Friday, April 27, 2018

To Destroy a Cult ... Part 1

In the lowest level of the complex, Undead claws scratched away at the lives of the Ivory Scimitars. Their numbers seemed unending, as wave after wave of the departed Troglodytes were slain and some recovering from destruction, only to haunt the living a second time. Were it not for the raw power of faith applied by the Warpriest, Grissom, they might have been overrun by the ghastly hoard. Channeling this faith through his warhammer, he drove the walking corpses back to enable the barbarians, Malark and Korrik, to drive forward through their ranks.

When all the dead truly laid at rest, there was eerie silence. An ominous feeling of stillness radiated from the unopened door to the North. Soft chanting broke the stillness, adding to the sense of unnerving dread. The party split into three units; two on either side of the door consisting of fighting men, and the other group back from the door some thirty to forty feet consisting of wielders of magic. Time seemed to slow as the Scimitars waited for the coming attack; but ultimately it did come in the form of spell throwing cultist. Black fir rained down upon the wizards of the group as white robed men burst in through the door. Blood sprayed upon white robes, as Axe and Sword found these cultist.

The Necromancer strode into the room calmly and prepared with spells as blades slid off his Mage Armor; the common greeting given to Lizard Worshippers by The Ivory Scimitars. He blasted the magic users with a foul smelling cloud of hell, which choked them and caused the to stumble in their spellcasting. Acolytes of The Lizard God fell one after another as the Necromancer ignored his followers' plight, focusing keenly on killing those who cast spells against him. He weaved a deadly curse that would surly destroy them, but Malark turned his murderous rage upon the practitioner of the Black Arts and caused the death spell to be spoiled. A lone Acolyte cast his final spell, one of Sanctuary upon his master - and sensing that the fight had turned against him and him alone, the Necromancer attempted to flee. Despite the protective magics, he did not get far.

The chamber to the North was a hall of horror. Snakes by the hundreds filled this room, lying or slithering upon the floor, pews, and all manner of furnishings - so much so that it was difficult to discern what other furnishings there were. The Altar in the hall was obvious, however, as an ornately carved pulpit marked by a strange snake-man hybrid statue suspended from the ceiling above it.

Upon the altar rested a small leather pouch, and when investigated, it held a deck of card within. Stephon drew a card from the seemingly simple item and to his astonishment, summoned a spectre of death, which he fought bravely and slew. This was no ordinary deck of cards, but a collection of powerful magics. Intrigued, Stephon drew another card, this time increasing his might. He placed the cards he drew back in the deck and handed the item to Malark, the Barbarian - who immediately hoped to ply his luck. He, too, had to do battle with a spectre of death. Malark was defeated, but somehow cheated death, as the spectre vanished upon his unconsciousness. A strange fever overcame the Ivory Scimitars, as draw after draw from the deck was taken, and boons were given ... and taken away. Only Manjores, the Paladin, refused to draw - the randomness of the deck offending his principals. The fun turned serious when Malark and Korrik both vanished, only their belongings remaining ... Roldrick drew an odd card that promised to grant him a solitary wish ...

... Then she reached into the center of them, all huddled around the deck. She picked up the item and flirtatiously winked at them all with a smile, all the more accented by her boyish haircut ... and they were gone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Cult Entrenched.

The Ivory Scimitars regrouped back in Kelton to resupply and gather their forces for another strike on the forest base of the Lizard Cult; during which, the fangs of the Cult were barred in a retaliatory strike - an assassination attempt on Roldrick. Darkedge, the Eastern Shinobi, gave chase after the rooftop assassin, but lost him after being wounded by the would-be killer.

After a days rest, the group began their three day journey back to the Woods of Sharp Teeth. The travel across the prairie was uneventful, perhaps a calm before the storm. As they approached the marshland mound that lead to the Cult's lair, strange totems were found. Bones, both human and animal, adorned the wooden tripods, clearly placed there as a warning. Crude as they were, they were unnerving to several of the Scimitars, but Roldrick fearlessly pressed the group forward. Near the mound, many large lizards were tethered to surrounding trees. These great lizards bore leather saddles and were likewise adorned with bones as well as what appeared to be human scalps. The Reptilian mounts were not disturbed; instead, the party descended into the lair.

Down the earthen stairs they went, deep into the wet underground. Even though he'd purchased an everlasting Torch back in town, Roldrick failed to spy a thin tripwire stretch across a step and triggered a clay pot full of Green Slime to spill upon him. His everlasting Torch was useless, as the magic item only provided light and no heat. Thinking quickly, Morn plied his skill in the Art upon poor Roldrick, summoning a Vancian sphere of many colors that burned the slime from him.

The attack at the bottom of the stairs was clearly rehearsed in anticipation of the return of the Ivory Scimitars. Fanatics of the Lizard Cult shot both arrows and spells at our stair-bound heroes, causing them to retreat back up to the surface. The clash was furious and swift; fighters on both sides were held fast by holding spells and druidic entanglement. Poisoned daggers glanced off armor and shields, and cultists fell before righteous blades.

Then entire engagement lasted not even a minute, but the curses and warcries of the fighting men aroused the curiosity of a bizarre denizen of the deep. Rubbery flesh pressed against muddy walls in the westernmost passage of the entry chamber. Sensing prey with it's long eye-stalks, the Giant Slug vomited a gout of corrosive fluid at the leading member of the party. Once again, Roldrick was victim of the fury of the Cult, as the acidic fluid burned his armor into a useless husk.

Things continued to spiral out of the Scimitar's control as the slug blocked the passage to the surface with it's fleshy bulk and pushed the group southward and deeper into the underground complex. Slithering out of the pool of stagnate water in the center of the next chamber was a mechanical construct in the form of a great cobra, its fangs dripping with certain death. The slug continued to belch forth its caustic acid against the Scimitars and the Iron Cobra focused its attacks on the only name the Cultist knew of the party ... Roldrick, he who slew the High Priestess in Kelton.

With considerable effort - almost to the point of exhaustion - the Ivory Scimitars prevailed against the randomly appearing slug and the programmed Iron Cobra.  They had reached the secret door that behind which was a boat that could ferry them across the stinking waters of the next chamber. But the boat had been removed. The group decided to move across the hip deep waters as swiftly as possible. Their fears were realized in the form of three hungry Giant Alligators that were hurriedly swimming toward their next meals.

Morn threw icy bolts of arcana at the beasts, while Ramne, the elderly wizard from Kelton, manipulated the very fabrics of time and space about the gators, causing them to slow their approach. Even as such, the beasts were formidable, causing injuries greatly against the Scimitars as they struggled to reach the other side of the chamber.

No member of the Scimitars were not bloodied by the vicious Alligator attack, but made it to the other side of the chamber, they did. Their path was highlighted on their map as to the most direct way to the heart of the Cult's activity. A long hallway leading to the stairs that descended to the chapel of the damned was next to be overcome. The Cult had prepared the great hallway with mosses and swampland vegetation on the floor.  The group pressed on.

The Cult had dug pits in the hallway, twelve feet deep, but only five by five feet in width. In each pit was an undead abomination.  These Hungry Dead were particularly hard to dispatch,  for there was not much room to manoeuvre in the pits and even missile weapons were a poor solution considering the closeness of the undead targets and their prey. The Ivory Scimitars dealt with two such pit traps before utilizing a ten foot pole to scout ahead for further traps, which were found and quickly bypassed.

Arriving at the stairway to the second level of this complex, a large bloody smear stretch across the stone tiles of this room leading under the door to the stairs. An eerie silence filled the room creating a certain trepidation among the group. The pushed themselves past the gory scene and took to the stairs going down.

It was at the midpoint of the stairway a Strange Skeletal Construct reared it's souless face to be lit by Roldrick's everlasting torch. At each end of the beast, there were skulls; both ends were typically skeletal up to where the torso ended - and here they were connected by additional spinal bones and sharpened rib bone. It moved in the flickering torchlight like a great serpent. Ramne wasted no time in dispatching the horror, hurling a great lightning bolt at the thing. It writhed as it blacked under the power of the old wizard and finally fell; its scorched bones tumbling down the stairs into the dark below.

The clattering spill of bones in the dark served as a warning to the Lizardmen at the stairwell's bottom. Trident armed Lizardmen charged up the stairs and clashed with the party's strongest, yet very wounded members. Roldrick sounded a full retreat back up the stairs. The Lizardmen pushed their advantage upward.

Manjores shouted to the party to split up to better flank the lizardmen in the labyrinthine tunnels above. Utilizing their map to their best advantage, all the while keeping a steady distance from their pursuers, the Ivory Scimitars successfully flanked the Lizardmen in the now empty Alligator Chamber. The battle was swift, but the party was badly beaten ... they would take refuge in the Gator's nests for now ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Against The Reptile Cult - Part II

... She was of an ethereal beauty, stepping out of the shadows. Her short cropped hair, though some might consider boyish, made her devilish smile all the more noticeable. In a quick gesture, she blew the would-be heroes a kiss, from which a pair of dice, knucklebone of eldritch origin, clattered against each other as they rolled across the earthen floor ...

Burning reptilian eyes of red came swiftly out of the gloom, crimson with murderous intent. Korrick and Malark stood firm, with Manjores just behind them, steady to meet their charge. Swords, Scales, and Great Maul met in a savage clash of violence. Korrick rushed forth and summoned his strange Druidic powers to entangle his foes as his rage set in. Malark cracked scaly skulls with his Great Maul and Manjores moved to the first rank of their formation, skewering serpent men as he went. Elvish Arrows split the shadows and found their marks in the chests of Troglodytes, again and again, as the fray continued in the claw dug earthen tunnel.

As quickly as it begun, it was ended and the party of fighting men  felt as lady luck was surly on their side. They pressed deeper into the Reptile Cult's warren, eyes ever ready for retaliatory attacks.

They descended stairs deeper into the lair, and found themselves in a labyrinthine network of tunnels. Dorian lead the party with light Elf steps into the shadowy halls. Suddenly, with an unearthly quickness, the shadows leapt forth at the elf, covering him with chitinous legs hungry for his blood. The great arachnid was quickly dispatched by Malark's heavy Maul, but not before Dorian had succumb to the beast's poison. Wearily, the brave Elf managed to stand and press on with the party's aid ...

The winding tunnels of earth opened up to reveal a large chamber of shin deep mud. This hindered the group slightly, but as they waded through the muck, more hungry arachnids attacked them from below. Burrowing out of the wet floor were great centipedes that latched onto their legs in search of rare meals. Now, others fell victim to poisons and Malark and Llywillin struggled to carry the fallen to the other side of the chamber, fighting off hungry Centipedes as the went.

"Halt ... Drop your weapons and comrades," a voice called from just beyond the threshold of mud. Six to Eight bow-armed men drew bead on the Barbarian and Elf as they struggled to drag the rest of the party to dry earth ... but surrender they did to the bowmen. They were lead to a great chamber that was engulfed with an underground lake. A phosphorescence of lichen cast the rocky walls in a pale green glow. Great pillars reached to the cavern ceiling and great serpents were carved into the stone, which entwined their circumference from the waterline to their top ends.

Upon reaching the opposite shore, the party was forced to kneel before a serpent entwined pillar - but the serpent clinging to this stone column was not carved of rock, it was very much alive. The great beast lowered it's human-like head, just nearly shadowed by it's cobra-like hood, before the group. It spoke to Malark and Llywillin in a gravely, yet whispering voice,

"Worship Me ..."

With a golden glow in its eyes, The Naga's spell of charming seemed to take hold on the both of them. The group was then lead to a jail of sorts, were they were stripped of their belongings and locked away, under close watch by the charmed duo of Malark and Llywillin.

There was the sounds of many voices outside of the brig, as though some social event was about to take place in the bowels of the Cult lair. Trident armed men entered the jail, and Llywillin, who'd been biding his time - unaffected by the Naga's charm - dove into one of the guards. Malark shook off the magical effect just in time to aid his Elvish comrade.But one of the guards managed to yell above the growing noise outside and call for assistance. Keys were quicly collected from the guards, and now, Korrick and Malark, armed with two newly acquired Tridents stepped into the outer hallway, looking for their stolen gear.

After a quick fray with Cultists, in which the guards were soundly defeated, the group turned to the South to evade more sentinles spilling into the outer hall. Some manner of undead attempted to hinder what was turning into an escape from this subterranean temple. The fortitude of the undead creature was formidable, but the fight against the creature was cut short as more cultist took up pusuit of the party ... a chant was swelling in the twisting turns of the labyrith ...

"Ia, Ia, Yig-Ia!"

The chant caused panic in the party, yet somehow - without a map to aid them -  the stairway back to the surface was frantically located by Manjores ... they ran, clearly outnumbered by the Cult, through the claw carved warren and out into the marsh of The Woods of Sharp Teeth ...

They vowed to collect the rest of the Ivory Scimitars and strike again at the Reptile Cult ... this tale was far from over ...

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Agianst the Cult of The Reptile God

In Kelton, the threat of the Reptile Cult was driven a crippling blow by the Ivory Scimitars, with the killing of the High Priestess in the abandoned Temple of Chauntea ...

... However, in the complex below the Wood of Sharp Teeth, the barbarians and their Elf companions were literally fighting tooth and nail against the dreaded cult.

One of their members was hypnotised by the haunting melody of a siren song, but he was quickly restrained by the Goliath called Korrick. No sooner than he was physically disabled, the Harpy attacked the group from the air. Malark's hefty maul crippled the bitch beast and she was quickly slain by Elvish blades.

The beast's nest-like lair was investigated and bore collected treasures of silver and gold; and according to Dorian, an enchanted necklace. Malark took an expensive ruby strung chain of gold as his prize, while Korrick favoured the mystical medallion.

After much exploring in the damp tunnels - some over-washed and sunken in - more Cult members defended their subterranean base, but proved to be little resistance to the Druidic-like powers of the Goliath - who entangled his foes and then pummelled them unto death.

The stench of Troglodytes overpowered the ever present stink of swamp gas deeper into the underground fortress, as a pair of reptilian guards were overcome at a crossroad in the dark tunnels. While the foul odor of the creatures was utterly bowel churning, only the Elf, Llywillan, was overcome with violent retching. The party of invaders followed the vile scent to a locked door deep within the maul of the Cult's headquarters were Malark attempt to break down the door with his impressive might, but his only success was making a loud noise that alerted those behind the door.

The Troglodytes spilled into the hallway like so much slime dripping from the dungeon walls. They were great in numbers, overrunning the barbarians and Elves with little effort. Korrick worked frantically to revive his comrades from the unconsciousness that his fallen friends had succumbed to, yet the Troglodytes pressed their advantage against the group. They fled down muddy tunnels; turning West, then South ... it was difficult to recall in their haste. Turning tail did not set with the barbarians well, and Malark decided to make a stand, better to die in battle rather than  fleeing like scared children in the dark. His bravery inspired the group, and Korrick took to his side and the Elves drew their bows in anticipation of the reptilian hoard chasing them in the gloom ...

... Tymora smiles on heroes and fools ... it remains to be seen which our heroes are.