Day 241 6:10AM Mittens and Dwag were scoping out the long hall ahead of the party, who were still investigating the teleportation circle. Nico safeguarded their flank by casting an alarm upon the circle. Far down the hall, Dwag and Mittens could make out the large room, the Oracle’s Hall, beyond:
The domed ceiling of this chamber rises eighty feet overhead. In the center of the hall, a thirty-foot-high egg-shaped structure stands on the floor. Stone stairs climb the side of this domed structure, ending before a stone wall chiseled to resemble an immense eye, circled with strange runes glowing with an eldritch light. The stairs and eye are mirrored on the opposite side of the dome. Tiny stars roil across the top of the structure, their light projecting strange constellations on the ceiling overhead. Much of the northeast corner of the chamber lies in ruin, collapsed by obvious cave-ins, but three other exits remain—doors to the east and west, and a corridor leading southeast.
The rest of the party proceeded to catch up with Mittens and Dwag, and passing the large double doors forced open by the cave giants, the party could see down the long courtyard to the high patio – upon it stood a human sized female in a tattered dress, a hag to be sure. She looked directly at the party, and in her hand she held a chain that was fixed to the neck of a aged, male catfolk. The party paused and quickly buffed, as the hag back-pedaled into the recessed cavern beyond the patio, out of there sight. As she drew back, she pulled upon the chain, and the catfolk followed suit and drew back also, but he raised his head and the party could clearly see the family resemblance of between Captain Damiano, and his long-lost father, Lawrence D’Coco. Mittens heard Damiano exclaim, “We must save him!” Confused, Mittens started back up the hallway, pressing Dwag to stay in sight.
As Mittens and Dwag caught up to the party, they found their comrades at the doorway threshold, inching into the courtyard, pondering their options. Captain Damiano seemed moody, yet single-minded and the party slowly moved along the courtyard path as Dwag cautiously searched the area for traps. Moving up onto the patio, they found a deep cavern that split, with a tunnel heading north, and another heading south – both passages were choked with stone and rubble. There was no sign of the hag and Lawrence D’Coco. Dwag spent some time and found tracks, two pairs, in the dust – they trail headed up the northern tunnel to the edge of the blocked passage and disappeared. Nico summoned elementals to start clearing paths through the debris. Flummoxed by the delay and the lack of evidence to where the hag and his father had gone, Damiano was short with the party and the next obvious steps they should take. Taking the time to reconnoitre while the elementals dug, the party realized that northern tunnel circled back to the south-eastern passage leading into the Oracle’s Hall.
Moving carefully through the hall, the party found the cyclops’ treasure vault, and a meditation chamber that had a strong scent of a spent incense called irthaval, which Temujin knew was used to induce blindness as an aid to achieving a higher state of consciousness. Across the room the party found a supply closet, that had prayer supplies and more sticks of irthaval. Nico assigned his elementals to scout the caved-in tunnels and start clearing some of the rubble out.
Mittens noted that the large egg-shaped quartz stone emanated transmutation and abjuration magic but he could not divine the nature of the runes around the painted iris. Nico was able to translate the runes, which were in the cyclops tongue, “Only by blinding yourself to the world around you can you see the way forward to the Eye of Serenity.” They puzzled over the meaning of the runes, attempting to blindfold oneself, but nothing happened. They surmised that someone would have to take a hit of the irthaval incense. Temujin volunteered. He settled into the meditation chamber as Dwag kept watch. Temujin lit the incense and felt it’s effects sink in – his eyes became cloudy as he was blinded, his mind expanded, opening up to the secrets of the Oracle’s Ways. However his body became weaker, debilitated by the drug’s effects. Dwag guided Temujin up the stairs to the painted iris – the iris, to Temujin, appeared as a dark doorway. As Temujin stepped through the quartz dome became translucent and was no longer blocking the party to the great egg-shaped dais.
A flare of light sweeps through this oval chamber, blazing from a large, singular crystal resting atop a six-foot-high silver pedestal in the center of a raised dais. Two large statues face the pedestal, holding up large, curved swords that nearly touch the chamber’s ceiling.
As Temujin stepped onto the dais he could feel a drag on his limbs, trying to slow him down. A black bolt shot from the golden crystal, striking him in the chest – he could feel his very life forced sapped from his body. Mittens flew over to the diaz and as the party followed suit, Damiano noted the two large statues shift, breaking free a veneer of plaster and dust to show two great forms, of cyclops, covered in wrapping and rags, their bodies covered in runes etched into their dried skin. Everyone who stepped onto the dais felt the same debilitating slowness to their limbs. Nico brought two of his elementals into the fray, as the party engaged the cycloptic mummies, known as gholdakos.
Again and again, Temujin was struck by a black bolt shot from the gold crystal. Each time a bit more of his life force ebbed away. As the battle with the gholdakos was underway, they party heard a screech high overhead, “That is my hearthstone!” A human-sized hag floated 30’ over their party, as she stared at Dwag and focused her rage upon him. Dwag shrugged off most of her ill will but felt just a bit seep into his bones as she cackled menacingly at him. The air around the room blurred as four phase spiders appeared around the party and they attacked!
The party and the elementals focused their attacks upon the gholdakos. One of the cyclops spewed dust from his mouth, blinding the party. As they attempted to surround him, he in turn cleaved away attacking all those that surrounded him. Lodhotha, who had been the female cyclops spell-caster all along, but now she turned her attention again onto Dwag and he succumbed into a deep sleep. Temujin having been struck repeatedly by the black bolts, sapping his strength and his life, rolled off the dais and took cover. The gold crystal focused it’s ill intent upon Father Pyrlig and repeated shot bolts into him, sapping his life as well.
The party and the elementals, working together managed to slay one of the gholdakos, and continued fighting with the phase spiders. Mittens flew up to engage Lodhotha. The hag had many defenses and was difficult to hurt. As the battle waged on, Father Pyrlig healed the party and attempted to hurt Lodhotha, but she seemed unscathed. The second gholdako sidled up behind Father Pyrlig but repeatedly failed to claw or bite the priest – finally one foul claw scraped at Pyrlig, his wound becoming inflamed. Father Pyrlig shot at Lodhotha with a magical ray, as it struck, it denied her ability to become ethereal and to escape.
The party slew the phase spiders while Dwag blissfully slept on. Mittens and Damiano attacked Lodhotha together – the hag gazed at the Captain and he felt his will wane and weaken, feeling a debilitating sleep start to overtake him. Damiano focused and used his ring of delayed doom – a crystal shattered and his will was buttressed, he pushed through the magical slumber to fight on. Lodhotha transformed into a ball of fire and fell upon Mittens, moments later, Lodhotha exploded in a fireball washing over Mittens, Damiano, Nico and Pyrlig. As the fire subsided, the hag fell to the ground back in her humanoid form. Mittens and Damiano fell upon her. Father Pyrlig granted more healing to the party, again attempting to hurt Lodhotha as he aided his comrades – but something was special about the hag, and the power to hurt her, instead healed her!
Father Pyrlig being struck now by the black bolts of enervation, was having enough of this treatment. Temujin came to his aid by encasing the gold crystal in a stone hemisphere.
Nico’s elementals and the party managed to slay the second gholdako as Mittens and Damiano attacked Lodhotha brutally – Damiano landed the killing blow, her body burst into flame, the ash of her burnt corpse settled to the stones.
The Oracle’s Hall became quiet as the battled subsided. Since Temujin had stifled the enervating ray of the gold crystal, they were no longer at risk. With Lodhotha’s death, and her spell ended, Dwag slowly shook off sleep and got to his feet.
The party now had the opportunity to look to their wounds, and figure how and what they would do with the Immortal Dreamstone (or the heartstone as Lodhotha called it). To settle with Bikendi at the Chelish Fort they would need to bring the stone back to the fort, which could be dangerous, as Temujin and Pyrlig could attest to.
What were the party’s priorities – much, but not all, of Sumitha had been explored and cleared out? But what of the other hag, Haetanga, and of Damiano’s and Mitten’s father?
Many options lay before the party.
[end of session 88]