1700, Wir, 11 Jo, 3E999
The Heroes 4 Hire stacked up and filed through the opening behind the boulder that was concealing the exit, heading south out of the massive cavern that harbored the now-destroyed piercer colony. The hall was short; it opened into a large room after an extremely short distance, and there they found 5 gnolls and three worgs waiting for them. The Heroes were quick on the draw, and despite their preparation and forewarning from the sounds of the piercer cave, the team killed the worgs with arrows and bolts before the gnolls could react. The gnolls then returned fire with their bows, and a short archery duel ended with the death of the gnolls as well.
The team exited a solitary door in the south wall, and continued navigating through a maze of passageways, eventually coming to a long, narrow and high room. At each end, stone steps descended into a pool of a white, viscous, bubbling liquid of unknown composition. Mid-span in the room, a sheet of blue fire arcing with bolts of electricity stretched from wall to wall, and the ceiling to the surface of the liquid. On their left, a 1’ wide stone bridge arched from one set of steps to the others at the far end, passing through the sheet of blue fire about 5’ above the surface of the liquid.
Smedley Hampton dipped an arrow, point first, half way into the liquid. It was viscous and dried in about 30 seconds, leaving the front half of the arrow covered in a thin, white, rubbery sheet, with no other discernible effects. Alton Beeblebrox ran along the narrow bridge, touched the blue fire, got shocked and repulsed, but managed to keep his feet. Smedley then fired the arrow the distance of the room and through the sheet of blue flame, but could not see what became of it on the other side. Lt. Diplo Norixius followed Beeblebrox on the balance beam bridge, picked him up and reversed positions with him, and gave the same thing a try, with the same result… except his armor became magnetized temporarily with the jolt of energy.
Illyia Baham invited Naïlo Thia to join him on the other side, to which she accepted, took his hand, and Illyia used his ring to Dimension Door the two of them across to the steps at the far end. There they found a hallway that continued to the east, as well as Smedley’s arrow. The front half, covered in the rubbery white substance was unharmed; the back, unprotected half was burned to a crisp. Having resolved the obstacle of the room, they relayed their discovery to the rest of the party, and Smedley jumped into the pool. He found that he was not buoyant in the substance, he could not see in it, but it did no detrimental effects to him either. He held his breath and started forward, the thick liquid slowing his movement considerably. The rest of the party followed his lead, jumping in to pass under the wall of blue flame under the surface of the liquid.
As Smedley passed under the flame, he bumped into something in the liquid, hard and straight. Whatever it was, it floated away from him after he bumped it with his chest. He reached out, bumping it again with his hand and sending it floating away again, but managed to make a quick move and grab the item successfully. As he and his compatriots finished traversing the remaining distance under the liquid, he explored the shape of the item with his hands, and discovered it was the size, shape and heft of a shortsword in a scabbard. The party emerged from the pool to join Thia and Illyia, keeping vigil at the passageway. They cleared the liquid from their eyes and noses and mouths, waited for it to congeal and dry, and then took a few minutes to peel the rubbery film off themselves and their equipment. As Smedley peeled the film off the recovered shortsword, he discovered that underneath the weapon and sheath was invisible. He found the grip, drew the sword and the scabbard then appeared, but the weapon remained invisible. Illyia cast Identify, and the party rejoiced as they realized that they had found the legendary weapon known as the Sword of Lyons.
The team continued exploring the winding maze, coming next on another door, beyond which they found a large, empty room with no exits and a thick rope hanging from the high ceiling in the center. Illyia stayed by the door, Smedley and Thia searched the walls and found the outline of a secret door of unknown operation in the opposite wall, and the remaining members gathered around the rope to investigate. Diplo decided to climb the rope, and as he pulled it gave way slightly with a mechanical click. The secret door swung open, and the floor in the entire room folded down and back against the walls. Thia and Smedley managed to jump through the secret door before falling, as did Illyia across the room at the entry door. Diplo, Karraway and Ryoun Rodri grabbed the rope and held on, but Dajjal and Beeblebrox fell about 10’ and landed in a pool of clear acid.
The three Heroes hanging from the rope worked in concert to get the rope swinging, and found it was just long enough to deliver them to either the entry door or the secret door. The disembarked in the secret door with Smedley and Thia, while Beeblebrox and Dajjal scrambled to their feet and ran through the pool of weak acid to the secret door where their comrades helped them up. As they washed the acid from themselves and their gear, Illyia used his ring again to Dimension Door across the room and join them.
Farther along the passage, they entered another large room with a strange stone statue of a cigar-shaped creature with six tentacles, a giant eye and a gaping, toothy maw, perched just in front of a 3’ diameter hole in the floor. As they moved in to investigate, the Storoper surprised them with tentacles snapping out to grab Thia and Illyia and start pulling them in toward the toothy maw. The party unloaded on the creature, hacking at the tentacles and shooting arrows into the stony carcass. A brutal fight ensued, Illyia being brought all the way to the mouth but denying a vicious bite with a timely application of a Shield spell. Tentacles flew in all directions, and no matter where the team moved or how many they cut off, they could neither get out of its range nor stop its ability to sprout more tentacles. Through sheer numbers and firepower, they put the freakish monstrosity down, jumped into the hole and followed another passage deeper into the caves.
The route next led them to another empty room with a single door exiting on the opposite wall; however, this entire room was wood paneled with knotty pine. The door wouldn’t budge, but did not appear to be locked. Illyia and Diplo grabbed the portable ram from the Bag of Holding. As they smashed the door, it suddenly slid back on tracks against a set of long, thin spikes, pricking both Heroes and doling out a small modicum of poison damage. Beyond the false door trap they found a small distance to the real back wall, and a real door to exit. They followed the hallways until they finally came to a large, ornate door, under which Illyia observed a huge chamber beyond with his mirror, which was definitely occupied.
He picked the lock, equipped the Sword of Lyons but did not draw it, instantaneously disappearing from sight where he stood. He then opened the door as subtly and quietly as possible. On the other side they found a massive chamber, 100’ wide and 130’ long, ceiling 40’ high, with four rows of running down the sides of the room. At the far end stood an ornate stone throne, flanked by six gnolls and six ghouls, and sitting on the throne was the gnoll god Yeenoghu. In the middle of the room, was a charging Anklysaurus. The occupants of the room were obviously not surprised at the party’s presence. Illyia invisibly circled the room to his left, hugging the wall and watching to see if anyone seemed to notice him. The rest of the Heroes 4 Hire rushed the room, taking cover behind the first row of columns. As the party engaged the dinosaur, they noticed their arrows seemed to disappear beneath the beast’s skin with a flash as they hit. Ryoun struck at it with his rapiers, and a strange tentacle-like appendage struck out from the visage of the anklysaurus’ shoulder and hit his left-hand rapier, causing it to rust immediately. As the party killed the beast, an illusory cover image winked out, and the saw the massive anklysaurus was actually a medium-sized Rust Monster.
The Heroes fired a few rounds at Yeenoghu as they advanced another row of columns. The arrows and bolts stopped a few feet short of the throne, appearing to have struck some sort of invisible, solid plane and ricocheted. At the second row, they found five more gnolls hiding on the far side of the columns, and a short melee ended with those five gnolls dead.As Illyia made it far enough down the left wall to be even with the throne, the ghouls and gnolls around the throne charged the rest of the party, all seeming to not see him. The team began smashing the ghouls and gnolls one by one, each successfully landed hit dispelling the illusory creature. Yet, the illusionary enemies still were dealing damage when they hit, a fact inexplicable to the Heroes. Illyia saw his opportunity, being behind the enemy lines and with a clear shot at Yeenoghu. He launched an arrow at the gnoll-god, critically striking it in the head, but the illusion simply disappeared in a flash leaving wizened old man in its place, looking about wildly wondering from where the round just came.
The old illusionist saw his illusory guard being dispelled right and left, and decided to flee. He ripped his hat off, cast Darkness upon it, and began moving toward the northeast corner of the room. The Heroes flooded that corner, positioning themselves around several expected escape routes both inside and outside the moving sphere of Darkness. Dajjal took a quick inventory of his comrades’ conditions and decided to throw a Fireball deep into the corner, catching only Diplo and Karraway in the blast, but killing Wimpell Frump, the illusionist, outright. With the Darkness gone, the team searched the room and the bodies, finding some coin, a secret door in the corner where Wimpell was moving, and a false panel in the throne that held a key to the secret door and a map to the city of Suderham, complete with a legend and names of buildings.
With the remainder of the route clear to Suderham, the team sat down for a short rest before they opened the secret door and proceeded up the escape tunnel towards the Aerie.
1830, Wir, 11 Jo, 3E999
What dangers await the Heroes 4 Hire on the island known only as, The Aerie? Will they be able to gain the advantage on the Slave Lords, or did someone from the Stockade or the Slave Pits escape and warn them of the strike team’s approach? Will eight Heroes be enough?
Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”