For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
With Malerix removed as inarguably the most threatening obstacle to the group’s approach to the temple-city of Tsar, the party was now faced with overcoming the more rigid defenses of their destination–for Tsar boasted more than three miles of immense walls and had rebuked unknowable sieges in the past. Through aerial reconnaissance thanks to Anselme, the group gleaned a general notion of the city’s outer defenses and discovered the state of the three ‘gates’ set among the walls.
To the northern reaches of Tsar the gatehouse and surrounding environs appeared to have sunken beneath the surface of a swamp most ominous–and to this potential breach the group was swift to shy away, agreeing together that whatever denizens may lurk within were scarcely appealing foes. To the southern end of the temple-city, the gatehouse was found collapsed–and with it, Anselme reasoned that it may as well be considered contiguous and indistinguishable from the rest of the walls themselves.
This left the eastern and most ‘direct’ approach to Tsar, the vast and daunting fortress of Kirash Durgaut which loomed over the towering Black Gates; massive black-stained and heavily reinforced gates banded with adamantine comprised this entrance, nested within immense stonework. Kirash Durgaut itself stood hugely imposing, with countless spikes protruding from the scarred stone, many boasting corpses of those who had tried–and failed–to breach its walls. The party deemed this would doubtless be a nigh-impregnable method of entry at their present capabilities, though consideration was taken for a potential aerial breach of the fortress–for Brother Vang was able to provide the party the means of swift flight through divine magic as his power continued to grow.
Rather than make an attempt to circumvent a gate among the three, the group decided first to test a random section of wall in order to discern just what sort of defenders might be summoned to its ramparts. Upon their approach the party found that strange undead began to gather along the wall-tops shortly after their approach–creatures which at first glance appeared mere skeletons and zombies, but soon enough were recognized as more advanced and reinforced successors to such–deemed ‘siege undead’.
It seemed that in the defense of Tsar the siege undead were conceived most insidiously–the trio of undead each gleaned from a single corpse, effectively turning the losses of any who fought against the temple-city’s defenders into a four to one sway. Of the skeleton, brain and eyes were fashioned ‘bonemen’, resilient skeletons reinforced with steel and rivets and still possessing a modicum of intelligence. Of the musculature were formed the meatmen, powerful and resilient combatants with blades in place of their forearms; finally, of the skin were constructed the rather disturbing ‘sandmen’, utterly impervious to both piercing and bludgeoning attacks and dangerous foes for martial combatants.
Faced with bonemen, meatmen and sandmen, Anselme saw to attempting to shape the stonework of the wall before finding it reinforced–and then proceeded to burrow beneath it with some effort after taking the form of an earth elemental; with some delay the young druid was able to emerge on the other side of the wall and found himself faced with more of the siege undead–for they had seemed to continually garner further reinforcements the longer the group lingered in their approach.
Satisfied with their foray, the party withdrew without engaging the undead and saw to resting and re-supplying back at the Camp in preparation of a more pointed penetration of the temple-city the following day. After making their way once more past the crossroads and tar pits, the party returned to Tsar’s walls–and now utilized Brother Vang’s magical air walk in order to fly past them and avoid the siege undead altogether.
Once past the outer defenses, the adventurers found themselves in a slum-like lower warren of the temple-city beyond and began to make a cursory sweep of the vicinity in pursuit of any sites of interest. In such, they soon found themselves at a broad pentacle plaza near the center of the lowermost steppe of the city wherein a towering and grotesque statue of an anguished giant served to unsettle those souls assembled.
Departing from the plaza, the party soon found interest in what appeared to be an arena of sorts further southward amidst the ‘Grunge’ of the temple-city–and spying an obelisk and an interesting looking corpse at the center of the arena, Cassandra used the magical flight at her disposal to investigate while her fellows awaited in the stands.
Shortly after reaching the body at the center of the arena, Cassandra began attempting to remove it and the sizable champion’s belt about the body’s waste–and swiftly the arena floor began to flood with blood! From this disturbing rise emerged a quartet of bloated blood golems which began to assail Cassandra and the party–though the sorceress swiftly utilized magical invisibility to minimize her own exposure.
From the stands the party engaged several of the blood golems and slew them with relative ease–but soon discovered fresh specimens emerging from the flooded arena to take the place of the fallen. With Cassandra having successfully recovered the corpse and contents of the sizable coffers into a bag of holding, the group elected to withdraw from the blood pit reasoning that the blood golems could well be an endless foe.
With their modest prize retrieved, the party elected to conclude their first scouting of the ‘Grunge’ and double back towards the entrance of Tsar–keen to take an aerial view of Kirash Durgaut and the Black Gates from the western approach. Upon the highest reaches of the fortress the party observed considerable resistance, however–more than a hundred siege undead at the least and backed by the ‘Dokkalfoer’, a colossal construct seemingly tailor-made to plucking impetuous invaders from the skies; as well, strange tentacled creatures riveted with metal plates boasted potent magnetic fields, which further stymied notions of breaching from above.
Once more the party elected to withdraw and return to the Camp, as by now the hour was nearing dusk and the group as of yet did not want to risk confrontation with nighttime denizens of the temple-city. With a notion of what lay ahead, the party retired for the evening to regroup and plan–reasoning as well that they might gather more information from others within the Camp before making a more forceful entrance into the temple-city thereafter. Little did they know, a mysterious but familiar face would soon enough visit them once more…