Slammed today on several real life fronts, so I happily turn the HC helm over to Allandros with his play report of this week's Google Plus romp.
Journal of Ba Chim of the New Hampshire elves
After the last incident at the barge, Manzafrain the Mirthful was in a coma and my poor Kochka was slain. We returned to Marlankh bearing both their bodies. After depositing Manzafrain at the house of his father-in-law, I buried Kochka and retired to mourn. I took her hand axe in memoriam, and intend to slay as many ghouls with it as possible.
Five days after we returned, Manzafrain emerged from his coma, raving about descending from a higher plane of existence. Taurus Hells-heart, Karl Smallberries the hobbit, Ooluu the Drowned Man, and I were all present, awaiting his return to (relative) lucidity that we might essay the golden barge once more. Its glimmering towers beckon us onwards with the promise of riches…and power.
We followed the usual route to the Slumbering Ursine Dunes, stopping at the house of the “rambling and foolish” old smith. My earlier assessment of the smith may have been in error. He has brought his extended family to his house, and they are now seeking to construct a small settlement. It is named Kugelberg – after the dead thief? Ominous, especially given what we learned from the smith’s son, Pavel.
Though he was taciturn, a few carefully chosen words from Manzafrain led to him sharing some unbelievable secrets. He led us to his family’s secret, which caused us all to draw some intriguing and potentially maddening conclusions (which I dare not set down, even here!), but we chose to forego further investigation until a later time. He also dropped some hints as to why the area might be called the Slumbering Ursine Dunes, and what this had to do with the Master of the Glittering Tower.
We first encountered a room with a strange mucous membrane covering the door, and several glowing glass spires within. After someone (perhaps Taurus, or Karl) attempted to pass through and was stung by the barrier, we decided that attempts to pass through might damage the barge.
We then made haste to the room with three large blue circles of runes, radiating magic. I cast a simple dweomer to understand their arcane inscriptions, and recognized them as bearing three cryptic legends:
“Ga [ed note: smudged]umel.” “The Red Orb.” “Sig[ed note: smudged].”
Though we tried to activate the third, it was soon apparent that they were not functional, and we vowed to return later once we got the barge in working order.
We next came to a tower opposite the first one we had investigated, surmising that it might bear another [ed. note: smudged] similar to the first. When Taurus sought to push the trap door open, he encountered strong resistance and heard a loud squawk. I recalled that we had in fact tested this tower before, but had decided to pause before assaying the trap door. Now, however, the time for action had come.
Ooluu and I struggled to raise the trap door, while Karl prepared a strange alchemical fuse to throw into the above room. As he lit the fuse, we strained, shoved the trap door open…and a grayish tentacle snaked its way into the opening, seeking to enmesh Ooluu. Quickly, Karl hurled his missile and we abandoned the trap door. The resulting explosion provoked a flurry of enraged squawks, and we shared grins of triumph. Yet the job was not done; we would need to face the creature directly. The party took up firing positions at the bottom of the tower, while Taurus prepared to throw open the trap door, then rappel down a rope to avoid attacks from the tentacles.
It was at this point that my vision blurred, and I cannot speak exactly to what happened immediately thereafter. When I came to, I beheld the horror that had been lurking above – a gigantic vulture, infested with a strange cancerous growth that had sprouted tentacles. Both halves of the creature sought to slay us; when I regained consciousness, I saw that the cancer was choking the beleaguered Taurus to death with its tentacles, while the buzzard bit at him savagely. (Taurus also had an arrow sticking out of him; I cannot imagine how he hit himself with his own bowshot!) Ooluu and I struck at the creature, and the two of us ultimately slew both halves of the creature.
Searching amongst the ruins of the creature’s nest, we discovered three sky-blue eggs, untainted by any visible signs of cancerous growth, as well as an elongated skull with molten gold covering the back of the head, as a skullcap. This made sense given our earlier discoveries; however, Manzafrain blanched at the sight of the elongated skull, and muttered about some forbidden lore he had acquired. While the mountebank is a wily one, the expression of sincere terror on his face allayed any doubts about the truth of his fear.
Pressing on, we discovered the room where the Slip had retrieved the pearl above the ominous tank of water. Recalling its flooded state, we chose to press on, and soon came to a locked door behind which the rumble of machinery could be heard. Taurus deftly produced an arrow and manipulated the lock so that we could enter; we discovered a large chamber with several wheels, being turned by small faceless homunculi running in place. We did not see any immediate opportunities for profit or knowledge and left the room.
We finally discovered a [ed. note: significant portion missing]. Buoyed by this success, we retrieved what treasure we could carry and returned to Marlankh.