The action picked up where it had left off the previous session, with the party and Chuluun in Ophidia's lair beneath the Mask and the Mirror. Three Red Nails soldiers, who had apparently wandered into the brothel and heard the commotion below, stormed down the stairs and called out for Ophidia. Alayna answered that Ophidia was dead, and demanded that the soldiers stand down, but when she asked Amira to reiterate her order, Amira instructed the soldiers to attack, and attempted to escape. This was a mistake, as the three soldiers were so outmatched by Ulee and a brown bear that Erth summoned that none of the characters even needed to swing a weapon. After a failed attempt, Alayna successfully cast Dominate Person on Amira, who had just wriggled out of Hrolff's grasp, and then teleported upstairs to intercept the two surviving soldiers who had left their unfortunate companion to the tender mercies of the bear and dire wolf. Alayna bluffed the soldiers into surrendering, and the party installed Hussain as head of the Red Nails. Alayna ordered Amira to report to Bathcat and offer herself to him as a sex slave for ten days, thus ridding the operation of the cunning bard and making Bathcat very happy, and hopefully a bit more loyal.
Meanwhile, Inakai and Kier, who were resting in the tower, were attacked by two vampire spawn, who seeped through the cracks around the trapdoor in gaseous form and attempted to wrest the mirror from them. The fight was short and harrowing, but the ranger and the rogue easily prevailed. When the rest of the party returned to the tower, you discussed the incident and speculated that Bataar might be behind the attack. He has motive, as his trusted lieutenant, Dochin the Bloody, is apparently imprisoned within the mirror, and because Bataar is clearly hundreds of years old, he could very well be a vampire. Hrolff cast an array of protective spells on the tower to protect it from the undead and living alike, and the party enjoyed a two day hiatus, during which the characters rested and prepared spells.
On May 21st, the party set out for the tomb of Torghil the Demented and followed Chuluun to the secret entrance that he had spoken of, which was a narrow cave that led from the northern shore of the Isle of the Dead into a hidden, subterranean tomb. The tomb was a strange and dangerous place indeed, but thanks to the characters' quick reactions and Kier's trap-finding skills, the party successfully avoided two pit traps, a water-filled-room trap, and a compacting room trap. The characters encountered two stone golems in a room that was filled with petrified trees, but a few well-chosen spells and a Greater Fire Elemental that Erth summoned made short work of them. The party slipped past the golems as they battled the elemental, entered the lower level of the tomb, slipped through the compacting room, and encountered a former party of adventurers that Torghil had reanimated as corpse creatures.
The battle was long and difficult. A corpse creature sorcerer bombarded the party with fireballs and lightning bolts while an archer rained arrows on whatever characters remained visible. Torghil, meanwhile, who appeared to be a mummy, cast a strange assortment of spells, such as Transmute Rock to Mud, from a distance. The brave but hapless Chuluun and the noble Ulee fell to a rain of arrows, and others would likely have died had it not been for the healing spells of Hrolff and Erth. Torghil disappeared shortly before the combat was over, and once the party had vanquished the corpse creatures, it moved into the large room where Torghil had been, and discovered a hidden trap door that led to a treasure room below.
Kier agreed to investigate, and started down the ladder to find Torghil in the room, wreathed in writhing black tentacles. The demented transmuter cast Baleful Polymorph on Kier, which turned him into a frog. Inakai descended into the room while the rest of the party hesitated above, and managed to destroy the mummy with the new luckbow she had obtained from the corpse creature archer. Inakai put the unfortunate Kier into her pocket, and the party searched the treasure room. Chuluun had been right about the tomb containing vast treasures. The loot in the tomb amounted to a stunning 60,000 gps.
It had been some time since Ulee had returned to nature. Somberness had crept up in Erth’s heart from his wolf companion’s absence, which had been a violent ending in service to Erth. If the truth were told, Erth would have acknowledged his discontent at that outcome, but he was not one to share such ruminations or even to linger on the past. He preferred, rather, to let natural events transpire with one leading to the next so that he was fully aware of his surroundings. So, it was this unsavory feeling that led him to conclude it was high time for another companion.
Events transpired quickly around this cast of characters that numbered eight-ish on any given day. Now that there was a moment’s respite in the almost daily threats faced by this motley crew he had taken on with, he knew he might not have a better opportunity to conclude the necessary rite for any number of days to come. So, it had been in the twilight hours that he settled in with a preparatory prayer for the strength to begin the rite on the following day.
Waking early, Erth knew at once he was ready to conduct the rite of summoning a companion. With little wasted motion, he gathered a few items to assist him during the day and made his way to the top of the tower that had become the group’s point of operation. None of the group had stirred at this early hour, yet, though he knew the dwarf would rise soon and take to the tower roof for his own routine.
Reaching the tower roof, Erth glanced out over the rugged, uncomfortable city terrain. He tolerated the discomfort of the city as a means of satiating his hunger for knowledge and power born only of experience and as an opportunity to demonstrate the raw power of the natural world harnessed at his command. A pang of disgust roiled within his stomach as he glanced over the city around the tower. Even at this height the stench of the city drowned his nostrils in sickening vapors. Longing for the fresh air of the natural lands and concentration for his task at hand wrested control of his thoughts from the rot below. A natural inclination urged him off the tower with a long, lunging step. Had anyone been observing the tower’s skyline at that moment they might have been horrified to see a man suddenly emerge between the crenellation and step off into a freefall. The horror of this image would then be replaced with surprise as the surely doomed figure was somehow replaced with an owl calmly winging its way out over the city.
Erth flew back down the waterway the group had traversed to arrive at the city. His instinctive sense encouraged him to be aware of a suitable location from which to conduct his ritual. The unease of the city had already passed as he flew purposefully onward. His attention was drawn to a tree taller than the rest. He made some wide-ranging circular patterns around the area in scouting for possible disturbances and until he was satisfied he could remain in the area unmolested. Thus, winging down to the ground he transformed back to his human form and drew a branch of holly from his satchel. Erth began slowly waving the branch from side to side as he began an ethereal whistling of the wood wose spell. Glancing toward his left revealed the translucent green nature spirit that arrived to assist in his needs though he bade the spirit to simply tend the area around him in order to give alert to any unwelcome visitors that would disturb his rite.
Satisfied that he was ready, Erth rested upon the solid ground and folded his legs beneath him while beginning the prayer to summon an ally. The words of the prayer sounded loud in his head as his vision gradually blurred. Soon he was dreaming of a run through the woods. The branches brushed against his body and a thorn bush tore at his sleeves though he paid no mind. His focus shifted as he heard a distant howl. Then another howl and another seemed closer. Still he ran onward. A howl sounded nearer still and as felt a presence approaching. Erth leapt over a fallen tree and became aware of presence overtaking his pace with little effort. They ran on over the land together and Erth observed the great tree that he knew he had camped at earlier. He slackened his pace as the starting point was near. Erth slowed further and drew to a halt as he entered the space of his campsite. Turning back as he settled down to rest revealed the figure that had tracked his run was revealed to be a dire wolf. Erth chuckled with a grin as the wolf stepped closer. Now he was well. Now the somber thoughts had withered like a dead vine. Now he could return to the tower. Ulee had arrived.
It was another night of surprises in Kharschum. After finishing up your business from the previous session by returning a resurrected Granya to her grateful father and claiming your reward of 28,000 gps, you returned to the tower to find a note wedged into the door of Silks and Sundries. It was from someone named Chuluun, who claimed to be privy to some sort of opportunity, and bade you to meet him in the Roan Stallion, a tavern in Queen Farida's Close. Your curiosity piqued, you went to the tavern and spoke with Chuluun, who turned out to be an accomplished warrior in need of an adventuring party. Chuluun explained that he knew of a hidden entrance to the tomb of an insane transmuter named Torghil the Demented. You haggled a bit over shares of the potential treasure, with Chuluun demanding a rather hefty proportion, but ultimately decided to defer the temple raid until you had dealt with Ophidia and the Red Nails, who had become annoyingly insistent about the Mirror of Life Trapping that you had found in Ogodei's tower.
You went to the Mask and the Mirror, where you seemingly convinced Amira, Ophidia's representative, to agree to meet at the former compound of Shivani's cult to exchange the mirror for 200,000 gold pieces. Perhaps it was your insistence that Ophidia herself appear to close the deal, or perhaps it was simply Amira's keen intuition, but she apparently saw through your ruse, because she sent a disguised whore and two expendable soldiers with 200,000 copper pieces to the compound. This might have been a setback had not Alayna managed to overtake and dominate Hussain, an assassin who had scaled the compound walls and turned himself invisible to observe the encounter.
With the detailed information that Hussain provided about Ophidia's lair beneath the Mask and the Mirror, entered through a hidden entrance, ambushed the guards with the help of Hrolff's Cone of Silence spell, and burst into Ophidia's sitting room. Ulfgar and Chuluun found ophidia in her bedchamber and dealt her a great deal of damege before she was able to Dimension Door to the entry hallway and turn herself invisible. The fight was long, but the party prevailed. The olny survivor was Amira, who agreed, at the point of a sord, to run the Red Nails on behalf of the Eightish.
According to the CR and XP scales, Ophidia is worth over 500,000 experience points. This, totalling experience points is useless. Instead, 9th-level characters should update their totals to 54,999 experience points (one point shy of 11th level) and 10th level characters should update their totals to 65,999 (one point shy of 12th). It is perfectly fine with me if you backstory in order to bump up that extra level. In fact, I'll be surprised if I don't see at least a few new posts these next two weeks.