Chapter 14: Saving the Lost

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Session Number: 214
Date: Sunday 27 July 2014
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Breg Rog3/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Calico Drd13 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA6 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal13 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz13 (Densial) (kills: none)
Violet Drd13 (Tammi) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

"Troll," Breg says, "How do you stop scrying?"

"You break open the orb."

As self-serving as it sounds, it appears Troll believes this is true.

"Did you not want to find out about the sword's origins at Arovarel?" Calico asks Breg.

"I do, but I don't think the rest of you lot were willing to take some time away."

"I am unwilling to split the party," Rowaine says, "and I am aware that there are people suffering down there. Not to mention I don't know how much time we have to stop this devil lich."

"So as long as we do not unite the six pieces of True Death, I am happy to go along. That would include breaking the orb - especially if Troll you believe it's the best way to stop the scrying… I say let's do it."

"I can agree to that also," Rowaine adds.

"Do you want to try that rock again, Troll?"

Troll rolls his eyes, then raises the orb above his head. He brings it down upon the rock. Crunch! More minute cracks appear on the orb's surface, but it survives the violence.

"How shall we do this?" Calico asks. Troll rolls his eyes again at what seems to be the start of another debate and simply hurls the orb against the cliff face. It arcs and hits the stone - and bounces off, intact.

"May I?" Rowaine offers. Troll shrugs. Rowaine walks over to where the orb lies and readies her nine-pound magical imithrium waraxe of smity mayhem. The others gather round.

"Are you sure you want to be around?" Rowaine asks. No one moves. "Very well…" She takes a one-handed chop at the orb. Crunch! The cracks now circumnavigate the orb.

"Again!" Breg says. Rowaine lifts her axe once more, this time bringing it down with the force of two arms. The crystal shatters. Shards of white stone scatter in all directions. Amidst the ruin there is something metallic. Rowaine sees it. "Stand back!" She picks it up and looks at it, then shows it to the others. It is a piece of metal that looks like a weapon hilt. The pommel is fashioned to look like a skull. Calico senses magic emanating from it.

"What a surprise!" Breg says.

Troll shuffles through the paper in his pack, retrieving a page found in the Monastery of the Dawning Sun. It is a rendition of the shattered remains of True Death. The hilt inside the orb bears a strong resemblance to the piece depicted in the sketch. Calico determines that the hilt radiates faint divination magic, which he communicates to the others.

"May I see that again, Troll?" Breg asks. The dwarf looks at the sketch and the shard of metal, then nods. "That just doesn't look like something I'd expect a paladin to carry."

Rowaine shrugs. "Not my style, certainly. It doesn't bear the taint of evil as far as I can see.

"The divination magic isn't what you would expect of a powerful magical sword, is it?"

"I have no idea what abilities this sword had. But it is said that it killed Chalychia once."

"Well it didnae kill her, or she'd no be comin' back!" Breg argues.

"Exactly," Calico agrees. "He did a pretty terrible job with a sword called True Death."

"It's a sword with a skull for a pommel, that didnae do the job," Breg says with some finality.

"Chalychia has been gone for five hundred years," Rowaine reminds them.

"What's happening with the scrying?" Breg asks Troll.

"All good."

"Let's put it in the paladin's backpack and move on," Breg suggests.

Where to? Calico asks.

"I'd say the chamber of chains and tears. It's the only place we haven't explored. But we need to be mindful of that hourglass. If we are in there when the time runs out, we're back to the start. It may be that we have to cross the room in that time, or find the right door."

"Let's go across it first," Lionel suggests. "If the other side is the same, then it must be something else."

Rowaine summons Harley, Calico Wild Shapes into a blink dog, Violet climbs aboard her Magic Carpet. Troll calls into being a Floating Disc, then casts Overland Flight upon himself. Lionel and Breg climb aboard the Disc, Lionel ignites a sunrod, then the party re-enter the crypt.

They make their way to the massive chamber, flying and blinking over obstacles such as the floor that isn't. From outside the chamber's open doors, they see a number of creatures sitting on the floor. Some rock from side to side. There is a cacophany of sound coming from them all.

The party enter. As before, the scale of the place is breathtaking: they cannot see the far or the left walls. The hourglass, full at the bottom, flips over and sand begins to trickle through.

The party set out together, the airborne contingent climbing to 25 feet and Calico blinking from spot to spot beneath. They keep the right-hand wall in sight. Most of the figures they pass pay no attention to the intruders, sitting, rocking, crying in pain, pulling at their shackles. All seem maimed, all seem to have no sight. And yet some look up at their passing; maybe they heard something or felt a strange breeze. Very quickly, the hourglass becomes a faint, distant feature about 500 feet to the rear. All the while, every 20feet along the right wall is another shadowy doorway with script chiselled into the stone above: some are written in languages that various people recognise, and consistently say the same word: "fate", some are in languages that no one can decipher.

Breg casts True Seeing. Some two minutes, forty doors and 800 feet into the journey, the wall simply continues. The hourglass behind is a very dim, distant thing.

"Can we go any faster?" Breg asks.

"I'll need to travel with Rowaine," Troll says.

"I can turn into an eagle," Violet says. She descends to the floor and lands, as does Harley. Calico blinks nearby. Troll takes the rear saddle position on Harley. After Violet has safely tied her carpet to the outside of her backpack, she Wild Shapes into an eagle, her backpack melding into the new form. Violet and Harley then take to the air, at nearly 16 miles per hour. Calico finds himself falling behind: blinking and weaving between chained prophets seems hazardous so he blinks 30 feet into the air and morphs into eagle shape.

The chamber isn't endless; about 300 feet further on stands the far wall. It has no doorways. From this point, the hourglass is only barely visible to elf eyes.

"This room has to be magical," Breg comments. "There are no pillars. There's no way you could support this roof without 'em - except by magic."

The party track the wall to the north. It is over 500 feet long. Like the eastern wall, there are no doorways visible. Everyone follows the wall westward. Around two and a half minutes later, they see the final corner and head south towards the glowing hourglass. The west wall also has no doorways. The circumnavigation has taken something in the order of 12-15 minutes. Besides the hourglass, Breg's True Seeing spell reveals nothing else that ordinary sight can't detect. Roughly half of the hourglass' sand now sits in the bottom half.

The group leave through the double doors for a half minute, then return to the room. The hourglass is still about half way through its run, still draining away.

"Let's look at the nearest door," Breg says, getting off the Disc. Chained before it is what looks to be a very old halfling male with tattered clothes with a length of black, decrepid cloth around his head, covering his eyes. He has short manacles chaining his wrists to the ground. He is groaning. Calico sees no magic on him. There is a word enscribed above the doorway, in a language no one understands.

"What do we do about these people?" Breg asks.

"Free them, I suppose," Troll replies. He casts Comprehend Languages. "Same as the others: 'fate'."

"It's wrong to keep someone like this."

"You're right," Rowaine says. "But can we free them all? Should we?"

"It would take a long time but we could. I cannae see how their minds would be intact."

"I think that we kill Chalychia and then come back and save them," Lionel says.

The next door along has the word 'fate' above it, inscribed in common. Before it lies a bald human teenage boy, manacled to the floor. The door beyond that has the gnomish word for 'fate' above it; before it is an elderly gnome female. Unlike the majority, she does not appear to be shackled.

The doorways are all arched and are doorless, yet beyond each is inky, impenetrable black. Lionel throws an arrow past the halfling and into the first doorway. It disappears.

The teenage boy screams in pain, wrenching the party's attention away from the first door. Both of his knees are impaled upon metal spikes; the wounds bleed freely. The boy's eyes are ruined by violence long past. The gnome female beyond turns her head at the noise. She has empty eye sockets.

"This is very disturbing," Breg says, frowning.

Calico lands next to the boy and lets out a squawk. The boy cries out in pain, showing no evidence of having heard Calico.

Troll walks over. "I could just put him out of his misery." The boy flexes his leg as best he can against his shackles and manages to lift the limb off the spike. He drops it to the side. The spike retreats into the floor and another appears, piercing his leg again. "Aaarrrgh!" he screams.

"Can you Acid away the chains?" Breg asks Troll.

"I could. Would you like me to?"

"I would."

Troll starts on the chain securing the boy's left wrist. The Acid makes short work of the metal. He doesn't move his left hand. Breg grasps the boy's left hand. Immediately the boy recoils at the touch. "Who's there?"

"My name is Breg. We're going to try and free you. Who are you?" No response. Troll starts work on the chain holding the boy's right hand. When it gives way, the boy covers his face with both of his free hands. Troll starts working to free his injured leg. The first gout of Acid is off-target, splashing on the flagstone between the boy's legs. The next is on target, dissolving the chain links. The boy's bindings are gone.

"Help me lift him - carefully!" Breg says. He places his hands either side of the horrible wound that is the boy's right knee. Again the boy flinches at the touch, causing fresh rivulets of blood to drip to the floor. Breg holds the limb as still as he can. Both spikes mysteriously retreat into the ground. The boy curls up into a foetal position. Breg casts Cure Minor Wounds on the boy. The flesh on one of his legs starts to close up. Breg follow up with Cure Light Wounds. One of the legs is healed, and the other starts to look better but is still rather a mess. Another Cure Light Wounds sees to the remainder of his injuries.

"Will someone help me lift him out of here?" Breg asks. Lionel bends down to assist. Each take an arm and a leg. The boy fights back. "Aah! Get away!" His panic is real but his body is weak; Breg and Lionel manage to lift him. Calico keeps an eye on both the doorway and the hourglass. Roughly a third of the sand remains in the upper half.

Breg and Lionel place the boy on Troll's Disc and hold him there. "Argh!" He says. "Beware the raven's maw, and for that matter, also his caw!" He then slumps into unconsciousness. Lionel stays on the Disc to keep him there as party evacuate.

As the party exit into sunlight, Lionel feels the boy stiffen into consciousness. Troll drops the Disc to the ground and Lionel gently rolls him off. The boy's head rolls around, then his body visibly relaxes. Then he starts crying uncontrollably. Violet returns to gnome form, produces a blanket and wraps the boy in it.

"Let's wait 15 minutes - until well after the hourglass is empty - and see what happens," Troll says.

"What's your name?" Breg asks. The boy continues to cry. He draws his knees up to his chest, rolls onto his side and bawls. "There, there," Breg says, patting the boy's shoulder. He flinches at the touch.

Minutes pass. The boy's bawling turns to crying, then turns into a whimper. He starts breathing easier.

"What's your name, lad?" Breg asks again. "You're outside now. How long have you been down there?" No answer or indication that he has heard. His breathing becomes deeper. He is either entering sleep, or entering a coma. Violet believes it to be the former. "He's just exhausted, Breg." The dwarf arranges him onto his bedroll. "Let him sleep."

Fifteen minutes pass. The boy is still there, breathing deeply.

"What do we do with him?" Breg asks.

"Dunno," Troll says. "Let's go get another one."

"You could take him to Trina, your friend - see what she makes of him."

"As opposed to freeing some more?"

"I'm going to get the gnome," Violet says. She unrolls her Magic Carpet sits on it and eases into the air. She stops at the entrance and turns around expectantly.

"If their minds are gone," Breg says, "then we could take a lot of people out of here that we can't manage."

"The gnome is not chained so I wish to take her, if she will come."

Calico hops over to Violet.

"I'll stay with the boy, because someone needs to," Breg says.

"As will Harley and I," Rowaine says.

Breg begins pitching his tent. "Go and check out your gnome, and the hourglass. See if there is anyone in his place. Away with ye."

Four re-enter the crypt: Violet on her Magic Carpet, Calico as an eagle, Lionel on a Disc and Troll flying magically. They travel back to the enormous hall of prophets. The hourglass turns over at their entrance. The boy's manacles lie shattered on the floor where Troll left them; the door behind is as dark and featureless as all the others.

Lionel pokes the pointy end of one of his arrows into the darkness of the door where the boy was held captive. The arrowtip disappears. He pulls it back out; the arrow is fine.

Violet approaches the gnome. She has masses of white, tousled hair. She looks around at people with sightless eyes. Violet gets off her carpet.

"How are you?" Violet asks. "What is your name? Can you speak?"

The gnome vaguely turns at the sound.

"Ca-caw!" says Calico, in eagle form. The gnome turns at the sound. "Ca-caw!" she replies.

"What is your name?" Violet repeats.

The gnome's head meanders over to the source of noise. "What is your name?" she replies.

"Give me your hand," Violet tries. "We can take you out of here."

"Give me your hand," says the gnome.

"She's repeating, that's all," Lionel says.

"She's repeating, that's all," says the gnome, looking in Lionel's direction.

"Twinkle twinkle little star," says Troll, then waits. The gnome's head turns in his direction.

"Twinkle twinkle little star…"

Violet moves closer and touches the gnome on her shoulder. Her head turns towards the touch. Her hands and feet are flat on the floor; she doesn't seem to be shackled in any way.

"Help me get her up," Violet asks the others. The gnome repeats the words. Lionel assists. Either the gnome is surprisingly heavy for her size, or she is anchored in some way. Lionel tries to move her hand but it won't leave the floor. She continues to repeat phrases that the party utter.

"Can we Teleport her?" Lionel asks.

"She has to be willing," Troll replies.

Calico hops over and nudges the gnome's foot. It doesn't move. The foot is bare, her toenails are very long and unkempt. Closer inspection suggests that there is flesh in contact with the ground that will not move. Violet grabs both of the gnome's ankles and pulls, but they do not leave the floor.

"What do we do?" Violets asks the others.

"We kill Chalychia." This from Lionel. The others look at him. "We can always come back afterwards," he explains.

Calico turns his attention to the next door. There is an elf seated beside it. The word above the door says the word "fate" in elven. The elf appears to have his head on backwards. The next creature along is a giant bound in cloth like a mummy. There is a very large spear stuck right through his torso. The wound bleeds freely. He doesn't seem to be bound, although looking more closely the party see the finest silver chain dangling from around its neck all the way to the floor. The party have seen creatures of all sizes here: from the giant nearby to something the size of a sprite.

Violet turns her attention back to the gnome. She is very old, but doesn't appear to be injured. She casts Cure Minor Wounds on the gnome, just in case. The gnome turns at the touch and murmurs in time with Violet as she casts the spell, almost presciently knowing the utterances as Violet is about to utter them. There is no noticeable improvement from the spell.

"This place makes me sad," Violet says.

Calico takes off and heads outside. Roughly 20% of the sand in the hourglass has run through. The others follow.

Outside, Breg and Rowaine have finished erecting a tent and the boy sleeps safely inside.

"I reckon we take this boy somewhere he can be cared for," Breg says. "We cannae look after him ourselves."

"How were things down there?" Rowaine asks.

"Much the same," Troll says.

"The gnome we saw?" Violet starts. "She can talk, but only repeats what we say. I don't think she understands. It's very sad."

"We can't leave this boy here and continue on as a full group," Rowaine points out. She looks at Troll. "Could we take him to Trina?"

"Um, well, it's… OK, if that's what people want."

"What do you think?" Breg asks.

"I don't think we should be leaving people down there. There are two things we need to do. One is to stop Chalychia… But there are all those people there in pain. We have to save them all, not just the one."

"I understand," Breg says. "It's hard to leave them like that."

"I would like to hear Trina's opinion of the boy," Lionel says.

Troll frowns. "I'm not necessarily happy about taking the boy to Trina, in case he is cursed in some way."

"He is a boy younger than myself," Rowaine says. "He could go to the monastery."

"We could take him back to my order," Breg says, "and have him cared for there. I'm sure the priests would be willing to help. Or would it be better to take him to Avarriel?"

Calico resumes human form. "How do we suspect they got there?"

"We don't," Troll answers.

"I have no idea," Breg adds.

"There must be thousands of them," Rowaine says. "It's more than the monastery can handle; it's probably more than Avarriel can handle. And the monastery, and the Silver Arrows combined."

"We need to decide if we are going to focus more on trying to save all of these people now, or if we're going to try and find Chalychia first," Violet says. "Because just us would not be able to rescue all of these people and control all of them."

"Kill Chalychia, then bring a bunch of people here to save these guys," Lionel says.

"Let's start by taking the boy back to my temple," Breg says, "so that he has a safe place and they can check him over, see if he is cursed, deal with that, find out what they can. And then we let them know where these people are and let them start recovering them and enlisting help. And then we go on with Chalychia."

"I wouldn't want someone going in there without Chalychia… dealt with."

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