Thursday, March 3, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: The Shrine of Zingalis

Recap from 2/25/2011

The group made its way back to Medea’s Gate uneventfully with the aid of our new found ranger henchman Taleth Flavius.  He suggested the direct route through the forest to the Southeast was the quickest and safest route.  Once in Medea’s Gate we met back up with the other adventurers who had to stay behind last time and immediately started planning our next foray to the Wizard’s Tower of Zingalis armed with the knowledge gleaned from our successful scouting mission.   We purchased ample provisions and healing potions and set off with the additional members and henchmen to the tower once again.

When we arrived at the tower we immediately noticed that the Cyclops was not at his usual perch next to tower on the inner terrace level inside the circular curtain wall.  Asclepius the Elf decided to do some scouting and first cast Invisibility on himself and then cast his Fly spell and took off to reconnoiter the area to see if he could locate the Cyclops or identify any other threats.  He flew within the radius of the outer walls of the castle and was careful not to get too close to the oddly shaped black basalt tower in the center in case there were defensive wards around it.  He saw no sign of the Cyclops below but did spot what looked like a trail of large footprints heading away from the tower into the woods.  He then got a closer look at the Temple or Shrine of Zingalis.  He flew inside the open doors to see if he could determine what its occupant was and saw a large Hydra sleeping inside.  He returned to report the news to the group.

We decided that since the Cyclops was away it was a good time to take out the Hydra in the temple and set about formulating a plan of attack.  We decided that Teth-en-Aire would walk up to the door with Lucias next to him for cover and would cast a magic missile at it in order to lure it out of the shrine.  Then the archers would hit it from the flank off to one side while Lucias engaged it in hand to hand combat and the thieves would have an opportunity to back stab it from behind the doors while it was focused on the others.  The plan went off without a hitch – the Hydra was burned badly by the first magic missile and was enraged enough to come storming out of the shrine.  At that point it knocked Arceus away from the door he was hiding behind thus revealing him but our archers peppered it with arrows from the side and Lucias managed to cut off one or two of its heads and was only being bitten once in return for some damage.  The Hydra was dead outside of the steps of the shrine in short order.

So we went through the great bronze doors through the portal into the temple to seek out its treasure within its lair.  Soon we gathered up the coins, gems and jewelry that were found inside where the creature was nesting.  A giant statue of the Goddess Hecate stood inside the temple at the far end holding a living blue flame torch in one of her large stone arms.  On the frieze above the many columns lining the walls was written a litany in the three languages of magic – Brimbahri (Demonic), Promethean (Angelic) and Elvish.  It was a prayer to the goddess Hecate the goddess of magic.  We found a secret door on one of the heels of the giant statue but couldn’t figure out how to open it.  When one of the elves read the prayer aloud in Elvish, the secret door mysteriously opened.

The door led to a narrow staircase leading down deep below the level of the shrine.  When we got to the bottom and went down the hallway there, it was completely shrouded in magical darkness after a little ways.  We tried lighting torches and pulling out glowing magical weapons to no avail – the darkness remained.  So we continued on feeling the walls to the right in the dark until the hallway entered into a room also shrouded in darkness.  We followed the wall of the new room a ways until it led into another hallway to the right which, after a ways, was not hidden by the magical darkness anymore.  This hallway eventually led into a large rectangular room with a smiling horned demon face sculpture surrounding what appeared to be a blackened portal of some sort.  On the frieze of the room above was written a set of runes this time in Brimbahri.

We continued our exploration and found that there were four such rooms of almost identical layout surrounding the central darkened room laid out in a symmetrical fashion.  In each was the same smiling demon face and portal but each held a different set of runes written on the frieze of the walls above.  The second one was written in Promethean, the third was written in Elvish but the fourth was written in some alien cruel language that none of the elves recognized.  This room was also slightly different in that it gave the occupants a very uncomfortable feeling.  We found something unusual on the walls of the fourth room as well.  It appeared that there was a mural on each side wall that was somehow hidden by an invisibility spell.  Arceus blew two doses of his dust of appearance on them and revealed a scene of mind bending horror of a cosmic nature on the first one and a scene of non Euclidean architecture on the second.  Also, both murals appeared to contain similar runes to the other alien runes found in this room.  This last hall in the shrine was apparently dedicated to the Elder or Outer Gods and the language was no doubt the kind of thing that the Cult of the Gatherers of the One True Text sought after.  When Asclepius first tried to read the text on the first mural he was stricken with a cosmic revelation of some sort but said nothing further of the matter – he didn’t sleep well later that night.

There were three Elves present in the group and they agreed that the words were magical in nature and that they would need to cast Read Magic to determine what spells were written there on the wall.  So we would have to wait until the next day when they learned that spell to decipher the runes.  The group continued searching the shrine, especially the central room that was concealed by the darkness spell.  In the center of the room, the rogue Sicarius found a sphere about 12” around that appeared to be above the level of the floor.  The odd thing was that when he touched it appeared to move.  When he touched it a second time it receded into the floor and then we heard a noise up above that sounded like a door closing.  We sent someone up the stairs to investigate and indeed the door above had closed – we were trapped within the shrine!

So we had nothing to do but wait for the Elves to re-learn their spells to try and figure out a way to get out of the shrine of Zingalis.  We rested up and the elves learned Read Magic in the morning and Asclepius learned Knock to try and open the door above.  When they cast read magic on the magical runes, they found that the Brimbhari runes spelled out a Hold Portal spell, the Promethean runes spelled out a Dimension Door spell, the Elvish runes spelled out a Knock spell and the Elder/Outer god runes contained an Arcane Lock spell.  We also determined that the first mural’s runes contained an Initiate Familiar spell – this was a very powerful and little known signature spell of great value to Elves and Wizards alike.  Unfortunately, we were out of read magic spells at that point so we couldn’t determine what was written on the second mural.

We were stuck there for another day and spent the night in the shrine uneventfully.  The following day, Asclepius learned knock and scribe to try and open up the door to the shrine and to record some of the spells written on the walls in his spell book.  After he wrote a few of the spells in his book we discussed our dilemma.  Cyrcla seemed to think that the only way to safely travel through the portals and part of the Wizard’s challenge was to learn and cast the spell written above the mouth on the frieze on the portal itself.  She also thought it could teleport the caster out of the shrine to some other destination or perhaps just open the way to a room beyond.  So rather than cast the knock spell on the secret door above, Aslepius cast it on the portal in the room with Knock written above it in Elvish and then Arceus stepped through the portal.  About five minutes later, we heard a grating noise and Arceus came back down the stairs from above informing us that it was him and he had opened the door from the outside.  He had been teleported next to the disciples of Zingalis outside the shrine and struck a pose as if he was worshiping him like the orc statues.  He was able to open the secret door above because he spoke one of the three languages that the prayer to Hecate was written in.

With a sigh of relief, the group was freed from what may have otherwise been its tomb.  We discussed the portals further and some of the others thought that maybe the portals were safe and casting the knock spell on them didn’t really make any difference.  So the Cleric Kaira decided to cast an Augury spell to see if Athena could offer any advice on the matter.  She cast her spell and asked the question: "If someone were to walk through this portal (in the room with Elvish runes) what would be the outcome?"  The goddess would usually answer “Weal” for good or “Woe” for bad but the spell is never really foolproof until the caster is of a very high level.  So her goddess answered “Weal”.  Sicarius thought this was good enough for him and decided to brave the portal without the aid of any magical castings.

Five minutes went by – then ten minutes and nothing happened.  Fearing the worst, Kaira once again cast Augury on the portal and asked the same question and once again her god answered “Weal” indicating a good result if someone were to go through.  Arceus was getting concerned for his fellow rogue at this point and asked the question “what if he is hurt or getting attacked and needs our help?”  The others didn’t know what to say but feared the worst.  So Arceus threw caution to the wind and stepped through the portal putting his trust in the word of Athena.  It would be his last act as a mortal for he entered Elysium at that point and found Sicarius also there.  They both remarked how peaceful it was and were happy at the amount of treasure that they found – it appeared to be everywhere!  The two thieves were in heaven having fallen to one of the Laughing Mage’s fiendish traps!

The group was horror struck – after about twenty or thirty minutes of waiting we determined that they were both probably dead and weren’t coming back.  So we headed back up the stairs and made our way to the woods near the shrine to see if we could see the Cyclops again.  It had returned at this point but we decided we were going to try and sneak into the smashed gate on the other side and see if we could find its loot in its lair without arousing its attention.  We snuck back around through the woods and approached the wall on the opposite side of the keep from where it was sitting and started circling around the wall to the open portal.  That’s when we noticed the Cyclops standing outside the wall beyond the gate and looking right at us with its giant eye!

We hadn’t planned for this encounter but knew it was a possibility.  The Cyclops appeared to be motioning us away as if telling us to leave his home turf with his giant arm.  Some of the others started talking about running and Lucias decided he needed to bolster the confidence of the group by being brave so he found his courage in a bottle.  He quaffed his potion of super heroism and thus fortified took off at a dead run right at the Cyclops.  He was effectively now a 10th level fighter and had little to fear from the Cyclops as long as the group had his back.  Teth-en-Aire started running behind him and then the archers followed.  When Teth-en-Aire was in range of his fireball spell he let it fly and it was a good one – it burned the Cyclops badly.  The archers started firing their longbows when they were in range and the Cyclops found itself being hurt before its attackers had even closed with it.  It pulled a large creek rock from its bag and threw it at the charging fighter and hit him but it really only took away some of his temporary hit points from the potion so he kept charging undeterred.  The second rock missed its target.

The group continued pelting it with arrows and a couple of magic missiles and the Cyclops was hurt badly at this point.  He realized his predicament now and started to run but Lucias caught up with him and slowed his retreat landing a powerful blow with Hope Blighter.  After another volley of arrows and magic missiles the giant beast fell to the ground with an earth shaking crash.  So with the Cyclops defeated we went through the smashed in portal and through the secret door and found the treasure it had hidden away in its lair.  We decided that this was a good note to end on after the deaths of two of our compatriots to the fiendish trap of Zingalis the Laughing Mage and started heading back to Medea’s Gate.  As we left we thought we heard laughter off in the distance…


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