Session 11: In Which the Legion Spins the Wheel

Tuesday, 21st day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The Legion undertakes another expedition into the Pyramid of Sabban-Ka, intending this time to find Ulzain’s tomb. They take only a dozen of their best henchman, hoping that they will fare better with a less cumbersome party. On their way in, Thirleiro finds another secret door in the corridor that connects the Halls of Pleasure to the rest of the 5th tier. The secret door leads to a corridor, at the end of which is an archway obscured by a strange, shimmering field. Hovering in mid-air just beyond the field is a copper-plated staff carved in the shape of a pair of entwined snakes.

Thirleiro has been assigned 10′ pole duty, and so is ordered to try to reach through the field with it and try to snag the staff with the grappling hook tied to the end of the pole. As the hook-and-pole rig penetrates the squishy field, it begins to dissolve. Then the irritated gelatinous cube squeezes through the archway, enveloping the thief, dissolving his genitals, and rendering him unconscious. Most of the Legion flees from the creature, but Spinelo is close enough to it that he can only make a fighting withdrawal  The gigantic ooze pursues, dragging the staff and the thief’s body with it, but the bard fends it off with his torch. Amalaith throws one of the bottles of lubricant they are still carrying at the creature, lighting it on fire and filling the area with obscuring smoke. Spinello and most of the rest of the party is unable to strike the creature due to the smoke, but Aisha is able to put it down with a bolt of electricity from her magically energized bow (despite a -8 penalty to hit; -4 from the smoke, and -4 for firing into melee).

As the smoke clears, the Legion recovers the thief, the staff, and several gemstones from the pile of charred goo. Amalaith heals Thirleiro with a spell, and he will be able to recover with a night’s rest. The party retreats to their stronghold to drop the thief off so he can reciuperate. While there, they have Dalili-Lu examine the staff they found. She determines that it is a staff of healing. The Legion is overjoyed to have found such a useful device.

After taking a mere hour’s rest, the Legion returns to the Pyramid. They investigate the area beyond the cube’s arch. It is an old dormitory or barracks of some sort, but they find nothing of value among the old bunks and footlockers. They also scout out a branching corridor in the secret passage, and find it leads to the inside of another secret door connecting this hidden area to the southwestern part of the 5th tier.

They decide to swing around from here to the one other part of the 5th tier that they have not yet explored – the door in the northeast corner of the large central temple chamber that the sarmesk were using as a lair. Loud banging noises, like someone clumsily moving heavy furniture, echo from the end of the corridor beyond. At the end of the corridor is a door, from beyond which the noise seems to be eminating.

After taking a moment for Sinello to say some inspiring words, the Legion opens the door and emerges into a storeroom where a large white ape is drinking greedily from broken barrels of what appears to be Blackspore Brandy. When the drunken ape sees them, it roars and beats its chest. Spinello attempts to sooth the savage beast with magical music, but this only enrages it more. The ape raises one of the barrels over its head to throw it. The barrel smashes against Thjolstoff’s shield as he charges, splintering, dousing the barbarian in Cynidicean booze, and inflicting enough damage to kill a normal man. Thjolstoff strikes a might blow in retaliation, then Amalith and Lunatha charge in and finish it off with their spears.

For now, the Legion leaves the two valuable, but heavy, barrels of brandy that are still intact in the slain ape’s chamber while they investigate a side passage they passed on the way here. A strange chemical spell pervades the passage. It grows much stronger at the end of the corridor, where they find a brass door engraved with the hieroglyphic writing of the genies. Milnos is able to translate the ancient Ter-Bakari dialect. The inscription reads “Disturb not, lest the enemy hath returned.”

Undaunted, the Legion checks the door for traps. While they are searching, a group of hungry ghosts float through the door and attack them. The ghosts inflict no damage, however, before they are forced to flee from the 6 divine agents calling the wrath of Madarua and the Gods Above down onto them.

The door turns out to open easily, revealing a 10′ deep pool of stinking greenish acid where the floor of the chamber beyond should be. A stone chest stands on a short pedestal in the center of the 30′-square chamber. The Legion spends some time discussing how to reach the chest, then decides to return to Cynidicea to acquire a 20′ ladder. They take the barrels of Blackspore Brandy with them when they go.

They return an hour later with the ladder, as well as a vial of naptha and a new 10′ pole. They lay the ladder across the pool, with the far end resting on the edge of the pedestal. They give Thjolstoff the potion of flying they acquired some time ago, just in case, then send him to walk across the ladder. As soon as he puts any weight on the makeshift bridge, however, the pedestal begins to sink into the acid. The end of the ladder quickly dissolves, dropping the whole thing into the deadly pool. Fortunately, Thjolstoff is able to nimbly leap to safety before he meets the same fate.

Frustrated, Thjolstoff quaffs the potion, flies out to the chest, and retrieves its contents. These turn out to be a small fortune in gemstones and gold jewelry, and a golden lamp. Omor the Mime remembers old stories about a powerful wizard known as Martekh who, in the time of Sabban-Ka’s grandson, was allowed to build a vault in the Pyramid in which to store a genie he had trapped so that it could be released to provide aid when the land was threatened by an evil spirit Martekh predicted would attack some time in the distant future. Every member of the Legion takes turns rubbing the lamp while saying “the enemy has returned” in various ways and languages. Nothing happens. The party decides to take the treasure they have acquired back to their stronghold before continuing.

When they return, they head quickly and efficiently back to the secret tomb area, again letting the fearless Atlanteans trigger the guardian haunts. They soon find themselves in the false tomb, and begin searching the wall opposite the secret door to Sabban-Ka’s tomb in the hopes of finding Ulzain’s. They do.

Expecting another wailing ghost, Milnos and Aisha stay in the false tomb to be out of range of its deadly screeching while the rest of the party is inspired by Spinello’s oratory. In the tomb, they find an inscription on the otherwise plain sarcophagus: “Darkness take any who dare disturb my resting place.” Amalaith stands next to the sarcophagus and prays to Madarua for protection from evil. Then, Thjolstoff opens the lid.

Inside is the mummified corpse of a woman clad in gold jewelry. It leaps at Tholstoff, screeching something about swallowing his soul, but Madarua’s protection prevents the creature from touching him. One of the templars turns the creature, and the rest of the party hacks it apart while it cowers in fear. They collect Ulzain’s jewelry, her thin golden scepter that Dalili-Lu later identifies as a wand of paralysis, and a love potion that they party recognizes right away, as they have already seen one before.

At this point, Aisha, fearing that she may die in the Pyramid without ever reaching 2nd level, demands that they call the day’s expedition over and return the treasure to their stronghold. The party begs her to let them stop and investigate the last unopened doors on the 5th tier – the huge stone double doors in the grand entrance chamber – on the way back. She relents, and they do.

On the way there, they encounter a 10′ long white cobra, which Spinello lulls to sleep with his mandolin. They kill it, take its venom glands, and continue to the grand entrance chamber. There, they check the doors for traps, then let Thjolstoff pull them open. The sand that rushes in once they start to move knocks Thjolstoff to the ground, inflicting enough damage to kill a common soldier. But the barbarian shakes it off and laughs that he should have expected that. The Legion returns to their stronghold for the day, and we take time to calculate experience and let Aisha level up.

Tuesday, 21st day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Thirleiro recovers and loyally remains in Amalaith’s service. The Legion decides to undertake an expedition to the Isle of Death. They take the same “small” party they took to the Pyramid yesterday, rent a couple of boats from the fishermen, and return to the strange little island.

Hungry ghosts are again clustered around the altar among the standing stones that mark the entrance to the island’s catacombs. This time, however, the Legion easily drives the ghosts off with an overwhelming onslaught of holy power. The party then takes some time to prepare for their assault on the “lich” they know awaits them at the bottom of the stairs under the altar. Spinello inspires courage in his companions, and Milnos is placed at the head of the column with the wand of paralysis.

Unfortunately, the “lich” has heard them and summoned more than a dozen zombies to protect him. Also, it turns out that the undead are immune to the wand’s effects. And, all the templars and spearmaidens fail their turning attempts, except for Amalaith, who turns two of them before the “lich” teleports her to a cell full of zombies somewhere else in the catacombs. Finally, Simbra-Nar – recenty returned to duty and outfitted with the dragonbone plate armor and dragonbone great sword the Legion took from the Sha-Thonian adventurers – charges into the fray to take revenge on the zombies that took his tongue, and is immediately knocked unconscious.

Aisha and Spinello send energy arrows and silver arrows into the lich, while the rest of the party deals with the zombies. Thjolstoff, Sablain-Xee, and Ablos-Nar move in front of Milnos to protect him, while the Tycoon conjures a band of fanatical Atlantean halberdier spirits behind their lines and Lunatha and Meldotia strike from the second rank with their spears. Slowly but surely, the Legion whittles away the zombies, while resisting the “lich’s” repeated attempts to teleport them.

Meanwhile, Amalaith prays to Madarua for protection from evil, keeping at bay the ever-growing horde of zombies piling into the cell.

When the “lich” and the last of the zombies finally fall, Arther runs forward to treat Simbra-Nar with the staff of healing. The tongueless Atlantean Swordsmage is in shock, but otherwise uninjured, and will recover completely with a night’s rest. The staff is used to heal the rest of the wounded in the party while the Legion takes a brief rest (enough to call it the end of one encounter and the beginning of another). Then, they head south, through the room full of moths, to the cell block where the “lich” had teleported Eva on their last foray into the catacombs.

They see a horde of 32 zombies streaming into the cells where Amalaith continues praying. The remaining Templars and Spearmaidens unleash a torrent of turning, while the warriors in the front ranks prepare to be charged by any zombies that resist the effect. The spear hedge is less effective than one would hope, and one of the zombies twists Sablain-Xee’s shield off, taking his left arm with it. He will survive, but it will take two weeks for him to recover. The Legion does not break, however. They keep swapping fresh fighters into the front ranks and turning as many zombies as they can, until, finally, all the undead are slain. Miraculously untouched by the zombies, Amalaith returns to the party.

The Legion then starts to systematically explore the rest of the catacombs, starting with the area they partially explored on their last visit. They search the cell blocks and the “lich’s” throne of skulls, but find nothing. They find a room with scorched walls in the middle of which are a pair of blackened 10′ poles lashed together in the middle to make a 17′ pole, and marvel at the ingenuity of whoever passed through here before them. The return to the cell block where they fought the ghouls on their last expedition, but find them empty.

In the laboratory where they faced the wights and took their books and the potion of super-heroism that proved so useful during the assault on the Temple of Zargon, they find the surviving wights have returned. The creatures attack, and drain Ablos-Nar’s strength, which is already depleted by age. Fortunately, the horrors are turned before they can finish him, and are easily dispatched while they cower in the corner.

Beyond the laboratory, they hear a woman’s voice calling for help. They find a Cynidicean thief in a collapsed corridor, her legs buried in rubble. Fearing a trap, and cautious to the point of cruelty, the Legion interrogates the trapped woman, demanding to know who she is and why she is here. She tells them her name is Faerseeti-Uj, and that she and some of her friends had decided to explore the Isle of Death after hearing that the Legion had found treasure there. They sneaked past the guardian at the stairs, but then got lost. Eventually, they made their way to this corridor, and then everything collapsed. She believes her companions were killed in the cave in, and she just wants to go home to her parents. The Legion gives her some water and adds her to the wounded they are carrying with them.

Continuing on, the Legion finds a room where someone has drawn an arrow pointing north on the wall with chalk. Then, they come to an ossuary where countless thousands of leg bones are stacked 5′ high along the north wall in the Parisian style. The Legion ransacks the bones, uncovering a small sack hidden behind them. The sack contains some silver coins, some gems, and a silver skull pendant.

Heading further into the catacombs, the Legion finds a room with a giant cobra’s skeleton coiled in one corner, and the skeletons and rusted armor and weapons of several humans scattered about. Assuming it will animate and attack them, Spinello inspires courage in his allies and leads them in attack on the skeletal serpent. It’s bones do not stir as they are smashed.

In the next chamber, they find a flat-topped altar stone, cracked and bloodstained. The Templar Kennerd can detect no evil emanating from it. His colleague, Arther the Templar Chaplain, believes it to be an altar to the Wyld spirits which has been desecrated and drained of power. He also reminds everyone that the Wyld spirits are just as chaotic and dangerous as the Chthonic spirits laymen call demons.

The Legion then finds a room dominated by a pair of stone slab tables covered with rusted embalming tools. They find is nothing else here.

Finally, they come to a chamber which contains a bizarre contraption: a black dragonbone wheel attached to the wall, with a relief sculpture of a skeleton attached to it to serve as a pointer. The wheel is divided into 20 wedges, half of which are inscribed with arcane runes which the arcanists in the group recognize as generally benevolent siglis, and the other half with runes associated with curses and the like.

Thjolstoff remembers the story they heard of the beggar who claimed to have been struck blind because he stole a second turn at the Wheel, and so immediately gives it a spin. It comes to rest on a baleful sign, but the barbarian, through sheer force of will, manages to shrug off whatever terrible affliction this generated. Aisha and Spinello are horrified, and start berating him for fooling around with such a powerful and dangerous artifact.

While they are arguing, Amalaith uses the 10′ pole to give the Wheel a spin. Contrary to her hypothesis, its magic still affects her. Fortunately, she spins a beneficial wedge, and gains a +1 bonus to all saving throws for the next 24 hours. Aisha and Spinello tell her that she should know better, and tell the rest of the party to stop playing with the Wheel. Thjolstoff says that he will pay for everyone who spins the Wheel and survives to get matching badass Wheel tattoos.

“In that case, I’m in,” says Milnos and he gives the Wheel a spin. It comes to rest of a beneficial sigil, and he catches an onyx worth 50gp that materializes and falls from the ceiling. Aisha is upset with him, saying that, as an Atlantean, he should know better than to tamper with dark magic, and how dare he leave her with only Spinello of all people on her side. The bard is impressed, however, and decides to spin the Wheel himself, his boldness winning him a +1 bonus to damage rolls that will last the next 24 hours.

Aisha refuses to spin the Wheel, and forbids her extremely curious henchman,  Lunatha, from spinning it as well. Spinello allows the extremely confident Ablos-Nar to give it a spin, and the weakened, paunchy marshal manages to shrug off the dismemberment spell that results. Not wanting to miss out on being one of the guys with the cool tattoo, the Omor the foolish mime takes a spin, and gains good luck which will allow him to re-roll any one roll or throw before they leave the island. Meldotia, who is almost, but not quite, as foolish as the mime, wants to try too, but Spinello forbids her, saying he could not bear it if anything happened to her. None of the other members of the Legion are willing to try their luck.

Then, Thjolstoff suggests that perhaps the Wheel’s magic could restore the injured thief’s legs. She decides to tempt fate, and gains good luck like Omor. She tries again, assuming she can re-roll a bad result. She does get a bad result, and re-rolls it, but the re-roll is even worse and she is punished for her folly by being transformed into a rat which immediately scampers off into a hole in the floor, never to bee seen again.

Aisha is livid, and Thjolstoff feels terrible for having led the thief to her doom, so the Legion decides to bring their expedition to and end. Before they go, Omor decides to use up his good luck on several more spins of the Wheel, gaining temporary +1 bonuses to attack throws, damage rolls, and saving throws for his audacity. The Legion then spikes shut the door to the Wheel chamber, and they return to their stronghold without further incident.

When they get back, they find Mandeez waiting for them at their stronghold. He tells Milnos that the Serpents’ Eyes have learned that Thrak-Sha is planning to move the bulk of his forces – 6 Units of 30 Zargonians each – into Cynidicea within the next three days. They have also captured a Zargonian scout who was gathering info about the current situation in the city. They have brought the prisoner to the Legion for questioning; it is in one of the cells in the Stronghold now. Mandeez believes the Legion is the best hope of defending the city from the beastmen.

PC1: Milnos-Sim – Lv 2 Atlantean Tycoon; 4963/5800 xp; Damaged Knee
PC1: Sablain-Xee – Lv 1 Fighter; 1877/2000 xp; Heart & Lung Damage, Severed Arm
PC1: Amab-Rah – Lv 1 Fighter; 1190/2000 xp
PC1: Omor-Kar – Lv 1 Bard; 720/1400 xp
PC1: Abghai-Fam – Lv 1 Assassin; 174/1700 xp
PC1: Ulea-Bu – Lv 1 Thief; 74/1250 xp
PC2: Thjolstoff – Lv 2 Barbarian; 5149/5200 xp
PC2: Arther – LV 1 Templar; 869/1500 xp
PC2: Urbrec mag Esteger – LV 1 Templar; 869/1500 xp; Stiff Wounds
PC2: Kennerd of Rugstowe – LV 1 Templar; 869/1500 xp
PC3: Amalaith – Lv 3 Bladedancer; 4150/6000 xp
PC3: Selexah – Lv 1 Bladedancer; 869/1500xp
PC3: Manatha-Sab – Lv 1 Bladedancer; 720/1500xp
PC3: Thirleiro – Lv 1 Thief; 720/1250xp; Genitals Damaged
PC4: Aisha Alendi – Lv 1 Atlantean Stormtrooper; 4681/7350 xp
PC4: Lunatha-Sim – Lv 1 Fighter; 2020/4000 xp; Gruesome Scars
PC4: Lig-Vig – 1HD Zargonian; 223/3000 xp; Severed Arm
PC5: Spinello di Lombabasso – Lv 3 Bard; 5126/5600; Minor Scar
PC5: Simbra-Nar – Lv 1 Atlantean Swordsmage; 657/3850 xp; Damaged Eye & Severed Tongue
PC5: Meldotia-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 2017/4000 xp; Gruesome Scars & Missing 2 Fingers on Left Hand
PC5: Dalili-Lu – Lv 1 Bard; 727/1400 xp; Heart & Lung Damage
PC5: Ablos-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 1562/2000; Damaged Eye & Lost 5 teeth
PC5: Jozez Yazimakusht – Lv 2 Telkaynie Kazevok; 2720/4000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golej Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Bozek Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Kovez Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Boleg Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golep Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp

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