After defeating the golems, Alex searched the armory carefully for traps, while Ironhoof checked for magic. Everything was magical -- but a few items were less magical than others; actual items that could be identified and used, as opposed to magical artifacts that tended to resist analysis by low level spells. There was a statue wearing a belt, amulet, and holding a staff, as well as a blank banner on the back wall, that fell into that category.
Not falling into that category were a pair of cauldrons (one marked with a tree, one with a skull), a pyramid with a sphere of annihilation hovering over it, and a dagger and seed on separate pedestals to either side. The only things that were trapped were the pedestals.
Alex decided to disarm the trap on the pedestal and claim the seed, but a second line of defense asked him to confirm whether she really wanted to claim this 'very destructive' artifact. She had Lilia tell her the elven word for 'yes', and took the seed, which she could feel straining against its casing. "Plant me!" it seemed to whisper in her head, "I want to grow!"
Ironhoof thought she was insane and refused to touch it, even though he was a druid and would otherwise be the natural seed-holder. She agreed that it had probably been a bad idea, and decided to leave the dagger alone.
Lilia thought that maybe the pyramid controlled the sphere of annihilation, and decided to try to snag it with Alex's guisarme (that she carried around in lieu of a 10-foot pole) because who wouldn't want their very own sphere of annihilation? Unfortunately, it was controlling the sphere of annihilation. More unfortunately, it stopped controlling it when it was moved. Cue Yakity Sax!
Eventually, Lilia managed to get the pyramid set up again and stop the sphere from chasing her aound in circles (it didn't really move very fast). Since the water was about up to their waists by now, they decided to take the lesser magic items (and the seed) and high-tail it back up through the dungeon.
When they got back to the dragon's lair, though, they saw that the elves had helpfully closed the force field above them, and now a bunch of water was backed up behind it. It didn't look like the tunnel above was completely flooded yet, though, so Alex tied herself to the wall (someone had to be standing in front of the force field to be scanned for goodness or it wouldn't open) and unleashed the flood, to flow down to the armory.
They also noticed that some of the back walls in the dragon's lair were fake. Well, not FAKE fake, but artificial. They decided to head up instead of breaking through and hoping that they led to an exit. When they got to Shabra's lair, where they'd entered, the cave was a lake, and the entrance to the mine was completely submerged. They weren't getting out that way unless they could breathe water.
So they headed farther up (disarming another summon monster trap) and got to a room guarded by vampiric mist. Unlike the other guardians, the vampiric mist was not bound to the room it was guarding, and it attacked! Alex, who'd gone ahead to get scanned and open the force field, was badly drained and had to slip through the force field and close it behind her to survive. Ironhoof wild-shaped into a fire elemental to try to burn up the mist -- since using fire here was allowed; they weren't in the coal mine anymore -- and that scared most of them back into the room. Lilia summoned an outsider of some sort that was able to cast a wind wall and block off the room so that they couldn't come back, while Ironhoof burned up the last two who'd been too focused on trying to flow through the force field to get to Alex to notice that they probably should have run away.
At this point they really wanted to rest, but the force fields were obviously not stopping the water -- Alex thought that it was probably leaking through the trap mechanisms, which weren't airtight. So they headed up a couple levels -- past a room guarded by will-o-wisps, past a room full of glass golems with one less control rod on the rack against the back wall then there were golems in the room -- before setting down for the night in one of the trapped corridors, guarded by force fields.
In the middle of the night, Lilia standing watch saw the water rising, so they decamped to the high end of the tunnel instead of the low end, and it turned out that that was high enough -- the water found its level below them.
But they still didn't have an exit. So, up -- past a room full of will o wisps in handy glass carrying cases... to a room that was completely empty, with a tunnel dug into the back wall, labeled 'hatchlings'. Apparently, the hatchlings had been stolen. Ironhoof examined the claw marks on the tunnel, and thought that they were too sharp to belong to any natural creature. Lilia thought that it was probably a dragon. The tunnel almost certainly led out eventually, but... a dragon? A *big* dragon. Even rested...
Well, the tunnel was old, so maybe it was gone. Alex scouted a ways and found a mushroom-filled chamber with some *suspicious* looking mushrooms that Ironhoof was able to identify from the description as being ambulatory mushroom-monsters that drained CON. Since much of the party was already drained from fighting so much vampiric mist, they decided to try their luck with the higher reaches of the dungeon.
That turned out to be a reasonable choice. The upper reaches weren't trapped as heavily -- sliding staircases dumping people into a pit instead of spinning blades -- and didn't have guardians on the room full of 'messengers in a bottle' (who were telepathic and begged to be set free, promising that they wouldn't hurt the party and would repay the kindness) or on the 'aerie' where the stasis tubes just had a bunch of riding griffons. Or on the spigot of vampiric mist with a feeding tube in case the level of mist in the containment device got too low. There was a guard chamber at the very top, but it was long deserted, the huge vault doors leading to the outside solidly closed. And trapped. And locked.
So they left through the aerie, which had an illusionary wall for the griffons to fly in and out of, and found themselves on a large hill in the elven forest. From that vantage point, they could see Black Run -- on fire. Not a good sign.
Blip the blink dog appeared and berated them for letting the mine get flooded. "We gave you ONE THING!" He seemed more scared than angry, though -- as if he might share in their punishment. The party suggested that maybe mermaids could mine Black Run even if it was flooded, and he seemed encouraged by that, and blipped off to investigate that possibility.
So, with that taken care of for the moment, they made their way out through the bramble hedges and ravines designed to keep people from stumbling across the elven armory, and left the elves to wait for them at the edge of the forest as they headed over to talk to the surviving dwarves.
There weren't many of them -- they'd fought off the elven forces left outside, and even killed one of the half-dragon unicorns, but it had cost them dearly. In particular, they'd lost all their casters. They were suspicious of the party's return, but accepted their explanation -- all THEY knew was that the mine had 'spontaneously' flooded and they were sure the elves were to blame. The party was pretty sure the elves were to blame, too.
Dwarves: "We almost had the damn Unicorn, but it's hard to kill something that can teleport away."
Lilia (smirking): "Yes. Yes it is."
The nearest place to get people ressurected was probably Rally -- but it was a long journey though twisting mountain paths. Ironhoof offered to turn into a Roc and carry the dwarves that they most wanted raised to Rally, if they'd also pay for raising Artican. The dwarves readily agreed to that deal. They were more reluctant to pay the bounty for the lich, since they only had the party's word for what had happened and they'd sent an army of their best soldiers (all of whom had died) to help take him out.
Dwarves: "We're not trying to cheat you -- give us proof of what you say and we'll pay."
Alex and Lilia wanted to come along -- Alex could ride the dragonne (if she was tied to it so it couldn't shake her off) and Lilia could conjure a flying steed -- but neither of them would be as fast as the druid alone, and the phantom steed in particular would have to negotiate the winding switchbacks and other twistings the pass did which made its route four times as long. So it wasn't clear what they were going to do about that problem.
last session | next session