SESSION 1-1 (12 Nov 2009)
Darkness… It is the last thing that any of them remember before waking trapped inside a watery prison, unable to escape.
Each of them confined within a small glassy box the size of a coffin filled with a murky water-like substance, they found their naked bodies violated by needles and hoses. Air was being supplied to them by some strange apparatus attached to their faces, feeding them life giving oxygen. Fear, anger, and confusion gripped their hearts and minds. Fighting for their freedom, each of them struggled to breach the glassy barrier that held them hostage, some more successfully than others. It took a few moments, but once the first mysterious tank began to shatter and lids were forced open, it became clear to all of them that they were not alone.
In total, eight tanks stood along the walls of the large dimly lit room. Emerging from them were a strangely marked deva, a large half-orc, two humans, a tall kalashtar, a half-elf, and a dwarf. The occupant of the eighth tank had not been so lucky – too late for rescue, a half-elven female body was pulled from the final tank, her watery grave. Naked, dripping wet, cold and confused, they stared at one another and then began speaking, trying to take measure of, and determine the nature of their shared predicament. No one had an answer though, each was just as lost as the others. With no apparent rhyme or reason, these strangers had been thrust together and forced to endure as one.
Arming themselves as best they could with makeshift clubs and daggers created from the tanks themselves and from the sparse array of furniture in the room, they took further stock of their situation. At one end of the expanse a large and very strange object – something akin to a metallic mirror – hummed with arcane energy. They could see tendrils of power weaving their way through the room, reaching out to each of the tanks. The kalashtar, being an artificer himself, could make out the most basic aspects of the contraption, recognizing the hand of a fellow artificer in the workings of its design. Still, he was unable to deduce its true purpose or its manner of operation. Aside from a few papers written in an unrecognizable script, and a hodgepodge of minor miscellaneous items, the only other thing of interest to them was a locked door at the center-most point of the room.
Cautiously, they attempted to open the door without rousing too much in the way of noise. Unfortunately, in a final act of desperation to leave this place, the strongest of them was forced to kick the door open. In the darkness that lay beyond, a myriad of beady glowing red eyes stared back at them. With a guttural command issued in draconic from the back of the room, the red eyes leapt forward in a rush of movement, revealing themselves to be kobolds. Small and frail, unarmed and easily overcome, the kobolds did not put up much of a fight. Once down to the last few, they cried out in surrender, obviously valuing their pitiful lives. When questioned about this place and their tenancy here, they spoke in broken common with high pitched hissing voices, revealing little. Of the things said, one in particular stuck with the group ‘the taaall man and the ssshooort man told us to keeell youz and we couldz be freeeed’. Unimpressed by the conversation, the wizard Elrick The Orange, took a few moments to fashion himself a robe of sorts from the rags worn by the now deceased creatures, cleaning it of foul grime and odor with a quick flip of his wrist. Otherwise no one took an interest in the doomed kobolds remains or their vagabond possessions. Locking the remaining kobolds back in the cells that lined this area, the group moved forward to another door.
This one, again locked, proved easier to take down than the first. This room, revealed by the light of a magical fire in one corner, served an obvious purpose. On one side of the room a cruel looking slab of wood with restraints attached to it stood covered in thick dried blood. Next to it a long table with neatly assorted instruments were lain out and ready for use. The kobolds had called this ‘the badddd plaze’, and it was easy to see why. Gruesome torture and experimentation had taken place here – a fact easily confirmed by the notes scrawled in common on a desk at the other end of the room. On the desk, further evidence presented itself in the form of a fresh kobold skull split open to reveal the brains inside, along with several jarred brains in various states of dissection and study. A curious object also captured the party’s interests – a small metallic sphere about the size of a fist that carried the markings of what appeared to be a brain. Curious indeed – a metallic brain? Taking what they could, including a handful of new, better suited weapons and a leather apron donned by the kalashtar, they moved on.
Leaving this room through an unlocked wooden door, our intrepid adventurers stood in a brightly lit hallway with two warforged statues flanking a large tapestry depicting scenes of the warforged races initial creation. Fangrim, the half-orc ranger was overcome with joy when he noticed that one of the statues was holding a double bladed axe – a weapon that had long ago captured his interest but had never been acquired. The other statue carried a weapon of its own, a great sword. Struggling to free these powerful weapons from the stone hands that held them proved difficult, but eventually both blades were freed from their confines and handed to those who could make the best use of them. A few feet in either direction, hallways beckoned to be explored. However, their features were blocked by large curtains drawn across from wall to wall. Cautiously they crept forward, especially vigilant after the discovery of arcane runes carved along the tops of the walls indicating the possibility of a fiery trap ahead. Even so, they were caught off guard when the movement of a second curtain ignited the entire hallway in a thunderous ball of fire and flame, incinerating the curtains that had once blocked their view, but also singing several members of the party. After a few moments of rest to recover from their wounds and shaken confidence, they continued forward into a larger chamber. Plain in its construction, this new area was marked by five doors extending in various directions. Of the five, four were crafted from wrought iron and protected from intrusion by two separate sets of locks. The last door, a small wooden double door was the least interesting of them all and saved for last. With the help of Batalash the kalashtar artificer and the mighty double axe of Fangrim the half-orc ranger, they were able to breach both of the iron doors. Behind one they discovered the presence of two large angry bears chained to a wall. Slamming the door shut and holding it closed against the powerful force of a bear on the other side, they were able to replace one of the locks and defer the threat. More tentatively with the second door than with the first, they opened it to reveal the rotting corpse of an enormous, but deceased panther that had plainly starved to death.
Turning their attention to the final wooden double doors, they opened them up to find themselves in a rich arboretum with high domed ceilings in place. Greeted by the buzzing of angry insects above and the site of caged kobolds jeering and jesting at them from one side, the group was immediately drawn into combat. Swarms of needle shaped flying insectoids slammed into the group, bowling them over and devouring their flesh. Despite their newly acquired weaponry the group experienced great difficulty in combating these tiny creatures. Even worse, a stinging cloud of cold, issued from the hand of Elrick, stirred up the wrath of additional creatures in the room. Set upon by strange vine-like beings, the party was now battling a dual threat. Just as they began to make some degree of progress, the floors erupted in a wave of thorny vines that arose from the ground and ensnared many of them. The powerful grip of these vines proved too much for the ashen deva paladin known as Ronen, pulling him to the ground and knocking him unconscious. Fangrim also suffered a similar fate later on in the battle but both were roused by the healing power of their allies to take part in the remaining battle. Surprised by a grunt from the densely overgrown hill in the center of the room, they discovered yet another combatant at work – this one openly responsible for the damaging vines that broke through the floors again and again. While Fane the human warlord rushed forward to battle this added foe, yet another enemy revealed itself. From a ledge several feet above a small dark aberrant creature issued forth a psychic scream that caused many members of the group to slow in speed – almost to a crawl. By this point it was obvious to all members of the party that they had stumbled into the living space of many disparate creatures eager to defend their home.
As the last of their quarry fell to the ground, the group took a few moments to catch their breaths and recover from the vicious battle. As they searched around the room for any further forms of treachery, or the possibility of hidden treasures, one of them noticed a small nest along the edges of the dome wall where the small aberrant beast had come from. Climbing the heavily vined walls was a simple task and the group discovered a handful of coins, a small shield, and a beautifully etched bone dagger of extremely high quality. Upon investigation by those trained in the skill of arcana, the dagger emitted a rich sense of magic. Working to discover its secrets, they found that the dagger bore a close resemblance to a dragons tooth, and if used in combat it might be useful in lowering an opponents defenses.
This my friends is where our adventures for the evening ceased. With still so many unanswered questions and so much left to discover, I am sure this is not the last we will hear of this tale… perhaps next week there will be more to tell…
From the Journal of Batalash (Dave):
In what can only be described as a waking nightmare Batalash awakens in an enclosure of watery substance. His last memories fading as he realized that there is an apparatus covering his mouth and nose and needles with tubes attached inserted in to his body. Clearly the apparatus is supplying air. But what are the tubes supplying? With his head throbbing and his Kalashtar connections to the psychic connections muted he realized that he should act quickly but carefully. Investigating the inside of the enclosure he discovered a latch handle. Perhaps this would open the container? But in his haste the young Artificer over anticipated the force needed and broke off the lever. Checking to see if anyone was near by the container he turned in desperation to his only next alternative. Blast out. However, after one thundering blast the container began to crack. In his excitement he prepared a second blast but before he could let it loose the door was released and raised. A red eyed grey haired Deva was standing over him. To make it more and less startling the Deva was bare-naked and dripping from the water. Looking up into the face of what was obviously another prisoner released or escaped from the containers. As he emerged he saw 6 other survivors and one dead woman. The nature of the death was unknown and the reason for her connection here was just as much a mystery to him as was his own plight. Turning to matters at hand Batalash started to investigate the manor of the equipment in an attempt to determine its purpose. However, his aching head and prolonged forced sleep left him unable to focus. He would have to wait to learn more. At least until he found some clothes, had a meal, and recovered from his head ache. For now he needed to arm himself and learn who he was with. Turning back to the container he broke off an arm used in latching the devices making himself a make shift dagger. Better than nothing for some, but for Batalash any weapon can be turned into more. The group quickly formed with most taking arms with broken parts of chairs or in the same was as Batalash broken pieces of what looks to have been a prison cell. Albeit a strange one.
At the door they opened it with a kick and there in the next room was the filthy stinking confined Kobolds. How many it was hard to count. A half-orc named Fangrim, that Batalash had already taken a liking to, quickly charged the small foul creatures. However, it was when the loud human Elrick began to unleash his blasting cold spells that the Kobolds began to worry. Soon enough the party had the Kobolds deathly afraid for their lives. It was only a matter of time and the Kobolds realized this. Luckily for the small creatures the party was not our for the blood of obvious prisoners and so we allowed them to surrender and cower from us. However, we did take the precaution of locking them in their rooms. The foul headache that beset Batalash continued as the party entered the next room. This one was a room of obvious nature. The attempt to study the brain by testing subjects in torture and dissection was clear. The working table and rows of metal instruments didn’t leave any doubt as to what went on here. Moving through this room proved easier as the door was unlocked. Outside in the hall though they found a quandary of two directions both blocked by hanging curtains. Trusting nothing Batalash began to study the area of the curtains certain some trap must lay there. While he wasn’t able to identify the mechanism he was sure it a trap. However, the group determined rightly so that they must proceed, albeit with caution. So the party spread out with the melee taking up the lead. After a small encounter with a fire trap the party was able to move forward to the next area. This provide a much trickier situation. Four locked metal doors and one unlocked double wooden. Through careful consideration the party set forth to open the doors. To his surprise Batalash found that it was he in fact who had the necessary skills to open the locks. Hard as it was with his mediocre skills to open the locks he was eventually successful of course in one instance his new friend Fangrim was of some assistance with a well place axe head to a particularly nasty paddle lock. It was however a short lived victory as neither room netted anything beyond a near miss with a couple of bears. But then they proceeded into what was soon to be discovered as a lair. Beset immediately by flying nasty critters with ravenous hunger and bad attitudes the party struggled. Fighting back the beasts slowly it was a slow start. With Fangrim and the Deva Ronen going down. However, with Fane’s inspiration and Batalash’s infusions the party kept up. Then just as the party was about to lose hope the foul creature behind the vines failed miserably in his spell and gave away his position by a cry of muted agony. With the utter failure however we had his location. Fane charged the creature in his hidden center of vines, we new our true enemy. With the initial charge done Fane gasped a large breath and dove in for what was a masterful stroke of blows with his captured Great Axe. The naked human body rippled as his blows landed and the foul creature in the center was killed. It soon followed that a fellow creature was hidden along the wall and the party soon brought him down with magical powers at a distance. After a short rest the party searched the room and found a hidden nest. Here they found some needed items and coin. They must seek next for more gear and a better understanding of what has happened to them.
From the Journal of Fane (Nate): I woke up naked in a glass coffin filled with ice-cold water. Last I remember I was chopping wood outside my cottage thinking about… Lilya… Thank the Silver Flame I was able to get the lid off and escape. I was dead shocked to see my half-orc friend Fangrim in the same room, along with five others: Elrick, Batalash, Kal-El half-elven, Alkanane the dwarf, and the strange black-skinned humanoid named Ronen. We made nice and quickly setting about finding an escape route. Batalash seems to have some knowledge of magical devices and so examined a strange mirror-like device through or from which passed arcane energy in arching silver streams into our… water tombs. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Bastards! Whoever did this will pay, but not until I find out why they did it first.
Elrick opened the door to freedom, or so we thought. The door led to a filth-ridden chamber packed with ravenous kobolds. Fangrim rushed in a broke their spirit… er…hunger. The poor vermin were starving to death. The only information we could get out of them was that a “short man and a tall man” told them to kill us should we escape. Guess we foiled that master plan. Who leaves kobolds in charge anyways?
We left the kobolds behind and went into the “bad place” as they called it: a torture room. The blood-soaked rack and assortment of cutting tools left no doubt about the room’s purpose. Ronen found a strange metallic “brain” and Elrick found some notes about the brain’s anatomy. Gibberish for all I care. I want answers.
Outside were too statues of warforged standing on either side of a mural depicting the creation of the constructs. Interesting… but not as much as the great sword that one of them was holding. Finally, a real weapon! Thanks to Elrick’s magic and Fangrim’s strength we were able to get the sword and an unwieldy two-headed axe. Of course Fangrim took the latter. I think he’s the only one who could do any good with that thing anyways.
The passage led to the right and the left and both were covered with curtains. Not wanting to waste any more time I took the group down the left passage. The burst of fire I led them into didn’t win me any friends… sorry Wolf. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. I will have to be a bit more cautious as I am sure there are more traps in this place.
We came upon a plain room with four single doors and a set of wooden double doors. Fangrim was able to break one lock and Batalash found a way to manipulate the locking mechanism on the door itself. Little good it did us. I nearly had my head torn off by a pair of starving bears! At least the panther in the next room was already dead… long dead. It appears whoever runs this place hasn’t been around for awhile.
Finally we went through the double doors into a domed room filled with… a jungle? The tangle of vines and greenery was nearly impossible to see through. All I could make out through the shrubbery were three kobolds in cages jeering at us in their cursed hissing language. Before we could even react, a large swarm of needle-nosed insects rushed at us. Fangrim charged into the room and took a mighty swing at them with his new axe, but his blade sliced harmlessly through the air as the swarm split in two. Ronen, the paladin, rushed in next but couldn’t keep the insects at bay and was taken down. Elrick and Kal-El cast spells, but the insects were too quick to pin down. “We need to get into that room,” I shouted, rushing to protect Ronen, and pushing the insects back in an attempt to make space for the others. Unfortunately, no one could get through before several writhing, thorny vines lashed out and hedged us in, keeping most of the group trapped in the adjacent room. From the ground more vines erupt, ensnaring my legs and constricting with unnatural strength. I screamed out and broke free, but not before Ronen, Fangrim, and Alkanane were all ensnared as well. Amazingly, I was able to spot the puppeteer of the vines. Seeing my companions in dire straits I threw caution to the wind and rushed into the verdant labyrinth, cutting down vines left and right. Finally, I made it up the slope to the puppeteer, a mass of gnarled vines wound into a humanoid shape. I sliced into it, drawing its ire away from my companions. Batalash summoned “something” that aided me as well. Together we flanked the creature, and with a series of vicious blows, aided by magic from Kal-El, I was able to take it down.
The others finished off the rest of the vines and the insects, but were soon facing a new threat. A flying creature I’ve never seen the likes of before flew up to the chamber’s ridge. Through some evil trickery it assaulted the minds of Elrick and some of the others. Fortunately, my companions were the stronger in the end and were able to slay it. In its nest Batalash found some coins, a rune-scribed knife, and a shield.
I wouldn’t mind having a shield, but a sword is more important at the moment. When I find the sons-a-bitches that brought us here I want to thank them personally.