The Ruins; Tamoguna

The DM Log - Session #10

Drum, Crow, Aster & Kris had travelled inside of Crawl’s carapace after they found a small hidden tunnel on the third storey of the tower that rested on the skeleton mekillot’s back. They had just outsmarted an arcane, Defiling Magic circle, and were beginning to wonder if they should further explore this section of Crawl. They could faintly hear noises down a dark, carved tunnel, so they decided to quietly investigate.

Kris seemed to have taken charge of the matter, replacing Aster as the scout for the group. What this heavily-armoured lady lacked in grace & stealth she made up for with muscle & impatience. Kris strode ahead of the group with her Everburning Torch, and with the options of sitting in the dark or following the fighter, the group chose the latter. They passed quickly through the tunnel and came to a room that was rounded like the inside of an egg, with 2 large camp fires burning on either side of the tunnel exit. Around them they could smell the evidence that people had recently been living here, and see a few scraps of food on the floor.

Seeing the other’s confusion at this natural room, Kris {natural 20} explained “All big animals, especially ones with big shells like this, have air-bubbles. It keeps the shells light, but tough.” Drum was too excited about the camp fires to listen to Kris ‘the earthquake’s’ lectures, and nearly interrupted her to explain that camp fires meant people tending it, and the people tending it could be the slaves that had been stolen from the number of nearby settlements.

The room had a second exit, this one similarly well carved and straight edged. They followed it’s strange angle until they hit upon a second natural room, and then a third. At their fourth they got the sense that tunnels had been carefully made linking the rooms together for some unknown reason. This fourth room was also a little bit different; where before the tunnels had been very carefully cut, this room had what looked to be a cave in on one wall, and then a narrow, roughly hewn tunnel leading to a larger room that seemed quite brightly lit. The noises were louder now, so Aster cautioned the group to silence. She & Kris snuck ahead as quietly as possible, with Drumm not far behind. In an unusual tactic Drumm dismissed his spirit companion as it was not immediately required while Kris threw her short cloak over the everburning torch she wore on her armour.

The two girls entered into a large room – equal in size to the trap room they had recently come across, and far larger than anything inside Crawl’s shell they had hitherto seen. There were a number of starved looking mul slaves in front of them who stood in rigid, martial poses as if holding invisible swords. They were arranged equally about the room so that if any 2 mul had their hands outstretched they would only just be able to touch fingertips {checkers style on the battle grid}. The muls had their backs to the group, as they were facing a 10 foot tall granite-and-obsidian statue of a Kestrekel that had dark amethysts for eyes. The entire room was silent except for echoing noise of Kris’ heavy shoes. The noise aroused no interest from the mul, but at the base of the statue a figure stood up to survey the room.

It was an eladrin female. She was slightly taller than Aster and less curvy. She wore numerous red sashes across her body, and used them to bind her hair in a complex looking knot. As far as they could see, all she was wearing were these red sashes. She spotted Aster first, who was wearing the eladrin armour she had plundered in the tower. Before this new female had a chance to speak, Aster spoke up {with a successful bluff check} in elven.

“Arranis! I have brought for you another slave for your experiments.”

She bowed with a complicated gesture while Drumm stepped into the room looking forlorn. A cruel smile played on Arranis’ face at this, and after a few probing questions she told Aster & Kris to bring the new mul to her. The party pleaded for Arranis to make the existing mul move to create a passage, but Arranis was adamant she would not; she was the boss, and the 20 mul in the room had been very carefully arranged. With great hesitation the walked amongst the mul, who did not even blink or twitch a muscle. When they came to Arranis Kris subtly kept back and made sure her sword was ready. Aster handed Drum over and made another complicated gesture. The three noticed at the base of the statue there was a small, slightly blue jawbone; their goal to complete the jaws that would allow them passage through the green mist.

“Good, now to test his mental fortitude. These mul can be so mulish about being obedient.”

Arranis reached a hand out, but they couldn’t stand the ruse any more. Kris, Aster and Drumm sprung their trap & attacked. Arranis screeched in response, and teleported away. The 20 mul slaves in the room twitched simultaneously, and the party discovered whenever they moved within 5 feet of one the mul would try to bear-hug them to keep them away from their mistress. In the confusion Arranis had hid herself, but they could hear her lilting voice start to murmur a mantra. Aster desperately tried to follow and lashed out at the noise. Her shadowy whips got lucky and wrapped about the eladrin, but Drumm’s harrying spirits were not so lucky as they wailed about the room looking for someone to distress. Crow took to the grim task of trying to disable, but not kill, the controlled mul slaves. She aimed at the knees, but for once her shots were going astray.

Never one to shy away from danger Kris jogged through the mass of muls to try her luck slashing at the invisible eladrin. She dodged and outwitted half a dozen before one got lucky and grabbed her in an inappropriate spot. The mul had a firm hold on her, and her struggling was getting her nowhere. Arranis’ mumbling was reaching a crescendo when there was a pop! and her mumbling stopped. The malign, angry presence had faded, but the muls were still busy slamming and grabbing at Kris and Drumm. The humanoids were resisting the urge to hurt the mentally enslaved muls, but Crow had no such qualms and took one down. Kris managed to extricate herself from the hands, and returned with Aster obtain the last piece of the jawbone that was at the foot of the statue.

Drum had been examining the statue. He discovered there was a strong bundle of psionic energy in the statue that was exerting its control over the slaves. The energy seemed to be a concentrated emotion of obedience & loyalty. Drum attacked this emotional baggage, trying to counteract it with his mulish rebellious thoughts and anger. He entered a psychic dual, and came away the victor. The psionic spell was broken, and muls were freed. The muls were quick to determine that Drumm had freed them, and ignoring the rest of the party abrasively congratulated the shaman. They promised to tell stories about him, but not poems (they were for the wussy, thieving elves). Aster, Kris & Drum handed out some food & water between the malnourished slaves {each losing 3 rations} while Crow turned her pirate eye to the room. With Aster’s and Egg’s help they each obtained an amethyst eye from the Kestrekel statue and found a heavy, bone box hidden in a wall. Opening it revealed an eye & brain, which Drum later identified as mul. Touching it caused the instigator to momentarily black out. This was the catalyst for the psionic spell, with the statue acting as the battery.

After a period of rest the Freed Mul Slaves were taken to the guard room on the 3rd storey of Crawl to rest in the sunshine or on the beds. The jawbone was pieced together, and it sprung into life. It eagerly bit into the green mist, which would were ‘gulped’ down but not reappear on the other side. It quickly found the heaviest concentration of the mist and rushed up the stairs, leaving a temporary tunnel for the group to follow.

The green mist billowed around them, and as the group climbed to the top of the stairs they could see it issuing from the next room. They could hear a heated debate on the other side of the door. The first voice was clearly Arranis’, who seemed to be talking to a male in an aged, deep voice that had a thick accent.

Arannis: ‘… What Absalom said! Once I’ve perfected the Dominating Beak ritual, we won’t need these Defilers of long ago! And if you don’t help me, you’ll find those muls coming up here with fire & swords bared.’

???: “Again vit ze zword. Am not afraid of leetle gurl and ze leetle toys. Zey cannot fight like men, zey fight vorse zan bay-bee.”

Arannis: ‘A baby! After my Kesteral Warriors have trained them they’ll be better than those fucking defiler Sorcerer kings! Right, that’s the last insult from you name stealer. After tonight’s attack on Salt View I’m taking the captives and heading back to the forest. You can keep playing taxi as long as you want! I hate working for those god damn undead defilers! I’m packing up.’

???: “Not get per-zonal, yez? Iz okay. Haff taken pre-caut-zons to make zure no zombie get here or become beeg man. Iz zafe. Get off prancy leetle high horze. Zoon Bodach will have thinned eetself out. Zen time to ztrike”

The argument apparently resolved, silence reigned in the next room. The group tried to silently arrange themselves as best they could before Kris dramatically kicked the door open. Inside she saw that the floor was covered in the green mist (which the jawbones began to eagerly devour), and there was the False Heart on the north side of the room. She felt like she was being pulled towards it slightly, as were the 2 individuals in the room. One was Arranis, looking healthier but not in tip-top condition & a real giant of man. He was a 9 foot tall half-giant with a thick, long beard. He wore naught but an aged loincloth. His muscles were wasted, and his skin clung tightly to his bones. A large stone mace 5 foot in length was casually held in his hand. They were both staring at the door with their weapons drawn – they had heard the group whisper during their argument.

With rage in her eyes Arranis was the first to attack. She threw a pair of obsidian knives at Kris, who blocked them with her shield. Aster moved in and returned the favour to Arranis. The half-giant stared intently at Aster, gauging her strengths, weaknesses & abilities. He determined that she was the whimsical attacker, relying primarily on manipulating shadows and teleporting through the Gray. In response he threw a number of shadow-wrought darts at her, which she shrugged off. Drumm, Crow & Kris moved into the room focusing on getting rid of Arranis before she could trouble them more. They did not react quickly enough, as Arranis vanished from their midst to reappear next to Drumm. She lashed out at him with her daggers once, twice, and then twice again when she saw how much pain he was in. She was ignoring her own grievous wounds to go on an all-out attack on Drumm, and she nearly succeeded in knocking him unconscious before Drumm’s spirit lashed out and finished the scantily clad eladrin off. That left only Koschei. The half-giant had been examining Drumm, and felt he understood the mul. He had determined that Drumm had an easier life than many mul, and was able to tap into the latent primal energy to speak with and influence spirits. He was not a strong man, but he was the type to encourage others, and to help those in need. The half-giant determined if he took out Drumm, then the rest of the party would soon follow. With great steps he strode through the room ignoring those who tried to swipe at him until he was near Drum. With a casual flick of his club it swung from the ground and collided with the shaman, who was thrown 10 feet back. After there the battle continued. The group had a lot of difficulty to assault the man’s mind, and to pierce his gnarled flesh. Wounds would heal on their own accord, and he relentlessly attacked Drumm and his spirits.

Midway through the battle Crow realised who the man was; Koschei Kalton who was said to have died hundreds of years ago.This half-giant’s birthmarks resembled the statue below, and the poisoned note they had found seemed to imply that this Koschei fellow had created Crawl using the False Heart. She taunted him in Giant, and he responded rudely in kind, belittling her. Drumm eagerly took up the verbal attacks, inciting Koschei to only attack him, and mocking him whenever an attack missed.

The battle proved to be a long one. Koschei was the hardest foe they had ever faced. His heavy stone mace threw much of the party about the room, forcing Aster to cower behind Kris while Drumm had escaped to the stairway to try to avoid the half-giant. Crow spent her time constantly on the move, sprinting about the room to avoid attacks whilst unleashing her arrows in quick succession. The party eventually worked out a battle plan, utilising Aster’s shadow noose to slow him down while Kris and the spirit blocked Koschei’s path. Slowly but surely the half-giant was taken down, but not before he & his most of his possessions turned to dust.

The party was tired. Crow & Drumm were on their last legs, and Aster did not seem much better herself. Kris was still perky and practically unharmed, as Koschei had seen her greatest asset was to hinder enemies, not to kill them. They rifled through the posessions in the room finding 500g of residuum and 10 clay bottles of unknown stuff from Koschei’s tables.

All that was left to do now was to destroy the False Heart and thus end the threat of Bodach’s People.

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