Session date: Monday, July 13, 2015
Game date: Saturday, May 4, 208
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 1470/2000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 3630/4400
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 3192/4000
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 4454/5000
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 4454/5000
Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1402/1500
Gaspar, Fighter 1, hp 3, xp 519/2000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1327/2500
We had the full group of regulars today, but we got a late start and as a result had a shorter than usual session. It had been awhile since Tod and Tyrriel had been part of the group, and they were shocked to see how changed Gulleck had become, as his possession of the dismal Beating Heart took its toll on him. His face was pale, his hair was falling out, and he found himself somewhat short of breath. His Constitution score dropped by another 3 points, causing him to lose 2 hit points as well! And then there was the surprise of the two Caryatids. The two of them had spent much of the last week bickering about the ownership of their possessions. Having a duplicate was turning out to be less of a thrill than expected.
Tyrriel had spent the last two weeks sequestered with her wizardly master, researching a new magical spell. After spending 1,000 gold darics on rare and esoteric powders, inks, and liquids of various types, Tyrriel mastered the Read Magic spell, allowing her to read scrolls or spellbooks that they might discover in the dungeon. The party had heard tell of an abandoned wizard's apartment somewhere on the second level, and perhaps she was hoping to find magical scrolls there.
Concerned about Gulleck's worsening appearance, the group sought out the aged Professor Zinn in his apartment on the fifth floor of the teetering house that overlooked the city of Idalium from its perch on the hill across the river. The professor had little new information to offer them and did not know of any specific way to destroy the Beating Heart, although he recommended that perhaps they should share the burden of the carrying the Heart, at least to give Gulleck more time. The legends did indicate that the Heart could be freely given to another person, but Gulleck insisted that he would not wish this upon anyone. The professor promised to continue researching the Heart, in hopes of discovering some clue that might lead to its destruction.
After leaving the professor, the group made their way across the city to the Runcible Trading House, where they returned the Brazen Head to a visibly relieved Lord Runcible. He asked them if it was true that the Head could answer any question, and they confirmed that this was so, but averred that the cost (a blood sacrifice) was too great. In thanks for their efforts, Lord Runcible gave them a reward of 18,000 silver shekels as well as one of the items from the auction, a book written in the very early days of the new city of Idalium, detailing the heathen cults and idolatries of the former civilization.
And then it was time to continue their exploration of the underground city of Idalium. Again, the party sought to find the oft-mentioned Goblin Market, but they had not got very far into the dungeon when they were surprised to encounter their despised nemeses, the Night Walkers! The rival adventuring party was apparently on their way back out of the dungeon, crossing a room that led to a ladder up to the surface of the city. What followed was a standoff with a lot of posturing on both sides. The snide elves Death Watch and Cobweb demanded that the party pay them in order to pass by, and the party scoffed at this demand. Then, one of the Night Walkers, Randall - a big brutish thug - said, "That's a nice axe you got, Gulleck. I think I'll take it." They argued back and forth again, and then Randall got bold and tried to grab the axe from Gulleck's grasp.
Everyone jumped into action, and it's a very fortunate thing the PCs won initiative. Tyrriel and Wilhelm both cast Sleep and suddenly the entire party of the Night Walkers was snoring in heaps on the dungeon floor. Some of the party were all in favor of killing these obnoxious and ruthless rivals where they lay, but cooler heads prevailed. The Night Walkers were carefully tied up and relieved of all of their valuables and potentially magical items. "Bad Elf" was written on the foreheads of Death Watch and Cobweb using their own mapper's supply of ink, they were left to sleep the spell away while the Infestation Managers returned to the Rusty Lantern to stow their valuables and a note was left with the guards that return of their items could be negotiated later.
Among the items taken from the Night Walkers was a curious wooden rod, made of a dark wood like ebony or mahogany. Tyrriel and the party's magic-users all felt a disturbing sensation when they touched the rod, as though it was trying to drain the magical essence out of their souls. On a whim, Tod decided to strike the Beating Heart with the rod. He opened the metal box in which they were storing the Heart, and carefully prodded the Heart with the wooden rod. There was a clap of thunder and a flash behind everyone's eyes, although it was difficult to tell if the light was actually in the room or just in their heads ("I know that sensation well," quipped Tod). When their eyes cleared, they saw that the rod has turned ashen and chalky. But they also saw with satisfaction that the Beating Heart, once purple and glistening, had also turned gray and dry, and had split open, broken and dead. Tyrriel (who had taken possession of the Heart after their discussion with Professor Zinn) felt a burden lifted from her, and Gulleck too felt relief at seeing the Heart shattered.
Pleased with their apparent victory over the Heart, the group returned to the dungeon, seeking an alternate route to avoid the Night Walkers. It was late, and so plans of finding the Goblin Market had to be postponed. They retraced some old paths. They fought a group of skeletons (perhaps they wished they still had the Heart!) that Brother Jibber proved completely unable to repel. But the dice were hot for Gulleck's player, and he sliced through skeleton after skeleton with his axe.
They decided to explore some rooms in the Temple of Music that they had never returned to. In the main room, they found several hundred silver and gold coins scattered around the hydraulic organ in the center of the temple. The organ had a compartment where a scroll could be placed, like a player piano, and there was a mangled and shredded scroll in this place. The scroll was damaged beyond repair, but they could read the Idalian title at the top: "An Air of Prosperity".
They explored several of the side rooms in the Temple of Music, fighting some giant crab spiders and Tod and Jibber getting lungfuls of mildew and mold spores from a long-sealed closet, but finding little of value except for a brick of malleable wax, which they found on a desk in one of the rooms. Portions of the wax had long ago been molded into small blobs and placed on a wooden tray.
With little to show for this excursion, but pleased to be free of the Beating Heart and with their reward for the safe return of the Brazen Head, the adventurers returned to the surface.