Time Marches on. Last session we left off with the party still camped at the Adventurers Aid Society Octagon. Pius the First was recently cured of a mysterious (possibly vampiric) wasting sickness by a lovely Acadia, handmaiden of the ambassador Emlyn of Wisdom Glen. Last report I said this was the Paladin Tacred but I’d misremembered which character had been struck with the sickness. Suspiciously, Emlyn had seemed put out by Pius’s miracle cure. Meanwhile, Druggo had been spying on the Palanquin of Hastoth the ambassador of Yauhiklendusz and discovering sinister goings on. The session starts with the current party:
Druggo Hairycock – 2nd level Thief
Franz – 1st level Fighter (a former henchman)
Tancred – 1st level Paladin
Pius the First — 1st level Cleric
Slomo Goldberg – 1st level Cleric
There are some obvious things going on in the Octagon:
The servitors of Hastoth are constructing some sort of device outside the opening of the rental dungeon. This is the one the party last session discovered giant glowing beetles, a sinkhole, a mystical gate to another place (and perhaps time), even more gargantuan beetles with the ability to cause earthquakes, odd tentacled cone beings, and the land scattered with gems.
The retinue of Emlyn is all ahoo due to the mysterious death (perhaps murder) of Acadia the handmaiden who had cured Pius of his illness.
After some discussion the party decides to try to investigate the death of Acadia. Pius goes to Emlyn’s tent to speak with her while Druggo sneaks around the back. Emlyn is warm and welcoming and expresses distress about Acadia’s fate. What could have happened? Pius asks to go examine the body and sure enough the body has the hallmarks of vampiric draining. Druggo uses the opportunity to slip under the edge of the tent and ends up in a fancy chamber with a large camp cot, silks, furs, urns, and a large chest. He opens the chest to find clothes, toiletries, and the like, plus two vials. Palming the vials, Druggo makes a quick exit and avoids notice. Only afterward he realizes the chamber smelt strongly of vinegar. The vinegar smell triggers one party member’s distant memory — Pius the First turns pale at the recollection. Could it be? What?
The party is somewhat taken aback that a vampire may be about, what with them being mostly first level characters and so backs off on the investigation. Next they go to observe the servants of Hastoth at the dungeon entrance. There are a good dozen servants all building a large chrome tripod with a parabolic dish on top. At the focus of the dish is a large crystal illuminated by pulsing light from within. At their approach the servants at first warn them away and block their entrance into the tunnel. Upon questioning the servants say they are performing a task for their master Hastoth and that the PCs wouldn’t understand what even if they told them. The party then decides to press the issue of entering the complex. Intimidated the servants relent and let them in with a warning that they best be quick and they can’t be held responsible if anything unfortunate happens.
In they go. Down the empty hall to discover the previously found sinkhole is now teeming with glow beetles plus several more of the large earthquake beetles are there. As is the glowing portal. Once again Druggo is lowered by a rope into the pit. The glowing beetles make way for him as he approaches the gate. Then he is through and back in the square surrounded by cyclopean buildings. Except this time the square is occupied by marshalled ranks of earthquake beetles all standing dead still as if lifeless. At the far reaches of the square Druggo sees many more of the weird cone shaped creatures he’d seen on his previous visit. Keeping one eye on the cones, he scoops up the random rocks scattered about the square. He stuffs his pockets and then gives a casual friendly wave at the cone beings while preparing to exit via the gate. A voice enters Druggo’s head, “Be not afraid.”
This stops Druggo in his tracks. Through telepathic communication Druggo learns that the cone beings and their city is under attack by the servants of the Primordial Ones. They are losing and preparing to flee. He learns that the cone beings cannot survive in his world and thus they have prepared vessels for their minds in the form of the giant beetles. He’s reassured that his own mind is not sufficient for the task.
At right about this time a strange beam of light illuminates the tunnel, the sinkhole, and the gate rendering everything transparent. The rune-edged border of the gate states to ripple with disharmonic forces. The cones warn Druggo “We must go!” The cones sag in place and one by one the beetles spring to life and charge the gate. Soon the beetles are flowing through the gate in large numbers. The party members in the hallway are taken aback when everything becomes transparent. Plus the beetles in the sinkhole begin their thumbing rumbles shaking the room. After losing their savings throws several PCs lose their balance and start crawling gingerly by feel back up the hallway. Only then to be swarmed over by the horde of beetles with Druggo riding the lead beetle with an antenna in each hand.
The servants of Hastoth as surprised by the ferocity of the beetles charging out of the portal. Several of the robed servants are bowled over outright but then the rest pull out rayguns and start blasting chunks out of the beetles. The party joins in with thrown weapons and flaming oil. A key victory occurs when the parabolic machine is doused in oil and with spits and sparks ceases functioning. Soon the immediate servants are defeated and the beetles keep pouring out of the hole. But, then Hastoth arrives in his palanquin carried by wooly mammoths along with the rest of his servants. And, with the Golden Armored warriors of the Three Regiments. The Golden Warriors march forward pikes lowered. The beetles crash into and are skewered on the long spears. But then number come into play and the stout warriors start to be pushed back.
Meanwhile the party members have picked up fallen rayguns and begin blasting away at Hastoths palanquin. Eventually they score a decent hit (and the steel palanquin fails a non-magical item saving throw) which blows a decent hole into the palanquin. This doesn’t have the effect they’d hoped for because out of the hole flows a liquid black yet transparent ever-changing mass of horror. Which rolls right over the lead beetles. With this assistance the golden armored warriors regain ground and begin pushing back the insectoid ranks.
Back at the Octagon camp the Handmaidens of Wisdom Glen and the Knights of Saint Therese are beating a hasty retreat in the face of this unexpected battle. The party thinks better of things too and heads out away from the conflict. After gaining some distance, they decide to head to the Valley of Trolbellor. They arrive in the valley on a rainy overcast day to find it empty. Trolbellor is gone. The giant skeletal warrior’s throne of stones sits empty with a mass of muddy disturbed earth in front of it. The party decides the rest a bit and waits to see if the master warrior returns. After several days, there is still no sign of Trolbellor. The only signs of life are the mysterious lights in the sky in the direction of the Octagon, the valley’s native herds of sheep and cattle, and a herd of elephants passes through heading east. All is quiet.
But, what else is happening in the world? I can’t say. Or, rather I won’t because the PCs don’t know. There are things afoot.
The Hobgoblins continue their depredations to the south.
What has happened to the AAS and the Octogon?
In the foothills and woods some travelers have said they have spotted some small forts topped with a tower in the shape of Macho Mandalf’s hat. But, then the brief glimpse is lost in the shadows and mist.
Bandits seems to be springing up all over the far reaches of Trollopulous.
The dwarfs in the mountains report spotting a giant skeletal figure moving among the rocks.
Word is that Trollopulous is sending emissaries out of the city looking for assistance.
The Lands of Trollopulous
The party each gain 66 XP for combat and 1,000 XP for the captured rayguns.