The West Wing
The East Wing
Mazaramus continued hunting around the room, finding mostly mundane equipment (though it would prove useful in starting up his own laboratory if he had somewhere to keep it) and a few notes before coming across some kind of safe. He took some of the notes and started scribbling a message for the other invisible party members to read. Unfortunately, the hypnos magen heard his scribbling and directed a charm attack at him. Mazaramus failed his saving throw and, like Lithanor, was charmed.
Two of the other magen remained blocking the door that the party had entered by, while the galvan magen moved to block the door at the western end of the room.
The rest of the party decided it was time to stop dithering about, and take these magen on. Whispering plans to each other, they quietly moved into position. Klaus went to deal with the galvan magen. Sneaky moved behind the hypnos magen for a backstab. Gandi drank his potion of growth, turning into a giant invisible dwarf and also moved up to the hypnos magen. Morgan, Merick and Bhakragh moved to take on the demos magen and the pale gray magen.
Sneaky fluffed her backstab, but Gandi sliced the hypnos magen easily with his two giant hand axes. The magen evaporated into a cloud of mist. With the hypnos magen slain, Mazaramus and Lithanor came to their senses, the charm broken.
Klaus missed with his attack on the galvan magen, hoping to entrap it with his snake staff. Morgan, Merick and Bhakragh between them quickly despatched the demos magen, which broke up into fine golden dust and disappeared into nothing.
Morgan landed a heavy blow on the pale grey magen, but it proved quite tough and would not be slain by a single sword blow.
With only two magen left, the galvan magen launched a lightning bolt at Klaus. Klaus dodged most of the bolt, taking only 6 points of damage. Unfortunately, and unbeknown by Klaus, Lithanor was standing not far behind him and took the full brunt of the blast. Morgan found that the magen he was fighting could extend its arms to attack and attempt to wrap around its target. Morgan managed to dodge its initial attack.
The magen won the initiative in the next round. Klaus had moved round so that if the magen launched another lightning bolt, it could bounce back and hit the magen, so it attacked with its short sword instead, and missed. Morgan found himself coiled by the other magen’s arms, and was beginning to take acid damage from its attack. Gandi landed a heavy blow on it, and Morgan, even with his body coiled, was able to finish it off with his bastard sword. The magen instantly released its grip and dissolved into a bubbling whitish-grey mass of goo.
Klaus got a hit on the galvan magen and this time entangled it with his snake staff. The rest of the party moved in and finished it off while it was still helpless, and the magen dissolved into a silvery grey liquid which quickly dissipated into nothing.
After a bit of healing, the party returned to searching the room, particularly the safe. Sneaky successfully opened the safe, which was found to contain several vials of powdered gold and platinum, a generous amount of semi-precious stones, and a tiny onyx figurine inlaid with gold.
Mazaramus studied the notes he had found. Even though most of it was in French, he had enough alchemical knowledge to interpret a fair amount of it. The notes were on certain aspects of the creation of magen, and they were able to learn the names of the four that they had encountered. As well as the demos and galvan magen (which they already knew about) and the hypnos magen, the arm wrap-aroundy one was called a caldron magen. He also learnt that the process of creating a magen was far beyond his current knowledge and
|Whatever the creature in the picture was|
Mazaramus hoped he'd never meet one.
The party left the room by the door at the western end, which was found to lead into a short corridor, 50’ long, with doors on either side of the centre of the corridor and another at the northern end. The eastern door they already knew led back into the room with the cells, so they proceeded to the northern door. Gandi was particularly keen to get going as he didn’t know how long his potion was going to last and wanted get some more slaying done while he was still a 9’ tall dwarf.
Beyond the door was another corridor leading north, which turned eastwards after a short while into a very long corridor lined with small 3’x3’ doors in several rows along each wall. The air in this place was very cold. Gandi insisted that they ignore these for now and rushed down the corridor, followed by the party, and they eventually came to a door in the southern wall. This led into a large room, apparently a laboratory of sorts but of a more surgical nature, with knives, scissors and other tools on metal wheeled tables. In the centre of the room was a metal table, on which was a corpse with the skull sawn open and the brain removed. Even more horrifying was the abomination hovering over the table, suspended by six crab-like legs. Its oily membranous body was a sickly yellow-orange. Several tentacles, some holding surgical tools, protruded from its body and four yellow bulging eyes hung above a repulsive, tooth-filled mouth. Atop its head, the party could make out five curious lumps.
The party didn’t stop to ask questions. Mazaramus hit it with a fire ball, while the rest of the party launched a volley of missile fire at it. Only Morgan and Gandi rushed in to take it on hand-to-hand (or hand-to-tentacle in this case). Even though it took the party three rounds to kill the thing, the party took no damage. It was a spell-caster, and its attempt at casting a spell had been disrupted by the party’s quick reactions, and after that made a futile attempt at slicing Morgan with a surgical knife. Mazaramus was curious as to what the strange lumps in its head were and began cutting it open. The lumps were in fact human brains. Mazaramus could only surmise that this thing ate brains which it somehow used to boost its own magical abilities. As to whether it had a brain of its own or even what it would look like was anyone’s guess, as the anatomy of the creature was so alien. Lithanor wanted to completely incinerate the thing, or at least burn it to a crisp, but for some reason Mazaramus was loathe to part with any of his flasks of oil.
They investigated the room and found in a bin a few loose coinage and gems, as well as a long sword and a shield, both of which turned out to be magical when Morgan used his sword’s detect magic ability. The long sword they gave to Bhakragh, who in turn gave his spear+1 to Merick, as he didn’t have a magical weapon yet. Merick also took the shield, to give to his friend Talanius should the party find some way of ousting Catharine from his body.
Gandi suddenly found the room growing larger. His potion had expired.
Given that there were no other exits from the room, the party returned to the 50’ long corridor with the four doors. En route, they checked out the 3’x3’ doors in the corridor, and as they now suspected, most of them contained a dead body lying flat on tray. A few of them had had their skulls cut open and their brains removed, just like the one on the table in the surgical room.
The party went through the western door in the 50’ corridor. This was found to lead into another very large room. This one was an alchemical laboratory, and Mazaramus marvelled at all the equipment lying about. Two other doors led from the room, one in the centre of the north wall, and one near the north end of the west wall. The rest of the party followed Mazaramus into the room. As soon as they did so, the door behind them slammed shut and almost immediately a blackness began to appear around the edges of the room and began encroaching on the party. Realising that they were completely surrounded by this blackness, they moved to the centre of the room to get away from it. It was soon evident that this blackness was some kind of cloud or mist. The party covered their mouths and decided to make a break for the door that they had come through. Despite their precautions, Klaus, Morgan, Merick and Bhakragh were overcome by the fumes and fell into a slumber. Gandi tried to bash the door down, but to no avail. Lithanor cast a knock spell, and the door opened. They carried their sleeping comrades out, left the room, and returned to the room of cells.
It was apparent that the four sleeping party members were dreaming. Attempts at waking them were fruitless so they turned their attention to the cells. Lithanor once again tried in vain to get the attention of the minotaur in its cell. Mazaramus cast invisibility, first on Sneaky, then on himself. Gandi meanwhile, entered the cell of the madman painting the moon on the wall. He grabbed the paint brush and started painting a smiley face on the moon. The madman, who Catharine informed them was named Gaston, drew a dagger and went into a rage, attacking Gandi. Gandi swung back and wounded Gaston. At this point Lithanor had seen what was going on and ran into the cell to put a stop to it. He persuaded Gandi to leave poor Gaston alone. After this, Catharine (who was still invisible) spoke to Lithanor, saying that there is insanity and then there is plain madness.
The four sleeping party members were indeed dreaming. In Klaus’ dream he found himself walking down a dungeon corridor and came across an ochre jelly advancing towards him. He hit it with his staff, but it just divided into two ochre jellies. Realising that they couldn’t move very fast, he turned and ran back down the corridor, which just seemed to go on forever. After a while, he saw a horned, winged and fanged creature made of stone, which leapt into the air and flew down the corridor towards him. Klaus fought the creature, which was in fact a gargoyle, and eventually slew it, though he took a lot of wounds himself. He woke from his dream to find that the wounds were real…and so were the xps!
In game terms, sleeping characters had to make a saving throw vs spells. If they failed this saving throw, then the dream was real.
Morgan dreamt that he was running down a narrow path with a sheer chasm on one side and a steep cliff wall on the other. Rolling down the path behind him was a large boulder that would squash him flat if it caught up with him. Fortunately, just as the boulder was about to catch up and crush him, he woke up.
Bhakragh dreamt that he was in a room in a dungeon when a hill giant burst into the room. Bhakragh slew the giant, but was himself knocked down to 19 hit points remaining. Unfortunately, Bhakragh made his saving throw, so the dream wasn’t real, and he missed out on 650 experience points.
Merick’s dream was that he was on an epic quest filled with many dangers. He defeated all of his foes and completed the quest. He also made his saving throw, so the dream wasn’t real. However, he did have the impression that he was not alone in his quest, another hero fought unseen alongside him.
After the sleeping characters woke up about half an hour later, Klaus learnt of the commotion with Gaston and went to heal him. Gaston returned to painting his moon, though still somewhat upset by Gandi’s interference.
Before leaving the cells, Morgan had one last attempt at getting some reaction from the minotaur. This time he actually went into the cell (all the cell doors were unlocked for some reason). As soon as he did so, the minotaur attacked him. He swung back, hitting the minotaur, which vanished as soon as it was hit. After all that it was just an illusion. The party never investigated the remaining two (apparently) empty cells. Spoiler: one of them contained an invisible stalker which would attack anyone entering the cell.
The party returned to the alchemical laboratory. The black cloud of dust had dissipated, and this time, the doors did not slam shut, nor did the cloud reappear.
It was time for the session to end. The amber bubble descended once more, allowing the party to recuperate before exploring the rest of the dungeon.
Fully recuperated once again and having learnt their spells, the party headed through the north door leading from the laboratory. This lead into a 30’ wide passageway travelling north for some distance. The party headed down it and soon found that the passageway sloped upwards for a bit (Morgan’s sword verified this, simply because it could) before reaching a spiral stairway leading upwards. Ascending the stairs, they came to a trapdoor which opened into a 50’ east to west by 20’ north to south room, with the ceiling being only 6’ above the floor. Several characters had to stoop once inside the room, owing to carrying staves, bows, 9’11” poles and such-like.
The room was totally bare, apart from the dust on the floor. A quick search revealed a secret panel on the north wall, about 3’ square and 2’ off the floor. Klaus opened it up and, lifting up some kind of cloth hanging over the panel, found that it led into what seemed to be a very large room, though he couldn’t make out too much detail until Mazaramus came forward with his continual light torch.
With the aid of Mazaramus’ light source, they saw a large familiar looking cross design in the centre of a long wall about 40’ away. At each end of the wall, near what seemed to be the corners of the room, was a door. They came to the realization that this room was the chapel where they had fought the zombies and conversed with Simon d’Amberville, and that the room they had now emerged from was actually the inside of the altar.
Sneaky went off to investigate the rooms through the doors, to see if Simon d’Amberville was still around. There was no sign of him. Charles and Magdalene had also disappeared, and the slain skeletons, zombies and other creatures had been disposed of and any signs of combat cleaned up.
Lithanor and Mazaramus spotted something strange near the west side of the chapel, around about where the annex of the chapel ended and the room widened, just beyond some of the statues. They went over to investigate this, and found that the flagstones had been re-laid and repaired where Magdalene had previously dug herself out of her grave. Etched into the floor, a small distance apart from each other were the names Charles and Magdalene.
Lithanor and Mazaramus pondered as to whether these two were truly dead and not buried alive as had been the case with Magdalene previously, and whether or not to dig them up to make sure. They decided in the end not to dig them up.
The party then spent some time pondering their next move. Lithanor wanted to return to the dungeon via the way they had just come. Mazaramus wanted to go through the indoor forest to the trap-door they found in the black room of the east wing, mainly so that he could have a little fly around on his broom of flying.
A wandering monster check came up while the party were deliberating. The chapel doors to the south opened, followed by the party hearing what sounded like a rather inexperienced adventuring party talking to each other. One, a female voice stated “this place sure looks creepy”, answered by a young male voice saying “anything beats that weird mist”.
There were six of them. One in leather armour and equipped with a bow seemed to be the leader of the group, though a warrior in yellow plate mail and a red cloak slung across his back, sporting a shield with a griffon head design, seemed to be contesting his leadership abilities. Of the others, one appeared to be little more than a boy, dressed in furs and leathers, wearing a horned helmet and carrying a large club, another was a timid looking bespectacled mage in green robes. Then there came a ginger-haired girl in purple clothing and a blue cloak, and finally a dark-skinned girl with very little in the way of clothing save for a few furs covering her modesty, carrying a staff of some sort.
The player’s reactions were priceless. “Seriously! These guys?”
Lithanor hailed the young adventurers and, although apprehensive at first, found that they were friendly. They introduced themselves to each other – the names of the adventuring party, in the order described previously, were Hank, Eric, Bobby, Presto, Sheila and Diana. Apparently they also used to have a small unicorn, but it had been killed by the gray mist outside the mansion. Mazaramus toyed with the idea of killing them and taking their magic items (for some reason he was under the impression they all carried potently powerful items) but Lithanor talked him out of it. They invited the young adventurers to join them so that together they might find the way out of this mansion, to which the youngsters readily agreed.
Morgan decided to use his ESP on Eric. Eric failed his saving throw and Morgan heard the thoughts “…these guys are really falling for this. This should be a doddle!” If that wasn’t a warning sign, I don’t know what was.
Sneaky suggested taking them on a tour of the areas of the mansion that they had already explored. Again, Lithanor thought that this was a bad idea and was just wasting time. The matter was decided when Sheila found the secret panel in the altar and suggested that they explore it. Bobby went through the secret panel, followed by Sheila and Diana. The party and the remaining young adventurers followed, and so the matter was settled.
When they eventually got back to the door leading to the alchemical laboratory, they heard Catharine (still invisible) proclaim “So, there you are! What kept you?” They asked why she hadn’t come with them, to which she replied “I ‘ave no desire to enter zat chapel, let alone come across Simon”.
The party, now fifteen strong, entered the laboratory once again. The black dust trap did not activate again, fortunately. This time, they took the door near the north end of the west wall. This led into an almost labyrinth-like area of corridors. At various points, doors in the corridor walls led into rooms.
The party was currently at the north-eastern point of this area. One corridor led west with a door in the south wall about 40’ away. Another corridor led south. About 40’ away they could see another corridor branching westwards. The party ventured south at first to the branch in the corridor. Another door could be seen in the west wall of the southward corridor. The westward branch also led to a door, this one in the north wall, with another corridor branching southwards opposite the door.
Without going into too much further detail about the layout of the area, suffice it to say that this area was a large square with seven rooms plonked in it, all surrounded by corridors.
The adventurers figured that they could access a nearby room via two doors from separate corridors. Lithanor proposed that, given the size of the party, they should spilt into two groups and enter the room from two sides. Morgan, Lithanor and Sneaky were to be in the northern group, along with Eric, Presto and Hank. The southern group was to consist of Mazaramus, Gandi, Klaus, Bhakragh, Merick and Catharine, as well as Diana, Sheila and Bobby. Sneaky decided she would prefer to be in the southern group. Lithanor insisted that each group should have a thief and so added Sheila to his group. Bobby protested, saying “I wanna go with Sheila”, and also went into the northern group. Diana followed suit.
In the end, the northern group was Morgan, Lithanor and the six new recruits. The rest of the party were in the southern group. They then proceeded to their respective doors.
As Morgan was about to open the northern door, their six newfound friends suddenly turned on them and attacked. Morgan took quite a hefty amount of damage from Bobby with his rather sharp club, and from Sheila’s sword-like arm.
Morgan continued to bash at the door, which seemed stuck, while Lithanor fought the turncoat adventurers.
The southern group had opened their door and found that it led into a room with a 10’ wide sunken pit filled with clear liquid in the centre of the room. Floating in the centre of the pool was a thin glass sphere containing a large, ornate silver key (a-ha!). Beyond a door in the north wall could be heard the sound of combat, and every now and then the door shuddered as if someone or something was trying to break through it.
Moments later, the door burst open. On the other side of the door could be seen a confused melee involving Lithanor, Morgan, Sheila, Bobby, Lithanor, Presto, Morgan and Eric. As they could not all help to fight through the narrow doorway, Mazaramus, Klaus, Sneaky and Merick ran around the corridors to join the fight. Gandi and Bhakragh charged for the doorway. Mazaramus arrived in the corridor that the fight was taking place in in hardly any time at all on his broom of flying and let loose with his wand of paralyzation. Eric, Presto and one of the Lithanors failed their saving throws and were paralyzed. One of the Morgans shouted “What are doing? That’s not me!” as Gandi and Bhakragh waded in.
As the melee continued, Mazaramus realised that these were dopplegangers, and used a charge from his wand of enemy detection. The dopplegangers glowed a fiery red, making it easy for the party to identify who was who. They then quickly despatched the remaining dopplegangers and slew the paralyzed ones. When they were slain, they reverted to their natural form, a grey-skinned, hairless humanoid creature. Oh, and they didn’t have any really powerful magic items!
Returning to the pool, Mazaramus suspected that the liquid might be acid, and tested this theory by dumping the bodies of the dopplegangers into the liquid, which then began to dissolve. Mazaramus climbed back onto his broom of flying and carefully flew towards the glass sphere. He barely had the sphere in his grasp but almost stumbled and fell off his broom, causing it to begin to crack. Lithanor reached for his rope of climbing. The glass broke apart, and a large piece holding the key was now left floating on the acid pool. Lithanor extended the rope to anchor to the key before it sank into the acid, and quickly retrieved it. Mazaramus, somewhat relieved, returned from hovering over the pool of acid unscathed, with the exception of having lost another two inches off of his 9’11” pole which had briefly dipped into the pool.
Examining the key, this one was found to be embossed with the letter ‘E’. They now had all five keys, which spelt out the word ‘RAMBE’ when arranged in the order that they found them (OK! Who thought that the last key was going to be an ‘O’?)
Lithanor got out his scribbler and a sheet of paper and began rearranging the letters, and soon figured out that, in the correct order, the keys spelt out the word ‘AMBER’ (what else?) While he was trying to figure this out, Mazaramus went back to the alchemical laboratory, retrieved four glass flasks suitable for carrying acid and carefully filled them from the acid pool.
The party then mapped out more of the passageways and decided to enter an 80’ north to south by 20’ east to west room, again via opposite doors on the east and west sides. This room was found to contain a huge pile of treasure, 10’ high by 10’ wide by 40’ long. Morgan suspected that this was too good to be true and therefore must be an illusion. He successfully made a saving throw vs spells to disbelieve an illusion and saw… a huge pile of treasure, 10’ high by 10’ wide by 40’ long.
Gandi ran in to help himself to the loot, which suddenly rose up. A round tooth-filled maw almost 10’ wide lunged at him, but missed. Gandi drew his hand axes and Morgan charged in to help. Most of the rest of the party stayed back and launched a volley of missile fire at it. Mazaramus contemplated using fire ball, but given how narrow the room was, the backlash from the blast would more than likely hit most of the party as well, and instead fired a magic missile at it. Sneaky, still invisible, moved into position for a backstab.
The party did a hefty amount of damage, but the thing, a giant worm of some kind, lunged again at a random party member…Gandi again. This time it hit and bit into him. On a roll of 18 or higher, this creature, actually a slime worm, can swallow its victim whole. I rolled 17!
The party slew the slime worm, with a little help from Sneaky’s backstab. The treasure was actually clinging to the slimey body of the creature. Most of it was copper (50,000 cp) but there was also several thousand silver and gold pieces as well as miscellaneous bits of non-magical armour and weapons. Sneaky was able to piece together a suit of leather armour from this, replacing the armour she had lost to the green slime.
With nothing more of interest in the room, the party scooped the treasure into a pile for collection later. There was far too much to carry around with them. Catharine assured the party that, once they had found Etienne d’Amberville and lifted the curse, they would have full salvage rights on returning to Chateau d’Amberville and could pick up the treasure then.
The next room that the party explored was a 40’ square room, to the west of the slime worm room and just south of the western end of the acid pool room. In fact this room was practically dead centre of this maze of rooms, but the party weren’t to know that just yet.
This room was filled with dusty shelves. Although it appeared as if the shelves were empty, the party searched them anyway. Klaus found two dusty cobweb covered scrolls, one wrapped inside the other, on one of the top shelves. One of the scrolls was another copy of the ‘To Those Who Would Be Free’ scroll that they had found in Claude’s library at the cost of 5,000 gold pieces. The other was a clerical spell scroll with the spell dispel evil on it.
With nothing else to be found in the room, they left and explored towards the north-west of the maze-like area. Here they found what seemed to be north-western corner of the labyrinth, along with another room, 50’ east to west by 30’ north to south, accessible by a door in the centre of each of the eastern and western ends.
Entering this room, they saw in its centre a pentagram painted on the floor. At each of the points of the star of the pentagram was a lit amber candle (presumably all ever-burning candles, otherwise who was replacing and relighting the candles?) In the pentagram was a demonic 10’ tall creature with grey skin, ivory fangs, metallic talons and bat-like wings. On a nearby wall hung an amber hunting horn.
As the party entered, the creature called out “free me. I have been trapped in this demonic form. If you break the circle around the pentagram, I can return to my true form, for which I will reward you greatly”. Morgan remembered the cup of truth that he had gotten from the fortune teller and got it out. It was hot to the touch when the demon spoke. Gandi went over to the wall and retrieved the hunting horn. Morgan asked the demon what would happen if he blew the horn. The demon replied “certain doom will befall those who blow the horn. Quick release me!” Again, the cup grew hot. Morgan nodded to Gandi, who lifted the horn to his lips. The demon looked to Mazaramus and, at the risk of sounding like Terence Stamp, said to him “stop him and I will reward you! Great power can be yours…” (the cup glowed hot again) “…aaaarrrghhh” as Gandi blew the horn and the death demon was consumed by a bright light before vanishing back to whence it came.
Gandi took the horn, obviously a horn of demon dispelling, for himself (well that’s the climax of a certain Master level module ruined), and finding nothing else of interest in the room, the party left and headed southwards.
The next room to the south was found to have a 10’ wide open pit in the middle surrounded by six ghouls. These were no match for the party. Klaus still hadn’t lost his tendency to roll poorly when making his turning rolls, and only managed to dispel two of them. Nonetheless, the fighters quickly dealt with the other four. Only Bhakragh took a single wound (a scratch that wasn’t worth worrying about) and even made his save against the ghoul paralysis. At least Lithanor should be happy. He was a bit disappointed that there weren’t any ghouls in the Shrine of Evil Chaos in the Keep of the Borderlands adventure that he could use his immunity to ghoul paralysis on.
Investigating the pit, they found that it went down further than their light source would reveal. Mazaramus decided to fly down the hole and reached the bottom after about 50’. There he found, in a nexus of tunnels, a treasure chest. He opened it up and found that it contained a pile of gold coins and a spear. He heard slathering, snarling noises coming from the tunnels leading off from where he was and decided to get out of there. However, the chest was too heavy for him to carry on the broom of flying so he called up to the party to help. Lithanor anchored his rope of climbing to the pit edge so that Morgan, Gandi and Bhakragh could climb down and help lift the chest. With the three of them holding the chest between them, Mazaramus supporting it from underneath, and Lithanor pulling the rope up, they managed to get the chest up. As they were ascending, numerous ghouls appeared at the bottom of the pit, snarling up at the party. Once they were at the top, Mazaramus poured a flask of acid down the pit and onto the ghouls, which then dispersed.
Morgan used his detect magic ability from his sword, and the spear was found to radiate powerful magic, if anything slightly more powerful than that given off by Morgan’s sword (though Morgan would disagree).
The only characters that had Basic proficiency with a spear were Lithanor, Gandi, Bhakragh, Merick and Talanius. Neither Lithanor nor Gandi particularly wanted the spear, they were quite happy with their favoured weapons. Bhakragh had also recently acquired a nice magical sword, and as he also had what was probably the most powerful magic item in the party, namely the ring of spell storing that he had gained from Madame Camille’s tarot cards, he didn’t think it would be fair if he had it either. Merick ended up with the spear, with the intention of giving his other magical spear to his friend Talanius if they could find some way of evicting Catharine from his body.
The party turned their attention back to exploring the remainder of the dungeon. They found a door leading into a room in what seemed to be the south-western area of the dungeon. Gandi was eager to search each room as they came to it and was preparing to knock the door down and barge in. Lithanor preferred to map out the remainder of the dungeon first before entering any more rooms. They agreed to differ, and Lithanor, along with Morgan, Klaus and Merick went eastwards to explore the last few passages, while Gandi, Mazaramus, Sneaky and Bhakragh remained at the door they had found. Catharine hadn’t been seen or heard from for some time and could be anywhere.
Lithanor’s group found two doors, evidently leading into the same room, one on the west side and one on the north side. A corridor leading south past one of the doors led to a T-junction, with corridors leading east and west along what they presumed to be the southern wall of the dungeon area. Lithanor led his group, now stumbling around in darkness and relying on Lithanor’s infravision, to this intersection to confirm this.
Gandi got bored of waiting and kicked the door in. The door led into a 30’ square room. Set into the south wall was a silver gate with five large keyholes. In front of the gate was a barrier of whirling hammers, and in front of the barrier was a giant moggy made of amber. Gandi hesitated at first waiting to see if the amber lion, actually an amber golem, was going to attack. The amber golem (not a new monster for the module, it’s actually in the Expert rules) advanced to attack.
Before Gandi could charge in, something hit him in the back, causing considerable damage and pushing him into the room. Somewhat bewildered he looked around to see who his assailant was, but could see nothing behind him except for his comrades. Gandi quickly left the room and closed the door, having no desire to be attacked not only by the amber golem but by some invisible opponent as well.
Although the golem did not pursue them, Gandi’s unseen opponent had followed him out of the room and was still attacking. Lithanor’s group heard the sound of the combat and came running along the corridors to help. Gandi, Mazaramus, Sneaky and Bhakragh fought with the creature, blindly trying to guess as to its whereabouts and flailing about randomly, though they did manage to land a few lucky hits.
Lithanor, Morgan and Merick leapt into the fray, and between them they eventually defeated the invisible creature, though Gandi, the sole target of its attacks, had taken more hits and had only 7 hit points remaining by the end of the fight. Klaus administered healing on Gandi, even using charges from his staff of healing to cast a couple of cure serious wounds spells. Gandi even resorted to drinking his potion of healing that he had been hoarding.
Unbeknownst to the party, hiding around a corner and out of sight of the party, Catharine was smiling, and whispered to herself “That’s for Gaston!”
The party prepared to enter the room to take on the amber golem. Before they did so, Sneaky used her ring to call on the Sun Brother to help them. A pillar of flame shot from the ceiling of the corridor and coalesced into the form of the Sun Brother. Sneaky asked if the Sun Brother would help them fight the amber golem, to which he readily agreed. Led by the Sun Brother, they charged into the room and diced the amber golem to pieces before it could get a single attack in. The golem shattered into lots of small pieces of amber, all of which turned out to be quite valuable. The Sun Brother said farewell to Sneaky until she needed his help again, and shot off through the ceiling in a pillar of fire.
They gathered up the pieces of amber, and then stood staring at the barrier of whirling hammers. After pondering for a moment, Klaus piped up. “If I’m right, this is a very high level clerical spell, and can be quite nasty if you try to walk through it. I doubt that many of us would survive.”
They then heard a familiar, commanding, voice behind them in the doorway. “I can’t have you leaving just yet.” They turned around to see Simon d’Amberville standing there.
“I suspected all along that you had a warlock with you”. He indicated Mazaramus, adding “I’ll be having my broom and my staff back, by the way”. He then continued “First things first, though. Where is the witch that you’ve been harbouring?”
At this point, Mazaramus reached for his wand of enemy detection. Seeing this, Simon began to cast a spell, pointing towards Mazaramus. Klaus reacted by reaching for a scroll and cast silence 15’ radius at Simon. Both the wand and Klaus’ spell were quicker than Simon’s spell. Even though he made his saving throw against the silence, the spell still ruined his own spell. He also glowed a fiery red from Mazaramus’ wand (and somewhere down a corridor Catharine was cursing). The rest of the party rushed Simon with weapons drawn. Despite only a few of the party being able to attack in close combat due to the confined space in the doorway, they defeated Simon. As he went down, he grabbed at Klaus’ staff and pulled him close. His dying words were unheard due to the silence spell, but Klaus could just make out the word ‘scroll’ being mouthed.
Mazaramus looted Simon’s body. The only thing of use was his magical ring, which turned out to be a ring of protection +1. Mazaramus kept this at first, but then decided it would be better if Gandi had it. Mazaramus didn’t see much point in his having it as he preferred to avoid close combat anyway. Mazaramus even persuaded Morgan to use his sword’s detect magic ability. Morgan protested at first, as he could only use the power three times a day and he had already used it once. Mazaramus simply answered “So! There’s only one room left anyway!” Morgan, still not happy, tried a bluff, holding the sword up and pretending to activate its power. “Oh, look! It’s not magical. It didn’t glow” Mazaramus responded, “Nice try! Guess what! NONE of our magic items glowed either. I guess they all suddenly lost their power”
Morgan finally agreed to use detect magic from his sword. The ring glowed magical, and a blinding aura of magic emanated from the gate and the barrier before it.
With only one room left to explore, the party agreed to enter in two groups from both of the doors leading into it. This room was found to contain four large kennels. In front of each was a reddish-brown furred dog, each as large as a pony. The party gained surprise, as the dogs were busy chewing bones or play fighting with each other. They rushed in to attack, slaying three of them and reducing the fourth to 1 hit point remaining. This fourth one was the one that Gandi was attacking (it’s just not his day) and it hit the dwarf with a flaming breath attack, singeing his beard and causing seven points of damage, before being felled.
A quick search of the kennels revealed, amongst the other things you might expect to find in a dog kennel but wouldn’t want to put your hand in, four gems of varying types and sizes.
They had now mapped out the entire dungeon, and the only thing left was to go through the gate. Returning towards the gate room, the party saw Catharine kneeling over Simon’s body just outside the gate room. They called out to her, but she just ignored them. Advancing closer, they continued to try to get her attention. It was only when they were within 15’ of her that they realised why she hadn’t responded. Finally seeing the party, she backed off herself until she was outside the silence 15’ radius that Klaus had cast earlier so that she could speak to the party. “I guess that was your doing” she said, pointing at Simon, “impressive”.
They entered the room with the gate. The barrier of whirling hammers was still blocking their way to the gate. Catharine said that she didn’t have a dispel magic spell memorised, otherwise she could have attempted to bring it down. Klaus meditated on the matter, to see if he could receive any divine inspiration on the matter (i.e. look up the barrier spell in the Companion rules). He surmised that the spell had a limited duration and, assuming that Simon had cast it, it should expire within a couple of hours at the most, depending on how long it was before the party had arrived that he had cast it.
Nevertheless, Sneaky and Gandi suggested exploring the mansion further in case they had missed anything instead of waiting around for the spell to end. The matter was settled when the barrier began to dissipate and then disappear. They got out the silver keys that they had found throughout the Chateau, inserted them into the keyholes, spelling out AMBER from left to right, and turned the keys. They clicked into place, and a silvery vortex appeared in the gateway.
Catharine strode forward. “Averoigne! Now I can reclaim what is mine” and stepped into the vortex. As she disappeared into the swirling silvery maelstrom, Lithanor and Gandi thought that they heard her screaming as she faded from view.
The party were now apprehensive about entering the gate. Who knows what just happened to Catharine. Sneaky decided to call on the Sun Brother again to see if he could give any advice. The pillar of flame came down again and the Sun Brother appeared. Sneaky asked if the gate was safe. The Sun Brother looked at it and casually shrugged, “This is nothing. You should see the ones that go to the elemental planes”. Feeling sheepish, Sneaky said “Oh! Well then. Thanks for your help. We’re going through the gate now so I guess we won’t see you again”. The Sun Brother wished them luck, and disappeared in a pillar of flame. The ring that he had given Sneaky earlier burst into flame and disappeared.
Before the party went through the gate, I had the amber bubble surround the party one more time to give the characters the opportunity to gain experience points. Morgan, Lithanor, Bhakragh and Merick levelled up. I also gave xps to Talanius, the reasoning for this will be explained shortly. Morgan gained Expert level of mastery with the bastard sword. Bhakragh also gained an increase in weapon mastery. I had him become Skilled with the short bow. Had he progressed with the longsword he would have been more powerful than any of the PCs.
They were about to step through the gate when a sudden rush of wind swept past the party and seemingly into the vortex. An almost indiscernible shape appeared in the vortex for a brief instant before disappearing. A bit puzzled by this, the party agreed that things were getting too weird around here, and, one by one, they all stepped into the gate.
The party found themselves landing on wet grass. Behind them were trees, and on the other side of a rough road before them were more trees.
Nearby, Catharine was on all fours on the ground, staring at her clothes and said “What in the name of the Nine Hells am I wearing? Where’s my armour?” Merick leapt up, “Talanius!”
The realisation of what had happened at the portal, Catharine’s scream and the rush of wind towards the portal suddenly made sense. The curse prevented the d’Amberville family from leaving the Chateau by any means, including the gate to Averoigne. Merick discovered that Talanius had had the same dream as he had when the black cloud in the alchemist’s laboratory had put some of the party into a slumber. Merick’s dream was that he was on some great quest, vanquishing a number of mighty foes. Although the dream didn’t come true for Merick, it did for Talanius, and so he was able to benefit from gaining experience points and levelling up, just as if he had been with the party all along.
The party took stock of where they were. The area was quite heavily forested, though they were beside a well-travelled road. Actually more of a mud track, though signs of wagons and horses as well as people travelling by foot were evident on the muddy road.
The sky was overcast, and it was beginning to get dark. A mile or so to the north, Lithanor spotted a building with lights coming from the windows. They travelled towards this. As they got closer they saw a sign outside the building which read “Inn de Bonne Joissance”.
Entering the inn (Gandi first), they got some strange stares from most of the patrons, but shortly resumed their drinking and chatting. Gandi went up to the bar to order a round of drinks. The barkeep looked at him strangely, a bemused expression on his face, then responded by saying something in French. Gandi bellowed “Drinks!” pointing to the bottles on a shelf behind the barkeep.
Just then, a man at the bar near Gandi spoke to Gandi, in Common, but with a French accent. He was dressed in leather, and slung across his back was some kind of lyre or mandolin. “Please, allow me!” He spoke to the barkeep, who served up drinks for the party, as well as one for the stranger. The stranger then said “I presume that you are new around these parts. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Gerard de l’Automne”. After the party introduced themselves, he motioned to a side table and recommended that they sit were they are less likely to be overheard.
The party told Gerard how they came to be in Averoigne. He was quite fascinated, and began writing notes as they detailed their recent exploits in Chateau d’Amberville. Gerard cautioned the party that the likes of Gandi and Lithanor would attract a lot of undue attention. Apparently, dwarves and elves didn’t exist in Averoigne, except in folklore and fairy tales. The party also learnt that ‘witchcraft’ was outlawed in France, and anyone caught practising it faced being burnt at the stake. Even Klaus’ holy symbol could be viewed as a symbol of the arcane arts, as it wasn’t the symbol of the one true faith (i.e. a crucifix). There followed a lengthy theological discussion between Klaus and Gerard (and even Mazaramus piped in).
The party showed Gerard the scroll entitled ‘To Those Who Would Be Free’. Gerard drew a rough sketch map of Averoigne for the party, showing Sylaire, Vyones, Perigon and Ximes, as well as the more well-known villages in the area, including Les Hiboux (or Lazy Boo, as the party now called it, trying to emulate Gerard’s pronunciation), situated in a marshy area to the south of Ximes.
The only name Gerard recognised from the scroll was Azedarac. He pointed out that this must be the Bishop of Ximes (again highlighting the correct pronunciation – Zeem, not Zymes).
Eventually Gerard arranged rooms for them. He was most appreciative of the material the party had provided for his songs and poems, and even paid for their breakfast the following morning.
The party unanimously agreed to head for Sylaire first. The Enchanted Sword of Sylaire might prove useful later on. This was the only destination that couldn’t be reached directly by road or trail, so the party would have to travel cross-country through wild forests. Gerard warned that those getting lost in such wilderness areas tend to run afoul of vampires and werewolves, or worse. He then reassured them that he has himself slain a few vampires in his own travels.
The party's quest for the four magic items is covered in the next section, as they explore Averoigne.