Monday, December 14, 2015

Idalium Game 37: The Eternal Flame

Session date: Monday, November 2, 2015
Game date: Saturday, August 17, 208 to Sunday, September 1, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 4723/8800
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 6356/10000
Axel, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 1052/1200

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 1, hp 9, xp 820/2000
Ylil, Thief 2, hp 5, xp 1867/2400

Gulleck dimly became aware of himself again. It felt like he was lying underwater, looking up where a light was shining somewhere above him. A muffled voice seemed to call to him: "Gulleck! Gulleck! Arise, Gulleck! Awake, Gulleck!"

He opened his eyes, and found he was lying in a small room that smelled of incense and scented oils. There was a young lady sitting next to him, and it seemed to Gulleck that white light was streaming all around her like a halo. He recognized her as Archura, the Abbess of the Great Cathedral of Idalium, whom he had met during Brother Jibber's elevation ceremony.

She smiled kindly at him. "It is good to have you back, Gulleck. You were lost, but have been called back to this world. It is not often that we would do this for one who is not a faithful member of our Church, but Brother Jibber did vouch most elegantly for your character. And I feel that you may have a role to play in the service to the Church yet."

Abbess Archura explained that in the mountains many miles to the east, near a kingdom of dwarves, was rumored to stand a old monastery, older than the new city of Idalium and this cathedral. This monastery was said to be the last resting place of a relic sacred to the Church, a Holy Lantern. Archura asked Gulleck to go as an envoy to the dwarves, seek directions to this monastery, and retrieve the lantern.

This actually aligned well with Gulleck's own personal goals, as he had reasons of his own to travel to his ancestral homeland in the eastern mountains. While he was musing on this, the Abbess was murmuring words of prayer over him, and Gulleck felt a sudden sense of resignation and commitment come over him.

"Uh, did you just do something to me?"

"It is not something to be concerned about. As long as you are making progress towards your goal, all will be well. Should you ignore your mission for us, the light of God shall be taken from you."

"Er... wait, what?"

"Let us not dwell on it. Make your preparations and go. I would not ask you to break your word to anyone, so resolve whatever existing commitments and promises you may have, but then go without delay. Rest here tonight, and in the morning your friends will be here to help you home."

Slightly troubled by this but relieved to be alive, Gulleck fell into a deep sleep. In the morning, his fellow adventurers came to see him and walk with him back to his apartment. Gulleck felt weak and frail, and he remained in his apartment convalescing for two weeks before he felt ready to return to the Undercity in search of the elixir of life for Lord Dinsdale. In the meantime, Caryatid was spending her hard-earned coin on books and esoteric inks and powders, working to master the Read Magic spell, so as to comprehend the contents of the spellbooks retrieved from the wizard's apartments below.

When Gulleck was recovered, he and Caryatid, along with their retainers "Meat" and Ylil, descended into the ruined city of Ancient Idalium once more. They had barely made any headway into the dungeon when they encountered a group of knockers. Gulleck had a long-standing hatred of the wizened gnome-like creatures, and charged into battle, sending them screaming in panic away. While he was returning his axe to his belt with a satisfied smirk, there was an even more fearful howl from the knockers down the dark corridor they had fled along. Then, around the corner, came an enormous spider, venom dripping from its footlong fangs. The adventurers quickly turned and scrambled through a door, but alas! Just as Ylil darted through and turned to pull the door shut behind him, the spider pounced with alarming speed, and its fangs sunk deep into his shoulder. He turned pale and quavered, and only managed to pull the door fully shut before he collapsed lifeless at its threshold.

The party waited, sober and grim, for the spider to stalk away, and then they carried Ylil's body back to the surface. Caryatid was impressed upon by her colleagues to pay for a proper burial with a headstone for her faithful retainer. Caryatid found a new retainer at the Great Cathedral, a colleague of Brother Jibber's named Brother Guntur Valto. The party reunited at the Rusty Lantern the next day and attempted to make better progress this time.

Down to the second level they went. Along the way they encountered a group of animated skeletons, allowing Brother Guntur to demonstrate his piety, repelling the undead and herding them into the animated crystal statue in the Temple of Hedonism. The adventurers applauded as the statue smashed the skeletons to bone fragments.

On their way to the caverns, the party stopped briefly in the wizard's apartment, only to discover that Caryatid's "doppelganger" had moved in and taken it over as her own home. She was quite cordial with them, but they were alarmed at the casual way she had taken up residence in the dungeon. "It is a good place for me now, on my path to personal self-improvement." None of them liked the sound of that.

They also ran into a lost and confused acolyte, who asked them if they knew the way to "the temples on the third level". She said that she was SO ANNOYED at Miss Frost. This rang a bell with the adventurers; they had encountered a Miss Frost and her band of black-robed acolytes several months ago. Continuing on their way, they encountered another adventuring party of their friendly acquaintance - St. Dwindum's Heroes - and then once in the caverns managed to find a sizable hidden treasure that was marked on a treasure map they had acquired long ago! Further on in the caverns they encountered a large group of traders, who seemed suspicious and skeptical of them. Axel surreptitiously used the medallion engraved "Clarity", which they had discovered allowed the wearer to hear the thoughts of anyone nearby. Axel could hear the lead trader's thoughts as though he were speaking them aloud. He was suspicious of the adventurers and concerned to avoid a fight. The traders let the adventurers pass by without aggression, however.

Then they were in the caverns where they had fought the horrible reptilian humanoids last time. The mind-reading medallion alerted Axel to the presence of one of the creatures, and they were able to attack it before it could surprise them. At the north end of the cavern there was a sort of ledge about ten feet high, and scrabbling down the cave wall from the ledge came another half dozen of the scaly humanoids. The air filled with the stench of their secretions and most of the party members were nauseated, gagging and retching as they tried to form a battle line. Things were looking uncertain for the adventurers, as they were outnumbered and the creatures were savage. But then Caryatid drew forth a dark mahogany wand that they had found in the wizard's quarters, and with a flick of the wrist released its power at the creatures. There was a pop and a wave of sparks that washed over the creatures, and when the afterimage of the light faded, all of them were lying on the ground twitching and squirming, paralyzed and unable to move. Axel did the dirty work of putting them down, and the group considered the ledge.

It seemed that it led in the direction they had been told to go in order to find the eternal flame and the elixir of life. Gulleck ended up getting chosen to explore, perhaps because of his infravision, perhaps because he was smaller could squeeze through the narrow passage beyond the ledge easiest. In any event, they hoisted Gulleck up and he cautiously explored a small chamber. There was an opening in the east wall near the floor, just a couple of feet high, but looking into it Gulleck thought he could see the flickering of flame. He lay down and squirmed through the low passage on his belly, coming out into a strange glittering grotto of sorts, where the cave walls contained flecks of mica that reflected the flickering of a flame that burned in a hollow in the far wall. Near the flame were scattered a number of gems, a jeweled medallion, and an ornate sword. Gulleck cautiously approached and inspected the flame. It burned in a small natural hollow in the stone, and it seemed that the heat of the flame caused a liquid to condense on the stone, where it dripped into a bowl-shaped depression below the flame. He could see the sticky liquid forming on the walls of the stone, and perhaps half a cup of the liquid had accumulated in the bowl. It had the consistency of thin honey, and he scooped as much of it as he could into some empty potion vials, and then gathered the treasure that was scattered here. The sword had an interesting hilt: one of the quillons being forged into the image of a sort of rat man and the other into that of a wolf man.

Gulleck triumphantly gathered the spoils and retraced his steps back to the rest of the party. They quickly and quietly returned the way they had come, back to the first level of the ruined city and then back up to the Rusty Lantern tavern. The gems and medallion, as well as the hidden treasure they had found, garnered enough experience points for Axel to achieve second level! It was time to break for the night, so the group left it for next session to deliver the elixir of life to Lord Dinsdale and collect their reward. And then to make preparations for their journey across the wilderness to the kingdom of the dwarves and beyond...

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