Session 14: In Which the Legion Explores the Zargonian Stronghold, the Eye of Zargon, and the Galleries

Tuesday, 28th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Retcon: Realizing that the month is just about over, the Legion decides against releasing the refugees who are staying in the Temple until after Zargon’s reaction to another month without sacrifices is dealt with.

Wednesday, 29th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

After recovering from the battle against Thrak-Sha’s army, Thjolstoff orders his mercenaries to continue rounding up Cynidicean families and forcing them to take shelter in the Temple. He also has them start conscripting as many recruits as they can from among the people of the city. The conscripts will have all mustered within a week.

Thjolstoff, Amalaith, & Milnos prepare an expedition to the zargonian’s cliff fortress across the reservoir (as a couple of players couldn’t make it to today’s session). They rent 4 fishing boats, each of which can hold 3 people and 1 Telkaynie, and take Arther, Ubrec, Kennerd, Ulea-Bu, Amab-Rah, Omor-Kar, Selexah, Manatha, Thirleiro, Golej, Kovez, and Golep with them. They row across the reservoir without torches or lanterns. They use the lights of the fortress as a landmark to navigate by, while each boat has someone with infravision – either a telkaynie, or Thjolstoff with the delver’s helm he borrowed from Aisha – to watch for nearby obstacles.

After about an hour, they reach the dark cliff face a quarter mile south of the fortress. They can see the top of the cliff 90′ above them, as it is back-lit by the ruddy glow of the Eye of Zargon. Thjolstoff scales the cliff face and lowers a rope for everyone else. Unfortunately, the rope is only 50′ long, so they send Thirleiro up with another length. Alas, he slips in the darkness on the way up and falls into the reservoir. Amalaith fishes him out of the water and heals his wounds with the staff of healing. The thief is in shock, but will recover with a night’s rest, with only minor scars to show for the fall. Ulea-Bu manages to climb up easily, and she and Thjolstoff fasten the ropes together and let them down for the rest of the party to climb. They decide to leave the telkaynie Golep and Golej behind to watch over Thirleiro and the boats.

Atop the cliff is weird subterranean wilderness of stalagmites, boulders, and clusters of strange fungal growths, barely lit by bioluminescent creatures and the glowing Eye of Zargon looming from a cave a mile or so in the distance. The Legion’s expedition creeps north without torches in the hopes of catching the zargonians unaware, planning a surprise attack from the top of the fortress, as that has worked for them in the past. They do manage to take the two small zargonian gangs standing guard on the cliff above the fortress by surprise and dispatch them before they can raise the alarm. However, when Tholstoff peers over the edge of the cliff near the rope ladder they were guarding, several of the two dozen zargonian guards on the terrace below notice him.

The Legion’s archers trade a few rounds of ineffective sniper fire with the zargonian slingers before Thjolstoff decides to lead the heavily armored troops down the ladder to engage the zargonians in melee. As they begin cleaving into the zargonians, even more of the beastmen begin to pour in up the stairs. Fortunately, with the aid of Milno’s sleep spells, the Legion is able to slay all the zargonians without taking any casualties.

The Legion finds three doorways leading into the cliffside from the terrace. Two of them lead into stairwells that descend to a lower terrace, and then down to the labyrinthine caverns of the zargonian domain of Zarakadur, which lies below Cynidicea. The middle one turns out to lead to a large common hearth chamber, where the last remaining zargonian champions wait to unleash a dozen guard dogs on the invaders, and then retreat further into the complex.

The Legion dispatches a few of the dogs, and the rest of the beasts panic and retreat into another wing. By the light of Thjolstoff’s flaming sword, and torches taken from the well-lit terrace, the Legion closes the door through which the dogs fled, and opens the one through which the zargonain champions fled. They find the champions standing guard just beyond the door, placing themselves between the Legion and the pile of hundreds of leathery eggs that fill the vast chamber. Crawling over the eggs are hundreds of screeching, naked, degenerate, yellow-skinned monkey people – the zargonian young and the suckler caste (swollen-breasted, but just as hermaphroditic as the rest of the zargonians) that watches over them.

Speaking in the zargonians’ native Infernal dialect, Milnos invokes ancient Atlantean pacts, demanding the champions throw down their arms and surrender to him, and threatening to kill them and all their spawn if they refuse to comply. The zargonians do as they are bid, but the Legion attacks anyway, cutting both of them down before they can react. The sucklers and young retreat into the dark corners of the chamber, still screeching in terror. After determining there are no other exits, the Legion gathers up all the firewood in the hearth chamber and drags it into the egg chamber. The build a huge, smoky bonfire just inside the door to the egg chamber, then spike the door shut and go about searching the rest of the stronghold.

They find Thrak-Sha’s chamber, and those of his shaman and witch doctor, and gather up what treasure they can find there. They find the dogs cowering in a chamber with a well, and leave them alone. They descend to the lower terrace, where they find seven more doorways leading into the cliff, each of which leads to a suite consisting of a large common room with a hearth, a latrine, a well, and a chamber for the chief, most of which contain a treasure chest and some other plunder. They also find several rope ladders that lead from the lower terrace to the docks where the zargonians keep all their boats. These are similar in design to the small Cynidicean fishing boats, but are more crudely made.

The Legion sends a detachment to fetch their boats, and the party members they left with them, and bring them to the docks. They load all the rugs, bronze ingots, hardwood logs, bolts of cloth, barrels of preserved fish or mushroom beer, and chests of coins and trinkets that they found in the stronghold into as many boats as it takes to carry them. All this takes several hours, after which they unspike the door to the egg chamber, open it to let the chamber air out, then wade in to smash all the zargonian eggs and kill those few sucklers and young that survived the suffocating smoke.

Before they return to Cynidicea, the Legion decides to investigate the Eye of Zargon. They march unmolested for more than a mile across the floor of the vast cavern until they come to a vast pool of lava nearly a quarter mile across. A vile altar stands on the shore of the near edge of the pool, while a cluster of blobs of white hot light can be seen moving around the far shore. Kennerd the templar uses his power to sense evil, and discovers that, as expected, there is a sinkhole of evil that extends in a 50′ radius around the altar. He also discovers second aura of supernatural evil lurking in the lava near the shore near the altar.

Erring on the side of caution, the Legion retreats a safe distance from the altar. Milnos then summons four berserker spirits and orders them to secure the area around the altar. When they approach and surround the altar, the lava itself rises up to take a huge, hulking, vaguely humanoid form. The berserkers and everything else within 20′ of the 9HD lava monster begins to burn. It smashes the berserkers, cleaving through all of them before they have a chance to act. The Legion flees, and the lava monster does not pursue them.

The Legion’s expedition returns to their boats , and rows back across the reservoir with their loot.

Behind the Scenes: Because most of the zargonian stronghold’s defenders were slain in the battle at Obexah Park, I spread the experience from this expedition among everyone who took part in that battle.

Wednesday, 29th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Milnos wakes feeling tired and somewhat sickly. He attributes this to his having put off Gorm’s quest to slay Zargon for too long, so he convinces the Legion to mount an expedition into the Galleries below the Pyramid of Sabban-Ka, where Zargon is said to lair. The expedition consists of: Thjolstoff and his 3 templars; Milnos with Mandeez, Uleah-Bu, Omor-Kar, and Amab-Rah; Amalaith with Thirleiro, Hestmon-Zo, Brother Aubrey, and the spearmaidens Selexah and Belatha-Ou; Spinello with Meldotia and Jozez; and Aisha with Lunatha.

While Lig-Vig told the Legion the secret prayer to Zargon that opens the bronze door on the bottom floor of the Pyramid that leads to the Galleries, Amalaith and the Spearmaidens are also aware that there are three secret doors that lead from their secret staircase entrance to the Pyramid into different floors of the Galleries. The Legion decides to begin their exploration of the Galleries by entering through the lowest entrance in the Spearmaidens’ stairway, which brings them to the third floor beneath the bottom floor of the Pyramid.

The secret door opens into a length of 10′ wide corridor leading north and south. The walls are finely dressed, and the floor finished with marble tiles. The air is dank and smells of mold. Slimy puddles occasionally pool on the floor, and bones, some of them human, are scattered in corners and crevices. There are elaborately carved arches at either end of the corridor. The southern arch seems to open into a large, finished chamber, but the northern arch is too far away to see what lies beyond.

The Legion decides to investigate the northern arch. It leads to a 10′ x 10′ vault, with arches leading to the north and west. Beyond each of these arches is an unfinished corridor, roughly carved out of the rock, that leads to another elaborately carved arch. They investigate the northern arch, and find that it leads to another vault, this one with en exist leading east into a finished chamber, the far wall of which is an elaborate mural depicting a pool of lava in a dark cave. There are three scruffy-looking Cynidiceans armed with short swords in the chamber. They demand to know what the PC’s party is doing in Zargon’s domain.

Thjolstoff tries, through his translator, Arther, to bluff the ruffians. Before he can finish embarrassing himself, one of them recognizes them, and declares that they are the surfacers who killed Eleneah, the wererat leader. The three wererats shift to rat form and try to escape, but the Legion cuts them down before they are able to do so.

Spinello takes a look at the mural, and says that he believes it might be an artist’s rendition of Hell. According to the lore the bard has acquired during his stay in Cynidicea, the Galleries were built a few generations after Sabban-Ka passed and was interred in the Pyramid. They were intended to be tombs where the Cynidicean elite could be buried near their legendary hero-king. Alas, Zargon arrived and the city degenerated before they could be completed.

As there are no other exists from the Hell chamber, the Legion returns to the first vault and heads down the unfinished corridor to the west. They find another vault, tis one with exits to the north and south. To the south is another vault, beyond which it seems to open into another chamber. To the north is a huge chamber. The east side of this chamber is finished and the east wall is painted with a huge mural depicting a party of ghostly figures walking across a narrow bridge over an abyss in a cavern. The west side is not only unfinished, but it appears that the excavation was never even completed, as the rough walls slope together toward the finished arch that is the room’s only other exit.

Encamped in the bridge chamber are at least twenty 3HD great zargonians. Milnos calls upon ancient Atlantean pacts, demanding that the beastmen parley. They agree, and the Atlantean tries to convince them that they are emissaries from Thrak-Sha. The great zargonian chief, Shum-Kel the Mighty, is not deceived, and tells Milnos that he knows he and his companions killed Thrak-Sha and all the zargonians that followed him, and that they deserved what they got for being foolish enough to follow a human. Milnos then demands that Shum-Kel tell him all he knows of this floor of the Galleries. The zargonian tells him that this whole floor belongs to his band, though a few of the wererats that lair on the Galleries’ top floor can sometimes be found sniffing around here. The only other things of interest on this floor are the stairs that lead down to the floor below, where Zargon is said to lair, and the moving paintings, which are just creepy.

Seemingly satisfied, Milnos tells the zargonians to lay down their weapons, saying the Legion will leave them in peace once they have done so. The beastmen comply, and the Legion backs out of the room into the vault. Once they are outside the room, however, Milnos zaps the zargonians with the wand of paralysis. Most of them are paralyzed, but those that resist the effects grab their morning stars and charge into the Legion, crippling both of Milnos’ legs before he can retreat from the front rank. The rest of the Legion is able to take down the remaining great zargonains with no further casualties, but it will take Milnos two weeks to recover from the attack. The Legion contents themselves with grabbing the great zargonians’ treasure chest – which is filled with copper and electrum coins, as well as a pair of ivory necklaces, some dragonbone arrows, a pair of elaborate masks each worth more than 1000gp, and a murky blue potion that is cold to the touch and smells like cabbage, which the telkaynie recognize as a potion of fire resistance – and returning to the Temple.

————————————————————————————————————————–

PC1: Milnos-Sim – M Lv 3 Atlantean Tycoon; 7678/11600 xp; Damaged Knee, Both Legs Lamed; Recovering
PC1: Sablain-Xee – M Lv 1 Fighter; 1876/2000 xp; Heart & Lung Damage, Severed Arm; Recovering
PC1: Amab-Rah – M Lv 1 Fighter; 1700/2000 xp
PC1: Omor-Kar – M Lv 2 Bard; 1955/2800 xp
PC1: Abghai-Fam – M Lv 1 Assassin; 352/1700 xp; Damaged Left Eye; Recovering
PC1: Ulea-Bu – F Lv 1 Thief; 584/1250 xp
PC1: Mandeez – M Lv 2 Thief; 1760/2500xp
PC1: Mandeez: Ilompha-Vo – M Lv1 Thief; 178/1250xp
PC1: Mandeez: Ilompha-Vo: Sabban-Mu – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Ilompha-Vo: Gausnoc-Ret – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Ilompha-Vo: Cushneah-Mi – F Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Ilompha-Vo: Valompha – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Fulcand-Tnep – M Lv1 Thief; 178/1250xp
PC1: Mandeez: Fulcand-Tnep: Elylla – F Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Fulcand-Tnep: Zaneah – F Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Fulcand-Tnep: Naznur-Ya – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Fulcand-Tnep: Naznur-Ujua – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Hoaghai-Tnek – M Lv1 Thief; 178/1250xp
PC1: Mandeez: Hoaghai-Tnek: Ilalmah-Dal – F Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Hoaghai-Tnek: Famdok-Abn – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Hoaghai-Tnek: Simlain – M Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC1: Mandeez: Hoaghai-Tnek: Fuldotia – F Lv1 Carouser; 78/?xp
PC2: Thjolstoff – M Lv 3 Barbarian; 7864/10400 xp
PC2: Arther – M Lv 2 Templar; 2104/3000 xp
PC2: Urbrec mag Esteger – M Lv 2 Templar; 2104/3000 xp; Stiff Wounds
PC2: Kennerd of Rugstowe – M Lv 2 Templar; 2104/3000 xp
PC3: Amalaith – F Lv 4 Bladedancer; 6858/10400 xp
PC3: Selexah – F Lv 2 Bladedancer; 2104/3000xp
PC3: Manatha-Sab – F Lv 1 Bladedancer; 1445/1500xp; Mangled mouth & tongue; Recovering
PC3: Thirleiro – M Lv 2 Thief; 1955/2500xp; Genitals Damaged, Minor Scarring x1
PC3: Hestmon-Zo – M Lv2 Fighter; 2510/4000xp
PC3: Porotha-Dal – F Lv1 Bladedancer; 178/1500xp
PC3: Belatha-Ou – F Lv 2 Bladedancer; 2010/3000xp
PC3: Belatha-Ou: Soalia-Tnep – F Lv1 Bladedancer; 178/1500xp
PC3: Belatha-Ou: Poreeti-Il – F Lv1 Bladedancer; 178/1500xp
PC3: Belatha-Ou: Arcbiniah-Lap – F Lv1 Bladedancer; 178/1500xp
PC4: Aisha Alendi – Lv 2 Atlantean Stormtrooper; 7149/7350 xp
PC4: Lunatha-Sim – Lv 2 Fighter; 3252/4000 xp; Gruesome Scars
PC5: Spinello di Lombabasso – Lv 4 Bard; 7841/11200; Minor Scarring x1
PC5: Meldotia-Nar – Lv 2 Fighter; 3252/4000 xp; Gruesome Scars & Missing 2 Fingers on Left Hand
PC5: Dalili-Lu – Lv 1 Bard; 905/1400 xp; Heart & Lung Damage
PC5: Jozez Yazimakusht – Lv 2 Telkaynie Kazevok; 3230/4000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golej Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 352/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Bozek Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 352/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Kovez Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 352/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Boleg Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 352/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golep Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 352/2000 xp

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