For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Shoring themselves up, the party turned their attentions further in the canyon once the Abyssal Greater Basilisk had been slain; with the threat dispatched, pursuit of its den as a place to rest proved a desirable prospect. Ahead, set into the entrance to the box canyon–an immense spider was spied lurking within thick webbing. Together the party moved to engage–yet as Anselme loosed lightning down into the sizable creature those nearing its lair were attacked by an ettercap high among the cliffs.
Pandora moved to engage the ettercap thanks to her ability to spider climb while Emma, accompanied by Gurg and Brother Vang, began attempting to wade her way through the thick webbing. Several large spiders began to make their way down from the cliffs, one obliterated by a bolt of lightning called from above by Anselme, another by Emma when it attempted to engage Brother Vang–while the third was slain by Pandora while the ettercap withdrew to leap down into the thick webbing.
By now, a continued assault began to tear through the webbing as lightning arched from the skies–yet soon enough the party realized that the immense spider within was a fake, constructed by the ettercap; by then the ettercap had escaped the group and while they shouted after it offering it a job, it did not return. Soon afterward, Pandora was able to locate the small lair of the creature–freezing in fright at the sight of a skull with diamond eyes and emerald teeth, fearful of a demilich. After a moment, however, it also appeared to be a fake–only furthering the group’s keen interest in hiring the ettercap they’d encountered.
Packing into the cramped lair of the ettercap the party erected a web shelter and was able to rest throughout the night without incident; on the morrow, they regrouped and descended into the box canyon once more–and once inside, spied off to the side a field of statues as well as a pool of water surrounded by growths. Nearing the pool, Anselm was suspicious of the fungal formations surrounding it–and sure enough, a trio of violet fungi began to trundle free from it to pursue them.
The touch of a violet fungus rapidly decays flesh from bones–a terrifying prospect–but soon enough the party was able to dispatch them without lasting injury. Having confirmed that contact with the water in the pool would be an unpleasant prospect, Anselme directed the party away from such–so onto the statues the group moved. There they began to examine the countless former adventurers and unfortunate sorts smashed and broken, pondering if they might be able to mend and restore any of them to life–while discussing the nature of souls and how they are regarded once the body has been petrified.
While wading their way through the statues, upon the approach of that of a headless wizard a sizable ogre statue suddenly lashed out and began to bludgeon Emma soundly; a stone golem, the group soon realized, had somehow followed what may have been its former master to continue its protective services of such. Nevertheless, after several rounds of thudding blows the stony sentinel was broken down and destroyed. Noting the wizard in particular as a future prospect for restoration, the party then began to regroup while Pandora made her way alone towards the maw of the cave at the rear of the canyon.
A thundering crack of powerful lightning lanced out towards the Drow which she was narrowly able to avoid; Anselme, hearing such, was able to judge that the potency of the bolt was nearly quadruple that of his own lightning reserves–and quickly called for the party to beat a retreat. After some discussion, it was decided that the denizen of the cavern was best avoided now–and so the party elected instead to make their way back up the cliffs and continue their circuit towards the lift to the lower levels.
The overland trek to the lift proved uneventful, but upon arrival the group discovered a ramshackle cabin and tousled stable beside the edge of the immense drop-off; there a sign had been planted which clearly stated: ‘KLOSED TIL NITEFALL”. Suspended over the cliff’s edge was an immense platform of rough hewn-logs so sizable and weighty that the group concluded it would be impractical to attempt its operation on their own–so instead, they settled to have a picnic, rest, and await the coming nightfall to speak with the place’s proprietors.
It was while sharing stories and sweet meats that the party was taken unawares–a chaos beast striking out against Brother Vang suddenly and unexpectedly, reducing the clergyman to an amorphous screaming blob wracked with pain! Panicked, the party moved to engage the thing–while a moment later Emma was brought to share Brother Vang’s fate; as both struggled with their instability, the others rained magics and attacks on the beast to obliterate it before turning to tend to the misfortune of their fellows afterward.
Brother Vang was able to pull himself together long enough that he could cure his condition–while Emma wildly lashed out against any who came near, madness gripping her excruciating state; with the help of Iomedae’s power however Brother Vang was able to bring Emma back to solidarity before the pair saw to mending their emotional and cerebral wounds.
Once night came, a pair of flannel-clad rock trolls emerged from within the cabin and set up shop for the lift’s operation; introducing themselves as Otis and Lortis, the two explained their pricing structure in roughly spoken common before Pandora revealed her familiarity with the giant language–facilitating much smoother negotiations. Pandora put forth that the remote nature of the duo’s operations lent obviously to a lack of a variety of amenities–offering to establish the availability of such in exchange for information and a more favorable exchange for the lift’s operation.
After further discussion, several barrels of wine were produced for the pair along with a collection of candy purchased back in Ravengro; from this, the brothers provided the locations of several ‘tourist spots’ in the chaos rift for the party to purvey–but most importantly, were able to identify the location of the gargoyle aerie for the group. Much to the duo’s delight, Anselme proposed the creation of a more sizable stone structure for the pair to preside over–and after a brief discussion, the two provided the young druid a crudely drawn diagram of their idealized location–which the party agreed to erect upon their return trip to the lift.
With these matters settled, the party paid the pair before beginning their descent down the lift–deep into the gloom of the rift as they were foisted more than six hundred feet into the chasm beside the cliff. Once down, under cover of darkness and amid an eerie fog the party began to make their way along the cusp of a far deeper abyss–strange and disturbing sounds echoing out from the gloom. As they moved, the group began to discover disconcerting remnants of an infant’s belongings while distant forlorn cries echoed among the darkness.
Upon reaching the cliffs for their next ascent to read the level necessary that they might approach the aerie, the party began to discuss their means of approach when a man struck the ground beside them and died instantly–having fallen from the foggy heights above. Finding him beyond salvation, the party collected the man’s remains and discovered a journal suggesting that he was a Pathfinder among another party of adventurers–and that they had discovered a ‘gateway’ somewhere within the chaos rifts, but that their numbers had gradually been whittled down.
Undeterred, the party began their ascent of the cliff–assailed by a specter along the way whom struck at Pandora before being dispatched. Once up on the higher ground, a hasty march was began through the gloom of the chaos rift with a south-western approach. Throughout the entirety of this journey the party endured a seemingly endless assault by wraiths and other undead spirits–now found to be an all too familiar norm among the reaches of the chaos rift.
Having endured and survived the gauntlet of undead once more, the party had drawn near to their destination–but now faced a mile-wide gap between them and the aerie, with water flooding the canyon some three hundred feet below. As before, magic proved the most tenable solution here–with spider climb and aspects of the ape before water-walking and similar precautions could be taken; with this the group made a hasty march across the waters–though Brother Vang swore to having spied a familiar ghoul in a rowboat some distance away.
At the base of the cliffs, the aerie could then be seen nearly six hundred feet up before the entrance to the caves were found; as well, the party spied statue sentinels up above, marking little enough time for their ascent before they would be swarmed by margoyles and spitting gargoyles. With a last round of magic, the spider staff providing climbing for several among their number–the party made a hasty ascent while the sounds of gathering defenses could be heard shouted and screeched, echoing within the caves.
No sooner had the group made their way over the edge of the cliff than they were engaged by opposition most plentiful; more than a dozen margoyles came crashing along the line of adventurers while from above several spitting gargoyles began loosing acid across their ranks. Luckily, Anselme had prepared the party for just such an assault–and soon enough the gargoyles began to recognize that the invaders were unaffected by their acid!
An alarm could be heard shouted further in the caves as a fierce battle raged–Emma, Gurg, Pandora and Brother Vang shoulder to shoulder as they became mired and pinned down. Anselme scaled the walls, loosing flame strikes and volcanic ash–while Cassandra began to detonate powerful fireballs among the throng of gargoyles as more and more began to pile into the cave to rebuke the attacking party.
Leone and Meryk fought several margoyles on the far end of the cavern’s entrance, soon beleaguered and quickly becoming overwhelmed; after drawing considerable attention to himself after loosing his deadly volleys, Meryk became the target of nearly ten margoyles–swiftly repositioning himself with magic and turning invisible to gain a chance to recuperate.
Cassandra’s powerful magic took little time to draw the wrath of the defending margoyles and gargoyles–and soon the sorceress found herself the target of a nearly suicidal assault by her foes. With the sorceress felled, Brother Vang struggled to make his way through the thick of his enemies–little room available to maneuver while reinforcements were arriving faster than they could be killed. Gurg, suffering countless blows, managed to recover the sorceress and deposit her near to the cleric before serving as a meat shield against the dozens of slashing claws.
Fireballs, volcanic ash and flame filled the air–before an ice storm was loosed, darkness gripping a sizable portion of the cavern with eldrich energies; Emma cut a bloody swath through the ranks of the margoyles, the barbarian raging fiercely while Leone maneuvered to pounce gargoyles out of the air; by now, the ranks had been thinned to a degree–and after utilizing magic to enlarge Emma and make her more terrifying still, Pandora made her way deeper into the cave to gain a vantage on the passage beyond.
Sighting further reinforcements still, Pandora was swiftly engaged and surrounded by margoyle and gargoyle alike before Leone moved to help her; Anselme, finally spied by the spitting gargoyles, was swept up by one and carried out of the cave–doubtless intending to dash the young druid on the jagged rocks below. Much to the gargoyle’s surprise, Anselme took to the form of an immense eagle and reversed the grapple before sending the startled gargoyle plummeting to its death before it could react.
As the storm of sorcery began to clear, several dozen corpses littered the lair of the gargoyles even as more continued to arrive. Weariness began to grip the adventurers, battered, bloodied and beleaguered–yet by Brother Vang’s fierce determination and through careful maneuvering and support, the group had managed to stave off further casualties yet–though Cassandra bore the painful remnants of being battered off her feet several times throughout the interim.
With more than forty gargoyles slain, another dozen arrived–yet these took to a high perch and among them one bellowed out a single word to echo throughout the cavern. “[i]PARLAY![/i]” Weary, wary and bloodied, the party drew back and held their blows. Among the cavern thick with corpses, a calm was finally struck and a proposition voiced.
In exchange for calling a cessation of blows, an arrangement was struck–the gargoyles would cease to assail passing caravans and end further hostilities against the denizens of the Camp. As well, they would release their remaining prisoner and provide the party information; finally, should the party venture deeper into the cave and discover the fate of their missing leader, the gargoyles agreed to allow the party a portion of their treasures. With further deliberation, it was finally agreed that in the future the gargoyles would provide aerial support should some vast confrontation arise.
Conditions laid out, the group forayed as agreed and ventured far to the rear of the cavern past a cave-in; there in short order they discovered strange slimes and the reanimated remnants of a sizable gargoyle which they swiftly put to rest. With the missing leader’s fate discerned, the gargoyles and margoyles held true enough to their end of the bargain–placating the brutal battle between both sides, providing the prisoner from the caravan the party sought–and begrudgingly parting with a sizable sum of wealth to stave off further hostilities from the fierce adventurers.
To see what Emma thought about these last two sessions, go here.