerplak, Dagfinn, Don and Halvard (and probably some others) found themselves in a clean, fresh-smelling hallway of high-quality marble. The lighting in here had no discernible source, but was soft and even throughout the area. It smelled of lemongrass and the temperature was perfect, a welcome change after the cold and damp of the previous days.

The hallway they were in was shorter than it had looked from the other side of the portal and before them lay a grand domed chamber. About a 100′ across, it contained a ring of huge statues, each one a full-body version of the busts on the hilltop outside Rimeskull. Each statue lay at the tip of a barbed point of the Sihedron rune, inlaid in the chamber floor. At the center of the room was a raised pool, filled with a glowing crystalline liquid.

Dagfinn recognised Karzoug and Alaznist, but could not put a name to the others. For now we’ll call the others Little Guy, Goatee Guy, Necromancy Guy, Frumpy Woman and Sexy Naked Chick. Kind of like Fleetwood Mac. Behind each statue lay an arched entrance to another hallway.

Kerplak and Dagfinn recognized the type of liquid in the pool, it was the same type of bubbling, moving-of-its-own-volition bright liquid that they had found in Alaznist’s complex under Sandpoint, lo those many moons ago. From it had emerged a Sinspawn, the crooked-limbed, split-jawed monsters that attacked furiously.

Halvard reached in and was almost overwhelmed by the liquid’s effect on him. Simultaneously freezing cold and scalding hot, it struck his other senses – blindingly bright, with a smell of hot metal and roar of crashing waves. All sorts of scenes from his past flashed before his eyes before snatched his hand back out of the liquid. Kerplak carefully lifted a small amount of liquid using his alchemical equipment.

Don, meanwhile, was looking around the hallways behind the statues. All stretched into the far distance, so far that the end could not be seen – except one. There, behind the Frumpy Woman, the hallway was short, scarred and sooty.

They gathered themselves, shoved the gnome to the front and proceeded down the hallway. The walls were painted, the murals depicting the acts of grey-blue robed wizards facing off against monsters of all sorts and defending themselves from the attacks of other wizards. As they approached the first small and damaged room a Magic Mouth appeared in the ceiling, warning them that they were approaching the Halls of Eager Striving and somewhat melodramatically promising that they would be crushed by the power of the Halls’ inhabitants.

They found no inhabitants, just collapsing marble masonry and crumbled passageways with further signs of some catastrophic amount of magical energy expended in these Halls. Don found one area of fallen masonry that maybe wasn’t quite as final as the others had been, using Stone Shape to clear a path through the fallen ceiling chunk he discovered a smallish room, flickering with arcane energy. All along the blackened walls sparks and plasma flares danced and on the floor, in the middle of the room a sparking Rod seemed to have been fused into the debris strewn floor.

Kerplak searched the room and found shards of blackened bone but also a secret door, hidden on the back wall. He checked it for traps. Opening the door, he found a small room with a few padded benches along the walls but mostly taken up by a pool or silvery liquid.

Don set about Stone Shaping the marble floor as Dagfinn cast Detect Magic and tried to figure out what it was. He couldn’t figure out what the Rod was, only that it was very powerful and also seemed to be accumulating power at an alarming rate and might –

FOOM!

The Rod suddenly released all its pent up energy and a wave of abjuration magic swept over the area, even catching Halvard who was standing watch at the door. The magic of their magic items was washed away. Kerplak’s Fogcutting Glasses and Dagfinn’s Boots of The Winterlands disintegrated in an instant, leaving behind only ash.

Everyone ran away…

…to a safer distance where they stripped down and went back to defuse this sucker. Kerplak went back and started doing science. He began messing around with the silvery liquid and found out a few things about its properties. A) It would not mix with the liquid from the pool in the main hall. They remained seperate. B) The liquid neutralised the Holy Water placed in the pool. C) It appeared that the silvery liquid would remove any magical qualities from items. Kerplak took some of the silvery liquid, of course.

That's fucking uncanny.

Dagfinn and Don suited up for their dangerfun. Dagfinn went in whatever he wears for underwear and Don just went as a Marmot. The pulse went off one more time, but other than returning Don to being a man, rather than a Marmot, had no ill effect on them, other than giving them the poop-shivers.

Don dug the fused and split rod from the marble floor and deposited it in the pool of silver liquid where it suddenly stopped crackling and spitting sparks. No more Foom.

Meanwhile, Kerplak had found out something else interesting about the bright liquid from the pool in the central hall. It began to ooze up the side of the silvery pool, out over the lip and, left along, began running along the floor, back towards the pool. There it joined the rest of the liquid.

Take me with you, Kerplak, don't leeeeave meeee...

The magical qualities returned to those items that had been effected by the Disjunction pulse, although the Boots and Goggles were destroyed for good.

Anyway, that ended the party’s fray into the Halls of Eager Striving. Next they chose a statue entirely at random and, somewhat predictably, chose the sexy naked chick. Dagfinn and Don decided to go in while Kerplak and Halvard hung back. I’m not sure why, I’m not sure what the tactic was there. Anyway, as soon as Dagfinn and Don stepped into the hallway behind the SNC statue, they disappeared from Halvard and Kerplak’s view.

They found themselves before a pair of heavy iron doors that lay open, revealing a massive domed room, supported by pillars carved into lewd representations of the SNC back at the hub. How she managed to keep the ceiling up… while… with the… I just don’t know. Beside the pillars dangled iron cages, and in the center of the room sat a large pavilion made of rippling silk walls.

The two men made their way over to the nearest cage, one that appeared to have a live inhabitant. Inside the cage quivered Mutt, an emaciated young man covered in bite marks, lash marks, clean cuts and small burns. Replying to Dagfinn’s questioning with broken, rambling and sometimes manic answers, they determined that he was a Thassilonian who had been very badly abused by the “sisters” who apparently work for someone called Delvahine. As he finally munched into the rations that Dagfinn had provided him, four figures took to the air in the vast chamber; four scantily-clad, laughing women, borne aloft by small bat-like wings.

The men turned towards the exit, but saw the heavy iron doors swing shut.

Things just took a turn for the Vallejo.

This is the least offensive picture I could find on the entire internet within the search parameters this situation gave me.

The Compleat Adventurer this week was Don,  who found an ingenious, yet situation appropriate way to disarm the Disjunction Trap. It works so well, I’m kind of surprised it wasn’t included as a possible solution in the material. Good play from everyone though.

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