Monday, August 12, 2013

The Mountain Comes to Efulziton the Unseen - Pahvelorn Play Report

"So the extraworldy army is destroyed, and we get a reward, well I want you to promise not to attack the other ... uh ... civilized cities.  Well no I can't see why you'd do that, and I trust you'll keep that promise?  I also want to be a knight, I mean Duke of Trolmun.  Wait, there aren't any nobles in Trolmun, but I can still have a scroll that says I'm a Duke - a patent of nobility - make it written real fancy, on good paper, with ribbons, and seals, and some illuminated letters.  On a big heavy scroll, with carved knobs, yes bone is fine.  It's not worth anything though, you're sure?  Well then I also want my weight in gold - all 136 lbs." - Beni Profane, when offered his heart's desire by the Necromancer King Efulziton the Unseen

Pron - fighter, and huge, heavily made-up, hairy child
With the last notes of the magical flute echoing in their minds, and the earth around them buckling as uncounted legions of undead clawed towards the surface from their cursed graves the adventurers of the sometimes "Order of Gavin" rushed to the surface up the deep well that had led them to the heart of the doomed mountain.  Uri the Hook, a sadistic brute of a deserter from the Zorptah town guard who possessed an inexplicably sweet singing voice had fled previously and by the time the first of the party emerged from the stone well his armored form was fleeing across the writhing graveyard in exaggerated leaps that flung snow in every direction.  Lau Taxan, Beni Profane's dour shamanistic 'spiritual advisor' was the first to emerge from the ground, his ascent aided by the power of his fecund goddess to transform his hands and feet into the clinging claws of a rat.  As Lau forced his now human feet back into his armored boots, Beni also emerged from the hole, having scurried up the side of the shaft with no rope to slow his natural agility.  The two waited, and soon Eariyara the sorceress also climbed from the hole, her childish pinched face red with exhaustion from the rapid 50' climb.

As Eariyara law in the snow, and Beni panted, with his hands on his knees, Lau watched silently as the petrified headstones of the graveyard, twitched and occasionally vanished into the frozen earth, pulled down by the restless corpses.  Boney talons wrapped in burial leathers forced themselves from the earth in ever increasing numbers, and as the first heavily armored warrior, the incredibly strong Pron the Giant's Child, pulled himself free of the earth his action was grotesquely mirrored by the first of the leather wrapped ghouls to rip itself free of its icy grave.  Beni shouted in a half strangled whisper down the tunnel for the other armored adventurers to hurry, while Lau laid a circle of crude wooden runes, tied to a rope circle around the hole.  Folk wisdom held that the runes were sure protection against the undead, and they'd worked in the past, but at the very heart of the necromantic queen, demon and god Orcus' power the old runes were a frail talisman against a tide of the dead.

Bishop Karna and Tokil the Bald finally reached the surface, and the entire band looked out into the graveyard as it roiled with emerging dead. A few eyeless skulls turned to glance towards party as the protective rune ring began to smoke, melting into the snow.  Deciding to move quickly, with as little noise as possible, the party set out across the narrowest part of the graveyard, towards a petrified and abandoned logging town they had made camp in at the bottom of Orcus' mountain.  As they marched grimly, Beni fingered his bow, wondering if even his blessed silver arrows would bite the frostbitten flesh of the creatures that were rising into an ever growing mob.  It hardly mattered, as even the rat catcher's prodigious number of quivers could never hold enough arrows for the horde that swarmed from graves, crypts and finally the doors of the tower itself.  Secret vaults cracked open, and cold afternoon fell on stone steps leading into a darkness unlit for eons.  Even Eariyara's crackling bolts of lightning and deluges of hellish purple fire would be mere pinpricks against the giant army that had been buried beneath the mountain.

It was only a matter of time before some of the dead realized that the adventurers were living prey, even in the grim bustle of erupting graves.  A pack of eight of the leather wrapped corpses rushed the and were met with a barrage of oil bombs and holy water.  Three corpses made it past the line of fire and water, and where their claws struck, the living froze with unnatural seizures.  Lau-Taxan and Torkil were stiff, with looks of horror on thier faces before the remaining dead were smashed into the snow, and thier silent faces plead to be dragged along.  Lau came back around quickly, with an odd rodent like toughness, but Torkil remained a huge stiff weight, except for his darting eyeballs.  The giant fighter slowed the party, especially when a withered hand grabbed his ankle from below, and had to be hacked free.  Sensing wounded prey, a small group of leather wrapped corpses left the excavation of some huge undead creature and closed with the party, and despite most of their number being blasted with a cloud of purple acid by Eariyara managed to paralyze Karna before being hacked apart.

As the fight with the small group of mummified ancient corpses ended, the adventurers heard a human cry from the graveyard's rapidly approaching edge, and spotted Uri the Hook, surrounded and slashing furiously against a growing pack of undead.  Before Eariyara could rush to her cowardly henchman's aid he had been torn to pieces by the ghoul pack, which began to eat red strips of his flesh even as the warrior expired thrashing in the snow.

The adventurers were into the woods, past the graveyard's ever increasing number of walking dead, and Torkil began to recover as they limped towards the petrified town.Once behinid the walls and wards of the ancient settlement, the party hardly paused, gathering up their pack apes, and Haxatha the gladiator who'd been left to guard them, them fled towards Trollmun, without pause.  This haste was warranted, as the adventurers fled through the town's Northern gate a neatly arrayed legion of skeletal soldiers, in ancient bronze armor scaled its Southern wall with crude log ladders and vine ropes, moving with percision and military dispatch uncharacteristic of the undead.

Fleeing through the woods, and hardly stopping the party retreated from a group of robed figures pushing a wagon and calling for help.  As night fell the exhausted adventurers found themselves faced with a picket line and a large force of Trollmun's still unsmiling soldiers. A few tense minutes of negotiation revealed that the battalion was not there to double-cross the party, but to escort them the rest of the way to Trollmun.  Accepting the inevitable, the adventurers continued their trek, surrounded by the force of undead soldiers.  Only once did the troop encounter any sign of the undead horde, another, almost identical wagon surrounded by cloaked figures.  The necromancer's soldiers descended on it, brutally stabbing down the wagon's minders and tearing open the canvas covered bed.  They pried open the coffin they discovered there and stabbed whatever hissing smoking thing was withing with poles cut from the living forest.

Arriving in the besieged fortress city of Trollmun, it's black towers a jumble of glassy cubes far older than even the necromancer that lived within, the adventurers were soon escorted before Efulziton the Unseen.  For a creature with affectless hollow speech the necromancer seemed jubilant.  The adventurers turn over the flute to Efulziton, expecting him to play it to control the undead.  Instead, wrapping the magical artifact in the ragged arms of its cloak, one of the chorus of robed entities that appear to make up the Necromancer's presence snaps the flute into fragments and the voice of the ancient sorcerer declares "Now the great army of the dead will never sleep, and I shall call what I can to my side".

It dawns on the party that perhaps they have meddled with power beyond their reckoning, and the the benign seeming Necromancer is up to more than simply defending himself - but at this point the die is cast, and Efulziton seems in a generous mood.  Karna asks for relics and sacrifices to make amends for the crime against his god that he has committed, while Eariyara demands knowledge and spells.  Beni asks for a patent of nobility, but upon discovering Trollmun has no nobles, accepts his weight in gold and a blanket sized official looking parchment the proclaims him a 'Duke of Trollmun'.

The very evening of their return the adventurers watch from the walls of Trollmun as a huge swarm of the dead is drawn up before the walls of Trollmun and attacks the siege lines of the chitin armored demonic outsiders endless waves.  The undead are destroyed by the hundreds in blasts of hellfire and witch-light, but they are simply too numerous and amongst the swarming masses of weak revenants powerful spirits return the magical assault of the demon army while great captains marshal ancient legions of decaying soldiers, backed by giant constructs of bone and mummified flesh for precise attacks on enemy strong-points.

Before day dawns the demonic army has either been slain where it stood, fled back towards the Western hills or disappeared into rapidly closing purple vortexes. At least a third of the undead force is destroyed, and the rest mill aimlessly about the shattered field.  As the sun climbs, the party observes a palanquin arrive on the battlements, and the Necromancer's wraith like figure emerges, protected from the sun by umbrella holding attendants.  Efulzition's rag swathed hands go through a series of motions and the milling undead turn towards Trollmun, starting to clamber into the deep quarries and mines that surround the city's base.

The party decides to depart Trollmun after only a couple days of rest, the town's silence grates on them, and with the demon threat seemingly ended all of the adventurers are interested in seeing what has happened elsewhere amongst the city-states.

Gazemoral has rebuilt its gates and the road the adventurers have been refurbishing between it and Illum Zugot is only a week from completion.  Beni breaks down the gold that Efuliztion provided, a hollow statute in his likeness, and turns it over to to the surveyor and architect that the party has been employing to construct the road.  The plan is to build a 40' diameter tower as a barracks atop a bluff overlooking the road, so that Beni or bushwackers in his employ, can charge tolls and turn the party's public minded road building into demesne and profit.

After discoverign the road is near completion and that Gazemoral and Illum Zugot reamain free from threat by monsters or other unnatural forces.  Returning to Zorptah and the pit of Pahvelorn, the party is awed, as hovering above the pit is a great tumbled castle, floating on an earth plug and obviously beginning it's long prophesied descent. The adventurers also finds the wizard's tower in Zorptah, home to a reclusive astronomer, bustling with activity.  Atop the tower is a strange construction, that appears to be the beginnings of a flying ship.  Meeting with the ship owner, the wizard is willing to hire the party to protect him as he ventures into the castle, once his flying vessel is complete.

The adventures decide to use the weeks before travel upward is possible to plunder Pahvelorn once, more, investigating the rooms behind the skeleton door, where they previously fought another group of adventurers also calling itself "The Order of Gavin". The door appear undisturbed when the explorers approach it, and the room beyond is silent, though all signs of the desperate melee with the imposter party are gone.  Moving quickly to several previously unopened stone sarcophagi, the party heaves and struggles to move the heavy stone lids, but finds nothing within beyond ancient skeletons and corroded armor.  Moving on to yet another stone sarcophagus Beni, on watch, hears something in the shadows and warns the rest of the party, who stop and take up defensive positions.  Soon a horse size ant moves from the darkness, waving it's antenna and seems to watch the party.  Tarvice speaks to the ant with his divine magic and discovers that the dull creature is waiting to replace the tomb lids, as is its duty to its colony.  The creature is not hungry and will not attack the adventurers for thier "meat", but it's idea of what is beyond the hall is limited at best.  To the North is "the colony" to "protect", while to the East are "stone men" to be avoided.

Leaving the ant to its business, the adventurers head North to the chamber's only visible door.  Inside appears to be another tomb, smaller, and with only one stone sarcophagus.  Carved from a single block of red stone, without any ornate work, but still finely crafted, and mirror smooth.  Examining the tomb for anything odd, Beni discovers that there appears to be some sort of small metal bar, almost concealed under the lid, and running into the floor.  The mechanism obviously triggers whrn the tomb is opened, and with some tapping, the trigger bar appears to lead towards the door, where Eariyara notices a set of dubious seams that indicate some kind of serious locking mechanism for the door.  Lau Taxan drives a iron spike to wedge the door, and leans against it with his considerable strength in an effort to keep it from shutting when the tomb is looted. Beni and Tarvice pull off the tomb lid, and find a shallow indentation within, holding a long wooden box and an axe. As tomb opens, Lau Taxan is pushed back by the door, the spike ricocheting across the room.  The shaman is able to hold the door, but is slowly being pushed, while the ceiling starts to descend.  Eariyara finds a trigger in the door latch with her dagger, but this fails to stop the ceiling, and only causes three stone plugs to shoot from the floor where they would undoubtedly have locked the door solidly.  As the trio of adventurers in the room escape with axe and box, they let the door shut behind them, but it stops short, held open by the stone plugs, and the party listens as the ceiling jams against it making horrible noises.

Fleeing South and East through a poorly concealed hole in the wall, the adventurers find that the door leads to a narrow ledge. What was once a hallway terminates in a twenty foot drop into a glassy black channel that runs North and South.  The hallway continues after a gap of almost ten feet, and the chittering sounds of giant ants are heard from the chasm.  Unable to decide on a way across a pit of that size, and unwilling to risk its slick walls being unclimbable, the party returns to Zorptah for supplies. 

First the adventurers purchase a heavy twenty foot ladder, which needs three strong backs to carry but should be able to support a large person in plate armor.  Beni also buys a 100lb pig, in case a bribe is required for the ants, and leads the worried porker behind him on a rope harness.  The box recovered from the tomb proves to hold nine, all metal, engraved arrows, and Beni adds them to his quiver, while Pron takes up the magical axe.

Upon return to the skeleton carved door, nothing has changed, and the explorers' cautious entrance fails to disturb anything.   As the party navigates the huge burial hall, maneuvering the heavy ladder carefully between tombs, and dragging along a reluctant shoat, they hear the noises of ant like clicking and construction from the jammed door to the trapped tomb.  The ants do not disturb the adventurers and the ladder (with pig tied to its end as a balancing weight) bridges the chasm. 

Beyond the chasm a narrow ledge leads Northward, and Beni scouting forward, has time only to relay the discover of a hideous lumpy demonic statute, before the thing spreads its stone wings and swats at him.  The nimble rat catcher manages to evade the statute's stone fists, and the adventurers rush forward to destroy the thing.  Eariyara summons a gush of purple alien acid above the creature and dissolves it into a skeleton of rock and evil magic.  Tarvice shatters it with a ray of raw divine power, and the statute crumbles into chunks of broken pumice.

Moving on the adventures find themselves in a large cavern, that appears to hold another portion of sunken city.  A ziggurat reaches almost to the ceiling, flanked by another demonic statute, and a domed hall stands across from it.  Looming over both buildings is a huge, ancient statute of a wizard, though thankfully it does not appear animate. Deciding to avoid the ziggurat, because of the ominous snake statutes by its doors and an even more threatening warning above them, the party pushes open the door to the dome. 

After a short descending flight of stairs the dome proves to contain a set of ten clay statutes.  One of which is shattered, revealing a skeleton contained within.  The party proceeds to begin systematically shattering the statutes at range, with thrown shards of clay, arrows and bolts, but while they are fixated on the destruction of these potential threats, several party members suddenly drop into slumber.  A voice calls from outside, demanding that the party surrender to some wizard.  distrustful of wizards and more angry than frightened, the remaining party members turn to see three large animate demon statutes and a pair of shadowed human sized figures near the ziggurat.  Beni takes one of the new sinister metal arrows and arcs it into one of the figures, who screams as the arrow unwinds itself into a wraith like figure of metal and darkness, mid-flight and tears through its target, leaving only a dessicated husk.

As Tarvice charges through the door, a tentacle of acid green electricity slaps into him, shocking the cleric badly and setting his hair alight.  With Tarvice pushed back into the room by the enemy lightning bolt, one of the statutes crams itself through the doorway, before Pron can slam the door shut.  In the cramped space the Statute is mobbed and smashed down with enchanted weapons able to draw the fell sorcery from its stoney body, before it can rend any of the adventurers.  With the statute destroyed the angry party burst through the doorway, only to catch a final glimpse of a robed figure hurrying into the Ziggurat.  Following, the pyramid proves to be empty, except for serpentine brass fixtures, ancient tombs and footsteps in the dust that stop abruptly at the center of the chamber.  While trying to determine how their quarry escaped, the adventurers are interrupted from outside by a call for parley.

The voice claims to represent a pair of sorcerers who have taken this area of Phavelorn as a space to study, and who demand recompense for attacking them.  Unwilling to trade with the sort of sorcerer that lairs in the pit itself and uses demonic statutes as guards, Beni tells the diplomat that he feels they are owed a reparations as it was the sorcerers who attacked the party.  Beni ends the negotiation by asserting he's willing to not attack the wizards if they leave the party alone, but by this time the negotiator has wandered away in disgust.  Leaving threatening graffiti that reiterates the party's willingness for a truce, the adventurers return to the surface.

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